"You will want her on your side and want to be on her side"
|Marie age 45|
The doll's name is Cathy and my sister gave it to Marie when she was eight years-old. (To me) it's the baby Marie never had and probably reminds her of the first five years of her life when she lived in the nursery at Nazareth House childrens home, surrounded by babies, and where I first met her. When she wasn't locked in the pram store room alone, she would sit on her cot and watch the babies through the bars. And today, if she hears a baby cry it makes her cry too.
This brings me to the reason I was prompted to write this post. A few years ago an American friend, after fostering a child for many years, was told by a social worker to take away the foster child's favourite cuddly teddy bear, which the child took everywhere, adding that it was not 'age appropriate'. I had never heard the term 'age appropriate' before and thought it must be an American policy, but I was annoyed that an official could make this kind of heartless stipulation. What about what the child wanted? Did her needs not count for anything? And what an awful position for my friend to be in.
Not long after my friend shared that experience with me, I was working in a residential home for people with a learning disability. I often listened to one of the residents accurately reciting our birthdays as she sat in the lounge clutching her empty handbag. Then one day I spotted her reading the names on a birthday card and I was astounded. My enthusiasm ran away with me, and I thought she might really enjoy visiting the children’s library. I never saw this particular lady with a book or magazine and offered to buy her some reading material. “What’s your favourite book?” I asked and her face immediately lit up and without a moment’s hesitation she said, “Goldilocks!”
Whilst I think the label 'Adult child' is a tad insulting, it does put things into perspective and clears up a lot of misconceptions about my daughter's level of understanding and acceptance of what she can and cannot do. It also takes pressure off care staff, allowing them to accept Marie for the child that she is and not be the adult her 47 years tells them she should be.