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In the process of becoming Special Guardians a process has to be followed inside a framework of guidance and to a 26 week time table. It culminates with a three week period where people (the panel) read all the paperwork and prepare for a panel sitting; where we are formally interviewed to support the application to have our grandson live with us as we will be his Guardians.
It is something that cannot be fully appreciated before the start, but the time and effort is draining, both mentally and physically, particularly when you feel you have lost the plot or can’t see why they need to know a remote piece of information. But the goal has to be kept in sight all the time – Safe Guarding.
We, the family that is, have meet or been involved with:
- 1 Social work – child and parents
- 1 Social workers boss
- 1 Social worker – grandparents
- 1 therapist – mother
- 1 day nursery manager – child
- 3 general practitioners – mother, father and both grandparents
- 1 Fire safety inspection (Fire Engine and crew)
- 1 Health and safety inspection
- 10 to 12 sets of forms to complete – 40 hours
- 2 full medicals – grand parents
- 1 child developmental medical
- 2 change grow live courses – parents
- 1 narcotic anonymous session – farther
- 35 hours of interview for grandparents
- 10 hours of joint interviews of grand parents
- 4 case meetings in social services offices
- 2 case meetings in our home
- 10 hours of parent interviews
There is still time needed to complete the process.
The more we talk to all the people involved the greater the understanding of what safe guarding is expected to deliver at the real sharp end.
It is still a difficult time.
I have been questioned why I did not intervene if I had concerns about drug taking when we visited our son and his partner while collecting and delivering our grandson.
It’s simple, lack of evidence. If anyone makes an accusation and in effect calls someone a liar without corroborated evidence then the ramifications are immense. Forget slander; it’s the end of a relationship. In our case it would have broken our family apart. Sorry’s will not cut it. Trust has gone forever. It may look fine and dandy three or four years later but the latent defect in the relationship is still there.
Please don’t think I am saying we were not concerned, but the only drug I can identify is cannabis due to its smell. We were told cannabis was not their concern. Any other drug and I am lost. It was other drugs!
When we visited, the house was often tidy, often untidy. Being untidy, particularly with an active child is not a crime. An early riser is our 3 year old grandson and a partner who has sleeping tablets means she has to go to bed early, which places addition pressure on family routine and duties.
Our son works hard and we often recognised sleep deprivation. Our sons partner often was tired and again sleep deprivation was not an unacceptable diagnoses.
Getting my point across to the social services was difficult. I pointed out that when they act without evidence, using their instinct, they walk away with impunity, and don’t have to pick up the pieces of a false allegation. We have not got their instinct!
Caution and evidence is required.
Over the last few weeks, possible five, my posts have ranged over associated subjects that read in isolation do not directly appear to relate to the mental health of my family and I. This is the dichotomy: mental health cannot be divorced from individuals, or families in the same way other medical conditions can – let me explain.
A broken bone can be plastered, a skin cut dressed, elective surgery has predictive objectives and outcome; all can be traumatic. Relevant to me; cancer can be cured (please don’t flame me). Those around you observe your recover as plaster is removed, dressings removed, recover takes place; crass I know; I am still alive.
For mental health sufferers only those who know your problems are in a position to detect change. It’s all hidden behind cloths and bravado. So the great public in the street, shops, busses etc. can’t detect your anguish that preoccupies your daily life. They just witness your current manner, posture, body language and facial expressions.
In my minds eye, many conditions may cause temporary depression, which in an otherwise healthy person will fade with time, the love and support of people around them.
In my opinion mental health suffers retain this load and it becomes accumulative and creates another layer of ‘hurt’ that has to be assimilated into their very isolated perspective and takes effort to manage and longer to shed.
In my situation, father, I worry deeply about my families health, physical and mental health at the moment.
This is the third cafe I have sat in today typing frantically to express my self. Absolutely no one knows what I feel and the load I carrying. Not even my family who I know unreservedly support me. I am their rock that I hope they have anchored their feelings to. I am their unquestionable support that is there for them 24/7. I am the provider of moral encouragement. I unpick and unpack what they can’t understand or comprehend and return it in bite-size portions of understanding.
Please, I am not saying I can’t cope, I have to, but I have my own mental health issues to resolve as well.
So, this is getting around to say: if you see an individual person in a busy cafe, or sitting on their own in a busy park, don’t panic. They may well be just passing the time while waiting to meet someone, but they could also be wanting to be amongst people and not sharing anything. They may be wishing someone is going to acknowledge they exist. They may be grieving for someone, (death is not the only thing people grieve for.). They could be wanting to see a change in someone in their life. They may understand exactly what they feel they need, but is out of reach. They may not be getting the level of support they have been promised.
How strange – a chap just sat opposite me and acknowledge my existence – that is a good feeling, I need no more.
Take a introspective interest in them: that’s not befriending them for the sake of it, just be compassionate in your thoughts; they could have a perfect life with no concerns, (great) but yet again they could be suffering in silence on the inside.
Getting back to my wayward blogs: all events in life register somewhere in the brain and wriggle around there to make connections. Some remain unconnected and unresolved and create problems like PTSD – for me earlier in my life. Those that are connected are either good, bad or indifferent and affect every connection there is – this is not scientific, just my feeling, including your mental health.
I could not justify not telling them about both situations … my performance is poor.
I have only told my line manager, a project specific manager and two very good young chaps who report to me about my plight.
As my exploratory operation is on Wednesday, and it could be good or bad I felt they should know.
My involvement with the project has dwindled and in effect I have withered on the vine. I should have challenged a lot more events that have happened, but knew I could not resolve them in a timely manner to keep things on side. Starting a challenge needs to be managed or the vacuum it leaves is more disastrous than not challenging: others feel they have succeeded over you.
The only time I am really happy is when I am with him playing. Other than that I want to withdraw from life.
I have a lot on my mind at the moment is an understatement. Slowly I am having to open up to a wide audience and explain the situation I am in and I am getting more supportive feelings from friends than I thought.
It is not necessarily from the words but from their hidden understanding they seem to exude: their eyes, their body posture, the fact they don’t know what to say and therefore don’t blurt things out just for the sake of it. Family feel obliged to say things.
I don’t want to be told it’s alright, it will not turnout that bad, or Mr Smith had that and he is ok. I don’t care; what is common between us I have no idea.
I am borrowed time!
My Cancer may or may not be a major problem. Loosing my grandson is more life changing to me, from which there is no recovery.
I want to go back to February 2019 and put things right. Even that is not really early enough, but … I now want to be alone in a crowd and not bothered by anyone.
It’s strange … I have written a lot describing the circumstances and plight of the two families in my daily life and not really considered my feelings and attitudes to what is happening. Well, now is the time to unload …
It does effect me. It is not a position I thought I would ever be in. I thought I would be Mr Average and match the statistics: married, 2.4 children, a pet. Blah blah blah.
I do match that description but the problems we have encountered with children are beyond my expectations. I say that as if I had considered the process and made a conscious decision and accepted the risk. No. I had no idea and I don’t think there were any real pointers out there for me to see that would have informed my decisions.
I now appreciate the significance of the saying ‘Children don’t come with a manual’: Not even a go warily. Even looking at those people around me in the formative years of parenthood did not signify real problems. Yes as time progressed sleepless nights, house smelling of nappy contents and the rooms littered with hiding Lego blocks just waiting for nightfall and bear feet did not alert me.
On the humorous side there are Lady Bird books for mum’s and dad’s now. But all in lovely drawn sweet colours and to be taken with a humorous pinch of salt.
My vision of were I am now is simple: In the wrong place! No complaints. I am not disappointed as my mantra has always been ‘don’t look back at unfulfilled wishes’
Looking at the age range the early school years were fun. Seeing growth and personality traits was interesting.
Independence and free spirited youth and the teenagers years were littered with trials and errors made by them. We have supported them all the time. We have never said ‘told you so…’ and we have never cast judgement but let them know our thoughts.
Perhaps the biggest problem is the open and unimpeded accesses to people’s unknown. Starting to loose influence here!
Young adults does mean treating them respect and certainly not creating mini-mes’.
We have had many exploratory conversation so they have understood where we stand on things and have witnessed many learning events they took themselves but never battered them at what they inwardly knew and accept were wrong decisions.
I have only stopped one lad from doing two things and both while in his 20’s. Using his mobile while in the bath while having it plugged into the mains to charge, and overloading his estate car with fence panels etc. to deliver them to me before starting a 200 mile car journey after. His car is his livelihood and I considered the benefit to me was outweighed by keeping him on the road.
All in all I am not where I though I would be, but I am also not sure where that is either.
I attended an introduction evening with the SANE Charity in North London. I had hoped to help them and as a spin-off understand what I could do better my family.
The evening was very well run and delivered a powerful message about what they did and how they did it.
It was only on the evening it became apparent that while a national charity they operated from one office in North London and had a minimum of three four hour shifts in a week over a year.
This was impractical for me due to commitments I already have.
Helping people in their time of crisis is a fantastic thing to do, and while I can’t help now, I may be able to do so in the future. I wish them good fortune in the future.
During the last few months the partner of our son and the mother to two granddaughters has shown her true colours by her bitter actions. It’s getting to an identifiable stage where the children are being used as a point of reference to bargain with.
Having moved out of the family home our son still acknowledges his duties to support his children and be a responsible father. This includes the major responsibility such as providing the same level of support as he would do as if he was there. Namely money and contact. This becomes a little difficult as work demands and living a short way away creates there own logistical problems.
A weekend was being planned to visit us and it was thought that the children could not travel as they would be away from her for to long a time. However the following weekend she wanted a break with, I believe her new partner, and those rules were forgotten.
Access to the children is under stick control now, if not rationed.
My time came to an end. I became aware that all the talking I had needed to do had been done, and talking anymore, and being helped, would not add to my level of understanding. I felt comfortable with my situation.
All the unpacking of stuck and un-reconciled thoughts had been sufficiently unpacked and restored suitable. Any more talking or EMDR would not expand my knowledge or understanding of the events or sooth my feelings and emotions more.
We did a round up and a summary flowed. It’s okay to remember and not feel upset or guilty. It’s okay to have sad memories but they should not drag me down or be allowed to act as fuse to ignite emotions.
My inherent desire to help should be limited in expectations to what I can reasonable do, and I should not feel guilty about not doing enough!
This end was, even now, unexpected on my part. I sat down for a session and I concluded I felt things had run there course. I had spoken enough, listened enough and cried enough. It no longer gripped me on recall. I was happy to recall and be in that past moment again but with a subdued emotional feeling.
Well, the PIP process carries on. I took time off work to take our sons partner to her PIP interview. The journey was uneventful but anxiety showed in her as we approached our destination. Cold sweet, stammers in her voice and a reluctance to want to attend took over.
Once we found the place it was off for a comfort break. Tea and coffee later we went back.
The chap on reception was very helpful and polite and we waited and waited. Our sons partner became more and more agitated and went outside and was sick.
On her return I had to break the news her paperwork was not there and they did not know where it was. I expected a full blown outburst, was pleasantly surprised at how calm we all were.
Her paper work was in a far off distant office as a home visit had been requested by the CPN and needed a Doctors approval but no one was bothered to wait until it had been agreed before making the appointment.
Controlled tears were shed and a reticence set in that acknowledge that it had all gone wrong again.
We left not really knowing when the visit would be or where.
Starting on a new course is an exciting thing. It may come with trepidation but not with fear. That is to say a stereotypical thought and does not apply to some one with anxiety. I missed a trick in trying to deescalate a situation and paid the price.
Time had been built into the day to allow for changes and arriving relaxed. I was providing transport and child care. The car seat was moved into my car but not fitted. We had time!
Securing the car seat was a bit of a faff as my hands do not allow the clip to be passed through the seat covers with ease, but it was done as a joint effort. The next step – secure child in seat proved so difficult that it did not happen. The webbing between the child’s legs had been pulled tight, by me, that in no way could the shoulder straps be positioned over the child’s shoulders unless they were of only paper thickness.
Neither I or the parent could release the tightness of the straps. We tried every which way we could but no. We took the chair out and looked and poked it everywhere but the shoulder straps would not budge.
All this time my grandson was climbing through the gap between the front seats thinking every time we moved he was being chased. Buttons were pushed in more than one way! The parents temper broke and harsh words spoken, and not because of that his full nappy started to leak, yes out over the car seats.
The parent went passed that point where talking would help recovery. I spoke to the course organiser and explained the situation and it was my fault and this was understood and appreciated. The parent was now in shock and could not be reconciled. Thoughts of failure were spoken, thoughts of nothing every going properly were said and my suggestion of calling for a taxi was rebuffed by pointing out to me that this, say 15m, was the farthest she had been from the front door in over a week.
We returned indoors where I had to bath my grandson due to the nappy explosion.
We agreed I would visit the course venue and check what we should do as she was very worried she would be kicked off the course. They understood and it was not a problem.