Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Content notes for "Like a Hand-Sewn Quilt"

Here are the content notes for "Like a Hand-Sewn Quilt." As in the poem itself, some of these are very fraught.


Foster care wrenches children from their homes into a broken system that statistically leads to bad outcomes. It disrupts attachment, causing children to build emotional walls for survival that undermine later relationships in school, siblings, and romance. Foster parents have to work extra hard to build healthy relationships. Then it's hard on everyone when a child leaves. Good foster parents often maintain ties with their foster children after parting ways.

In Terramagne-America, the system uses paperwork called a Want-Contact Form. Anyone can fill out their half, and whenever two halves match up, those people get support to keep in touch. Shiv's social workers routinely sabotaged this process for him -- lying that there were no matches, refusing to let him fill out forms, destroying or 'losing' them later, etc. -- so he thinks nobody wants him, but a few people actually did file theirs.

Trauma survivors and foster children often suffer memory problems and other dissociative symptoms. They have poor memory and cognitive skills compared to other people. Their strongest memories are often trauma triggers. This can make it difficult for foster children and parents to cope. Shiv's memory is shattered by his traumatic past, head injuries, and frequent moves. So he doesn't remember most of his childhood. There are ways to recover lost memories, but that can be good or bad.

Lifebooks and welcome books are some types of memory books that help foster children organize their experiences. Results are mixed. These books can be helpful for placing memories in context, if adults do a good job of documentation and children are willing. However, they may retraumatize children with difficult pasts, especially when the books are government mandated and adults force them on unwilling children. For older survivors, a memory book can help unpack and reorganize their traumatic past. Here is a template for a lifebook and some tips on making one.

The Wright family quilted album has photograph pages, pocket pages, and other pages. Learn how to make your own soft book with photos, applique, or felt. Precious favors the soft book format because it adds tactile appeal to the visual aspects. This is Shiv's sixth birthday cake.

Sorting buttons may involve lining or blocking them by colors, shapes, numbers, other features. Sorting play is often pathologized now, as if the only "correct" way to play with toys is one that pleases adults, but it is normal and indeed the foundation of basic math skills. Here is a math lesson and 50 more activities involving buttons. You do not have to spend a mint on fancy toys; buttons work great for children old enough not to swallow them.

Tactile squares or memory boards include topics such as gardening, home repair, beaches, and trains. They can prompt memories for children, elders, or people in institutions. If you have basic handicraft skills, you can make your own by fastening thematic objects with interesting textures to a wooden background.

West African "crayfish" are freshwater shrimp which can be sun-dried (sold as dried shrimp) or smoked (sold as dried crayfish). There are various species of these freshwater shrimp in Africa. Actual crayfish live elsewhere.

Family traditions are important, especially for the holidays. Making handmade ornaments is a lovely example. Simple patterns work best for children, while adults may prefer more complex ones.

This is Shiv's hyperbolic pseudosphere Christmas ornament. Here is a pattern for it.

Touch aversion can have many causes, but it is especially common among foster children and other trauma survivors. This puts enormous strain on relationships. It's important not to touch people without their consent, even if it's not sexual. Here are some tactile resources. Note that when people don't chase Shiv, he is more likely to come closer, and occasionally he even initiates contact.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, family skills, fantasy, fishbowl, poetry, reading, safety, weblit, writing
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