Dolly names most everything she owns by where it came from. She has her Mommy Blanket, her Granny Blanket, and her Raibow Blanket. She has her Carol Sandals, Daphne Shoes, Mamma L*** Shoes and her Mommy Shoes. The child has an amazing ability to remember where each thing she owns came from. And this child (now) has lots, and lots of stuff!!
However, most all the stuff Dolly became hers after she came in to care. The few belongings that arrived with her last June don't amount to much. Some of the clothes were too small or inappropriate. I put them up immediately and Dolly forgot all about them. The few clothes I did leave for her to wear weren't as "pretty" as all the new ones. She wasn't attached to the old ones so they generally sit in the bottom of her drawer.
The shoes weren't too important either. Generally she favored the Dora shoes that Daphne bought her. I think she liked the Mommy Shoes because they just slipped on and she didn't have to wear socks. But really, she didn't wear them much.
The last time she tried to wear them I had to help her put them on. They were getting quite tight. I explained to Dolly that she has grown and that she won't get to keep these shoes forever. All was well.
Yesterday though, she came downstairs with the Mommy Shoes in her hands. She asked me for help in getting them on. I bit the bullet and told her no. I said that these shoes don't fit anymore and she can't wear them.
I broke her little heart.
Dolly sat on the floor and just cried. The hurt was so deep.
Dolly has almost personified the blanket she has from her mommy. In fact, she'll hug the blanket and say, "I love you mommy". It's the only connection she has left with the woman that has abandoned her.
When I told her she couldn't wear the shoes it upset her horribly. It was reminder of all that is wrong in her young life. It was almost like me telling her she couldn't have her mommy. (Which is the truth - but hurts so much to hear.) I sat down on the floor and held her. I tried to give her words for her pain.
You're sad Dolly. You're sad because your mommy doesn't take care of you anymore. You don't have things from your mommy and she doesn't buy you new things. Mamma L*** takes care of you now and buys you things and that makes you sad. It's very sad.
I kept repeating things like this over and over. Honestly, I wanted her to cry. Because as soon as she starts, she usually tries to stop as quickly as she can. I could tell she needed to really let this one out though. I wanted her to cry.
Dolly let me comfort her for longer than she usually does. When she had calmed down, I asked Dolly if she wanted to help me throw the shoes away. I couldn't see saving them for any reason. Yes, they are a connection. But I figured shoes that don't fit would be a difficult reminder, not anything positive. Dolly said that she would so we walked to the garbage can and threw them away.
Dolly quickly seemed to bounce back to normal. I sat the cherubs down at the table for lunch. Dude and Dolly began conversing with each other like they always do.
Dude said, "You throw your shoes away Dolly?"
Dolly answered, "Yeah. I no want them anymore. I throw them away."
I couldn't leave this alone. I stopped prepping lunch and looked solidly at Dolly.
No Dolly. That's a lie. You DO want those shoes. It's sad that you had to throw them away. It's sad that you don't have things from your mommy. You miss your mommy. You're not happy about this at all.
The floodgates opened again. Dolly buried her head in my neck and cried. This time I counseled her about letting her true feelings out. I told Dolly it's not healthy to be sad and not talk about it. She needs to talk about her feelings.
I grabbed the shoes out of the garbage and took a picture of them. I told Dolly that I'd save the picture for her. She seemed to like that idea and this time, when she did stop crying, it seemed more genuine and less of a forced response to the strong emotion she wanted to avoid.
Lunchtime progressed with some interesting conversation. Only in foster care can you hear a sentence like this, "My mommy my mommy. You my mommy. I love my mommy, Mommy." I don't remember how she got to it now, but at one point in the conversation she got a surprised look on her face and said, "I call YOU 'mommy'!" It was almost like she just then made the connection of what she has been calling me for so long.
I said, "Yes. You call me mommy. That's OK Dolly. You can call me mommy. I know that's confusing. You have two mommies right now. Maybe you can call your other mommy your First Mommy. She was the one that took care of you first."
Dolly didn't quite know what to make of this. She seemed OK with it all though. The rest of lunch passed without any more tears.
She's processing foster care so much more now. She's questioning things. She's sad more often. (Usually at bedtime. Bedtime can be so sad for her. It's like the reminders of her past come flooding back the minute the lights go out.) I hope I give her the right words. It's so difficult for me. I can't help her remember her past because I don't know what it is and no one will tell me. And I have no idea what her future is going to bring.
And now I'll end this post with what I always say when there's no good ending...
foster care sucks.