November 21, 2016

What We Knew

The class was required for our foster care license, which, if I’m honest, is possibly the only reason my husband and I went.  There were plenty of other places we would have preferred to be on that Tuesday evening.  We sat near the back of the stuffy room, far enough away from the front that we could pass notes or whisper to each other without drawing too much attention to ourselves, but not all the way in the back back.  After all, we didn’t want to be rude.

If I remember correctly, the instructor that night used a frozen candy bar as an illustration of an abused child’s “hardened” heart.  Heating it up too fast, with a blow-dryer for example, or warm water or in your hands, would cause it to melt on the outside and remain ice-cold on the inside. The answer, apparently, was to be patient and let it thaw on it’s own until it reached room temperature.  That, he promised, is how you “thaw” the heart of a traumatized child. 

I do confess that it took a lot of willpower that evening not to roll our eyes.  Good thing we weren’t sitting too close to the front.

Except for the licensing requirement, we didn’t really need to take this parenting class.  We already knew pretty much everything there was to know about raising children.  We both come from solid, in-tact families, with parents who had set good examples for us while we were growing up.  We both were well-educated young professionals who had successfully graduated from college.   We had one whole shelf in our home library devoted to popular parenting books.   And even without all of that, we had an abundance of competence and common sense.  I mean, how hard could it be?

But then . . . we had kids.  Or more specifically, we had foster kids.  And we very quickly found out that what we thought we knew about parenting was woefully inadequate.  In fact, to quote a good ol’ Southern boy we know, we have often said to each other over the years, I ain’t got nothin’!!