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

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Monday 4th January 2016

Fishing bait

Today I felt like Alice had gone fishing.  She cast her line, laden with the tastiest bait.  I could not help but bite.  And as I bit I could feel myself being reeled in, unable to get away from the hook.

It started out with me giving Alice her new Paddington Bear Suitcase of books to look at while I prepared dinner.  She was returning to school the next day from the Christmas holidays, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to get back into encouraging her to read each day, which had slipped a little during the lovely, long and lazy Christmas holidays!

Anyway, I had given her the books and she sat with them, mainly playing with the velcro tab on the suitcase.  Once dinner was in the oven, I sat down to read with her.  She told me directly that she had already read the books and she was not going to read them again.  I asked her when she had read them, and she replied that she had read them this evening.

Alice is one for a tall tale and this was going to become gigantic.  I really should not have taken the bait, but as I say I couldn’t help bite.  I reminded her that I had been with her in the kitchen the whole time, she hadn’t even got the books out of the case, let alone come near to read them.  She got very cross and stated very firmly that she had read them.  I could feel myself being reeled in.  I pressed her further asking what the books were about, and who were the characters.  She could not recall but insisted she had indeed read them and would not be reading them again.

I should have known to stop there.  There was literally no point in saying any more about the subject.  I somehow couldn’t help but try to talk to her about telling the truth by giving her examples of what that meant.  After all we couldn’t both be right.  She finally concluded that she had read the books, we were both right in what we were saying.

And as far as Alice was concerned, that was the end of the matter.

I stood up, took a deep breath and tried to go to my happy place.  I could feel the looks across the room from Lauren and Annie.  They too felt the frustration.  They wanted to chip in to try to help her understand.

The truth is we don’t know what she understands yet.  We don’t know if she knows the difference between truth and a lie.  I don’t know if she has convinced herself that she has actually read the books, or whether it was one of her avoidance techniques for doing something she doesn’t want to do.  Someone wise once said to me “pick your battles wisely” and walking away from a dead-end conversation can actually be the most productive thing you can do!  I wish I’d walked away a little sooner!

It’s a lot easier to do when you are not on the end of a fishing line!

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