When Jazz first came to live with me her brother was in a children’s home. He was only seven and was housed far away from his family and friends. We would regularly go to see him at the home and take him out for the day. After some negotiating with Social Services he was allowed to come and stay with us for weekends.
The visits were very special and for the time we spent together the children seemed happy and relaxed in each others company. When it came to say goodbye however, emotions would rise and tantrums and tears would begin. It was completely understandable but tricky to manage. Jazz would beg me to bring her brother home with us and he would storm off refusing to say goodbye.
The long two hour drive home across the Pennines was sad and often spent trying in the best way possible to explain the emotions of the situation to a six year old.
After a few visits her brother gave her his favourite toy to take home with her. It was a soft toy Barney the dinosaur. Between them they set up this system where each one would take it in turns to keep it after the visit. Backwards and forwards it went providing a manifestation of the unwritten connection they held. It seemed to ease the pain, knowing because Barney was involved they would definitely see each other again.
“I love you, you love me, we’re a happy family”
The Barney mantra became stuck in their heads and repeated over and over. At times I have to admit it drove me crazy.
As time went on they even felt brave enough to let each other keep Barney for an extra period of time.
Jazz’s brother was moved to another three homes between the ages of seven and twelve, but the routine continued.
At the last home he was in before coming to live with us permanently, a young member of the care staff who had known him but weeks decided it was time to “sort out his room”.
Without his permission a bin bag of his things were taken to the charity shop because they were considered “too childish”.
Barney the family heirloom that connected them for years was lost forever.