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We walked away

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

We walked away

10th September Blog

Today was one of those days I wish I could erase from the calendar. It started off really well. We had a lazy start to the day. We then made waffles using Lauren’s waffle maker that she got for Christmas last year. It was a really lovely morning sat around the table chatting with Susie and Abi. We have loved having them stay with us and we will miss them when they leave. Susie will be returning to the States in a couple of days and Abi will be heading off to start her gap year. She will be returning to us for the holidays – we will be home from home for her during the Christmas and New Year break.

After lunch we decide to have a girlie trip into town. At the last minute Annie decides to stay at home to have some quality time with Charlie. I have a feeling they will be spending “quality time” with Lego Star Wars on the Playstation. So Lauren, Alice, Susie, Abi and I head off into town. Not long after we arrived, Alice starts to get stroppy. She begins to get annoyed having to go in and out of shops and she soon started moaning. After complaining about being too hot I tell her to remove her cardigan.

That was the trigger. Who knew a cardigan would be the cause of a major melt down. After dragging her cardigan along the floor I asked her to put it on her lap. She let out a huge disgruntled huff. The minute I turned my back she lets it drag again, this time the arms of the cardigan narrowly miss getting chewed up her the spokes of her wheelchair wheels. I tucked it down the side of her wheelchair and tell her it will be safe there.

This is the point I probably should have walked away but I had no idea what would come next. She demanded that I carry her cardigan. I replied “No Alice, it is your cardigan and you need to carry it” and showed her again where to put her cardigan to keep it safe. She refused and demanded again that I have it. After some to-ing and fro-ing. I told her if she didn’t carry it then we would leave it in the mall. She refused to take it so we walked away.

That’s when she lost control, she started shouting and screaming at me, telling what a mean person I was and how awful it was that I left her cardigan in the mall. She lashed out at me several times, fortunately I dodged the blows.

She was unable to calm herself down. We could not talk to her or reason with her. I had no where to do my lunges. I could feel myself becoming more emotional, and despite all efforts to remain calm and keep a poker face, I just knew this was one of these days where I just needed to get home and hand over to Charlie. Sure enough the tantrum lasted all the way home. I called Charlie out to the drive to get Alice in from the car. He took one look at me and knew we had a “situation”. Fortunately, he was able to seamlessly take over and help Alice to calm down. He helped her see that she had not made a good choice. Although she showed little remorse, she did say sorry. We accepted her apology and swiftly changed the subject.

I have to admit I felt a little embarrassed about the situation in the mall. Firstly, it was in public and I couldn’t help but wonder what people would think. It seems to be the default position of most people to show pity to the child in the wheelchair, even when that may not be the most helpful response. Secondly, I wondered what Susie and Abi would think of my parenting skills. I had no need to worry when we later debriefed and Susie recounted the saga of the afternoon. She talked about Alice’s anger, loss of control and her deliberately defiant behaviour. I forget that Susie is a Social Worker. I just see her as my friend. I listen very carefully to her advice and I breathe a heavy sigh of relief that she is not judging me but supporting me.

Such conversations with friends are so important, as they help us see the wider picture, and help us put things into perspective. Such events remind me that Alice has not had the start to life she deserved, and behind much of her ‘front’ is a confused and damaged little girl. These conversations are vital in helping us to summon the energy to get ready to start a new day tomorrow!

A Less Ordinary Family Blog

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