To my Teacher… A second letter from Billy the foster child!

This blog entry was authored by Jeanette Miller, Senior Consultant in the Parenting and Early Years Program, at the Australian Childhood Foundation, from the perspective of a four year old child who has experienced trauma. Billy’s first letter was published in February 2017, you can read it here

Hi. It’s me again… Billy the foster kid. I’ve been at school for a while now, and I thought I’d let you know how it’s going.
Every day after school, Jenny asks me ‘What did you do at school today?’ I usually say ‘Not much’, because I’m hot and tired and I can’t remember all the things we did….but this is what’s really been happening. One of the hardest things about school for me, is getting there. When I tell Jenny I don’t want to go to school, she always says ‘But all your friends will be there waiting to play with you.’ But that’s not what I’m thinking about. When we get to the school gate, there’s always this fuzzy thing happening in my tummy and I’m already looking around to make sure Anna’s there. Anna’s not one of the kids. She’s my special helper. As soon as I see her I feel safer. I wish she would always be in the same place when we get to school so I knew where to find her; then I wouldn’t have to get so worried about her not being there. I like the way Anna crouches down in front of me to say hello. But the best bit is when we do our special check-in signal together. I can’t tell you about it because it’s a secret sign that Anna and I invented together. We use it when I arrive at school in the morning and when I go home at the end of the day. And sometimes when I feel a bit lost during the day, I’ll look around and there’s Anna noticing me, and she does the sign and it makes me feel a bit better. Anna and I always start the day doing the same thing: we go to the blue table in the corner and play with the shaving cream. I love pushing my hands out and in to make patterns in the shaving cream on the table. I like the soft squishy feeling of the cream and when I run my hands through it- out and in, out and in, out and in, it makes me feel good. Sometimes it takes a while,( especially if there’s been lots of fussing and rushing and yelling at home that morning) but the shaving cream usually takes away the fuzzy thing in my tummy. Then I’m ready to do something else! I like playing outside best. Today I finally got to play with the cool digger in the sandpit. But I was just starting to have a go of it when Harry came up and I thought he was going to take it from me so I pushed him away. I didn’t mean to hurt him but he started crying. Anna was watching us and she sat with us and said she could see how excited I was to have a turn of the digger but how it’s not ok to hurt anyone. She helped me to use some words to say sorry to Harry. She also explained that Harry didn’t want to take the digger from me- he just wanted to be friends and play with me. She showed me how she could tell that by the way Harry’s face looked, and what his hands were doing. I never knew that before! The hardest bit about playing outside is when we have to pack up and go back inside. After we pack up the toys, we have to wait ‘til everyone’s ready, before we go inside. Waiting is sooooo hard for me! But Anna came up with a good idea to make it fun. There’s a really long log lying in the playground and now we call it ‘the waiting log’ because we all sit on it while we wait for everyone to pack up. When you’re ready to sit on the log with Anna, you join in the funny clapping rhymes we do together. And when everyone’s on the log, we do a ‘follow the leader’ march, all the way to the story mat inside. When Anna’s the leader she does really silly actions with her arms and legs and we copy her. She lets me be the first in line so I’m next to her. It’s fun!… and it helps me to shake out some of my ‘buzzy energy’ before we have to sit still for the story.

Anna knows how hard it is for my busy body to sit still, so she sits next to me in the circle and she lets everyone choose a ‘fiddle toy’ to hold and squish while the teacher reads the story. Today there was a jumpy frog in the story and when I jumped up and started being a frog, the teacher said we could all be frogs for a while to get our jumpy energy out. That’s not all that happened today but I’m tired now, so I’ll tell you more another time.
from Billy

Links and references: