Wednesday, 22 April 2015

More Life Story Work

It's been a busy old week, mainly because TJ has gone back to school after the Easter break, although KC still has another week off - one of the perks of sending the boys to separate schools is the different holiday dates. KC's school is fee-paying, which means that we are essentially paying for him to have longer holidays, hmmm...

I'm not sure why it seems to be so much more work having one child at home instead of two. It's probably the sudden need KC has to be entertained by me - whereas I can usually say, "go and play with your brother," I now have to find things for him to do - if I left it to him to entertain himself he would never prise himself away from the TV.

So, yesterday, we decided to go for a long early dog walk. We dropped TJ off at school and then off we went on our treks. A few minutes in and KC asked me what his mum looked like. I stopped and looked at him.
"Where's that come from?" I asked.
"I just couldn't remember what she looked like?" he replied, "I sometimes imagine she is dead, then I don't have to think about it so much."
"Your Mum's not dead," I told him, "Why don't we go back and look through your life story book, I know there's a lot of pictures of your birth mum in there."

He told me he would like that very much and after the dogs had been suitably exercised we went back.

We went through his book together - the pictures of him as a baby, pictures with his birth mum and her partner, KC's birth father. Then we came to the part of the book that I hate, and which I think he has avoided - you may recall from a previous post that I had 'edited' these areas' for TJ. But KC wanted me to go on. "We need to talk about it," he said when I asked him if he was ready.

I won't go into detail here - mainly because its not my story to tell but what I can tell you is that KC was honest and open - not pulling any punches. Telling me about his abuse and the bits of it he remembers. He looked at me and said, "How come I can remember all of that but I can't remember what she looks like?"

I can't tell you I had any great words of wisdom for him, or shared any earth shattering revelations - I just sat with him. He didn't cry or get emotional he just looked through the book again. Then he gave it back to me. "Put it away," he said, "I don't want to look at that anymore."

But, as I said before, that's the importance of life story work - it enables the child to share their experiences with you - but by using the book they aren't talking to you directly about what happened - it's as if they are talking about the character in the book - the child they once were.

Then TJ came in from school and he'd been playing football today - how do I know this? Because I went downstairs to find his football boots on the dining table.

"Why are your boots on the table?" I asked erm.. 'heatedly'.. I decided not to go on about it being bad luck or anything (although it will be for him if he does it again). His reply?

"Well, they are covered in dog poo and I could see that the floor has just been cleaned, so I didn't want to get that dirty."

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry - luckily our bonkers Turkish cleaner was in (hence the cleaned floor) and she was able to get the mess cleared up whilst teaching us all some very interesting Turkish words (which I don't think I will repeat should we ever go to Turkey).


  1. Great post. I love what you said about using a book so they can talk about themselves as a character in the story, so they have a bit of distance. That's really helpful.

    1. Thanks Hannah - we did the same with our intro books - I told it through the eyes of our dog. Although that did have the result that they thought the dog could talk - like Scooby Doo!

  2. What a wonderful post - I wish my book hadn't gone "missing" (long sad story) as parts of my life in care are very, very, hazy.

    1. Thank you. I think your comment is a reminder of how important life story work, of one form or another, is important for children who have had a history in care. Thank you for sharing.