This time I want to cover a topic that is solemn but nevertheless a necessary part of Poppys House: When the kids leave. Often kids arrive at Poppys House because of abusive parenting, but with time a different relative such as a grandparent can gain legal custody. This was the case when I watched a fifteen-year-old leave with her twelve-year-old sister, and the experience was not only upsetting but strange. The older sister was the oldest kid we had at the time, and so it felt like we were losing a leader of sorts. When the younger sister first came she didn’t want to be living here, but on the day it was time to go, she was crying.
Although, if I’m being completely honest, for the most part emotions were compacted and internalized rather than expressed. We picked mangos for them to take home with their grandparents. We played some volleyball while we waited for papers to be signed. We took some pictures. But not many words were said and it felt like everyone was just going through the motions of the day. I know for a fact the kids were distressed. One of the girls was losing her best friend. But if you were an outsider looking in, you wouldn’t have guessed it.
In my opinion, the girls went into survival mode that day. Unfortunately, these girls are used to change, and due to previous bad parenting, not having a say in these changes. They knew that this was something they just had to get through, and they didn’t want to look weak in the process. It’s something we need to work on; teaching the kids that it’s okay to show emotion and get attached to kind, loving people.
On the flip side, I believe there’s a lot we’re doing right. I don’t know how those sisters are doing now, but I do know that for a few months we were able to emphasize the importance of education, show them that discipline doesn’t mean cruelty, and teach them that there is so much more to life than the small window they were once forced to look through. We expressed to them that there are people who care deeply about them and for good reason. So much so that it was painful to see them go.