Arrowed Cloud

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(Photo: engin akyurt on Unsplash)

 

“He’s not cooperative,” his teacher warned me when I called to find out more about the boy who’d been referred to me for speech-language therapy. “He’ll find a hundred excuses to not do the work.”

“Sounds creative,” I interjected.

“He is,” the teacher conceded, “but it is exhausting.”

For him, too, I was sure.

“You’d think he’d settle down,” the teacher sighed, “but it’s like he’s gotten worse.”

Al* had language-learning issues. He struggled to express himself, to understand what he read and what was read to him. He mixed up letters. He mixed up messages. Exposed to alcohol (and quite likely to other substances) in utero, his early childhood was marked by constant shuffling between foster-care and reunifications with his biological mother, until parental rights were terminated, and he became eligible for adoption. He’d never known his dad. Al suffered from asthma. He had difficulty attending but reportedly “no difficulty misbehaving.” He scuffled. He cursed. He broke things. He kept getting in trouble. He spoke little, read less, and his writing was filled with errors. He was in fifth grade.

The “settle down” was a reference to his recent adoption by relatives of his biological mother. Now that he was in a “forever home with family besides” he was expected to move on. He was expected to “make gains,” close gaps, and be happy. He was undoubtedly happy for stability. He was also grieving, furious, frustrated, and failing at school. He acted out. He shut down. He “did not cooperate.”

He’d had at least four previous speech therapists. The teacher informed me that “he hates ‘Speech.’”

 

“You don’t look thrilled to have another speech therapist,” I noted on our first session together.

He raised a single eyebrow so perfectly that I wondered if he had practiced the move in front of a mirror.

I smiled. “Speech can be fun …”

“It sucks.” He stated.

I nodded. “I hear ya.”

“So, I can go?”

“Good try,” I chuckled. “We’re stuck together for now.”

He shrugged but didn’t flee.

“I don’t do work.” He warned, testing.

“So let’s not call it work,” I agreed. “Let’s just figure out ways to make the other work you have to do, a little easier. Because I think you’ve had to work way too hard.”

He narrowed his eyes, suspicious.

“I mean it. And … I can understand wanting things to be easier.”

He shrugged. Crossed his arms. Leaned into the backrest of the chair.

I saw it as truce.

The next few sessions were like pulling teeth. His attention flickered. He vetoed some tasks. He tried to sulk. But he listened. And he didn’t disappear into the boys’ bathroom when it was time for sessions. He tolerated me, which was better than what the teacher (and Al?) had predicted.

We took it slow.

Then I brought Shel Silverstein’s poems to a session.

“I’m not a baby,” he bristled.

“It’s not for babies,” I retorted. “It’s also for grownups. The illustrations may look silly, but lots of this is about serious stuff.”

He folded his arms and closed his eyes. On strike.

Or not.

I read.

His eyebrows were knit together, but then his shoulders lowered, and he took a breath. He frowned. He chewed his lip. He listened.

When I finished, he opened his eyes. Held my gaze.

“Cool, eh?”

He shrugged.

“Poetry is like that,” I said. “I love how it can find words for things, sometimes.”

He shook his head. Twisted his lips. Stared at the book. Flipped through the pages.

“Want me to read another one?”

He shrugged.

I did.

I read three more.

He scribbled arrows piercing clouds.

 

The next time I saw him, he pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket. Fiddled with it. Shy.

“You have something?” I chanced.

Shrug. He stared at the poetry book I had prepared for us again. Unfolded his paper. Refolded it. Coughed. Took a breath. Thrust the note in my direction.

“Can I look?” I asked. Consent is tricky with kids who’d had others decide everything for them. I didn’t want him to think he had to show me.

He nodded. “I write it.”

I unfolded the page. Eight wobbly lines of transposed letters in phonetic spelling. A poem.

“Can I read it?” I checked.

He looked up at me, vulnerable and holding up an olive branch of trust, “yeah, but … but not loud …”

 

 

 

(Originally published in the March 2022 issue of ISSTD News as “Arrowed Cloud – The Use of Poetry in Therapy” )

*Name and details changed to protect privacy.

Bookended

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She stood back to appreciate her handiwork.

A mix of tidiness and lived-in disarray. The books. The pillows. The cozy afghans on the couch.

“She’ll love it,” he said from behind her, and she jumped. She hadn’t heard him enter.

She leaned against his chest. Felt the thrumming of his steady heart.

“How do you know?” she fretted.

“Because it’s not about perfection, but about having enough support so that no matter how you wobble,” his hand rose toward the bookshelves, “you’re bookended by love.”

She kissed his palm.

“Let’s go get our new daughter, then. Bring her home.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s FridayFictioneers

Photo: Dale Rogerson (thank you for the homey, inviting photo prompt inspiration! This room makes me wanna curl up with a good book on the couch. xoxo, your NYNF)

 

 

The Scene Setter

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“And then what happened?”

The soft-spoken woman in ugly tweeds shifted in her chair, and Thomas knew he was in trouble. He almost told. She expected him to. She was nice so he’d do what she wanted.

They all wanted to trick him. Especially those pretending to be nice. So he’d do stuff. Make mistakes. Be punished.

Thomas fiddled with the pencil. He wanted to pull Santa’s head off. Instead, he drew circles. 

He hated circles.

He put toys inside them.

Made the toy-boy lie down. Ran him over. 

“Well,” the woman sighed, “perhaps you’ll be more talkative tomorrow.”

 

 

 

Note: Dedicated to the brave children who find a way to tell, even when they tell without words, even when those around them may not see that they are, indeed, trying. May you find someone who understands.

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

Photo: © Jennifer Pendergast

 

Unsuitable For Your Kind

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(Photo: Kristian Strand on Unsplash)

 

“The best,” the man swept a heavy arm across the offerings.

“And there?” the woman gestured at the shadows.

“Nothing worth your time, Madam.” He looked pointedly at her tailored attire, “Unsuitable for your kind.”

“Nonsense,” she ordered.

He frowned but snapped his fingers. “Silvia!”

The child looked underfed even in comparison to the other orphans.

“Trouble,” he warned. “Used up her chances twice.”

“Or,” the woman smiled, “very insufficiently pre-loved.”

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Pre-loved in 71 words

 

 

So Much More

“It is so much more than just a game. It’s our future.” (Molly Wright, age 7).

This is science. This is humanity. This is potential. This is simple. This is profound. This is truth.

A not-even-eight-minutes video can change the future. Watch it. Share it.

 

 

Her Ants

(Photo: Hans-Peter Gauster on Unsplash)

 

She has ants

In her pants.

Restless thoughts

Writing plots.

No surprise

Her brain fries,

Daily grind

Flying blind.

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: restless in 19 words

 

Watching

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“See there?”

Marie squinted against glare. “The windmills?”

“No.”

David’s finger shook along with his head, and Marie felt the wheelchair’s handles vibrate. The sorrow hit her, unexpected as always. Most days now she managed to surf life without being blindsided, but it was harder to do in this place, his favorite, where everything reflected the losses. His. Hers.

“The bird,” David insisted, his reedy voice robotic with timed inhalation.

His inflection was one of the first things to go, and its absence had robbed away a part of David that she’d adored from the moment he had first looked at her, dewy-eyed from birth, and mewled a symphony of baffled indignation.

“Ah, yes, the bird on the poles! I see it now,” she filled the space with words to compensate for his worsening inability to speak in sentences.

“Watching,” David exhaled, satisfied.

For the end? Marie silenced her sigh.

 

 

 

For Crispina‘s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

Note: Dedicated to all parents and caregivers, and to all who are navigating the throws of progressive illness. May you find peace, and space to breathe in, and may you know moments of joy and an abundance of love through life’s difficult path.

 

Challenges In Adoptions of Traumatized Children

 

 

As promised in the previous post, the video above is a recording of my virtual presentation from June 3, 2020, titled: “Does He Even Know How To Be loved?” Challenges in Adoptions of Traumatized Children.”

The hour-long presentation was requested by and offered through Haruv USA, which provides professional development and training on trauma-related topics, to professionals and interested individuals. The presentation is available on YouTube.

Feel free to leave comments or ask questions. Please note that comments are public, so if you want to ask questions more confidentially, please use the contact Na’ama Yehuda page.

 

 

השלכות של התעללות והזנחה על שפה ותקשורת של ילדים

The impact of neglect and abuse on language and communication in children – a video presentation (in Hebrew)

אפשר לצפות פה בוידאו המלא של ההרצאה שלי מיוני 2, 2020, בנושא “השלכות של התעללות והזנחה על שפה ותקשורת של ילדים” – ההרצאה היא בעברית (ללא כיתוביות תרגום לאנגלית בשלב זה), וניתנה במסגרת “חרוב מהספה” של מכון חרוב בירושלים

שאלות, הערות, והארות? אפשר להשאיר פה בתגובות לפוסט, אבל חשוב לזכור שתגובות לפוסטים באתר פתוחות לציבור, כך שאם יש שאלה או הערה יותר פרטית, רצוי לפנות דרך דף הקישור

The video above is a recording of my virtual presentation from June 2, 2020, about the “Impact of Neglect and Abuse on Language and Communication in Children.” The hour-long presentation is in Hebrew (no English Subtitles at present). It was requested and offered through Jerusalem’s The Haruv Institute‘s “Haruv From The Couch” initiative, which provides virtual professional development and training on trauma-related topics, to professionals and interested individuals. The presentation is available on YouTube.

For the English speakers among you, I am hoping to post a video of another presentation (on a different but related topic), this time in English, in the coming days. That presentation was requested by Haruv USA and was recorded on June 3rd, 2020. I am waiting for it to be made available. So be on the lookout for another video post!

Feel free to leave comments or ask questions. Please note that comments are public, so if you want to ask questions more confidentially, please use the contact Na’ama Yehuda page.

 

Them Poor Bushes

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Photo: Burst on Unsplash

 

She figures it would be okay.

She figures it would do.

She’ll find her schedule and get back,

Within a month or two.

She figures she could do the task.

She figures it is fine.

She’d done a thing like that before,

Not quite, but in outline.

Still, she figures it a breeze.

She figures she’d succeed.

Even when history, at best,

Is wondering if indeed.

She figures this, she figures that

In neutral all her wheels,

And it becomes impossible

To not begin to feel,

That maybe it’d be easier

To let them bushes be

They’re beat from hedging here and there

And wishing they could flee!

 

 

Note: This was really just for fun and isn’t about (ahem) anyone … So similarity to any individual is (sort of) coincidental … 😉 Dedicated to all the ‘he’ and ‘she’ and ‘you’ and ‘they,’ who won’t say yea and won’t say nay, and leave us all in limbo every day …

For Linda Hill’s SoCS challenge: figure