Since our last failed visit, we weren’t sure what to do next with the little seven year old boy living in shelter that we wanted to foster parent.
“It’s time to push him.” Kathy, the shelter case manager, told us.
I took a deep breath. It was the day after we drove the little boy back to the shelter after his panic attack at the park. Kathy had called to find out what happened and strategize for the next visit. I felt like I failed her and her comment had my instantly questioning myself. Should I have pushed harder? Should I have insisted that the boy come inside our house? Insisted he eat with us? Made him sit at the table in tears while we ate?
I honestly wasn’t sure.
“Don’t take it personally,” she chuckled into the phone, “We haven’t even been able to get him to leave the site.”
The kids at the shelter get their behavior rated every day as “Green,” “Yellow,” or “Red,” she explained. The prize for 30 days on “green,” is a special “one on one” outing with an adult to a location of their choice.
“I brought in an extra staffer for the day and we couldn’t even get him to leave the lobby!” Her exasperation made me start to chuckle as well as she continued, “We offered McDonalds; Peter Piper Pizza; the Park!” She sighed, “After an hour we were just trying to persuade him to go down the street to the convenient store for a bag of chips!”
I could visualize the whole thing in my mind. Kiddo’s favorite word seemed to be, “No.”
“The kid refused to leave the grounds,” I could practically hear her throw her hands up.
But, she said, they spoke as a team and had an idea.
“He’s a ball of anxiety,” she said, “so let’s distract him. He loves Batman,” she explained, “And he likes using dolls to talk through his feelings. You know, ‘Doll wants this’ or ‘Doll is sad.”
She suggested we bring a Batman doll to our visit that night. So, on our way to the shelter that night for our next attempted visit, we stopped by Target and picked up this little guy (and an iced coconut milk latte – because I had a feeling I was going to need all of the energy I could muster).