“You’re Safe!”

TulipTreeElm House Blog, tuliptree1 Comment

By Bee

As we move into the spring and summer months we enter a transitional period; some people are leaving our community, some people are joining a different portion of our community, and new people are joining us for the first time.

The past three days FBA has been visiting us in the morning.

If you see him around, please feel free to introduce yourself. FBA is a dual language learner, speaking both German and English at home, and he enjoys expressing himself through sign language as well.

Upon seeing FBA Monday, ML was immediately enamored. He asked for introductions as he jumped up and down at the gate. ML asked for hugs and then for a “family hug”. Family hugs are a part of ZS’s home culture and the children absolutely delight in them. The children define a “Family Hug” as a hug involving more than two people. Consent was given all around and a great big family hug happened in the cubby room with ML, FBA, and FBA’s father, Flo.

Yesterday, ML was equally excited to see FBA. He asked if Flo would be staying all day, and was told no, that he would just be dropping off FBA and then leaving. ML immediately turned to FBA and assured him, “Mommys and Daddys ALWAYS come back.” I felt myself smiling to hear that familiar reassurance being passed from child to child instead of from adult to child.

The rest of the morning ML kept FBA under his wing. He taught him some of our agreements. “We stand on the blue line in the kitchen. See? Right here!” “We wash our hands after the bathroom.” “The sand stays in the sandbox.”


Everywhere FBA turned he was met by MLs reassuring presence.

It isn’t like ML to stay in one spot for too long, or even to spend his time playing with a singular child. ML is always on the go hunting out wherever the most activity is happening. Observing him with FBA, it was immediately clear to me that he was making a conscious choice to forgo his normal engagements in order to be available to support his new friend.

Twice I observed ML pat FBA on gently on the back while saying, “You’re safe!”

Morning snack was full of hugs that left both children in a fit of giggles.


It seems like ML’s warm welcome has been quite impactful. FBA was happy to return to Elm House today and explored the school confidently and enthusiastically, despite this being his first experience with care outside of his home. With ML’s help he is already learning that we are his community, that his parents will always come back, that people are available to help him learn how things work, that he is safe, that he is wanted and welcome here. This has been such a huge reminder to me that every child at Elm House is also a teacher, and that every lesson we need is firmly tucked into the incredibly huge hearts that these little bodies carry around.

Welcome to Elm House, FBA, and thank you for the lessons, ML. <3



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