Helping the Helper

One of my peeves has always been that many of my clients think when they have wraparound services, they are now in mommie heaven. The problem children are taken off their hands, and they can just search their homes for bonbons, if the little critters haven’t stolen them already.

The peeve carries over to the workers. No question they have a hard job– going into strangers’ homes, many of them less clean than you’d like, maybe lice-infested, to deal with kids who may not have been raised under the best of circumstances. Often they just “babysit,” give the kids a break from a bad home, take them for ice cream or to the library or other things the parents just don’t do. Works for the parents, and apparently it works for them. I bet the kid feels better, too, when someone’s paying one on one attention to them and buying them nice things.

But that’s just not the situation here. We keep our house pretty clean, we have what we need and we actually pay attention to our children, especially the ones with issues. (Probably we govern them with too tight a grip–but that’s a subject for another post.)

The Captain’s mobile therapist has come several times now, and most of them have been afternoons I’ve baked granola–she’s so amazed we have real food. Home-made, even. Little Miss’s TSS and BSC have come several times, and all they keep saying is, “Wow, she does so well! Our other kids aren’t anything like this!” The TSS was surprised we’d done homework with the child before she came; apparently in her other families, that’s left for the “babysitter.”

So we’re working through the new relationships. The TSS is supposed to focus on language development, pragmatic and receptive speech–so she brought a word search page where you had to search for six-digit numbers. I asked her what the purpose was for that, genuinely curious, and she said it wasn’t therapeutic, but something she knew Little Miss would like. Except of course, she didn’t do it fast, being very meticulous, and then the TSS wouldn’t let her finish it–a major issue with her. She has to work things beginning to end before she’s ready to let go. It’s all over her file. So there was some grief about that.

I tried to stay out of the room at first, because I wanted them to get to know each other and build a rapport without me. But I drift in eventually, and they’re going over some category association cards, and some question and answer cards that headed in the right direction. So it was all okay until Little Miss asked if she could play with play dough (also home-made).

The TSS agreed she could, and she got it out, with her Bob the Builder set that has molds inside little houses and so on.  We were all three playing, and talking–Little Miss was telling the story and answering questions, doing very well–and when Little Miss gathered it all up into a ball about eight inches in diameter, I said, “What would happen if that came rolling down the street and crashed into the house?”

She laughed and played that out, knocking the house sideways. Then she set it up again, and held the ball overhead. “Or like this!” she said, and dropped it on the house from above. That inspired smiles and giggles all around. I asked her, “What would the people do in that house?  What would they say?”

She considered a moment and nodded thoughtfully. “God damn it!” she said blithely, and she pulled the dough off the doomed house.  “Then they would call 911.”

Meanwhile, the TSS and I are laughing so hard we couldn’t reply. Little Miss went on telling what would happen when firefighters arrived and so on. And somehow I had the feeling the TSS thought perhaps Little Miss’ s language development was coming along just fine.


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