So, when I look back on my daughter’s younger years it’s hard to pin point when I very first noticed that things were not quite the same as when my older two girls were younger. I had had a fairly straightforward birth, as far as possible and the only complication was a retained placenta. She was a healthy 8lb 2oz and met all her early milestones ie babbling, weaning, sitting up, crawling, walking etc. So no cause for concern right?
I was fortunate enough to have been able to take a year’s maternity leave before returning to work as an Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Officer, something that I had been unable to do with my older two girls, as was a Childminder at the time and being self-employed didn’t come with the luxury of maternity leave. So having this time, a whole year, was really precious to me.
As a baby my youngest daughter was a very happy and content child. That said, when newborn, she went through a period where once a week she was very unsettled for the entire night (always on a Tuesday)…very odd! Apart from this, she was generally very happy, content, engaging, entertaining and all those things that make the baby time special. She also had a wicked, infectious laugh!
Being an older mum, well 34 wasn’t particularly old but I felt ‘older’ as I had had my other two girls when I was just 22 and 24 (and married), I didn’t have the circle of other mums with children of similar age unlike with my others. So I set about socialising, joining baby/toddler group etc. Again, nothing untoward raised any early alarm bells and appeared a very sociable, interactive and happy small person.
The terrible two’s?
On my return to work, I placed my daughter with an excellent childminder (due to my role at the time I had inside information and was able to cherry pick the very best!). My daughter continued to thrive. It was probably around 15/18mths when the terrible two’s (or so I thought) kicked in. Lots of issues quickly emerged with sharing, taking turns (always needing to be first) and the lashing out commenced. I hear you say, well that’s fairly average behaviour for a child developing, learning about hierarchy, discovering/establishing friendships and finding their feet, however when a child’s behaviour is bringing adults to tears this becomes something else. Things also began to escalate at home and I recall the extraordinary strength that beakers were launched from her car seat in the back of the car which used to hit the windscreen with great force and the dodging of missiles commenced! However, this still didn’t ring any huge alarm bells and I just put this down to be a strong willed, spirited child.
The difficulties commenced
Whilst my daughter was a very sociable soul, these difficulties were naturally going to impact on how other children interacted with her. By the time she was about 2/3yrs old her behaviours at the childminders were intensifying, with increasing daily reports of her being ‘grizzly’ or having ‘paddies’ and these more trickier times appeared, at the time, to come in 3 weekly cycles. I even started to google ‘does the moon cycle affect behaviours’.
However the childminder never gave up on her, always looking at different strategies to make her feel safe and calm but at the same time trying to reduce negative behaviours – something I will always be extremely grateful for! What would I have done if she was unable to continue caring for her (this was my fear)….I would have had to give up my job and as a single parent, of three, we would have been screwed! Little was I aware, at this time, that eventually I did indeed have to give up my employment.
So we managed to scrap through with there being only one occasion where I had to collect my daughter early from the childminders due to her aggressive behaviours….phew…and then we were faced with starting school!
September 2012 (aged 4yrs) we started school, I was nervous! What if all the difficulties she experienced at the childminders and at home spilled out into school….I waited and watched with baited breath!