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Charlie and I

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

Charlie and I

Tuesday 23rd August

When Charlie turned 40 at the beginning of the summer all he wanted to do to celebrate was to climb a mountain.  I knew this was not really a family activity, and it would be very difficult with Alice in her wheelchair.  So he organised a trip to climb Ben Nevis with his brother.  I decided that as Charlie was going to be away for a couple of days I would use the opportunity to meet up with my friend Grace and her foster son.  We decided we would have our own adventure, so we met half way in Surrey, booked a hotel for two nights and we would take the children to Chessington World of Adventure one day and then to Legoland in Windsor the second day.  Grace had annual passes to the parks – this would mean we could benefit from reduced price passes for each day.

So we packed our cars and left – Charlie with his brother to Scotland and the girls and I headed down south.  We met up Monday evening at a restaurant just near the hotel.  It was a quiet and uneventful journey, the traffic was really good and we arrived in good time.  I thought it was too goof to be true, and sure enough Alice had definitely been saving up the drama for our time in the restaurant.  Today it was about peas. I had asked her to try some peas.  She had recently started eating peas for her teaching assistant at school. She had not yet eaten them at home, but it was worth a shot.

I immediately regretted asking her. She had a huge meltdown, punched her clenched fists on the table and started screaming.  Fortunately the staff at the restaurant did not get involved and Grace had seen it all before – not with Alice, but with her son. As a foster carer she sees her fair share of meltdowns. I have to admit, I was feeling quite uncomfortable, I was thinking how embarrassing it was and wondering what people were thinking in the restaurant.  What came next seemed to come out of the blue – Annie burst into tears.  She just couldn’t handle it any more.  I realise I had been so focussed on how I was feeling about the awkwardness of it all I hadn’t even thought about Annie and Lauren and how these public meltdowns would make them feel.

Annie and Lauren have had to put up with a lot of Alice’s dramas over the last four years.  I guess we have just expected them to ignore them as we try to do.  I forget that they are children and they too feel embarrassed and they get upset when Alice causes such a scene.  I take the opportunity to talk to them later and we try to think of strategies to cope with future outbursts.  It has been a big wake-up call to me that I really need to think more about Annie and Lauren and ensure they get some quality time alone with Charlie and I.

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