The Bond We Share
By Surbhi Sharma
I wonder why I do this?
Firstly, the children irritate me
Then I peeve the children.
We seldom see eye to eye
And seldom hear ear to ear
Every day is a warfare.
Constantly out of the fire
And into the frying pan!
It’s a never ending trial.
While we resonate together
Sympathy can be hard to find!
Yet we can’t be unkind
But the strain is not meaningless
Diamonds are made under pressure
Though unpolished; rough and sharp.
Both bleed, shout and learn
Strange as it is, both truly love.
You think only you need to change
But in reality, both are reshaping
The foundations of the other’s world
Yet kids, I will always banter you!
For the hard lessons learned
For the easy ways to love
We both will always be thankful
I joined Marymount Centre in April 2017, at a time when I was looking to expand my experience. In my role as a social service assistant I care for children who seek shelter when their homes become unsafe for various reasons. As I accompany them in their often long and stressful journeys, I multi-hat as mother, para-counsellor and teacher.
Usually, a child arrives at Ahuva Good Shepherd – Small Group Care (SGC) confused and desolate. Often, she has little idea of the meaning of dignity, and her rights as a child and person. My colleagues and I make it our mission to empower the children, restore their rights and uphold their dignity. Hopefully, there will be a domino effect, where our children can empower others, treat them with dignity and never take someone’s rights away. However, my job is no walk in the park. No two days are the same; there are challenges every day.
For example, one day a child refused to do her chores or change her bedsheet. She claimed that she did not know how to do and expected me to do them for her. I declined her request, and persuaded her to try doing them with my help. Nope. She threw a huge tantrum for a few hours instead. I had to bite my tongue, and patiently waited out the battle of wills. At the end of the mutual struggle, the child and I stretched out the bedsheet. Now, she does her chores cheerfully and has the neatest bed. There are guidelines for caring for the children, however sometimes discretion and flexibility with generous doses of empathy and compassion take precedence. In our post-mortem of this incident, the staff team agreed that at times a child needs to confront her prevailing difficult emotions, including sadness and anger so that she can find closure, move on and become stronger.
Communication is key to team-work among staff, equally important is self-awareness. With practice and experience, it is possible for most of us to remain calm when a child is dysregulating with loud shouts and screams, even throwing stuff. It is exhausting to constantly be in such an environment, thus it is important to unwind and do some reflection on such incidents to understand oneself and others better. I find a daily mindfulness session is helpful for me. Working in SGC has allowed me to express the full scope of my abilities, like teaching the children to sing, practise yoga and exercise. In fact, I picked up cooking as a skill, how cool.
Just as we encourage the children to trust us, sometimes I veraciously share my worries and troubles with them and how I overcame those issues. It is a way to show that we care-givers, are also human with our share of problems. I hope that the children would learn to have the gumption to pick themselves up and continue on their journey of healing and recovery.
In 2019, I resolved a personal major crisis that had troubled me for many years. When I went through such a metamorphosis, I understood how my own crisis had impacted the relationship I have with the children. That’s why the above poem is truly about the relationship between the caregivers and the residents; we change each other.
I hope to continue to grow in strength so that I can serve the community better.