Well, here you are, little foster girl,
and there you stand, peering out of the sliding glass door, sobbing, as your parents depart. At your feet, your whole world is contained in one, white plastic, New World shopping bag. Spilling over the top, I can see, a Green Teddy, and Purple Barney, squashing down your few clothes. Everything reeks of stale cigarette smoke, but, “don’t wash them,” we were told, “that’s her familiar smell of home.”
Trying to distract you in your pain and misery we show you, ‘your’ bed and ‘your’ drawers, making a big deal of ‘your’ space in, Hope’s room. Green Teddy and Purple Barney get sat up on the bed while we talk of weekend visits home, coming soon.
I wonder are we doing more harm than good. Maybe, all we’re doing is helping deny your feelings by changing the subject. Maybe, its we who can’t face not having answers for your pain.
Your name is Renee with an accented ‘e’, the only thing about you with any beauty at the moment. A miniature scarecrow with stick creature limbs, and tufts of white stringy straw for hair. Your rashy red, blotchy skin, “the result of allergies” we were told, gives you a clownish appearance. The result of too much exposure to various sorts of cigarette smoke has you looking out at the world with weepy, red slits for eyes. When you speak, it’s like a foreign language, we can’t interpret, but agree anyway, just to make you feel okay.
“She can’t be four,” “she’s too little,” “too small,” shocked rellies and visitors proclaim. ‘Ronald McDonald’s’ gets replaced with meat and vege and pudding to follow, a change that takes time to get used to. Eating like a workman, scoffing down anything and everything, it all goes down in a hurry, like there’s no tomorrow. Again the words the professionals tell us are “emotional eating” but it sure looks like, maybe, you never got enough food.
Ever so slowly, you open up and reveal your personality, bright and chatty with some damage.
” Us ones get put in the cupboard at home if we’re naughty.”
“Have you ever been in the cupboard Renee?”
“Yes,” as you sit on the floor watching clothes on hangers being put in the wardrobe. Mysteriously, you try to destroy or lose the new things we buy for you. Maybe it’s your way of not accepting us yet, or you don’t feel worthy enough.
Blissfully unaware, you go off to Kindy today, and I go to your, Family Group Conference, to hear the decisions for your future. Your parents need more time to get it together and do some courses, so you’ll be staying awhile. I know you will wonder why, of course, but are unable to say.
“You’ll need a month’s supply,” Doctor Russell’s ginormous bottle of antibiotics is the answer to the many infections. Eventually, it does the trick.
The skin clears, your body fattens up a bit, the allergies disappear, a haircut and heaps of conditioner produces enough hair for two pony tails. Counseling is coming, and we hear you not only speaking clearer, but also laughing out loud in raucous giggles.
Somehow, you’ve adjusted to living in two homes, having two sets of rules and moving between them both without complaining about your lot. You are coping and making progress. Wet beds are fewer, and less things are getting put down the dunny. I haven’t sat on there and seen plastic faces looking up at me for ages now. Things are improving, there’s hope now.