Wednesday, July 12, 2017



          It's 6.00am on Sunday morning, the Sunday of 'Infinite Tolerance' aimed at giving dear Little Joe a day free from panic. Right now Joe is inching along our hallway, probably still in his pyjamas.

We have to pretend we don't know he's there. If we put our heads round the door and say hello it will spoil his game and he'll either deflate or blow a gasket. And we've decided that today everything has to go according to his needs.

He makes a tiny noise. A squeaky grunt. We know what this means, he did it yesterday. It means he's a badger. A badger who's got into the house. A badger we welcome into the house. Being made to feel welcome, accepted and wanted is his dearest dream but he doesn't think Joe will ever get that much love, so he gets a taste of it by being a charming little animal.

I say; "Did you hear that? I think that lovely badger has come into the house again."

Joe's nose appears round the door. He's on all fours, kneeling. We've seen him crawling around at Contact when the booming adults he has been removed from were towering over him. Another reason he is comfortable being a little creature is that it's a disguise for his submissiveness, his ultimate defence against oppression.

So, we allow. Today, all day, we're going to allow, encourage even, everything he needs to do. I say;

"What a lovely young badger!"

Joe joins us up on the sofa, curled up in a foetal ball, purring. We are allowed, encouraged even, to stroke the badger's forehead, something which, if we tried it with Joe, would anger him.

He makes a noise and scuttles out of the room. He goes upstairs and comes back with both arms full of soft toys. Each one he introduces to us by name and says that they want to come and live here. Each one we welcome and say how wonderful it will be to have them all come and live with us.

"And how lovely to have a badger too." I say.

"Not a badger," says Joe, getting control back; "Paul".

"Paul" is Joe's other new alter-ego; an orphan puppy. It's no accident that 'Paul' is the name of our real youngest son. We keep a blanket in the living room. The blanket has to be wrapped round Joe so you can't see any of him, then we 'open' the package to discover we've been 'posted' a puppy.

Again, we have to invite the puppy to stay. Tell him how much we want him.

'Where is Paul's mummy and daddy?" I ask.

"Dead" is the reply.

"Does Paul have any family. Any brothers and sisters?"

"All shot."

Then change again.

"I'm not Paul any more. What are we going to do today?"

I list some ideas; a dog walk, a bike ride etc. Every idea gets;


I get up and say I'm going to make some toast. When I get back the time is 6.20am and Joe has started to build a den. Younger looked-after children often build dens, they use sofa cushions for walls and the roof and other cushions to basically block out the world.

I would normally say no to a den first thing in the morning. Dens are a pain because they send the living room topsy-turvy and because in Joe's case there is no way he will lift a finger to help put all the cushions back.

He accepts buttered toast, quartered, crusts cut off, on a small plate, passed through a small gap in the den, which today (Infinite Tolerance Day) he is allowed.

It's his day. It's 30 minutes old.

Will this work? Can we keep it up? When will we crack? be continued.


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