The comings and goings of a children’s home:
This week saw the departure of two beloved volunteers from our home; an occurrence that outlined for me the importance of continuity in any family unit. Admittedly, our home here in Nakuru is not your average nuclear family, but without a shadow of a doubt we are a family and, like every family, there is a continuous core that never falters. It may be argued that a “normal” family (however you choose to perceive this terminology) finds its core in the parents who are an ever-present cornerstone, willing to sacrifice their all for the sake of their family. Within a children’s home – it seems to me at least – there is a strange role reversal by which the children themselves become the cornerstone, the only unfaltering continuity of the family. As I have mentioned, this was made evident to me by the recent departure of two volunteers that seemed to so quickly become integral members of the family unit. No sooner had they been accepted into the family and established as ‘one of us’ had they left again. Living in a home based on the support and dedication volunteers, our children have learnt two vital skills: Firstly, they have an incredible openness that enables them to accept new people into their family extremely quickly; secondly, and more impressively, they have also developed a more-entrenched sense of solidarity amongst themselves. This solidarity is so crucial to their survival because it protects them from the consequences of an unstable, ever-changing parentage; the emotional strain that comes with opening your heart to new people all the time who are inevitably going to abandon you in a month or so would be far too much to bear for “normal” (here’s that term again!) children. Clearly then, the children in this home are far beyond “normal” in this sense because they have developed a solidarity that enables them to delicately balance between opening their hearts to new people and defending themselves from abandonment. By establishing themselves as the core of the family, the children are able to protect themselves because they are secure in the fact that they will always be able to rely on one-another for emotional security.
Now, it is not my place to say whether this ability to redefine the core of the family unit is an innate, dormant concept in all children that they would realise when needed or if these specific children have a special talent that enables them to survive. Nevertheless, it is undeniable that these children have gone far beyond the “norm” in their emotional development without even batting an eyelid at their immense, emotional achievements. I only hope that this solidarity is entrenched deeply enough in them that they are able to tackle any problem life throws at them by merely sticking together; if they can overcome abandonment time and time again then surely they can defend themselves against most of life’s arsenal thanks to their hybrid family make-up.