Emma’s Fostering Blog. Christmas dinner
September – Charlie is 7 and I’m beginning to establish a good routine and boundaries, but I am finding the attention seeking, ‘in your face’ type behaviours difficult to ignore. He is constantly fidgety and anxious, he is overly charming; he knows everyone’s names, their business and likes to help whenever he can, even if I don’t want his help.
October – Charlie seems to be settling in well he is responding to the boundaries and enjoys getting rewards. November – Charlie is managing his drama club and now looks forward to going every week. December – Almost daily, I am being spoken to about Charlie’s behaviour at School; he is being disruptive and rude, spoiling other pupils work. Charlie had a Christmas contact with his parents, he was excited about going, he had gifts from them then after a couple of days he destroyed them. Now we seem to be walking on egg shells with him, today we went to see Father Christmas, in hindsight, I wish I hadn’t, Charlie told him that he wasn’t real and he was a F*****g liar.
Christmas morning – Charlie is super excited, but this seems false, as if overshadowed by some horrible incident. Rapidly opening his presents, a quick glance, declaring several times ‘how lucky he is’ and ‘his favourite things ever’. Christmas dinner – we saw a very different Charlie – ‘I’m not eating this F*****g Shit’ then throwing the plate across the table he became louder, and very controlling, as if two people, in and out of character. ‘Triggers’ sounds, smells, tastes, things he saw, emotions he felt, reminders of trauma. I really wanted this day over and I was upset at his actions, my extended family were great, really supportive and despite everything they made him welcome.
On reflection the gift from a particular family member had triggered anger, pain and loss; he had witnessed domestic abuse and was acting out the behaviours, ending up in disruptive and challenging behaviour. There’s lots of pressure to have fun, it can be difficult to cope. If things go wrong, they often go spectacularly wrong, so it’s very important to have an extra layer of support around this time of year.
It’s the most difficult time of the year for some children – Adam, care leaver once told me about his early experiences of Christmas with us, ‘I hated the emotions it stirred in me as we sat at the table together, there was laughter and a real family sense, but for me it felt like a physical pain in my heart because this is what it should have been like for me at home, it’s the dread of feeling that way because I felt so heartbroken’.
My thoughts are Step out of the box- think and plan in advance, you can have a happy Christmas; you might just need to tweak your routine or traditions.
Emma – A Blogging Foster Carer – I Love What I Do!