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Working Professionally with Children and Youth in Care

Selected Readarounds in Child and Youth Care

Doing with ...

Thom Garfat

So, I am at a sick relative’s place the other night.  And there is a young adolescent living there. I am making dinner and I ask this young person to help me out because I don’t know where everything is. I mean, you are in someone else’s house, and you have to wonder ‘Where is the pepper, where are the towels?’ Simple things in your own home. Complicated in the home of someone else.

So I ask this young person to help me out. I tell him I am a little lost. And he helps me. Quite well I think. I ask, ‘Can you wipe the table and then I set out the plates, while I cook the chicken?’ He does it. I ask ‘Can you mix the salad?’ He does it. I tell him how much this is making life easier for me. How without him I would be stumbling around.
This goes on for half an hour or so. He makes it a lot easier for me because he knows where everything is. Boy, what a difference. I am so grateful that he is there.

While we work, I ask him how he’s doing, what’s going on in his life. He tells me about how his grandmother has cancer, is dying. How he wonders what it all means. What he will do. What his mother will do. We talk while we work. He lets me know how scared he is. I listen. I ask questions. I tell him my mother is sick too. We talk.

Later we are sitting around as a group and the young person is not there. Others in the family are complaining about how he always just sits around. Never does anything. Is lazy. Doesn’t contribute. Won’t talk to anybody.

I say he seemed pretty helpful. They say ‘Ya, what’s that about? How come?’
‘Doing with’, I answer. ‘Connection and engagement.’

I didn’t know he was a problem. 

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