We spend the weekend with a very frustrated Little Miss. The normal toddler tantrums are arriving and are being amplified by her already fiery temperament. We rack our brains; what can we do to ease this frustration? We come to the conclusion that not being able to walk may be adding to the frustration she feels and decide to buy her new shoes to try and encourage the walking. Cue a trip to Clarks for measuring. Who'd have thought that being measured for new shoes could be such a traumatic experience?!
I weigh up the risks - a mental risk assessment of the situation; new faces, unfamiliar place, unfamiliar smells, new situation. Not to mention random people touching you with strange shoe measuring implements! The sales assistant comes to introduce herself and, without giving away details of our situation, I quietly explain that Little Miss can be very nervous in new situations and with new people. The sales assistants voice softens immediately and she kneels down at eye level with Little Miss to say 'hello'. Little Miss, initially unsure and leaning into me, slowly begins to relax and smile. She shouts 'hiya' and waves excitedly to the sales assistant who then picks up the foot measurer and tries to secure it to Little Miss' foot. The floodgates are opened. She begins to scream, writhe and scratch and has to be held very firmly to be measured. I can see that the sales assistant is trying to be patient but is surprised at the ferocity of the outburst. I ask her to wait a couple of minutes whilst I turn Little Miss around and cradle her against me. She clings to me, shaking, with her head draped over my shoulder and twiddles a strand of my hair. Once she has stopped shaking I begin to move her away from me but she scrambles to get close again whilst screaming. I breathe a sigh of relief that it is 9:35 am and the shop is very quiet. I feel a hint of embarrassment flood my cheeks as Sam sits next to me and starts to hum a song from the Les Miserables soundtrack at the top of his voice. Inappropriate much?!!
I wait for Little Miss to calm down again before turning her around whilst singing 'Twinkle Twinkle' softly in her ear. She screams, writhes and kicks out but the patient sales assistant finally manages to measure her feet whilst seeming to be contorting herself into all manner of strange positions to obtain the correct measurements from said octopus's feet. She brings out a selection of first 'cruiser' shoes and I allow Little Miss to get down on the floor and choose her own. I try to point her in the direction of the pretty t-bar style shoes with embroidered flowers. She picks the most garishly pink shoes there that are guaranteed not to go with any outfit. I sigh and ask the sales assistant if she has them in the required size. Cue screaming, writhing and wriggling again whilst the shoes are fitted and deemed a good fit. Sales assistant asks if we would like to take the shoes off to put them in a box. I want to laugh - haven't we just wrestled these shoes onto her?! They're NEVER coming off. I take a deep breath before saying 'no thank you', paying and leaving the shop with joyful optimism of said shoes solving all frustration problems and Little Miss strolling off down the path holding hands with Sam. Instead I am faced with a toddler who pulls the shoes off every 10 minutes and has given up any desire to stand and/or walk.
Frustrations continue for the rest of the week and I am unable to get to the bottom of them. People stare as the outbursts take place. They look at me as if to ask 'are you going to control your child?'. I think of friends who have children with additional needs and recall stories of judgements from people around them who are unaware of their childrens' needs and (maybe unwittingly) give disapproving looks at outbursts and socially inappropriate behaviour that may be exhibited. I breathe a sigh of relief that I am not alone and take a deep breath to avoid turning to another staring person and asking 'do you have a problem?'.
Little Miss takes deep breaths and begins to calm herself down - a skill that she is only just learning. Her body relaxes once more and her fists unclench. She gets down from my knee and crawls off as if nothing has happened. I feel my body relax and carry on regardless, waiting for the next outburst.
Being a foster carer is the most amazing thing I have ever done. I love seeing the changes in Little Miss that are occurring on a daily basis. She really is like a different child and this is an amazing reward. My goodness though, this is hard work!
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