Total Acceptance

My eldest step-son got married on Monday. I’m trying not to moan about the day of the wedding (even though I had to take the day off unpaid and I’m now completely knackered with the rest of the week to go), but I had to say I wasn’t feeling the love when I was battling with the girls’ hair – they were both flower girls!

Apart from hair stress and trying to keep their white dresses clean the day itself really brought home to me how accepted the girls are within our family.

As you probably all know by now my husband has 4 birth children who are now all adults. At this wedding my girls were two of 6 bridesmaids, with all the others being friends and family of the bride. They led the procession into the room and looked beautiful, even bringing tears to my husband’s ex-wife’s eyes.

What got me though was the speeches from both the groom and the best man (their other brother). When they talked about the family they mentioned my girls in the same sentence as the other birth children – there was absolutely no distinction made between them – no them and us!

This must have been a difficult decision for the boys to make, especially with their mum being there, but then saying that, my husband’s ex-wife also spent a lot of the day sitting and talking to them.

Just shows how they have been totally accepted by all members of the family and makes me proud to be part of our mad, crazy gang!images

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Sleepover with the Foster Carers

I know when I first stated on Twitter that my girls were going for a sleepover with their foster carers this weekend there was a mix of reactions. I had conflicting views myself. On the one hand I wanted my girls to become comfortable with their past and not feel they had to hide it, but I was worried about how they would deal with it. On the plus side, the foster carers don’t foster anymore and they had also moved home, so I felt this would help as they wouldn’t have past memories pushed into their faces.

4 and a bit years ago, when we brought the girls home for the first time, I would have said we probably wouldn’t see the foster carers again.  They found it difficult to let go of the girls and introductions became a little strained towards the end. When they said goodbye they made it very clear this was the last time the girls would see them (they wanted the girls to see the movement to their forever home as a new start and didn’t want to confuse them).

After 2 years I got back in touch with them and we met up. They were different people – much more relaxed and didn’t step on our toes at all. We enjoyed the day so much that over the last few years we have met up a number of times – they even came to our house on New Year’s Eve and for my husband’s 55th birthday party (bringing him an awesome light up guitar as a present).

So, when they offered to have them overnight this week we took them up on the offer, before any doubts crept in. As 9 struggles to contain her emotions we didn’t tell them till the Friday night they were going on the Saturday, but we had to tell them then to explain the change in routine that would be happening. Both were very excited!

As we waited for them to arrive yesterday, 7 was a little teary and both of them came for lots of cuddles, so we packed a picture of our family in their bags so that they could look at it while they were gone and I took some photos on my phone so I had something to look at too. There was no worry on their part that they wouldn’t be coming home – after all, they are going to be bridesmaids tomorrow.

After a quick cup of tea we waved them off, with Froggy (7’s introduction toy that she’s slept with every night) being hugged tightly.

We later received photos of them settled and eating tea and then while we were having a beer in the pub, we had a goodnight phone call. They were in good spirits and had clearly had a lovely time. So had we, we’d finished our Christmas shopping and spent the evening out with real ale, cocktails and a curry (and we also gate-crashed my stepdaughter’s date to meet her new boyfriend for the first time)! You can tell we don’t get out much……

Today was snoozeday – I even managed an afternoon nap! The girls had been doing craft and had been to softplay, so came back exhausted. We cooked a meal for the foster carers before they went home and we had an early Christmas dinner with crackers etc.

The girls came running in full of hugs and were really happy. They said bye quite happily and we invited the foster carers to let us know when they wanted them again. Now they have done it once and they know what to expect it will be easier for the girls to go again.

For us keeping the links is vital. They are now part of the extended family and hearing the girls were really well behaved is lovely. As birth mum went into foster care with them for a time they are also the only source we have of information when the girls start asking questions about their past as we never met the birth parents and know very little about them.

It is definitely something that we hope becomes a regular thing as we believe that for our girls it is in their best interests. They need to keep that link to their past and understand it isn’t something they should ever be ashamed of – it was part of their past that they have overcome and will be part of what shapes them as adults.download-1

So glad it worked for us, but aware it wouldn’t for everyone!

Nature vs Nurture

Every week is full of extra curricular opportunities – trying to find what makes our girls tick and what they are good at.

At the moment the week runs like this (but this changes every term depending what is offered in terms of after school clubs):

Monday – Hockey after school for both and then both go to Modern dance lessons in the evening

Tuesday – Gymnastics for 9 (7 gave this up a while back – it wasn’t for her)

Thursday – Choir and Drama after school for both

Friday – Dodgeball after school for both (7 always comes out without her coat because she is ‘sweating’!)

Saturday – Ballroom for 9 followed by ballet and tap for both. The evening then sees swimming lessons for both.

It’s hard trying to find what they are going to really enjoy when you don’t know much about the birth parents and what they were good at – we are having to find out the hard way, by trial and error.

At the minute I’m listening to 7 practise the piano upstairs. In just 24 hours she has picked up A B and C with the left hand and C D and E with the right hand. She can tell me how long crotchets, quavers, minims, dotted minims and semibreves last for and can play in time with me playing an accompaniment.

As parents, we are both musical. I studied it at Uni and now teach the subject and my husband plays for fun (all the time) and used to conduct brass bands. 2 of his birth children are also professional musicians.

When we adopted the girls we knew they probably wouldn’t take after us, but were over the moon when they started joining us at concerts and shows and picked up the appropriate etiquette really quickly. They have been to more West End Shows in the 4 years they have been with us than I went to through my whole childhood.

So, 7 picking up the piano easily – is it through her being immersed in musical culture for 4 years, or is it more through nature.

Is someone within her birth family musical?

Would her parents have shown musical talent if they had been given the opportunity?

The above question then opens up a whole new can of worms – if one of them had found an interest in Music, would they have then formed different friendships and peer groups. Would the course of their lives then have been different?

It can’t all be nature – picking it up as easily as she is shows some natural talent!

In fact while we were watching 9 in her swimming lesson, 7 was completing the Y7 homework I was marking – finding it much easier than my own students did….download

 

This Week

This week has been beyond hectic.

We had the most amazing half term visiting Chessington and Legoland, but came back to earth with a bump with the return to school.

9 really struggled at the start of the week as there was so much going on. She had to hand in her project on space that she had worked on with her dad and she also had her class assembly, which dad was going to be able to go to for the first time since he retired. This is without mentioning the 4 dance classes she attends, gymnastics, swimming and the fact I was late home most nights this week because of the Talent Show heats at my school.

We could see the lead up to her anxiety in her behaviour first thing Monday morning. She couldn’t follow instructions, she was constantly fiddling and had the attitude of a teenager. Therefore it was no surprise when I received an email from her teacher on the Tuesday afternoon to let me know that she had got into trouble during lunchtime for pulling a girl’s hair. She wasn’t overly sanctioned for this but the teacher knows to update us on anything so we can talk to her about it before she bottles it up. If she knows she deserves telling off she has a habit of trying to make us cross until we get cross with her about something else.

As it happens she was fine at the end of school and when asked about the day she didn’t realise she had done anything wrong. She simply stated that she did what a friend had told her to do, so thought it was ok! The interesting thing about this was that this ‘friend’ had refused to go to school at some point last year as he was being bullied by 9. That time she was following him around and tapping him on the shoulder – because he didn’t tell her to stop she simply thought it was a game. We explained to her why she shouldn’t have done it and she seemed to understand, but it goes to show that she is such a target for other students and can be so easily manipulated.

Her assembly went without a hitch and dad had lunch at school with both of the girls. They were going to have their usual sandwiches as the school dinners there are interesting (roast potatoes that taste like a hot ice cube), but then I got a text saying it was fish and chips on Thursday. My husband thought that sounded like a better option than sandwiches so hot dinners it was. You can imagine my mirth when I got a text to tell me that it wasn’t chips and a roast dinner – the change to the menu was the following week!

From that night onwards 9 calmed down immensely and the girls were really good company.

In other news – 7 passed Stage 3 in swimming. Not bad for an inherently lazy child…..download

Turning a Corner…

So, the first Parent’s Evening of the academic year happened tonight.

As usual 9 struggled with the run up to it – not completing her homework accurately and just being a ‘bit off’. We were hoping she would feel better about it this year as she has received a lot of awards and praise from her teacher over the last few months, but it still caused the same levels of anxiety. In fact, last night I went to check on her half an hour after she had gone to bed to find her playing on her Kindle! 7, on the other hand, couldn’t have cared less.

I’d arranged for Matt Haig’s Truth Pixie to be delivered today and told my husband to bring this with him when I met him at the school, so 9 could have something else to focus on while we waited. Fortunately, her appointment was before her sister’s and she only had 45 mins to wait for it after the end of her school day.

9’s teacher knows about her past (partly from a transition meeting with my husband, but also because her daughter is in the same year group and is part of 9’s circle of friends) and so she made it very clear that she wasn’t going to talk about levels, standard of work etc, but focus on 9’s positive attitude to all the tasks that she undertakes. She was lovely and spoke directly to 9 about how she didn’t need to worry about parents evening as she had a lovely personality, was trying really hard and she really enjoyed having her as part of her class. As you may have read from a previous blog my husband does extra consolidation work with the girls at home and so he took examples in with him to check he was covering the right things. From another of my blogs you might remember that 9 had also been accused of bullying recently and the teacher took the time to reassure us that this hadn’t been happening at all.

The nicest thing was she asked if the level of communication we were receiving from her was sufficient. She has been brilliant at emailing me on occasion when something has happened in school (good or bad) that might carry over into the home. This level of support has been invaluable this year.

Between the extra work done at home, the reassurance of dad being at home all the time (due to his early retirement) and the support and praise 9 receives at school (including differentiated reading/comprehension homework) we really seem to have turned a corner this year. Her behaviour seems to have settled down, with less attention seeking and she has gained in confidence through the accolades she has received for her effort and attainment.

She is clearly still well-known in school though as she was spoken to personally by the new Headteacher on arrival calling her “Miss ****”.

As for 7 – she is doing well too. She is still a tiny bit behind some of her peers when it comes to assessments, although she has a really lazy streak and I think part of this is just her inability to work quickly. Everything has to be done at her speed….

However, she is concentrating more and is more eager to join in class discussion work, which is good. She has to be kept away from some her friends though as she has a gob on her and will just sit and gossip if they are allowed to work together. Fortunately it appears she can work well with any student within the class.

Both teachers said how well they coped with the transitions into Y3 and 5 and negativity was kept away from the table.

 

On going to bed tonight 9 stated “I enjoy Parent’s evenings now!”images-2

My Girls the Therapists

IMG_0104 2There is something about my girls that draws people to them. I know all kids have some sort of cute factor but, 9 in particular, seems to have people gravitating towards her.

This weekend we watched All Shook Up the musical as my husband was playing in the pit band. We were met by him as we arrived and taken into the band room as everyone wanted to meet them (clearly my husband had been chatting about them all week). Everyone went our of their way to speak with them and offer them sweets. Good job they took their handbags as they were stuffed full of confectionary by the end of the night as when we went back at the end of the show to help carry stuff back to the car they were given even more.  My girls have impeccable manners when in public, saying please and thank you and holding doors open; and this meant that everyone was interacting with them and asking whether they had enjoyed the show. Even while we were sat there everyone surrounding my girls was chatting with them. I think 9 spoke to the lady next to her far more than she did to me during the course of the night.

Today though, we went to visit my Mother-in-Law in the nursing home, as we do most weekends. When we first started going 7 was really shy, but over the last couple of years they have started chatting to many of the residents. If we go on a Saturday afternoon they join in with the craft activities or play bingo – not with their grandma, but with anyone else who happens to be there. On a Sunday they normally have a musical on and the girls sit away from where we are chatting, pull up chairs and watch it with everyone else. Today, one of the elderly gentlemen started singing to them.

Their grandma loves to see them. She has 8 adult grandchildren, but as far as I am aware they rarely go to see her. She enjoys the inane chatter and is much perkier when they are there than when we go alone. My husbands siblings always say how low she is and how much she moans when they go to see her, but it’s like she understands that she can’t behave like that with the girls there and their visits always cheer her up (which is surprising as we think she is suffering from dementia).

The other residents also clamour to speak to the girls and you can see them sit a little bit more upright when they arrive, and many of them join in the activities that the girls push their way into. The staff have even started starting offering us all tea and biscuits too – which the girls never say no to.

We always have the worry in the back of our minds about what 9 will do when she is older and she is so far behind academically, but the more we see her with small children (who she is brilliant with) or the elderly, the more we can see her being successful in a caring career.

There are very few children who visit their elderly relatives in this particular care home and I think that is such a shame as they are fantastic therapy for older minds. They often get told stories of when the residents were little and so visiting is like a history lesson for them too.

I can see why some care homes invite students in from the local primaries – it really does have a positive effect on the elderly.

She’s such a Target!

After a lovely evening at the Adoption Awards last night (with too much Prosecco) and a very late night, I struggled my way through a day at work. Part of my job is to support some of the weaker groups and so last thing I found myself in a bottom set English class. They had all just been given iPads, so it was an interesting experience. Many of these kids are from low income families and so it was like opening the best Christmas present ever for some of them.

They are an interesting bunch. Many of them suffer from some form of attachment disorder, one is fostered (and was well impressed when told him where I had been the night before) and another is under Special Guardianship). They are a difficult class to teach as they all want attention, so if one shouts, or asks for help, or starts an argument they all try to get in on the act.

One of the girls asked if she could have a word with me outside, so off we went. She then started to tell me how 9 was bullying her sister by laughing at the fact that she plays with boys toys. This got my heckles up for many reasons:

  1. Why did she think it was her place to tell me?
  2. 9 had given me no indication through her behaviour that something like this was happening
  3. The girl who spoke to me has serious issues herself and often ‘tells fibs’ about other students and staff

I refused to get drawn into it and simply told her that this wasn’t the right way to go about it. She started arguing with me, until I pointed out that she wouldn’t like it if the tables were turned and I bumped into her mum and told her what had happened in school. I didn’t condone the behaviour, but told her that her mum needed to speak to the school if 9 really was bullying her and let them deal with it.

Three minutes after going back in the room and not getting the reaction she desired she was back shouting abuse at other students in the room and arguing about wanting free time (even though she is now in Y9).

At the end of the lesson I found out that she had already told the teaching assistant about the ‘bullying of her sister’ in the classroom and told her she was going to confront me.

A few years ago 9 did go through a spate of ‘bullying’ because she didn’t understand appropriate behaviour. In the same way that she also stole food, but these issues have been dealt with and she is proud of how she has turned her behaviour round. Although, this now makes her a target…..a scapegoat for other people’s misdoings.

My 1st thought was to email her teacher and see if she had noticed anything. Apparently the 2 girls are in different classes this year and they rarely mix. The teachers haven’t noticed anything but said they would monitor them to see if anything was happening at breaktimes, but they couldn’t see that it would be the case at all.

I got home and casually asked 9 if she had anything to do with this girl. I can always tell when she is lying (sometimes the guilt is there in the fact she won’t even reply), but she was genuinely dumbstruck.

I may be wrong, but it simply appears that some people prey on the vulnerable. But to see it happening between children is heartbreaking. I think my student wanted to create a bit of drama and found an easy way to do it, but what would have happened if I believed her and accused my daughter falsely?images-1

National Adoption Week for Teachers

I thought today, being the start of National Adoption Week, was a good day to remind my staff about dealing with our more vulnerable children (especially those suffering from attachment difficulties).

Part of my job is raising aspirations of both staff and students where our most vulnerable students are concerned and I feel I am starting to make headway.

  • The books from Timpsons are starting to go home with some of our adopted students for them to read and try and look at how they can work towards a positive future
  • I’ve photocopied many of the sheets from the Adoption UK welcome pack after convincing my school they needed to join. They are all in the staff rooms with constant email reminders
  • I’ve got training for Boxall Profiling booked in for next week
  • Praise Postcards are being sent home and I’ve just received a wonderful reply from one of LAC students.    “I just want to say thank you for believing in me I didn’t realise how hard I tried in dt if anything I thought I was underperforming than what I should be so thank you that is the boost I need
  • I’m booked in to my next RADY network meeting where we will be looking at the PP Strategy and looking at what is working in other schools
  • Students’ Attitude to Learning is better than ever as staff are more aware of individual students’ needs
  • After an additional transition day Y7 attendance is over 1.5% up compared to last year
  • Teachers know who all their PP students are and know they need to put in reasonable adjustments
  • All staff have undergone Attachment Training
  • We are looking at Poverty Proofing the school to try and reduce any stigma
  • I’m completing loads of online courses to provide additional information for staff and I’m building a library of useful books for staff to borrow
  • I’m using additional time to support some of our more challenging students in lessons (to try and stop them being sanctioned and removed from lessons)
  • I’m also based in the “inclusion” room and so my expertise as a parent, as well as a teacher is also used

It’s amazing talking to our staff. I was definitely a different teacher before I adopted. My results were good, but I was quite strict and thinking about it probably didn’t make many adjustments unless they were SEN. It is clear that 99% of our staff really struggle to understand challenging behaviour and the amount of times I have got into a ‘discussion’ when the words “it is all down to the parents” are used.

My girls are a regular fixture around the place, especially when we have concerts etc. This helps as staff see how I speak to them and how I manage their behaviour before it can escalate.

The problem is that so many people still believe that adoption is a magic fix! They have no understanding of what goes on inside a child, especially one that masks their real feelings.

So, I keep plodding on, making these students my priority; challenging staff about rules and sanctions and the completion of homework. Trying to build students’ self esteem and giving them the confidence to make the most of themselves.

It’s a difficult process, but I’m getting there…..images

Adoption Week 2018

So, National Adoption Week looms yet again and this year the theme is ‘The Adopter’.

Who can adopt?

Why should someone adopt?

What skills do you need to be successful at adopting?

Like @adoptionblogfox I asked my girls what made someone a good adopter.

9 – Someone who can be a good parent; someone who can keep you warm and safe; someone who buys you nice things; someone who keeps you clean; someone who makes sure you have enough to eat.

7 – They need to be trained (to make sure the kids aren’t taken away again); they need to keep the children safe; they need to take the children places to experience new things

When we decided to adopt (after many years of thinking about it) we naively thought we had all of the necessary skills needed. I was a teacher (so spent all day looking after a number of children) and was used to looking after someone else’s children as I had 4 steo-children. My husband obviously had 4 children of his own and was a proven parent.

However, none of these things made us good adopters. If anything the training process made us realise that we hadn’t got everything right over the years.

When we went through the preparation groups and really looked at the effects of trauma, we realised that some of the behaviours we had seen in my husband’s children were due to their feelings caused by the divorce of their parents. We realised that we hadn’t really acknowledged what they were going through and should have handled situations a lot better. Therefore our initial training actually helped us to parent our existing children better, before the arrival of the younger ones.

As for being a teacher – again with the initial preparation groups I realised I wasn’t making enough effort to really understand the behaviours of some of the kids that were sat in front of me every week. I began to question my own teaching practice and look at some of my students in a completely difficult light.

The one thing we did learn you have to be as an adopter is honest and open. The initial process is there to ensure that you understand what you are letting yourself in for and that you will be able to cope.  In our first meeting with social workers we laid on the table all of the skeletons in our closets – everything that we thought might stop us being successful as new parents for a child. What the social workers did was turn all our fears into strengths:

Losing 3 of our parents to cancer – made us understand grief and loss

Knowing we had made bad decisions as parents in the past – made us the type of people who could reflect on our actions and think about other ways forward/how to do things differently

Having suffered/suffering from depression – again made us more understanding of mental health and showed how we monitored our moods and actually did something about them when we felt ourselves getting low

There were loads more, but I won’t bore you with the details. Despite all the negatives I threw in we were still deemed to be suitable adopters and we went through the preparation groups and social worker meetings.

The prep groups are not always easy to sit through. We were always given worst case scenarios that could (and did) frighten off prospective adopters that didn’t realise that adopting a child wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. The social worker visits weren’t always comfortable either, although we found the process to be very cathartic. We were encouraged to talk about our childhoods and how we felt as children. As we had lost 3 of our parents I always had to make sure tissues were present as I recalled memories from my childhood and my thoughts on my parents and their parenting.

The other thing to be aware of is that, as my husband had been married before, his ex-wife and children all had to be talked to as part of the process. I was wracked with nerves as this happened, but I needn’t have worried. We’ve never asked the kids what they spoke about, that is their business, but clearly I didn’t need to worry as much as I did.

A word of wisdom to any prospective adopters out there. Your social worker gets to know you better than you know yourselves. We were planning on adopting one child, but I’ll never forget our social worker saying “I’ll be honest with you – I’m recommending you should adopt siblings!” She was right. This was the better option for us. With 4 ‘adult’ children already one child might have felt quite isolated. Also, we were used to dealing with sibling squabbles etc.

I had the most doubt about our suitability on 2 occasions:

  1. On the way to panel to be approved as adopters
  2. On the way to meeting our girls for the first time

On these occasions I was convinced the panel would see through me (as it was, they were more concerned about my husband and whether he would treat adopted children differently to his birth children – he doesn’t if you’re wondering) and that the girls wouldn’t like me (but thankfully they did).

Our adoption journey made us both look at ourselves and our family unit differently and if anything it even improved our relationships with the existing children. It was scary, terrifying, cathartic and exciting in equal measure.

Did we find the first year or so of having the girls at home easy?

No!

They tested us to our limits. There were occasions when I genuinely thought we’d made a big mistake. But that period didn’t last for ever and even through that I would have fought tooth and nail for my girls.

4 years on we are as ‘normal’ a family as we can be. We all integrate as a big family unit and the girls have been accepted by everyone. I have become a better teacher through a better understanding of trauma and now champion our ‘disadvantaged’ students in my school.

Adopting isn’t for everyone, but it is the best thing I ever did. My girls went from being quite ‘feral’ when they first arrived in foster care to the gorgeous daughters I now have. I am so proud of them each and every day. Although we still have issues with the eldest in terms of academic achievement that really isn’t important to us. The fact that they are caring and loving and polite is much more important. They are being given opportunities that they would never have had and are making the most of every one of them.

And as for being open and honest – this continues after you adopt. You have to be honest with yourselves about mistakes you make along the way and learn from them. You also have to be open and honest about their past. It is part of who they are and should never be belittled or taken away from them. We regularly meet with the girls’ foster parents and always talk to them about their birth families when they ask. Although they have taken on many of our characteristics and mannerisms thanks to nurture, nature will always be present, from how they look to what illnesses they might be susceptible to.

Adopting changes you. It makes you more determined and you aren’t afraid to fight for them every inch of the way. This might be fighting against the education system or simply the preconceptions of others.

My girls are just as much a part of our family as anyone else is and I wouldn’t change them for the world.download

Christmas Lists

I know it’s a little early to be buying Christmas presents, but I’m trying to get ahead of the game a little this year.

Buying presents is really tricky. How much do you spend on each person in an ever expanding family? Most grandparents would spoil their grandchildren, but we can’t afford to do that with having our young daughters along with 4 grandchildren and 4 other adult children to please at Christmas.

The rule we now tend to follow is that once you have children your pot of cash gets lowered in order for the grandchildren to have a decent amount spent on them.

The problem with my girls is condensing 7’s list and actually finding something that 9 will like. 7 is quite comfortable with her own identity. She knows what she likes to do and is quite happy to play independently. During the last week she has been writing a list by looking through the Smyths catalogue. Not surprisingly everything she has wanted has been in excess of £35….and she has wanted a lot. Getting her to condense her list has been really hard. Her response when I’ve said you don’t need that is – “I’ll ask my big sister then!”. She wanted to spend £30 on a pad of paper with a spy pen – the price was due to the fact that the case they are contained in opens with your voice. She would not have it that she didn’t need this as she already had a spy pen and loads of paper – the voice activated opening system was the bees knees!

9 on the other hand hasn’t suggested anything. Even after 4 years of being with us she still doesn’t really know who she is. She spends so much energy trying to fit in with everyone that all she can do is copy what others want – even if they don’t appeal to her at all. If I was to ask her what she wanted, she would simply ask her sister what she wanted.

The other issue is that if she perceives that her sister has anything better than her then we are in for a complete meltdown. So, even though there are 2 and a half years between them they often end up having similar presents. This year their big presents are identical  (initially chosen by 7) as they will work for both of them (I hope!) – but the smaller gifts will be more age appropriate. We’ve still got a lot of stocking fillers yet to buy, but we have an Amazon delivery due tomorrow and we need to pick up another of their gifts from Costco asap before they run out.

All I can say is thank goodness for VTech – I think we should have had shares in them after our Christmas shopping this year! I hope we are onto a winner with these – fun, yet still a ‘little’ educational.

I’m hoping that 9 might be able to use the secret diary we have bought them both a little therapeutically. It has a full QWERTY keyboard and has the function to work as an organiser (she needs to know what is happening when); has Maths and problem solving games (which she could do with to make learning fun) and space for 700 diary entries (I’m hoping she will be able to get things off her chest by getting them down in a private space which only she has access to).

They also want smart watches , mainly for the pedometer function as I always wear mine when we go on National Trust walks. But the camera function and games also have a draw for them.

I can’t wait for the day when 9 has a mind of her own and chooses something she actually wants…..

Until that day I will just have to guess what I think she might like (I’ve also gone for a remote control thing for her this year as she is quite a tomboy and loves her remote control car. This one drives and flies – and was £14.99 instead of £44.99).

Just saddens me to think how much the neglect in her early years has affected her. I know it has caused many issues, but to think she doesn’t even know what she wants from Santa is really sad!images.jpg