Jill and 12 year-old Lewis came to meet the team at Dandelion Time last summer. Lewis had been born prematurely and at that time his mother was trapped in an abusive relationship with Lewis’s father. Living in a large town far away from the tight knit rural community she had grown up in, Jill had been paralysed by fear and without the connections around her to seek help. When Lewis was three years old, Jill had established the courage and means to gain support through a local children’s service. From here Jill and Lewis were able to relocate and begin a new life, finally able to distance themselves from their past.
These early life experiences had impacted on Lewis and as he got older his behaviour became increasingly difficult to manage and it was a daily battle for Jill to get him into school. Once there, Lewis was finding it hard to concentrate and was very reluctant to participate. Lewis would often react adversely to his teachers and they had described him at times as being unpredictable and aggressive. Upon meeting Lewis, the Dandelion Time team noticed his tension, how he clung to Jill yet could be rejecting of contact or comfort. Jill also found it difficult to relax, their experiences ran deep within them becoming overwhelming during times of uncertainty.
Jill and Lewis were introduced to gentle, calming tasks that encouraged them to take the time and find some ease. After a few sessions, Lewis began to relax and started to participate more freely in the activities set out. Initially, Lewis would often avoid trying things he was unsure of and had become limited in his capacity to give things a go. Lewis was encouraged to take part in activities that were new and fun but offered safety in his exploration without the fear of consequences. The calming task of natural crafting with no expectations provided the building blocks for Lewis to begin to generate new ideas about himself and what he was capable of. Lewis’ confidence started to take root, and we noticed his resilience building over the weeks.
Lewis showed an interest in our woodwork tent and when asked if he would like to try using some of our traditional handheld tools, very much to Jill’s surprise, he said yes! Over the weeks Lewis spent time working through the highs and lows that come with woodworking. Jill worked alongside Lewis and our team, developing ways to support Lewis in managing his expectations and finding ways to help him deal with his emotions during times of frustration. There was no punishment for things going wrong, something Lewis had been all too familiar with in his younger years. Instead, he started to accept his challenges and establish skills to persevere even when things were not going to plan.
As Lewis and Jill’s rolling pin and spatulas started to emerge from their logs, new beginnings started to emerge within their relationship. Less laden with the feelings of past experiences, Lewis and Jill were able to look ahead to a future that offered some hope and was not defined by the past. Through his work at Dandelion Time, Lewis’ independence was growing, leaving him with a greater sense of self and new found confidence. His woodwork was proof of what he could do, and what challenges he could overcome. Jill was able to see her boy thriving and achieving, offering her a glimpse into a future for her and Lewis that previously she had lost sight of.
This is a composite case that is indicative of our work, names and images have been changed.