By P. Berman, K. Hecht, & A. Hosack
I don’t know what to do. But I do know I don’t want Claire to hear about this.
Mrs. Carson went in search of her husband as soon as she got home. She wanted to tell him about the problem she experienced, with Lisa and get his advice about what to do. His immediate reaction was to get very angry about what Lisa had said. But, after sitting with her for a while, just being together on the couch in the living room, he said to her, “let’s act on our own advice to Claire. We’re always telling her that when she doesn’t know what to do, she should to do some research and get more ideas. Let’s do this together,” he said giving her hug.
Mr. Carson got out their computer and typed in, “how to respectfully disagree with others.” They found an article written by Marisa Fasciano (March 2, 2015) for the Teaching Tolerance Magazine. As they read through the article, they wondered if bringing Claire and Davy into their home could have triggered some things from Lisa’s history that they didn’t know. The article talked about how strong emotional reactions usually came with context. Working through the controversial topics required both sides to try and understand each other’s background “context”.
Is there something about Lisa’s point of view I don’t understand yet? Is she really worried about me?
“What do you think,” Mr. Carson said after they both finished reading the article. “I don’t know much about Lisa’s background when it really comes down to it. We just helped drive each other’s kids around to different activities. We never really talked about problems- except maybe when the kids were sick.” “Did you notice anything changing between you when Claire first came,” Mr. Carson asked.
“She was helping take care of her brother who had Alzheimer’s. I don’t think things were going well at the nursing home where he was living; his wife couldn’t handle caring for his basic needs once his illness had really progressed. I guess she began spending more and more time at the nursing home the same time I began to spend more time with Claire and Davy,” Mrs. Carson said.
“It seems like you and Lisa really got out of touch,” Mr. Carson said. “Yes, we did get pulled in opposite directions,” Mrs. Carson said, “she was spending all of her time at the Nursing home and I guess I was spending all my time here (1-minute silence). I guess I need to meet with Lisa and try to listen to what she has to say. I need to find out if this is more about her being under a lot of stress or if she really believes Claire was born to be bad.” Mr. Carson went red, “We went through some scary times with Larry. I don’t remember how much of that I told her husband Dan.”
“It’s so hard to remember what our life was like before Claire and Davy came into our lives,” Mrs. Carson said, “But, I do remember that before we learned about and from her, I always tried to keep our kids from hanging out with those children who live across time in the trailer court. I don’t think I consciously thought that those kids were bad…. but they weren’t polite when I saw them at school, and they seemed to always be in trouble.” Mr. Carson said dejectedly, “I know I told our kids a few times at the park when they were misbehaving that they needed to stop acting like… trailer trash”
Mrs. Carson patted his hand and said, “Honey, we have both made some big mistakes. We can’t go back and change how we judged those kids without really understanding who they were. Maybe they were doing just fine. Maybe they needed our help, but we didn’t see it. We can’t know.” Mr. Carson smiled at her, “So, are you going to call Lisa now?”
Mrs. Carson looked down at her hands. “I should. I know that but what should I say. I know it’s going to be hard, she sounded so mad and you know….I have always struggled with talking to people who were mad at me. (1-minute pause) Maybe you could…. practice with me what I should say.”
Mr. Carson started laughing and gasped out, “in some ways it’s funny that Lisa thinks we’ve joined a cult. If we have it should be called the cult of practice, practice, practice skills you need to learn.” Mrs. Carson began laughing too and Claire and Davy came in from a play date at the park in time to hear them both.
Smiling, Davy interrupted the laughter with, “Mr. Carson, I noticed our neighbor sitting on the porch looking really sad,” Davy said. Maybe we should visit with our dog. He’s so cute and goofy it might make Mr. Dugan feel better to play with him.” “I think this is a great idea Davy, keep your coat on and give me a minute to get on mine. We will take the dog for a walk and visit Mr. Dugan.” The dog had been laying on the floor. But somehow, it knew it was being talked about. He jumped up on Davy’s legs and looked at him so pleadingly.
“Mr. Carson, the dog really likes this idea!”
Mr. Carson, Davy, and the dog were getting ready to take a walk over to the neighbors. Claire was going upstairs to wash up; taking Davy to the park always ended up with her getting very dirty from his antics.
Mrs. Carson was sitting at the kitchen table alone with her thoughts and wondering what was going on with Lisa. She was preparing herself for making that phone call – practicing what she might say in her head. This was not going to be easy for her.
Does Lisa need help? Does she hold negative stereotypes about foster kids?
It is hard to change your view of something unless you learn more about it and recognize that you might not have known all the important information you needed to make a fair judgement. To read more about what different forms of abuse are and how children may react to them go to: