When it first started looking like little buddy was going to be staying with us long term, maybe even permanently, we called in the heavy hitters for help to keep our family together. We had made progress in many ways, but the weight of the trauma, emotions and behaviors we were living with day-to-day would not be sustainable long term. Read: we were barely surviving, and knew we couldn’t last as a forever option without some expert help.
In-home counseling began, and I realized I was about to change more than any one else in the family. I had already been humbled a million times over with tantrums in the grocery store, case workers knowing all our drama, and having to say “no” to things I wanted to do simply because I couldn’t leave the helm of the ship for fear of falling off course. It was a heavy load. But letting a complete stranger in to my home for hours each week to analyze our family and figure out how to make it work? Whole ‘notha level of humble. But we were desperate, and willing to try anything at that point, so that superseded any reservations that may have remained regarding my comfort level…
She arrived with smiles and compassion, though she was so strong I couldn’t comprehend how she mixed the two traits. Somewhere in between Mary Poppins and the finest drill sergeant, she observed long enough to know where to start: by teaching us how to see through little guy’s eyes.
We had already taken the classes, we had already done all the training. We proudly had the certificates that dubbed us “Therapeutic Foster Parents,” but nothing prepared us for what it’s actually like on the battle ground. Practicing your skills while under fire is very necessary though exhausting. And sometimes, you trip and make a mistake. Or you just run out of endurance. Either way, when you call “Man Down!” and someone shows up on the rescue field, you never forget that face.
We learned how to put the Problem in the middle, not any one of us family members. The problem was not me, or Tim, or one of my kids… the problem was that we needed to understand what language this hurting child was speaking. He literally was delivered to our doorstep from a completely different world. He had only known hunger, fear, fighting and pain from the day he was born. He was now immersed in food, love, kindness and care for the first time… and it was literally scaring him to death. Our world was so foreign, and it did not make sense to him. Put yourself in another world where no one can understand you and you don’t know how to communicate what you need. Let me know your reaction, and I’ll tell you that’s what it looked like here.
Little guy knew anger. That is the only emotion he knew. If he was scared, he got angry. If he got hurt, he got angry. Frustrated? Anger. Tired? You get the picture.