Have you ever tried to successfully merge the lives of six humans? I don’t recommend it (I’m joking…….kinda)!
It was week three of having our placement and the house still felt a little like a war-torn country – you may think I’m overreacting, but for me, that is exactly how it felt. People avoided each other, there was pretty much silence (or forced conversation by me) around the dinner table and no one would look in the direction of another, let alone make eye contact.
To say I had tried everything I could think of to unite this odd collection of children, is an understatement. Film nights, walks with the dogs, arts and crafts, baking……the list really does go on. During this time, my husband, a firefighter, had been working a lot of overtime. The reason for this was two-fold – one, the extra money is always great and two, (I know he won’t mind me saying) he was struggling a little with having all the kids at home and dealing with all the different needs. Work was his escape (lucky him!).
So, one sunny afternoon when the stars had aligned and he was actually at home, I asked him to take the children outside in the garden whilst I made a quick phone call to my Social Worker and then had a shower. He had spent almost no time alone with the children (without me present) since they had arrived, so I was just crossing my fingers that the youngest one didn’t catch and kill a chicken and that the middle one didn’t fall off her bike and injure herself! I made my call and, when I got in the shower it was still just him and the three newbies in the garden. I was under the noise of hot water for approximately 7 minutes, what could go wrong?
It would seem that, indeed, nothing went wrong. In fact, everything seemed to have gone right. Making my way to the bedroom, which overlooks one side of the garden, I could hear laughing and (good) screaming filtering through the open window. I cracked the curtain and peered out.
To my absolute horror five out of six (two of mine had appeared from nowhere) were playing some kind of cops and robbers looking game….. together…….. interacting……. laughing…….. having fun…….. WITHOUT ME! And the ultimate irony of this whole situation is that my husband was just sat on a sun chair, on his phone, not looking at them, paying no attention and having seemingly had absolutely no input into setting up this game.
I didn’t know whether to be elated or deflated – I felt both, simultaneously. He had done it. He had somehow created the atmosphere that had allowed the children to ‘cross over’, as such. Apparently, no amount of contrived situations and attempts at forced connections could make these relationships grow – it had to be organic. It had to be when we (mainly I) least expected it and more importantly when ALL the children were ready.
Obviously, I still maintain to my husband that it was my hard work in the run-up to this random afternoon, that led the children to be this comfortable with each other to spontaneously begin to play. I’m not sure, however, if even I believe this!