CYC-Online 38 MARCH 2002
ListenListen to this


"Oh, that’s why."

She was about fourteen years old, I guessed. Rumpled, defiant and defensive. She was sitting on the couch when I walked in, looking like she was ready to do battle with anyone. I figured “What the heck?”.

So, I walk over and introduce myself and ask her what she is doing here, sitting in the living room of the residential centre. I knew she didn’t live here because I hadn’t seen her during the past few days while I had been hanging around.

"My social worker brought me", she snarled. Snarled is the right word. She had it down pat. I could tell she had been snarling for quite some time. She was good at it. You don’t get that good at it without a lot of practice.

"So, how come?" I asked, trying to sound curious. Trying to avoid the “why” question. Trying to be inviting. Asking her to open the door and let me peek through.

"'Cause I run away," she replied. Oh, the snarl was still there but having noticed it once I didn’t think it was important to dwell on it. There was more important stuff here than the snarl. After all, it was just a way of backing people away, or looking after herself.

"And your social worker thinks being here is going to help?"

"Ya, but she’s wrong. It won’t make any difference."

There it was. The opening. It almost always shows up. You just have to watch for it. Blink and it’s gone. So I asked the question she was telling me to ask. “Why won’t it make any difference?"

Now maybe we all think we know the answer to the question. It might be “because I don’t care about anybody"; “because nobody really cares"; “because I am going to do what I want” or even “because you are all idiots”.

That’s why its important not to supply your own answer. True, hers might be the same as yours “or it might be different. But you will never know unless you let her tell you.

"Why’s that?" I ask.

"Because I’m going to keep running away until they let me go home to be with my father. But they just don’t get it. I want to go home. So I’m not staying anywhere until they let me go home. I’m gonna keep running away 'til they get the message."

I never expected that answer. It was much better than any I could have come up with.


The International Child and Youth Care Network

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