‘On Paper He Was a Nightmare’

toddler leaves

*photo is for illustrative purposes only

Megan and Ian describe themselves as people who love Jesus, kids, and their church. When the young couple first heard about Safe Families they saw it as a very biblical way of helping those who are needy and vulnerable, what the Old Testament calls ‘widows and orphans’.

Megan and Ian smile as they talk about the first Safe Families child they befriended, a young lad named *Tim.

Tim’s mum needed a bit of respite as Tim had challenging behaviour which impacted on mum and his seven siblings.

“To be honest, he was a bit of a nightmare on paper,” says Megan. “There was a whole host of conditions that he had and different types of behaviour that could be problematic.”

Tim has a heightened sense of smell and hearing. Mum can’t take him to the shops as the noises and smells disturb him. When he doesn’t like something that he hears or smells he acts up and uses choice language.

It was decided that Megan and Ian would take Tim out for a fun day a couple times a month and that would eventually lead to an overnight stay. This would give mum and his siblings a bit of a break.

“When we first met Tim he was so shy and he was sat in the corner, giving real short answers, just ‘yes’ and ‘no’.”

Gradually, week by week Time began to open up, letting Megan and Ian into his life and sharing his ups and downs.

One day Tim mentioned he was going to the dentist. Megan knew from his mum that Tim didn’t brush his teeth, so she asked him if he liked the taste of his toothpaste. He said ‘no’, so Megan and Ian went out and got him a Star Wars toothbrush that lights up and some tutti-frutti toothpaste. With this simple solution, Tim’s now happily brushing his teeth!

Having grown up in large families themselves, Megan and Ian knew how important quality 1-1 time is for children like Tim and can see how it’s positively impacting his behaviour.

“The strange thing was,” comments Megan, “all of the things we were prepared to see, the behaviours, we saw none of them! We were just having absolutely brilliant days with him.”

Now even when Tim goes home and he’s back in the environment that could cause those negative behaviours, he’s peaceful and calm. Tim says when he goes home after a day out with the young couple that he feels ‘chilled’.

“If you saw the list of things of how he behaved, for him to say, ‘I go home and I’m chilled’, is just absolutely amazing,” says Megan.

Megan and Ian agree that, “As a Christian and someone who says, ‘I’m following Jesus and his example’, it’s great to be able to model that. We’re not preaching to this family; we’re just showing them that we love them.”

*name changed to protect identity