Always Surprised

I am always surprised by this journey. Both good and bad surprises.

Our bad surprises, children coming for respite (meaning they are in a ‘loving foster family’) with little or no personal hygiene skills.
Teeth that don’t get cleaned.
Body’s that don’t get washed.
Children who at age 10 can’t wash their own hair.

“Blake” is the poster child for this.
I know he has come from an horrific background. Quite possibly the worst start to life a little person can have, but, he has been in care for 6 years. I know some of that was in residential care (group home for you US readers) and I don’t know how long he has been with his family, but at his age, I would have thought that he should have been taught along the way how to clean his teeth, that his teeth need to be cleaned more than once a day, that he would know how to wash his body, how to wipe his bottom. The basics really.

I would have thought that if these were issues for him that needed work, it would be in his notes for us so that we could help him with at respite.
Is it that we’re just respite carers so what do we need to know for?
Or is it that he’s just trying to get out of doing it when he’s at respite?
Shouldn’t it be a thing he just does?

Questions for me to get answers to, as it appears, this isn’t the end of our time with “Blake”.

Our good surprise for the weekend.
“Blake” announces on Friday night while I’m preparing dinner “I’m not going to cry at respite anymore”.

Well, after the 2.5 hour screaming saga a month ago, you could have knocked me over with a feather! This was the perfect opportunity to have a little chat with him.
Why is he not going to cry? because Mum didn’t go away this weekend. It seems Mum and Dad go away when he’s at respite and he thinks they aren’t coming back (nice he can articulate that now, would have been nicer months ago, but at least we know what was going on for him).
What about a bath at bedtime? No, but can I have a shower in the morning. Yes, we can live with that.
What about cleaning teeth at bedtime? I clean them at bedtime now as well.

So our weekend?
He didn’t cry Friday night at all, and only a little quiet sob for about 10 minutes Saturday night and was quickly settled again.
When we went to the farm, we told him all about what things we were going to do when we went home from the farm, and agreed to a 30 minute warning when it was time to go, and again, he was awesome, even gave Nana and Papa a hug when he left, a first, which left them with beaming smiles (they don’t ask for hugs from the kids, but when they get them, you can see how much it means).

I have no idea what’s happened for “Blake” in the last month.
I don’t know if the feedback we sent through to the department has been forwarded on so that his carers know what’s going on for him at respite and if they’ve talked to him.
We wont know what has made the changes, but, it’s been so much less stressful for all of us.

The main thing I hope that comes from this awesome weekend is that “Blake” realises that respite can be lots of fun and he has the power to make his own happiness.


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