Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Captain and the sandwich

3:50pm: Captain saw Pirate eating a peanut butter sandwich. He informed me that he did not want one. He proceeded to watch TT and Bart play on the computer for a bit.

4:05pm: TT and Bart put away the electronics. Captain said immediately that he wanted a sandwich. I looked at him and replied, "But Captain, you just told me you DIDN'T want one." I stood up though to go make him one.

Captain started crying.

I calmly explained to Captain that sometimes when you tell a grownup no when they ask if you want a snack, the offer doesn't stand for later. Sometimes you have to wait for supper. I then asked him, "Do you want just peanut butter or do you want peanut butter and jelly?"

Captain cried.

I told Captain that it's OK to be mad. It's OK to be sad. It's OK to not want to be here. He told me he wasn't mad or sad.

But Captain kept crying.

I couldn't convince him that I would make him the sandwich. I couldn't convince him to talk. He just sat on the couch staring straight ahead trying as hard as he could to keep the tears from falling.

I told Captain that I would be mad if someone took me from my mommy. I told him it would make me sad. I also told him it's OK to like it here AND miss his mommy at the same time.

Captain wouldn't talk. Finally I got up and went back to work at my computer.

Captain came to the kitchen table. He still said he didn't want that sandwich. I told him again that he's got a lot of big feelings and that he can talk to me about them. (He was still very visibly upset.) Captain then opened up. He told me he doesn't like it here because of vegetables.

It was hard to hold back my smile.

Instead I shook my head and told him it's my job to serve healthy food. I told him that I don't make him eat a lot of vegetables but that I am still going to keep serving them. I then asked Captain what foods he likes.

Captain just sat at the table staring straight ahead.

I told Captain that I'm trying to serve foods he likes. We've had pizza and grilled chicken. I asked him again, "What foods do you like, Captain? Do you like spaghetti, or tacos, or what? Tell me the foods you like to eat, Captain."

Captain cried.

I told Captain that if he can't tell me I don't know. I told him I'm trying the best I can.

Captain stormed off to his room.

Captain came back down. (He really, really wanted to talk but he just couldn't put into words all that he's feeling.)

This time I asked TT for permission to use his story. TT granted it. I told Captain, "Hey, I bet you didn't know that TT has two moms too. I'm not TT's first mommy. He has another one too. TT, how does that make you feel sometimes?"

TT responded, "Sometimes I'm sad. I miss my mommy."

Captain left the room again. (This was almost too much for him but boy was he curious.)

Finally, at 4:38pm Captain had enough courage to ask for that sandwich again.

While eating he said, "Mamma L***,  look at this." He wanted to show me his little skateboard and a trick he could do with it.

I took this as a quick opportunity to tell him that he doesn't have to call me Mamma L***. He can just call me by my name. He thought about it for a minute and then did call me just by my name a few times to see if I'd answer.

Captain finished his sandwich and the tears dried up. I'm back to being "Mamma L***" again and he's running around the house playing. It seems all is back to normal.

I cannot fathom all his little heart has been through.

Foster care sucks.


Anonymous said...

You are impressive.
Captain doesn't know how to use words does he ... maybe he will learn a bit while living with you.
Thank yous to TT for being so understanding and helpful to Captain's pain.
Your permanent children show off your parenting in their behaviors with all the foster children.
Pirate's worry about going to school today is really all about fear of losing you isn't it. So tough on the littles to be dislocated after times of terror.
Do you have any sharable information on how their sisters not with you are doing? Are you able to interact with their fostering family?

VJ said...

You are doing such a good job of being patient! The "staring straight ahead" trick always gets me. Cry, scream, yell at me that I'm not your real mom - just give me something I can work with, kid! I'm glad these three were able to be placed with you. It's too bad they couldn't all be together with their siblings, though I'm not surprised - in our county they usually can't even keep two siblings together!

Cherub Mamma said...

Captain has a LOT of processing to do. For everything I do that he likes, he has to realize and take to heart that his mommy DIDN'T do those things.

Vegetables are actually quite profound to him. He knows they're healthy. He knows (from being here and school I'm sure) that he's supposed to eat them. He had just never been served them before. He's processing how his mommy didn't do something that she should have every time he thinks about vegetables now.

The other two brothers, the siblings placed in a different foster home, have had no contact with us yet. They are quite young though - a 2 month old and a 2 year old. Once visits get started, the kids will all see each other 8 hours a week. I'm not planning on interacting with the other family to plan visits on top of all that.

Foster Mom - R said...

Maybe disguised as a special activity you can have him draw his favorite things. Favorite cartoon. Favorite type of milk. Favorite dinner. We found that the little ones with the multiple language and big feelings that a lot came through their artwork. And kudos for you for giving him permission to not call you Mom. ;) that's a hard one for me.

Annie said...

Poor baby.

I went to a workshop this summer that emphasized that the best way for children to process implicit memory (and that could be part of the reason he can't talk - he really can't remember the pain that is hurting him), is through drawing...arts of all kinds, but drawing is so good for children.

You ask them to draw their hurt...or their anger...or their big feelings, or whatever, and encourage them and ask open-ended questions. It is such an amazing process for everyone.

I did one of the exercises myself, and in the process realized that our dining room table was actually a trigger for ME. That was no where NEAR my conscious mind. If someone had suggested it before the exercise, I would hove scoffed heartily, but when I drew a picture about a traumatic event, there was that table and there was a big cloud around it, and I suddenly realized - a whole lot about why I hated cooking dinner, was leaving it a mess during the day, etc.

You might try it!