Sunday, July 16, 2017

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF FOSTERING PART 6







A GAME OF SKRABBEL


              1.50pm Sunday lunchtime. It should be Sunday lunchtime, but cooking would take me away from Little Joe and my personal quest which is to give him a day without a single panic attack.

To recap; Joe gets very hot and bothered whenever he thinks he'd been thwarted, dismissed, disapproved of or somehow in trouble. It's painful to see what he goes through, it rips him up poor little guy. So I have decided to give him a whole day where he might never feel dissed or denied and thus experience a day of peace.

I'm calling it the Day of Infinite Tolerance (as opposed to Zero Tolerance).

1.56pm Joe announces he wants to cycle to the One Stop for some Randoms. The One Stop is 600 yards from our house, pavement all the way. Perfect. Helmet on, he cycles, I walk behind him. We get there and he does that wonderment thing in front of the stacked shelves, gazing at the sweets, chocolate bars and snacks. When you tell a six-year-old they can have one of anything they want, it's their earliest experience of total freedom of choice. Then they say they can't make up their minds between Randoms and Monster Munch, knowing you'll cave in and let them have both, because they deserve it.

2.15pm Joe shuts himself in the living room with Randoms and Monster Munch. TV blaring, sounds like Spongebob. Again.

The chattering classes who generally don't know as much about parenting as foster parents bang on about the evils of children sitting in front of TV scoffing junk. The chatterers wouldn't last 48 hours in fostering. Everything's good in moderation. 

2.35pm Joe emerges; 'my throat's hot'. That's Monster Munch Fire for you. I tell him I'll bring him some apple juice so he goes back to Spongebob. I butler in a glass of juice. 

Then this happened;

Joe gave me 3 Randoms. 

3 of his Randoms! A cake, a racing car and a mushroom, if you want the details.

If I had had doubts about Infinite Tolerance Day (and I did, by the way), they vanished in that moment. This is a little boy whose attachment levels were so poor the concept of giving up anything as precious as a sweet was absolutely off his behaviour range.

Yet today, after eight and a half hours of Infinite Tolerance, he gave me not 1 but 3 Randoms.

I float away sucking a racing car and humming inside. 

3.00pm We have two rooms downstairs, a living room and a room off the kitchen with a stained sofa, a knackered flat screen TV, some computer game consoles, a box of toys and some board games.  I tend to sit in there sometimes for a bit of peace, get my breathe back. I'm sitting there when Joe appears... and asks to join me! Again, a first, a big one. He's never wanted my company before.

3.05pm Joe finds the box of Scrabble and announces that we're going to have a game. This should be interesting as his academic record is woeful, but he knows the letters of the alphabet.

3.10pm Joe goes upstairs and fetches two soft toys, one for his team and one for my team. Spreading the responsibility should he 'lose' I guess. But he doesn't know that I always let foster children win, especially today of all days.

3.15pm A game of 'animal scrabble' begins. Joe came up with the theme. He comes up with the rest of the rules too; he takes about thirty letters. Oh, and he takes up position under the coffee table, a small square wooden one next to the sofa. He's also blocked up the open sides with cushions, making him feel safe while he experiments with playing a game against an adult. The danger lies not just in possible defeat, but in experiencing new feelings such as attachment and mutuality. 

3.20pm I've explained that if you place a word over a 'Triple Word' square you get triple points. Joe places "J-E-L-E-P-U-N-D-X-Q-W" on the Triple Word square and says it's "Elephant".  I keep score. Joe scoops up almost all the remaining letters. I pass as I can't go, and he places "P-A-R-I-D-Y-T" nowhere near his "Elephant". I hesitate to ask what it says because I want to show him I can 'read' what he 'writes', for his self-esteem. But I reckon he knows that I know that he's whistling dixie because he announces "Parrot!"

4.10pm Joe wins the Animal Scrabble with over a thousand points. But he wins bigger in the game of Life. He's engaged one-to-one with a domestic adult (he has Oppositional Defiance Disorder; he is compliant with teachers, doctors, social workers and police officers but cuts off or acts hostile with adults he shares a roof with). Plus he had control for an hour, plus he won.

4.15pm Joe asks for another bike ride. I remember that he needs to take a model mummy to school for his Ancient Egypt project homework. Aaaagh, I'm going to have to say "No."

Here's come today's first panic attack...

continued



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