We have a family villa in Spain that Pickle has now been to 3 times. Each time his behaviour has, without doubt, improved.
The first time we boarded a plane as a foursome was just 4 months after he moved in with us. It was against the advice of social workers and how right they were. It was too soon to subject him to such a drastic change in routine, albeit a short-term one. It didn’t matter how much we explained that we would be returning home and that we would all stay together forever. The words ‘home’ and ‘forever’ meant nothing to him. How could they?
The days of that first holiday were at best filled with full-blown, shoe-lobbing tantrums. Door-kicking became the favourite sport along with long-distance, over-the-table spitting. The only blessing was that the inhabitants of the local Spanish village were quite obviously baffled by his intricate use of the English language. The empathetic smiles seem to translate universally, however. I found the aviator shades invaluable for avoiding eye contact, hiding embarrassment and masking the unavoidable watery eyeballs.
We’ve moved on leaps and bounds since then. Of course, his constant need for security is ever prevalent.
Once again, our jolly holiday in Spain – although jollier – was not as jolly as it could have been. Pickle was thrown backwards again with this latest change in his routine His inappropriate bravado and insolence bounced on the surface blanketing his fears and apprehension.
To those who loosely know Pickle, he is the bubbly, less-than-reticent cutie pie with eyelashes like palm fronds. His unconcealed affection, though ridiculously charming and lovable, is uncharacteristic of what you would expect from the average child/almost-stranger relationship. But to a child to whom strangers have always been introduced as ‘friends’ or ‘trusted adults’ (social workers, family finders, contact centre workers), his open friendliness could be considered somewhat understandable. Those who know him more intimately are aware that his terrified interior is in fact just playing out a rather brash, swaggering external role. It’s perplexing, testing and extremely wearisome.
Ashamedly, patience isn’t always the first thing to jump to the fore when his impertinent manners surface. I get frustrated, I over-analyse, I want to scream. In all honesty, I often do. Then I go away and kick myself for my lack of understanding and inability to see the feelings behind the behaviours. I berate myself for my reactions and my undeniable over-reactions.
Then I sigh, and start again.
We’re home. Routine is in full force and today Pickle’s first words were “Mummy, do you like being back home? I do.”
Then I sighed, and smiled.