Tuesday, 26 July 2016

The PIG Soapbox.

I've let blogging slide lately. There's been a lot to deal with, school trips to be endured, school play to get out of the way, secondary school transition to fret about.

I have started about five blog posts, but without exception they have all been angry and ranty, which isn't the route I want to go down, so they are festering as draft posts until I can give them the calm attention they need.

Today's post will not be ranty at all, and all credit goes to someone who suggested I blogged about something else that is going on in the PDA Soapbox household at the moment:


We are getting pigs, and we are all incredibly excited, some of us so much that rage flares, but on the whole the planning and preparation that is going into getting our first pigs is a very happy time.

Just to give you some background information, we have a very small field a couple of miles from home. It is our haven, the place we go to to escape from the noise and bustle of everyday life. We keep chickens and ducks, and soon we will keep pigs.

In the last couple of years, as we've been fighting and surviving through assessments and diagnoses, and through the trauma of our oldest in school and the decision to home educate him, our field has become something of a chore, we have lost interest, we haven't spent the time up there that we have done in the past. We've all lacked energy and interest.

The decision to keep pigs has brought the energy zinging back. Once again we are spending whole evenings at our field, building fences, fighting off North Yorkshire's most vicious midges, and yesterday, building a pig shelter out of sixteen straw bales.

Usually a task like this would see our oldest (15, almost certainly PDA) trying to take control and putting everyone's backs up and PDA boy doing the same, but ending up throwing punches in frustration. In short, any group activity like this usually ends in meltdowns.

Yesterday went rather differently. The building of the shelter was separated into three parts, and each of us was in charge of a different area each, satisfying our individual control freakery.

Oldest was in charge of the logistics of moving the straw bales from where they had been dropped off to the area we planned to build, I was the master builder, PDA boy was chief basher, hammering thin wooden stakes through the straw bales to keep them anchored to each other and, hopefully, to the ground. Time will tell how successful our attempt is, when there is a resident pig to rub against the carefully placed walls!

For the first time in a long time, we felt like a team. We worked together well, and all have a huge sense of pride in our achievements. The first day of the summer holidays was an epic success.

On to the pigs.

We are getting three pigs. The first is an adult micro pig called Winston. He belongs to friends and is currently living in a place where he isn't being looked after as well as he should, so he is coming to us as soon as we are ready. He is black and about the size of a very fat Labrador.

Of course it would be cruel to keep him all alone, so we feel it is our duty as caring future pig owners to make sure Winston has friends.

Out of the goodness of our hearts, we have found him two little, tiny piglets who are as yet too young to leave their mother. They will join our founding herd of little pigs in eleven days (not that we're counting or anything...).
I'm not going to jinx the process by discussing these, but will update and blog about them when I can.

The start of our summer has been a resounding success. Today we are having a rest day so we have the energy to tackle tomorrow, more fencing and making sure the pig area has no nails left lying around.

I sincerely hope the holiday carries on as well as it has started!

Friday, 8 July 2016

A bizarre proud day post!

Today I have brought my boys home and I am bursting with pride (and relief). You'd think PDA boy had won a Nobel prize of some sort, when in fact my pride is for a very weird reason.

PDA boy has started to show clear signs of demand avoidance in school. (See, I told you it was a weird reason!)

Actually, thinking about it, the last time I felt pride like this was when my daughter moved school in year 2, she went from being a silent little mouse to a complete chatterbox. When my husband and I were told that she talked too much in class, we were quite teary in our pride that she was finally talking in school!

Since PDA boy did his SATs, he has avoided work as much as possible. He will do this by cleverly distracting his teacher, using humour, as well as a more obvious plain refusal to work (in fact I only learnt this week that during his SATs maths exam, he closed the paper and refused to finish it).

In the last couple of weeks, the signs of avoidance have been much clearer. He has started pacing round the room. He is avoiding all academic work and needing more support.

This week at one point, he stood up, shouted "Abracadabra" and got under a table, where he stayed for half an hour.

A welcome side effect of this more obvious demand avoidance has been a more settled boy at home, sure we've had outbursts, but he is taking himself upstairs to play on his Xbox and give himself a chance to wind down after a day, we haven't had the need for 100% supervision that we do when his mask is more firmly in place.

I don't know if pride is a normal reaction for this behaviour, but I'm so proud that he finally feels he can show how he's feeling, and I'm relieved that he's not swearing and punching in school, as that would open up a whole new set of challenges.

In the last few weeks, I feel that PDA boy has really started to come to terms with his diagnosis, and he's talking about it more openly to certain people, and is starting to understand that there are things he can do to help himself feel happier or less overwhelmed. Whether this is a sign of growing maturity, or that he simply needed time to get his head around things, I have no idea, but we are welcoming this phase with open arms.

For so long, fitting in and appearing neurotypical has been PDA boy's priority. Even though this leaves him feeling exhausted, angry and, at times, suicidal, he has put most of his effort into being like every other child in his class.

I truly hope that this new openness continues when he starts secondary school in September, as I feel this will be his big chance to receive the support he so desperately needs.

As he prepares to leave primary school and start this new adventure, I'm finally starting to feel cautiously optimistic about PDA boy's education. Long may it last!