If you were to listen at our door, the most common words you’d have heard this last week or two would be “I hate this family” or “You’ve never loved me”. Spoken, or, more accurately, screamed at the top of his lungs, by Norman. It’s an everyday occurrence at the moment, and no number of cuddles or reassurance seem to be making it easier for him.
I will say, I don’t think he hates this family and I don’t think he feels that we don’t love him. I think we have a very scared, very confused little boy who is struggling to understand where he belongs in this world and why. He has been home with us for just over 18 months now, which is the same length of time he lived with his foster family, and slightly less time than he was with his birth family. We talk about time, and I know school do too, not just minutes and hours, but days, weeks, months… he understands it as well as any five year old I think, but I do wonder if there’s some sort of internal clock that makes him worry that it’s about time to move on, that he’s had his time with this family and the next one will be coming along shortly. If he can be angry about it, and detach himself, somehow it won’t be as painful when it happens.
Last year he had so many questions, mostly around his foster family, why he didn’t live there, why he had to move. We answered the questions as honestly as possible, but we struggled really to make sense of things for him, we hadn’t established a trusting relationship with him; in his eyes, we took him away from the family that made him feel safe. Despite all that, we have managed to build a safe home for him. Early on, we had to do some bizarre things, such as open the fridge regularly to show him that there was plenty of food, that he wouldn’t go hungry.
Yet here we are, 18 months later with a frightened, confused, angry boy. Mrs S and I asked social services for some assistance with life story work numerous times last year, to no avail. We were told that Norman was too young. Our belief was – and still is – that if he was old enough to ask the questions then he was old enough to have some answers, which is what we’ve tried to do. Explaining the concept of foster care and birth families is hard though! We do think it’s probably about time to discuss things again with social services and see if they have any suggestions for Norman, and as time goes on, Marvin.
It seems to me that the idea of a “happily ever after” for our boys is still a long long way off, if indeed it exists at all. But then I suppose that’s true of all people. The twists and turns of life see to that, it’s the journey rather than the destination that matters.
It’s been a difficult time for us all; I seek solace in my craft! On Sunday Mrs S and I had a day off, Grandma and Grandpa looked after the boys and Norman was lovely. Marvin was less lovely by all accounts, but that’s probably a story for another day! Mrs S and I had our yearly outing to Yarndale in Skipton, which is a wool and craft festival. We surrounded ourselves with lovely yarny things and crafty people, and there were some sheep and bunnies too! So, putting aside the many many UFOs and WIPs, I’m knitting myself a lovely scarf! It is merino and nylon, dyed by the lovely Wool Is The Answer who were friendly and nice and who make beautiful things. I will finish this soon!