Which one of Ben’s cheek I’m going to kiss in morning before leaving for work is largely determined by where Holly, our foster child, is standing or sitting in the room. That’s because, since her arrival, what Ben craves more than affection is to show her he’s receiving it. So, while I kiss him goodbye, he contorts his head in her direction to make sure she’s watching.

Between the two of them, they keep a precise score of how many kisses, hugs, and spoken words each gets, and as soon as the score is perceived to favour one of the two, the other ends up crying, usually because the one losing resorts to physically attacking the other.

Holly’s arrival was always going to stir up a rivalry, but they kept up this game for months now and there’s still no truce in sight. I’m growing increasingly tired of it, although I suppose it can be seen as progress.

The first few days with Holly were very different. She didn’t want anything to do with us, we were complete strangers and she was confused at first, then she got angry. She started turning her anger towards Ben, and for a long time I couldn’t understand why. Was it her way to get back at us? Did she realise that by hurting him she could indirectly hurt us? I resisted the notion that a 3 years old child can behave in such an indirect manner, but sure it looked that way.

More recently, her aggression became more instrumental. Now she fights with Ben out of jealousy, to get all attentions for herself. We’ve suspected that to be the case for a while, then–to make it clear to everyone–she came out and actually told us. “I don’t want Ben to live with us”. Us? Since when it became us? I almost asked what she proposes we do with Ben, then I decided against even entertaining the idea of throwing him out. In a way, she cares for us, in a very possessive way. That’s progress. I think. Although, something tells me Ben would not agree.

But how do you explain a 2 years old and a barely 3 years old that their fighting is pointless? That because we care for one it doesn’t mean that there’ll be less love for the other. That there’s enough love to go around.

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  1. HerdingChickens 19th March 2017 Reply
    • Diego Boccaleone 19th March 2017 Reply
  2. LR 21st March 2017 Reply

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