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Constancy – A Residential Child Care Reflection On The Queen

Constancy – a Residential Child Care reflection on the Queen

In this reflection NCERCC seeks to find explores connections with a life lived with meaning and purpose.

We heard it in a eulogy, amongst other words. Constancy was repeated. It was something the speaker wanted us to recognise.  They have not been alone, the New York Times wrote of the Queen being “the one constant in a inconstant world.” King Charles has spoken of the “weight of responsibility” that he recognises, and for our part we need to recognise as a pressure we put upon him and his family.

Recognition Axel Honneth writes comes in 3 phases, (i) the demand for love, confirming the reliability of one’s basic senses and needs and creating the basis for self-confidence, (ii) the demand for rights, through which one learns to recognise others as independent human beings with rights like oneself, creating the basis for self-respect, and (iii) the demand for recognition as a unique person, the basis for self-esteem and a complex and tolerant social life.

We begin to see other words we use frequently in describing the secure emotional base that RCC seeks to provide, continuity, stability, reliability.

There is an experiential connection to the magnitude of loss being felt nationally, maybe internationally. Working in RCC we are exposed to the rawness and aftereffects of loss in the lives of children. It brings back memories of our own losses, old griefs are re-encountered and we remind ourselves of the stages of recovery we had to go through to find our new equilibrium. Living with sorrow is hard, then necessary, and we find ways to do so. Loss and grief and sorrow, we are surprised by the dislocation and disorientation of something or someone not being there. It helps us if we are accompanied into this new space by someone else. Constancy is about living with hope of yourself and of others that we will endure and survive. We are sustained by keeping on doing what we are doing. Donald Winnicott remarked to the residential child care role model and pioneer David Wills, ‘In this work the important thing is not so much to do it as to keep on doing it’. That is being authentic, keeping head, heart and hands directed to matters and actions that have meaning and purpose. The belief and hope we know inside ourselves we act to share with others. The principle directs the practice. It is not a performance, it is the giving of your ’self’. It is making a connection with another by what we do, ‘show me don’t tell me’ is an old RCC saying. That doing is making the environment one that facilitates exploration and growth, our task as RCC workers is to create that environment where a child experiences the ‘I have, I am, I can’ we have learned as the ambition of the ideas and practice concerned with Resilience. Our task is to provide for a child for them to know ‘I am’ and ‘I can’. It’s worth quoting the Raymond Carver poem in full as an outcome to be aimed for as a result of living together ‘in residence’

And did you get what you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on the earth.

Currently we are being sustained by involvement in the rituals planned long ago. As much as they hold us they also impress upon us the culture in which we live. Involvement in the rituals that surround us today bring us validation and closeness we are seeking in a time that could be of desperation. It allows us safe space from the disorientation that we experience around us and maybe within us too.

There can be many evaluations of the culture positive or negative, of royalty too. Some people might be secure in their relationship with royalty, others ambivalent, others avoidant, others disoriented and disorganised. As this is being written after a few days of the national mourning there are small expressions reflecting on the idea of royalty, positive and negative.

The Queen is part of our culture, part of our identity. It cannot be otherwise. We have all lost some part of our self, some part of what defined ‘you’. Henry James wrote of Queen Victoria, “she was a sustaining symbol – and the wild waters are upon us now.”

The wild waters are known in RCC. The is the first time of a trauma, then it is revisited, sometimes uncontrollably. Another viewpoint of what we are going through is as a national exercise of emotional regulation. We are modulating our responses. We are judging the emotions to embrace and avoid. As in RCC we are involved with self-awareness, exploring experiences and naming them; we maybe are having to manage our physical body, watching our breathing, or taking active steps for relaxation; for sure we are reappraising the way we are thinking; we are adapting to changed circumstances; we are looking after ourselves and others, being compassionate helps us and others.

Through the rituals we are having helpful behaviours modelled for us, we are hearing words for our feelings.

If we need it technical, the situation is being given attention, appraisal and response. We are all in need of professional supervision.

These may all be important as we pass through the 5 stages of grieving. Group dynamics happen in small groups, and in crowds, and entire nations. We are still early in denial. Anger at the loss has yet to be survived. As will our bargaining when we cannot solve the problem. Depression precedes coming to an acceptance. It is very rare that a nation has to encounter this cycle. Maybe we will need accompanying as much as we were during Covid? It should not be ruled out. Leadership, provided by the Queen on so many occasions will be paramount especially with a new untried government. King Charles will have that “weight of responsibility” projected on to him from us.

The benefit of a firm culture will be important. ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast’,  says Drucker. All the plans need people to believe in them.

We not sure how to conclude our reflections as they are as yet unfinished.