By K. Hecht, A. Hosack, & P. Berman
Its will be so wonderful to have children in the house again. It has been so lonely since our kids have grown up.
Ms. Alexandra had told the Carsons that Claire had been abused and neglected by her family and might have some problems fitting in to their home. They weren’t worried. They had raised both a son and daughter who had grown up to marry and have their own happy homes. They felt they could provide Claire with just the same type of loving care and structure and she would learn how to be a good mother to Davy. It turned out to be much harder than they thought. They hadn’t realized just how much they had taught their children gradually as they were growing up. Claire didn’t know the first thing about even simple hygiene like frequent bathing and brushing her teeth. They couldn’t assume Claire new anything- for example, left on her own, she had just crammed Davy’s dirty diapers into the trash can in her room without rewrapping them to insure the feces didn’t leak all over the trash can.
Mrs. Carson hadn’t noticed what was happening until the smell had spilled out of Claire’s room and all over the house. She had shown Claire how if the diaper was wrapped back up in a tight ball, and then it should be thrown into the trash can in the bathroom that had a plastic bag in it as a second defense against leaking urine or feces. While Mrs. Carson hadn’t yelled, Claire could tell she had thought it awful that she had thrown the diaper into her bedroom trash. This was so confusing to Claire- her parents hardly ever threw anything directly in the trash.
There were rules at the Carsons about everything. Claire felt the only thing she did right around the house was breathe. Her teeth weren’t cleaned right. She didn’t get all the grease off dishes when she washed them. Now, she didn’t know how to handle trash.
Davy too was much harder to care for then their own babies had been. He was premature and still didn’t weigh as much as their own children had at birth. Both their babies had eaten and slept on a regular schedule. They couldn’t figure Davy out. One day he would take two long naps; one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The next day, he would sleep and wake off and on all day.
While surprised and tired, they were determined to stay the course and help Claire and Davy. It was going to be just harder than they originally thought. They decided to start with the things they felt most confident about. They had taught Claire their simple strategy for caring for an infant and getting enough sleep to function the next day. Mrs. Carson got up with her the first few nights and showed Claire how to change Davy, feed him and then put him back into bed to fall back asleep. Even after a week, this had not worked. Davy didn’t fall asleep when put back in his crib- he just kept crying. Davy had to be rocked to sleep and then put back in his crib very carefully or he would wake up again and the whole thing had to be repeated.
Mr. Carson found his wife crying softly in their bathroom their third week of being foster parents. Mrs. Carson had gotten up to go to the bathroom at 3 a.m., she had overheard Claire murmuring hateful things about herself and Davy. She had gone into the room, pretending she hadn’t heard anything, and offered to finish rocking Davy to sleep so Claire could lie down. Claire had fallen asleep the moment her head touched the pillow. Even once Davy was asleep, Mrs. Carson had not been able to fall asleep- would Claire really throw Davy into the trash and then drown herself?
Mr. and Mrs. Carson admitted to each other that they were both physically and mentally exhausted. Their children were right, they were too old to take on a new family. They felt guilty but decided to tell Ms. Alexandra to find another home for Claire and Davy. Claire could tell something was up with the Carsons. They weren’t yelling at her, they never did. But, something was up. It could be anything. They hated everything about her- that was the only reason why they were always harping at her about something. She didn’t brush her teeth right, bathe right, put her clothes in the wash…they had this endless list of what she didn’t do right.
Claire wanted to satisfy them because she liked living in their house. She had never had so much stuff of her own. They also seemed to be like the kind of parents that God loves. Their kids call all the time and there are pictures of the kids growing up all over the house. Claire desperately wanted to turn into the kind of person who deserved love. Her greatest wish was still to find someone who would love her. Sometimes she hoped Davy loved her but other times she was sure he was too selfish to love anyone. For a while she thought Larry loved her, but she hadn’t heard a thing from him since he found out she had the baby.
When Ms. Alexandra arrives, Claire and Davy are asleep. She listens carefully without interrupting until the Carsons run out of steam. Ms. Alexandra agrees with them that Claire really hasn’t been taught all the things a healthy young woman should know long before she has her own child. She tells them that no child learns everything from their parents. She asks if they really want Claire and Davy to move out today. The Carsons look at each other and sigh. They admit that if it just wasn’t so hard, they would want Claire and Davy to stay.
Hearing their concerns, Ms. Alexandra wants to provide them with as many tools as they can to help Claire and Davy. She shows them this great website full of resources that are free to them on their home computer at www.zerotothree.com.
They hear Claire singing loving words to Davy and they smile at each other; Claire is singing a nursery rhyme they taught her. Ms. Alexandra smiles at Claire and tells her she has a beautiful voice. She then calls her over to join them at the computer. Ms. Alexandra leaves them ten minutes later talking to Claire about some of the things they are learning about Davy and his sleep patterns from the website. They came up with a plan where Mr. And Mrs. Carson will take turns caring feeding and caring for Davy for four hours at a time while the other two sleep with ear plugs. Then, someone else will take a four- hour turn. They will try this for a few days to see if everyone feels better rested.
To make the plan work, Davy will have to learn to drink formula when Claire is sleeping. Davy doesn’t like the formula at first; it doesn’t taste as good as Claire’s breast milk which is so sweet and warm. However, when he is hungry, and snuggled just right by Mr. or Mrs. Carson, he will eventually drink it.
Have you ever searched for information about caring for children on the internet?
Explore all the great resources available to parents and caregivers at www.zerotothree.com.