As I arrive at my CASA child’s home, the birth parent throws open the door to the apartment, calling to the child, Sweetie, your angel is here.
“I’m no angel,” I say. The parent shrugs it off as the child comes running to greet me with a fistful of popcorn. She offers me a bite as I bend to say hello.
Inside, I sit on the sofa and notice the house looks a little messy. I wonder how the parent is coping with the child being home.
The child toddles out of the living room and returns with a book. She climbs up and nestles alongside. The parent offers me coffee.
I say yes, even though I know it’s going to be Sanka with a rounded spoon of brown sugar and a splash of nonfat milk. One of the things I was taught in training was, Never refuse a cup of coffee or tea. It’s an invitation to stay a while.
The child’s eyes are heavy by the time the parent brings my coffee. She stayed up past naptime waiting for me to arrive. I know how challenging it can be with toddlers who fight sleep. I am curious how the parent will do getting the child to bed.
The parent goes over to the CD player, turns the CD player on low, and sits down with her own cup of coffee. “Jesus Loves Me” begins to play; in the background, the soft thrum of a mother’s heartbeat.
The child looks at me, then her mother, slips off the sofa and runs out of the room, returning with a satin edge blankie trailing behind her. She runs to her parent and lifts her arms: the universal sign for up.
You ready for nap? asks the parent.
The toddler nods.
Mom picked her up and carried her to her crib. And that was that. The child’s mother and I visited for an hour or so, I finished my Sanka, and went home.
Except, a couple years later when I had another baby, I went out and bought the Heartbeat Lullaby Music. I played it for our son during naps and bedtime from birth well into elementary school. Bedtime was always a peaceful transition for him.
Sometimes, you go out to learn something to benefit your CASA child and you learn something that benefits your own.