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A dress for myself

Fulltime Foster Carer - Harriet author of: A Less Ordinary Family

A dress for myself

Friday 26th February

I love Fridays!

Firstly we are almost at the weekend, and secondly it is ‘my day’.  I have recently started a community sewing class at the local library. I love meeting up with an eclectic group of people from across the community.  I began the course last September, mainly because Lauren has been desperate for me to make her a costume for World Book Day at school.  Every year so far, I have gone into a mild panic when the letter about the book day comes out.  I have begged and borrowed for costumes from friends and neighbours, and cobbled together some of the most tenuous outfits.  This year I have been able to make Lauren the exact costume she has her heart set on – a made-to-measure dress based on Princess Buttercup from the book and film The Princess Bride.

This term I have started to make a dress for myself.  I rarely get the chance to dress up, but we have an event in the summer which I would like to have a new outfit for.  I have enjoyed the process of designing my own dress, picking out material and making a pattern for it.  Now its just a case of cutting out the material and putting it all together – sounds simple.  It’s a slow process as I am learning, but I am loving the time I get to do it.

Today’s class was interrupted with a call from Charlie.  Apparently I had been so engrossed in my class that I had missed a call from the Infant School.  He was working away this week, so was not in a position to return.  Alice was having a tantrum at school.  They were unable to do her catheter, because she was in such a rage, and they felt it was unsafe.  I rang the school – I was transferred directly to The Head Teacher. It must be serious!  She told me that Alice had been screaming for the last 30 minutes.  They had been unable to calm her down. There was only one thing for it, I would need to go and sort the situation out.  I asked them to bring Alice to the reception and I would meet her there.

When I arrived at school, Alice was nowhere to be seen.  She had point blank refused to come and meet me in reception.  I found her half way down the corridor still screaming.  She had got herself into such a state that her face looked as though it was covered in chicken pox!  She was adamant she was not coming with me to get her catheter done.  She stated that school had ruined her life and she was not happy.  The route of the issue was that school had organised for her to take part in a new group called ‘Fun Fit’ – to help children who are struggling with writing.  This should have been the perfect activity for Alice as she struggles so much in class as she cannot keep up with the other children.

There was no negotiating with her.  We know from experience that rewards do not work.  Someone needed to take control of the situation.  I pushed her in her wheelchair down to the bathroom, and very matter of factly told her to get on the changing table.  I then did the catheter.  By this time she started to calm down.  In some ways I am frustrated to be missing my class, but I am also aware that I am perhaps one of the only people able to help Alice calm down.  I was able to slip away as she made her way back to the classroom, and even managed to make it back to my sewing class!  It occurs to me that making a dress is a lot like fostering – it’s a slow process, things don’t always go to plan, and yet, somehow in all the screaming fits and tantrums, things are slowly taking shape.

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