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Thursday

It is always slightly chaotic in the run up to Christmas. This year the children broke up from school ten days before Christmas day. That meant I had them around the whole week leading up to Christmas and I had no time to get on with the preparations that I normally do when the children are at school. This meant I had to entertain the children in the day and get on with last minute shopping and wrapping of gifts in the evenings. By the time Christmas arrived I was feeling pretty exhausted. Charlie is busy with work – so has not been around to help with preparations.

The other thing I have had to factor in this week is contact with Alice and her birth parents. I have tried to be positive about contact over the years, but I know how it affects Alice. Whilst I agree that contact can be a positive experience for children, in this case there is no meaningful relationship being formed and it only causes her upset. We have learnt that is is best to only tell her about contact on the day it happens. This is not something that social services have always advocated but they trust us now that we know what is bet for Alice. We know if we tell her beforehand, then she gets very anxious, and there have been times when her birth parents have cancelled contact at the last minute.

Today, we are taking Alice into the city to meet her birth parents. They want to meet her at the Christmas markets. It wouldn’t be my choice for venue, I give my opinion and then the social worker decides it with birth parents. We get there in plenty of time so that we can meet the contact worker to do a handover before she is left with her parents. As has become normal, it is another new contact worker who has never met Alice before and has no idea about her disabilities – physical or learning. I made sure that Alice’s catheter was done and she was ready for contact. Her parents arrived a little late, but I will still collect Alice at the designated time, this is so that we can get back home in good time for catheter and medication.

When we collected Alice, she seemed ok. She had eaten her body weight in doughnuts and she still had the remnants of a hot chocolate round her mouth. Alice and her parents said their goodbyes and handed a bag of Christmas and birthday gifts to me. Alice was remarkably calm with no signs of being upset or anxious.

The contact worker didn’t have anything particular to report. As we got nearer to the car Alice suddenly burst into tears. She said that she missed her parents and wanted to know when she would see them next. We didn’t know the answer to this but it was likely to be around the Easter holidays – I don’t think she would have appreciated that as an answer – the Easter holidays would feel like years away to her. So instead we opted for the “let’s ask the social worker” – which usually suffices.

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