Ignorance is Bliss

Unless you have lived with, or been, an attachment challenged child you will have great difficulty understanding the needs. This became apparent during a recent consultation with the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service. (CAMHS)

There are obvious signs that Jenny suffers from attachment issues and that was the decision of the Autism Panel. We don’t disagree with that decision, even though we are also pursuing a proper assessment for co-morbid autism. We believe that each condition is affecting the other. 

During the discussion with the CAMHS doctor I commented that having a full diagnosis of all conditions would help us to know the best way to handle the various challenges without creating a typical spoilt brat. 

Aha! I could almost see a flash of light in the doctor’s eyes as she grasped at the psychological straw that I inadvertently held out to her. I have read about this effect in the experiences of other parents of children with challenges. The doctor’s eyes lit up with the recognition that this must all be our fault as parents, even though we are actually substitute parents because their birth parents couldn’t do the job properly. In fact, during all the social services assessments of our parenting capabilities it became obvious that we were being allowed to care for our suffering grandchildren because we are super parents! 

The doctor took out a piece of paper and started writing. “Have you looked at The Parenting Puzzles?” she asked. 

“Well you obviously haven’t,” I thought. “If you had then you would know that it’s actually called The Parenting Puzzle – singular.” 

“There you are,” she said, handing me the piece of paper. 

I politely thanked her, knowing that the best chance of getting her cooperation was to go through the humiliation of having our parenting abilities called into question. 

I bought the book and opened it straight to the chapter on discipline. I knew what I was looking for. 

Yes! Success. The best way to deal with challenges is the time out. 

“So,” I thought. “That’s what they teach you in university. Treat like with like. If a child suffers from abandonment, abandon her again.” 

I haven’t read any more of the book. How much trust can you have in such outdated, barbaric suggestions?

Treat or Lunch

Responding to the desperate claims of needing lunch now, we find a quick serve cafĂ©. The children aren’t interested in the fact that there are no tables for four people. They have to get to the counter to buy their food. 

The server looks at their sandwich, bag of popcorn, and drink and says, “Wow! You’re having a treat today.” 

Jenny (age 7) says, “It’s not a treat. It’s lunch.” The server laughs at the apparent innocence. 

“Sadly,” I said, “It’s not as funny at it seems. We are fostering them.” (We find that more people understand fostering than kinship caring.) “Before they came to us they were neglected until she was 3 years 9 months. They never knew where their next meal was coming from, or when it would be.

“Mind blowing, isn’t it.”

The server looks at me with greater respect. And a compassionate smile for the children. 

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Names have been changed to protect the innocent.