Our new placement isn’t really ‘new’ any wore. Blimey, where’s the year gone?
We find it’s really helpful to look back and try to identify the progress that’s been made. Progress almost always happens but if you’re not careful it’s easy to simply foster in the here and now.
Here and now is good of course; it means you’re in touch with the moment and children live in the moment. You have to try to be aware of what they’re thinking and feeling all day long so you’re ready with the right responses.
But, that said; it’s SO important to look back and remember where the child was when he/she arrived, and remember the tribulations which kicked in after a week or two, as they usually do.
Romeo (not his real name) arrived all sheepish and shy understandably. The first job was to get him comfortable with us, his space, the house in general.
As soon as that was done he showed us he felt at home by going into ODD mode. (ODD = Oppositional Defiance Disorder). Everything was not quite right. Nothing was good enough. Anything anybody said was stupid and infuriating. There’d be tears, he’d have to go to his room and calm down, which 9 times out of 10 he did.
Those days are (nearly) all gone.
It’s been a long year from that point of view. But thinking back, he’s gone up a notch almost day by day. Various reasons. One is that his mother has cut him off. She’s chosen some druggie misfit over her son. At first he was so, so sad, and showed it with anger and outbursts.
On the plus side it means no more Contacts, which is great. The woman often didn’t show up. When she did she complied with the suggestion she bring some snack food for her son, so she’d nip into the cheap corner shop and buy the cheapest plastic wrapped sandwich and a stick of chewing gum. The thought of buttering some bread in her own kitchen, showing her love by making him something to eat, never occurred.
Back in the darker days of episodes the whole family pulled together. One of our longer-term children actually said to me “I remember when I was like that”. To which I replied something like “Let’s hope we can help him do as good a job on himself as you’ve done on yourself.”
Children in care are almost always permanently in need. Their lives are in turmoil, no matter how perfect the home we give them. So, if you’re a carer your yesterday, your today and your tomorrow will likely be bound up in the child’s turmoil, and that is hard for you.
But we have to stay strong and importantly remember how far they’ve come.
And, come to think of it, how far we’ve come too.