Trust Starts Small: A “From the Field” Story

Bridget Schinnerer, FCNI Direct Service Staff
February, 19, 2020 -

I stood there quietly, my hands covering my eyes. I was smack dab in the middle of a families’ living room, unsure of what would happen next as with this family, interactions had historically become volatile. I was counting to 30 in my head while listening intently for a sign that my intervention may be needed. I heard my 16 year old client attempting to help his adoptive mom find a hiding spot, trying unsuccessfully to whisper as he walked her through various options. Suddenly, and without warning, laughter erupted from across the room. Though my eyes were closed, the joy was palpable. I would later find out that this mother-son pair could not contain their laughter as the son was trying to help his mom find a hiding spot by standing her next to the coat rack and attempting to layer all the coats on top of her, assuring her that she was hidden even though her legs were still in plain sight. Mom smiled at me and said, “I haven’t heard him laugh like that in so long.” It was then that what I had long suspected to be true was, in fact, true--it’s the small moments that are significant and healing

Moments like...hearing about a day at school, being fully engaged in a game of Uno, honoring a request for silence, pausing to acknowledge growth, cheering on a basket scored, noting when a caregiver implements a new skill, being played a favorite song, or being humbled in your lack of athletic ability while being taught how to throw a football. 

It’s in moments of hearing about everyone’s day at a family dinner. It’s in moments of dancing to the Jonas Brothers to motivate a kiddo to get ready for school. It’s in moments of being taught the latest news about favorite rap artists or the “correct” pronunciation of Billie Ellish (Billie “Eyelash”). It’s in these small, day-to-day moments, often overlooked, where we have the privilege of showing up and holding a safe space for our kids and families. A space in which trust can be built, where our kids and caregivers can feel seen and heard, and where their healing begins. 

It is here, in witnessing and participating in these ordinary, day-to-day moments, that I earn the privilege of getting to hold many other things for our kids and families. 

I get to hold their stories; stories of abuse and neglect, stories of resilience, stories of everyday life. 

I get to hold their hope; hope for the moments when our kids and families lose sight of it, for the moments that are heavy, for the moments when it seems far easier to give up than keep going. 

I get to hold a safe space. A safe space for our kiddos to process or to play, to talk or not to talk, to deal with things beyond their years, or the space for them to be “just a kid”. 

Some days, I hold more ordinary, tangible items. I get to hold pinecones for my four year old client as he explores, or hold a phone for my 13 year old as she runs off to join in her volleyball tournament, or hold coveted information about a teenager’s new girlfriend. These things may seem insignificant in comparison to some of the other things I hold for these kiddos, but when a four year old entrusts you to hold their treasures, or when a 13 year old entrusts you with their most valuable possession, or when a 16 year old entrusts you to see his girlfriend’s Instagram, they are showing you that you are trustworthy to them, and that maybe they can trust you to hold the other things too. To trust you with their stories and their hurts, their pains and their fears. To trust you with their hopes and their dreams. To trust you with their safety and their journey toward healing. 

Often times, trust starts with being asked to hold the small, seemingly insignificant things, like a pinecone, a conversation, or sensitive knowledge. What an honor it is to be entrusted to hold space for it all--the big, the small, the light, the heavy, and everything in between.  


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