This week, I've been feeling a little down, mostly due to work. Christmas has always been hard on the kids that I work with. I remember when I worked in a residential group home, the kids would always act up around this time of year. Most of the kids had no families or any that would come visit them for the holidays. Many kids would just become bitter. Foster kids (the population I work with) have a particularly hard time this time of year since they get moved around so much and have never been part of a family in some cases. I have been pretty invested this week to try to make the holidays a little better for some kids, but it is starting to burn me out. Two cases I've been spending a lot of time with have been pretty draining.
One child I've been working with, Travis, has never had a "normal family Christmas." Basically, he has lived in residential his whole life. This year, it looked like he would spend X-mas with a foster family that has been struggling with him all year. However this week, I feel he has sabotaged it by going on a pretty intense rampage , causing him to get kicked out of his foster home and school. Some how, I think this kid wanted to leave so he wouldn't have to spend X-mas with anything close to a family. Some kids will do that as a way of protecting themselves against a bigger hurt. I know that when he is on these intensive rampages he verbally attacks me. I've concluded that he wants me (or anyone else) to hurt as bad as he does. A few nights ago, I was frantically looking for a home for him and he just broke down and cried for about an hour. This kid has had a tough life causing him to be socially awkward, and bullied a lot at school. He is the kind of kid you can see blowing away people in a mall someday.
Another kid that has been getting to me this Xmas, is a 4 year old named Ben. I've been working with for about a year. He reminds me of Woogy so much. He gets in my car and always plays with the toys that Woogy leaves behind. Over the year Ben has made a lot of progress mostly due to a skilled foster parent. I remember when I first met Ben, he would cuss like a sailor and play with his poop. Over the year, we got him involved in Head Start and just did a lot of behavior management. The state has been pushing visits with Ben and his bio family which are a bunch of neanderthals. I was clearing observing some PTSD in Ben over these visits, but with no evidence, the state pushed forward. Ben has been returning from his visits looking very tired and unusually hungry. He also has a large number of bruises on his legs which can be attributed to his emotionally disturbed brother. The other day I took Ben to a X-mas party hosted by the state and got to meet Ben's parents. With the state closing their case, Ben will be returned home this week. Mom didn't seem to really care. This was probably because she has 3 other kids making a scene. I anticipate we will see Ben again when he is placed again in the system. Foster mom and I are both pretty upset that the progress Ben has made will most likely be lost, but we hope we had some effect on him.
I know all this is the nature of the business that I'm in, but I guess around this time of year it's hard to remain optimistic about the holidays for some kids.