Mothers Day started with Jake, my lovely young man, wishing me a Merry Christmas. I had bought my own flowers (a great idea from the POTATO group), as I knew he would struggle to go out with his social anxiety issues – and he offered to make me a cuppa. I suggested I make him breakfast and we might enjoy eating it together – not something we normally do at all. Mealtimes together were a rare event until about a year ago, when we started to have an evening meal together a few times a week. I have had to give my son so much space to be himself after he came out of the care system for the second time at 16. For years he had to fit in with foster carers and with the rules of the children’s home. I wanted him to have the sense that in his home he could do as he pleased as long as he was considerate of others – which he is. Friends who meet a lot of other young people say he is the most polite and thoughtful teenager they have ever met. He is such a very kind and thoughtful person.
“Sure”, he agreed to my suggestion, and we went downstairs together. I am, for the most part, my son’s only social contact – although he has online friends all over the world – and has interesting discussions with young people in Canada, Australia and Croatia, playing games with them and working on collaborations – he is hoping to be an artist/writer in future. He also has great support through the EHC Plan until the age of 25, with tutors who come to the home and take him out sometimes – he has a very cool art tutor he adores, who looks like he should be fronting a rock band. The lessons are once a day every day except Wednesdays when he has therapy. This is funded through the ASF and the education team as the ASF is capped at £5k and this isn’t enough for my son. Post adoption support, and Pathway Planning teams (my son was in care on his 16th birthday so is a Formerly Relevant child), found reasons to say no – but the education team has come up trumps and my son loves his life, has plans for the future and feels a sense of hope he hasn’t had in as long as he can remember.
As I cooked breakfast – a yummy fry up with veggie sausages – and pottered around the kitchen – we chatted a bit. We talked about a friend’s daughter who is having a hard time with college work and a part-time job, needing to earn money, and feeling pressured to have work experience on her CV – but now absolutely exhausted. I said that one good thing about my son’s life, which has been unusual to say the least with him being taken back into care a second time during adolescence and me having to battle to get him home, is that it has given him time to think – as he can’t go out and socialise or work. Few young people have this opportunity – to just think about what they really want to do, with the pressures they are put under – some of which comes from peers. Jake has none of this pressure in his life. It would overwhelm him completely – and did – at the age of 12 when he just stopped going to school. He couldn’t explain his reasons. He didn’t know the reasons himself. He loved school. So it was I who got the blame – my parenting of him was putting him at risk of significant harm, He was ‘beyond parental control’. Foster carers would do a better job of keeping him safe and containing his trauma related difficulties – this is what CAMHS, the LA and a Cafcass Guardian thought.
Jake fed the dog, made me a cuppa, and cut the bread and made toast. I thanked him and he joked that his strategy had always been to be such a shit son so that when he did the most basic small things I would appreciate them more – I told him it had worked out perfectly.
“It looks lovely” he said as I put the food on the plates. A perfect start to the day as far as I am concerned!
Wishing you all a happy Mother’s Day. So grateful to have my son back home. So grateful for our life.