mandag, juli 22, 2024
Home » When Petter had stayed three days with our family, he asked me, «Can I stay here for a long time? As long as three months?”

When Petter had stayed three days with our family, he asked me, «Can I stay here for a long time? As long as three months?”

Petter came to us three years ago. On a hot summer day he was delivered to our yard, transported by a police car. He had a few items of clothing with him, all too small. Everything he owned fit into a small box. Nothing else. This boy had had many «families». We were to be his fifth in a row.

I studied his room. Piles of toys, clothes and books he can’t read. I was in to say good night, he finds himself crying again.

«Will I ever see dad again?» he asks me in between sobs. «Maybe one day.» I answer.

Illustration photo from Pixabay

I lie down next to Petter in the bunk bed and stare at the bottom of the top bunk. The metal strings under the mattress are squeezed halfway into the foam rubber. Pushed in by all the children who have been in bed for years.

Petter was eight years old when he came to us. Sky blue eyes and frizzy hair. Small for age, a bit too thin. One evening before bed he comes up to me, looks up at me. Looks like he’s about to say something, but looks unsure. Probably considered whether I was a safe person he could tell this to. He looks down.

«I won’t let somebody get under my covers anymore,» he finally says. Just in case I was a «somebody.»

«Well, that’s a good idea,» I replied to the blue eyes that had experienced so much that a child should not experience.

«I don’t like beds.»

He got to sleep in the chair that night. A large, round chair with soft cushions and a back that could be leaned back. He remained asleep in this chair for the next three weeks. With clothes on. He wouldn’t change clothes, wouldn’t undress, wouldn’t do anything involving evening routines.

When we moved him into a bedroom, we became aware of the window. He said that someone was staring at him. I assured him that no one could get up that high, as the room is on the second floor. But reason is not part of fear. Petter was full of fear.

I could see in his eyes that it was not possible to negotiate here. I hung a large, dense curtain in front of the window. Not good enough. The ends of the curtain moved with the pull. It would never work. Someone could peek in through the cracks when the curtain fluttered. So I taped the ends to the wall. No possibility to look in. But the problem was not solved, only the symptom was removed.

When Petter had stayed three days with our family, he asked me, «Can I stay here for a long time? As long as three months?”

«Well, three months isn’t very long,»  I replied without thinking about his background.

He lowered his eyebrows as he thought. «How about until I’m thirteen?»  he asked, probably thinking he was making me a good offer we could both be happy with.

Petter had no idea about the word family. The term «forever» made no sense to this boy. I made a phone call to find out more about Petter’s future plans. Should he be placed permanently with a family? There was no family waiting for Petter. Nobody wanted him. «We’ll take him permanently,» I said. They didn’t argue.

Illustration photo from Pixabay

Now, as I lie next to him, a cat jumps onto the bed. A fat and black cat. Petter has given him the name Mons. They came every few weeks, Petter and Mons. Petter came on the stairs, Mons under the stairs. Both abandoned and afraid. The cat, too young to be away from his mother, hissed and growled at us when he arrived.

Just like Petter, Mons didn’t want to approach anyone. But he approached Petter. Walked right over to the boy and stroked his legs. He must have seen his own history in Petter. The same pain. Every single night when it’s getting close to bedtime, Petter walks around the house and calls. «Come here Mons.» The cat comes to him just like a dog. Petter doesn’t lift Mons up, he doesn’t need to. Just turns around, walks towards his room. Mons follows and together they fall asleep next to each other in bed.

I occasionally pet Mons, he is not interested. Just want to cuddle with Petter.

«Why didn’t they just do it?»

I wait, unsure what he means by that question.

«If I ever have children and they are taken away from me. If child welfare says I can get them back if I stop using drugs, I’d do it right away!»

«You’re a stronger person,»  I say, knowing it’s true. «Some people are not made to be parents, some are.»

«You’ll be an amazing dad one day, because you know what it’s like to be you.»

“But they just didn’t care what I was doing. They were not parents.”

“Your mum and dad are not evil people, just weak people. I crossed my fingers behind my back. «The drug caught them and won’t let go.»

«I will never do drugs,»  he says.

«No; you should never take drugs. You know what that can lead to.” I pray that I am right.

Statistically speaking, Petter will take drugs. One day he will have forgotten how he feels now. Maybe he wants to wash all the feelings away with whatever he can get his hands on. I hope I’m wrong.

Illustration photo from Pixabay

A while ago I took Petter to a specialist. What opportunities does Petter have in this life? How can he develop? He has poor odds, I was told. Drugs and alcohol have affected his ability to learn, to concentrate, to make the right decisions. There is too much damage to the brain. He will never be able to study, says the specialist. He probably won’t make it through high school.

Just wait, I told the specialist. Just wait and see. The boy couldn’t read, so I taught him. He is impulsive, so I guide him. He gets scared easily, so I hold him around. He is not a lost cause. He is my cause.

Now I get up from the bed to go out of the room, hoping he falls asleep before he has time to think more about what it was that made him cry.

As I stand up, he asks. «How long have I been here?»

«In three years.» I stop in the doorway. » You’ve been here three years on August 25.»

«It feels like I’ve been here longer,»  he says.

«It does.» I agree as I turn off the light.

«See you tomorrow, mom,»  says my son from his large bed, placed by the open window.

“We do my boy. I’m here.»

There are many children out there who need foster care, a safe place to live. Unfortunately, there are not enough foster homes to cover the need. This means that children who are in Petter’s situation end up in a queue. They have to live longer in temporary housing solutions (institutions, emergency shelters) before they can get a permanent home. Have you considered the idea of ​​really doing something meaningful for another human being? 

Feel free to share this article. Maybe someone out there is making an important decision because they read a story like this. 

NB. The names in this story are fictitious and the writer anonymous.

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