To say my house is like a zoo is a bit of an understatement (and that’s not even including the children). When our first foster placement arrived we had two dogs, four chickens, four cats and a ten-day-old litter of kittens. It will be fine I thought, who doesn’t love kittens? Apparently, not liking kittens isn’t as unusual as you may think. Who knew?
Three children arrived. All three with totally different approaches to the animals. One loved them, adored them, wanted to spend every last second with them. One hated them. Was petrified. Couldn’t even come down the stairs whilst an animal was in the hallway. The third wanted to hurt them. To say that moving around the house became like a military operation is an understatement.
I was trying to usher dogs, cats, children into separate rooms just to get someone a glass of squash. The movement of the animals around the house is not something that I had been overtly aware of before the children arrived. They existed harmoniously with us. It was our normal. And that’s what I’d taken for granted. Our ‘normal’ didn’t exist any more and somehow I had to recreate that, safeguarding and protecting every child and animal in the house. At first, I thought I couldn’t do it. I said to my supervising social worker that I didn’t know how to put out the fire and ignite it at the same time. She gave me some advice, which I took, and will undoubtedly use in every scenario where the answer doesn’t jump out and bite me in the face – give it time, stay consistent and have patience. Three completely invisible actions which, executed well, change the world (or, at least the world I live in).
Now, don’t get me wrong, my house is still a total zoo but it is now one where my petrified child blows bubbles for the dogs to catch in the garden and where the animal terroriser was caught sharing the crust of his toast at tea time today with one of our labradors. Time, consistency and patience – a winning combination (at least for now)!