One of the hardest stances to take in care work is just to be at hand without having any avowed purpose, or in popular terms, to just "hang around". It is assumed that caretakers want to blend into the care receiver’s inner experience and psychological frame of mind. In order to detect the care receiver’s outlook at the moment, workers have a better chance to tune in if they are not plagued by their own sense of importance. They can more easily hook up with the melodies and rhythms of the care receiver. It is then so much easier to become in tune with the persons involved by humming or softly singing what they think is resonating in the other’s head.
Just "hanging around" can be readily achieved by the worker when he or she leisurely leans against a wall, the eyes visiting with the youngsters” and the head is moving with the assumed inherent rhythm. The same can he accomplished by the worker’s being a part of, or on the margin of, the care receiver’s scene of activity.
Most importantly, workers have to be fully intent to tune in rather than to expect the care receivers to adhere to their leadership.
From my perspective, “just being present" can also be achieved by the worker attaching him or herself in a resident by placing an arm around the youngster’s shoulders and saying, "Are you comfortable?" Most likely the client will lean back into the worker’s embrace. Just recently a worker was quoted in a text saying to a ten-year-old child, "It is good to see you relaxing and doing nothing else but watching TV." The youngster snuggled up against the worker’s cheek, stated "That’s no shit." and then stayed really relaxed for the next fifteen minutes.
How many times (and I hope there will be many) do we create situations where we relax in order that the care receivers can "hang around" with us? There will be fortunate workers who can sing, play a mouth organ, whistle to themselves, or just sit and laugh to express their pleasure at being wit the group in their care.
I trust that in most care settings the administration welcomes such scenes and that residential work is not conceived as an imitation of boot camps.
A different image of "hanging around" comes when workers are envisioned as followers of their own pleasures. such as juggling a few apples at a time, trying to peel an apple in one continuous coil, or tossing raisins up one by one and catching them with an open mouth. After a while a worker might offer raisins to the residents so they can try their luck with them too “or use shelled peanuts as bait. The minutia of shelling peanuts alone is a fine activity. Peanut shells can also be used to make wiggly peanut figures which, when linked together with yarn and a sharp needle, can dance together to everyone’s enjoyment. These wiggly creatures can be contagious in creating a joyful atmosphere.
Thinking of them dancing together makes me bubble with laughter. I hope you also envision your fun.