Monday, December 21, 2020

FLASHBULB MEMORIES

Foster children come and go and we're left with little flashbulb memories of them as souvenirs.

Kate was a big sixteen-year-old girl - I never normally include people's size when decribing them but in her case it was so significant that her social worker told us about it in preparing us for her arrival.

Kate had been removed from an abusive home.The father went to prison and her adult sister was allowed to stay partly to look after the mother who was disabled.

It had been a very abusive home, and it remained chaotic, but it was Kate's home and foster children always (almost always) want to go home.

Kate was allowed to spend alternate weekends at home provided she attended school. A crude deal but it was well meant.

However Kate wanted to go home every weekend. So this would happen every Friday evening when she was due to spend the weekend with us.

Kate would appear and say to me:

"I'm confused." Only she wasn't.

She would then whitter away about the deal, her home, her school attendance and finally come to her conclusion, namely that she was due to go home that weekend. She would always end her pitch with the same words;

"If that makes sense?" Only it didn't.

Thwarted she'd stomp upstairs and slam her bedroom door.

An hour later she would stomp back down in her hat and coat with an overnight bag and head for the front door. I would say;

"Kate, you're not due to go home this weekend."

There would follow a long and often passionate debate which would end up with me reminding her that if she left without permission I'd have to contact Blue Sky's Out Of Hours people and they'd have to decide if the police should be called. That decision would be based on how distressed she was and how vulnerable she might be.

The clock would tick towards 10.30pm which was the time of the last train back to her home town.

So far so bad..then things would look up. I would say;

"Look, I know how disappointed you must be. Is there anything we can do to help you feel better?"

And the answer was always the same;

"A Big Mac?"

So now the race is on because our McDonalds closed at 11.00. I'd hurry into a coat and we'd both jump into the car and hurtle (lawfully) down to the drive-through window.

The flashbulb memory I have of Kate came one Friday night as we were driving home and she'd had her first bite. She suddenly said, to no-one in particular, maybe just to herself;

"Don't the trees look lovely at night in the headlights?"

You've got to have some hapiness in your heart to notice suchlike.

Oh yeah, the reason she was overweight and it was a matter to be understood is that she'd made herself as unattractive as she could to ward off her father doing to her what he did to her older sister.

Dear Kate. I wonder where she is now?

Hope she's okay.


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