Emergency! Emergency!

It was the end of a long weekend, I’d just dropped “Kelly” home after her weekend of respite and was getting ready for a nice relaxing afternoon off before going back to work the next day when the phone rang. It wasn’t a number I was familiar with so I hummed and ahhhed about whether I felt like answering the phone. Ever have those days?

I didn’t pick up, and when the phone stopped ringing my mobile started….clearly someone was determined to talk to me, so I answered. It was someone from our agency, they had a little problem and was wondering if we could help. “Ben” needed somewhere to stay for the night. An emergency, just one night, something had happened, and seeing as “Ben” already knew us could he stay with us for the night. Of course, what on earth could be wrong?

Several phone calls later and we were able to find out little “Ben” was having a bad day. He’d been in the city with his “Jerry” and ‘mum’ shopping for the day and was having a meltdown. So much of a meltdown he was in the police station and mum refused to take him home, thus the emergency bed for the night being needed. Turns out, he was so upset, he’d been punching ‘mum’. Not a good thing to hear, and once this information came to light MM was a bit reluctant for him to come to us seeing as I would be home alone with him for a few hours as MM was working.
We expressed our concerns to the agency, and were reassured that he had settled down in the police station and that if he did start acting up all we had to do was call the 24 hour number and they would come and get him.

The people from the department had talked to “Ben” about coming to our house for a sleepover and he was back to being happy little “Ben” and was excited about it, so a couple of hours later he was dropped off by two people from the agency. “Ben” took one on a guided tour of the house and showed them ‘his’ room and ‘his’ bathroom while the other caught me up on some information about the situation and reassured me that if he got out of control I could just call and someone would come.

Well, our little overnight emergency lasted for a week. Not bad seeing as we weren’t even registered to do emergency care at this stage. Apparently we were given special permission to do it just this once so that “Ben” could be placed with people he knew rather than strangers. The week that he was with us gave the agency and department time to work with ‘mum’ to see if he could go back there once the situation had settled down and when that didn’t work out they found a family member able to take him in. It was nice being able to give people the time to do what they needed to do.

To find out what happened next for “Ben” read Where is he now.

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Wheeeee….splatt

The time was finally here for “Ben” to have a ‘sleepover’ at our house. “Jerry” wasn’t going to stay too as his ‘mum’ thought he was too young. We didn’t think so, and it’s not really respite for mum if she still has one of the kids, but, her call, so “Ben” only it was. The plus side is that “Jerry” is quite demanding of attention, in the cutest way. He will interrupt a conversation with “excuse me” and then proceed to talk without waiting to be acknowledged. We had to quickly work out what was going on and get tough by stopping him from interrupting. Cute that he says “excuse me”, but he had to be told that doesn’t automatically mean he can just start talking. By just having “Ben” on his own, we were able to spoil him and make more of a fuss of him, so, a good thing for him.

After “soccer” and lunch we spent the afternoon at a playground with a HUGE slide there. We spent over an hour ‘sliding’. I have never laughed so much and poor MM, came home with bruises and carpet burns, which of course, makes me laugh even now. I can hear you asking, how on earth did MM get carpet burns and bruises?

Well….
The boys started the afternoon ‘sliding’ in the regular manner. Individual slides and together, but as the time wore on we all got more creative.
In my infinite wisdom thought it would be good to get some action photos and videos of “Ben” on the slide, so I went down the slide backwards so I could film us. All you can hear is my squealing and “Ben” laughing, whether at my ‘girly’ squeals or just the fun we were having, I don’t know.
Then we had a race. I went down backwards to film it, and then the boys raced down. The result, a pile of bodies at the bottom of the slide laughing and being laughed at by all the onlookers.

“Ben” got quite creative with ways to slide.
There was the human sled…MM on his belly with “Ben” sitting on his back using him as a sled. Thus the bruises down MM’s thigh…car keys in his pocket!
The triple decker sandwich…MM on his belly, me laying on him, and “Ben” sitting on me. Poor MM.
The tummy races….both boys laying on their tummies and racing to the bottom. At the bottom of the slide there was outdoor carpet, thus MM’s carpet burn from, slipping of the slide and sliding on the carpet.

A great day was had by all.
A great way to tire out one little man and one not so little man.
A great way to ensure “Ben” got a good nights sleep.

I don’t think anyone at the park for an instance thought we were not a ‘real family’ and for the day, it felt good to be a ‘family’, having fun and being crazy together.

Ben and Jerry

“Ben and Johnny” were two little brothers we were asked to provide respite for.
Well, when you’ve seen them in action you can understand why their single foster mum needed respite. They were just full on, standard for their ages I know, but everyone needs a break and that’s what we’re here for. Filling in where grandparents aren’t able to.

“Johnny”, cute as a bug and very hard to say no to. A very affectionate and loving child.
“Ben”, older, not as cute, not as snugly, and generally a little more stand offish.

Our first meeting was at a park, neutral territory. Present were the boys, their “mum”, mum’s PSW, and us. Upon arriving we got greeted with a hug from ‘Johnny’ and well, ‘Ben’, he was in time out already. Not the best way to greet him, as we weren’t supposed to talk to him while he was in time out.

We spent about an hour at the park. We chatted with the boys , and when they were running around, we got the ‘goss’ about each of the boys from mum and PSW. It was a good hour. Time to work out what strategies we might employ with the boys and find out what they love doing.

The following week we had the boys come to our home for an afternoon, only a couple of hours. Just to spend some time with us without “mum” being there. We went to the park, did some jigsaw puzzles and checked out our spare rooms. The ‘boys’ room at that time was set up as a giant tent with sheets hanging from the ceiling and pinned to the walls and both mattresses were on the floor to make it like going camping.

A couple of weeks later they were back but this time for a full day visit.
We started with “Bens” first soccer game for the year. This was followed with a trip home to get changed and have a snack before heading up to the farm. We are so lucky to have the farm to go to. Always a crowd pleaser.

The boys had such a great day.
I had a couple of moments of freaking out, not being used to little boys.
Little boys that wanted to climb all over the hay stack.
Little boys that wanted to run around everywhere, seeming to be everywhere all at once.

Little boys with no fear. “Ben” just wanted to run around and pat all the cows, and yes, they’re quiet cows, but with their size, it’s better to err on the side of caution, so we introduced a new rule “need to hold the hand of an adult in the cow paddock” just to “Ben” down a bit. Nothing like being a human anchor! But, it was good to be able to slow him down and get him to learn to talk to the animals on his approach and teach him that when he’s just running over to them he can scare them, so just walk nice and slow, and they’ll let you give them a cuddle.

A really good first full day together.

Where is he now?

MM and I went to a foster care meeting being held by the department today.
We were a little apprehensive about going, not knowing how we fit into the scheme of things as respite and emergency carers. We thought it would be targeted more towards short and long term carers, but because we got an invitation to go, we went.

When we got there we saw a man walking in, “John”. The social worker of “Ben”. A man I hadn’t seen since “Ben” left our care about 9 months ago. He smiled politely when he saw me, the smile of…I know your face but I’m not really sure who you are. That’s ok, we spoke over the phone a few times, and only met once, and in his work, I didn’t expect even a glimmer of recognition.

I introduced us (MM hadn’t met him before) and told MM that “John” was “Bens” social worker.
LIGHT BULB.

We started to chat and then…..we got an update.
I wasn’t expecting one. With the type of care we provide, we don’t expect updates. We know that once the children pass from us to the next stage of their life journey our ‘need to know’ is gone.
It was lovely of “John” to give us an update.
After our week with “Ben” they were able to find an extended family member for him to go to.
And that’s where he’s been ever since.
His behaviour still has moments, but, for the most part, he is doing better at school, and is more settled.
*contented sigh*

So nice to get a positive update.
To hear, that he is going well is amazing.
We will never know if the week he spent with us has helped him settle, and really, that doesn’t matter.
What matters is  we were able to provide “Ben” a safe place until the department could find him permanent placement.

We can go to bed tonight knowing that for this little man, we helped him through a troubled time, and he’s coming out the other side with family that love him and are giving him the stability he needs.

Big smiles tonight and pleasant dreams.