Trust Children to Succeed


It’s been a few months since I’ve had time to blog. We’ve been busier than Donald Trump’s Twitter feed.
So I have lots of news about our Happy Chin to share with you. Firstly, and most exciting of all, HC has a job!
We seriously doubted this day would ever come for him, and of course Mr August and I are super proud (as are the whole family). Happy Chin’s primary carer, a woman of action, approached a local garden supplies centre and was able to arrange for him to work one morning a week stacking wood for them.
Have I told you before how much HC loves stacking wood? Living in Tasmania, where it’s cold for much of the year, we have a wood heater and so chopping and stacking wood is an activity the whole family can enjoy (whether they like it or not!). Luckily, the Lamington likes to chop, having acquired an axe at a recent visit to the tip shop. He was so pleased with his $5 purchase that he kept it by his bed for a week, until I discovered it and ordered its removal to the garden shed on the grounds that people bearing cups of tea at 6AM don’t deserve to be dismembered as they pick their way through the rubble to deliver said tea safely to the bedside table.
Happy Chin loves to stack wood. Our theory is that heavy lifting is calming for him, as he won’t settle for just one log at a time but insists on carrying three or four. He also favours a particular time of day for this exercise (mid afternoon). He stands by the front door and says “Wood, wood!” until someone is available to supervise the carting of logs from the woodpile to the wood storage cupboard by the fireplace. This activity is not restricted to winter, in fact it has been taking place throughout summer. Even when the wood cupboard is full to bursting, HC still insists on carrying wood. So we use the simple expedient of having him empty the wood cupboard and take it all back outside and to stack on the wood pile. The following day the exercise is repeated in reverse, and so on. When a load of firewood arrives in the driveway, he is in log heaven.
So naturally, when the garden centre asked what type of work he could do, it was a no-brainer for his carer. For a long while, we had been thinking about Happy Chin’s talents. He likes to arrange things, so we thought perhaps stacking food parcels could be a good opportunity, but then we reflected on his love for food and a certain fizzy substance, and rejected that idea. Sorting surgical instruments was another thought, but his fine motor skills aren’t quite up to that yet. The advantage of the garden centre is that the wood pile is located well away from shops, main roads and people. He goes along with his carer and works for as long as he is able and interested. He isn’t actually paid by the garden centre, but we set some money aside from his personal spending which he receives after he’s finished, so we can help him understand the concept of working for money.
He is very proud and happy. He wakes each morning and says “Work, money.”
“No,” we say, “work is on Thursday. Three more sleeps!”
He has his own work gloves and work boots, and high visibility shirt. We are so pleased for him. And if I might just throw in a small plug – next time you need garden supplies, please consider the Leslievale Garden Centre. They are a wonderful bunch of humans, and their prices are pretty good too!
Happy Chin is displaying more maturity with every passing day. I have been interstate at a conference for the last few days, which has been great but worrying as the event fell on the days that Happy Chin comes to our house. It’s hard not to worry when you’re away from your kids. Not that Mr August can’t cope with any situation, just that when HC decides he’s in a ‘no’ frame of mind, two days can seem like a very long time. He is often unsettled if I am away (which doesn’t happen often) and will call for Mummy with the kind of persistence and energy that I wish Tech Support had applied towards his school work during Year 12 at high school.
Exciting news, though – he had a very happy weekend with his dad and didn’t ask for me once!
They went to the park to watch the soccer, walked the dog, cleaned the house….actually I’m making that last bit up. I don’t know if they cleaned the house or not as I’m writing this from the plane home. Thanks for indulging me in a bit of wishful thinking.
It was doubly sweet to see progress in him, because things seemed to be going backwards over the last couple of months. We were seeing a return to some old behaviours of concern, and unfortunately we’ve been through another 2 day support providers. Our young man was bored and under stimulated and let us know in no uncertain terms with unsafe and challenging behaviour. So we are in limbo yet again.
Back to the old drawing board! Really, we should be regular Da Vinci’s by now!!
Mr A couldn’t help but wryly comment, ‘for God’s sake, we’ve kept him safe for 22 years and they can’t even last 6 weeks!’
He’s right of course. We have kept him safe.
Except for the Great Bicycle Escape. And the vacation care escape. Yeah, I guess we should throw in the time he was arrested. Probably also that time he disappeared for an hour and was found on a neighbour’s lawn. And the time he put his fist through the window.
But apart from that….
And anyway, how safe is the average 22 year old man? He’s never had alcohol poisoning, never taken drugs (apart from anti convulsants, anti psychotics, the odd Panadol – oh and Valium of course). He’s not having unsafe sex. He’s not out in cars with god knows who driving at unsafe speeds. He’s been intensely supervised his entire life, never been robbed or mugged (thank goodness!) I don’t know many 22 year olds who’ve had as safe a life as Happy Chin has.
I’m reminded of the line in Finding Nemo where Marlin says, ‘I just don’t want anything to happen to him!’
Dory replies, ‘But then nothing would ever happen to him!’
When the boys were younger and we were at the park, it used to irritate me when other parents would call to their kids, ‘get down from there, you’ll fall!’ Why undermine their confidence like this? If they fall, they fall. They might have a scratched knee and a few bruises, but you can’t wrap kids in cotton wool all their lives.
Why is there this assumption that Happy Chin, when taken out, will always abscond or misbehave? There was a poster on the wall of his day care centre when he was small that said Trust Children to Succeed. Why aren’t we trusting him to succeed?