Keeping it mainstream
Charlie is charming, bright, intelligent, and articulate. Charlie’s ability can inspire and excite – it is full of possibilities. His ability allows him to see situations three-dimensionally, it permits him to form ideas and opinions and exercise colourful self-expression. It allows Charlie to engage intellectually without effort and enjoy the benefits of a vivid and technicolour imagination through which he can transport himself instantaneously into a different world. In this world Charlie is strong, Charlie is vibrant and Charlie is a conqueror.
Charlie’s blessing is also his curse. Charlie sees the harm he has suffered with unhelpful clarity. Charlie is aware of the injustices served on his siblings and self. Charlie acutely feels the separation and loss that a life in care has brought. Charlie responds. Charlie parcels up the trauma, hurt and rejections and places them within his arsenal of self-protection to use against those who might seek to harm him. These are usually, and ironically, mostly those who try to help him.
Charlie tells us he likes school. He goes to mainstream school courtesy of a lack of information that would, had it been provided by social services on time, have seen entry refused. Charlie wore his uniform well and returned home on day 2 with a new friend called Tom. By day 14 Charlie and Tom were walking to school together, happy 11 year olds talking the talk.
Day 16 was a watershed moment – for Charlie, school and us. Charlie ran out of energy. His attempt at being that regular mainstream kid had tired him to the point of exhaustion. An exhaustion we’d failed to detect because it was inside his head and not outwardly visible. Charlie was challenged in the yard. Charlie does not accept challenges. Charlie is always right. Charlie has to be right – being wrong has had disastrous consequences in the past. Charlie drew on his arsenal of self-protection and calmly told the head of school to “fuck right off”. Charlie’s instruction was loud, clear, and unambiguous; moreover it was witnessed by many. Charlie then entered school and, with a resolve rarely seen in mainstream, refused to either comply or leave.
Charlie trusts us and it took a matter of minutes before Charlie walked to the car. A matter of minutes later and Charlie was home. Charlie had a milkshake and turned on his laptop. Charlie gamed all afternoon. Charlie did not mention school again that day but he allowed us to care for him, which in his moment of need was the only thing he needed. Recrimination was futile and would have been harmful. Charlie merely shrugged the next day when learning of his 3 day fixed term exclusion. Charlie had been here before, however – unbeknown to him – the outcome was not to be the same.
Day 16 marked the beginning of an extraordinarily long fight – one that involved over a half-million pounds worth of education, social services, fostering agency salaries in one room at one time on many occasions. it is a story of dogged determination, of effort on Charlie’s part that we cannot begin to understand or describe. We salute Charlie for never once has he wanted this story to end, and has stood up each time he fell. It will be a story with an uplifting ending, but one to be told in many parts. It is a story of 30 months duration thus far. It is a story told against a backdrop well-earned victories and progress on all fronts (albeit several adults have lost most of their hair, some teeth and a little sanity along the way!).
……. Charlie is charming, bright, intelligent, and articulate. Charlie’s ability can inspire and excite – it is full of possibilities. His ability allows him to see situations three-dimensionally, it permits him to form ideas and opinions and exercise colourful self-expression……. We are determined that his abilities will be his blessing and not his curse.
This blog begins a story that is all about keeping it mainstream.