So we stepped over the threshold and followed the kids into the lounge. I can not tell you how nervous I was just taking these steps. We were following 2 sets of little feet, but it felt we were following the strides of giants into a whole new world. They were both very excited and bouncing along the corridor (although I expect the 2 year old had no real idea why 🙂 ), which was fairly contagious – did I see S just skip a little?
Our plan for the introduction meant that we were going to be gradually introducing ourselves to them over the next 2 weeks, so today was only scheduled to be 1.5 hours where we would meet the kids and have a cup of coffee ( no herbal tea for S !!! but she survived) in an informal setting. The kids social worker was also there at the start to ensure everything went smoothly – checking up on us again :-).
We had a present for each of the children – Chase from Paw Patrol for him ( you will be well acquainted with this show very quickly), and a Unicorn for her, which we were excited to give them. It had been a little stressful deciding what to get them, as these could be the ones they keep forever as a reminder of meeting us. Both had been living in our bed at home for a week, so they in theory would smell of us (no, I do not normally sleep with teddies and they are very lumpy). Sounded a bit gross to me, but is supposed to be important to help them get used to us. – Who knew the Eau de Ralph would be useful?
MY TIP – Ask their social worker or foster parent what would be best, no point stressing about guessing what the kids like when they should know.
As we went into the lounge, the older child (5) who had been excited all week about having a new Mummy and Daddy, suddenly had a bout of nerves and was now standing at the far side of the room beside the french doors. She was holding the curtains half across her, obviously unsure of us, but she still had a smile on her face that could light up a room. (Time to give her some room to get her confidence – so we said hello but did not force any interaction).
Putting my lovely coffee down (was that my hands shaking?), I decided to get onto my hands and knees to see if I could engage the younger child with the duplo lego (other building blocks are available). He seemed very comfortable with us especially if we were going to get down to play with him – the simple life of a 2 year old – play and fun wins the day. With both of S and I now playing, our daughter got the confidence to come away from the window to start to play with us, although still cautiously. She slowly came over and picked up a few bricks and placed them on top of our half built tower. You could tell she was still unsure as she had a very nervous look on her face and kept looking at us and the foster mum for approval – had she done that right, would we tell her off, was she a good little girl that deserved new parents? – it was a little heart breaking to see how these emotions were playing on her mind and stress levels that were just not right for little people.
Both S and I were now on our hands and knees playing with them both and they were each interacting in their own way. Our 2.5 year old was giggling and playing with the bricks and seemed to have no concerns in the world – he just seemed to us as a happy little boy, without a care in the world (except being played with). Our older child had more interesting emotions going on in her head. She was now in the ‘I must please them’ mode and was trying really hard to be fun, happy and involved. You could tell she was really wanting to please, but also it was from a place of nerves, rather than relaxed play.
One example that illustrates this was when she was playing in the storage box for the bricks (they were now of course scattered all over the floor – kids are messy!!!!). She was lying on her back with the translucent box over her (aaaaaaaaaaaaadorable). We thought, how much fun she is having and how settled she seemed, until the foster mum pointed out that if you look, you can see her eyes keep darting to us for approval, and in the eyes you could see how stressful this was for her. It really hits home hard – I felt at that moment, no child so young should have to have these feelings. (Was that the sound of my Heart breaking again – pass the superglue).
MY TIP – Try not to react to these emotions and try to play and interact as normal as possible. They just want to feel safe and normal and don’t need it highlighted. AND enjoy yourself with them – the sounds of kids laughing is priceless.
As we continued to play with them both, S and I did share a look at each other. I am not exactly sure what S was thinking at that time, but I am fairly sure it was along the same lines as me “Wow these kids are so cute their smiles could melt the ice caps – my heart has no chance”. Could they be any more perfect?
Well, it seems that they could be……
On the drive over we were very interested what they would call us, we knew they had been prepped that we were Mummy and Daddy, but how can you really expect a child to understand that? We hoped they would call us Mummy and Daddy, but were fully expecting that they wouldn’t. We needn’t have worried though as our ‘perfect’ children decided it was time to re-melt our over stretched hearts when shortly after we arrived the older child said
“Daddy, Daddy – look at this?”
“Mummy, can you play with me?”
I never knew that my heart was so squishy….but a lump formed in my throat at that moment. I could not look at S as I expect I would have burst into tears. The stress of the last 9 months suddenly felt worth it, just for moment the skies cleared and everything seemed right in the world (I feel that lump coming back).
We continued to play with the kids (and chat with the foster mum) for around 3 hours (oops – don’t tell the social workers – 🙂 ) and really got to see what delightful children they were. We also got to hear a lot about how they are day to day from the family and some of the things that make them tick (and some of the things that make them have melt downs). It was so enlightening as previous we had only written reports and second hand accounts on the children, but to see them in full technicolor and hear from someone who has looked after them day to day was a fantastic experience.
MY TIP – Ask the foster family questions about the children to fill in some gaps. If, like us, you have a great one, you will get SO much information that will be invaluable in the future.
We both left the house in a complete daze and were a little frazzled on the drive back. I felt that I had gone 10 rounds with a boxer and could not wait to get back to the hotel to relax and discuss the day with S. We were so happy to have survived the day in one piece and the children seemed to be all everything we could have hoped for and more – we felt so lucky (see my first blog – and I told you so 🙂 ).
We both were looking forward to the next day, where we would spend more time with the children and start to see their day to day routines – could not wait…..