NUMBER 475 • 30 MARCH • 'UNLOVABLE' KIDS
Relationships are all we really have to offer (Thank you to my instructors who have burned this into every fiber of my being). Despite the most difficult, frustrating and chaotic times, a genuine, personal, consistent, and nurturing relationship can penetrate even the toughest of shells. But, along with the commitment, time is also a crucial factor. Trust is not given; it is earned through everyday experience. And, in my experience, an untrusting and unloving young woman like Selena has every reason to feel the way she does. She persistently sabotaged any attempt to offer caring and love — and why not? Why should she trust me, a woman being paid to work with her? Who am I? Why would I mean anything to her when even her own kin have turned away when she most needed them?
Selena had been ‘bribed’ to move into a small, strange community and told that this is what’s best for her. “Well Fuck You! Where is the city? Where is the action? Why am I in this little hick town? I hate it here!” My only way of tolerating the onslaught was to stay solid with myself. This was not about me, never was, and never will be but I am here whenever the need for contact arises. The hostility was direct, dramatic and personal but how else could it be? I could only hang in there and try to understand that I have never walked an inch in this girl’s shoes. Breathe!
Three and a half years ago, Selena despised almost everything in her world. There was always something to hate: school, peers, caregivers, social workers, house rules, the other residents; and always, in her mind, a legitimate reason for hating everything and everybody. Any incident, at any time of day or night, could be sufficient to spark her rage and contempt. I am fortunate to share a service contract with my colleague Naro. Our mutual respect and complementary working styles make it possible for us to endure the rough cuts that make up so much of our daily lives. Without our fortunate blend of experience, ethics and education, we could never have established a living environment that accommodates so many levels of care. We work equal time — four days on and four days off, 24 hours a day — and share the roles of parent, counsellor, chauffeur, cook, etc. And, in the middle of it all, I am living and breathing a relationship with Selena, along with two other residents, at any given time. It’s a far cry from the safe and predictable world of the classroom.
Burec, D. (2003) Do you work with 'unlovable' kids? Relational Child and Youth Care Practice. Vol.16 No.2 pp.20-21