Monday evening, half past eight. I get an app. ‘Dear Nancy, may I give you a call? Regards, Colette – from Floris.’
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Colette is one of the sweetest people I know. And definitely the sweetest stepmother I know. Without her, Floris, her stepchild, would never have landed on his feet. When Colette fell in love with Diederik, Floris’ father, five years ago, she ended up in a wasp’s nest. Diederik and his ex, Mirella, were involved in a divorce over Floris, then eight years old. Mirella was the biggest problem; she is an alcoholic and mentally retarded. Floris was assigned to his father, but Mirella continued to pull on him, causing Floris to get into a loyalty conflict. Diederik has a tough job and often left Floris to babysit.
At school Floris was unmanageable at that time. I taught him in sixth, seventh and eighth grade, so I was able to closely monitor his progress. He didn’t do anything, was rude to me, fought with other kids. But at the end of sixth grade, Colette came into his life, and then everything changed. With her he found the peace that he did not get from his ‘own’ parents. Every afternoon she would prepare tea and cookies and then help him with his homework. She went for tea—well, wine—with Mirella, which made her feel seen.
‘Because of our fight divorce, the children are the victims’ >
One of the best
Floris became a different boy. He was more polite, stopped arguing, and worked so hard that he became one of the best. I will not soon forget Floris’ pre-school consultation in group seven. Thanks to Colette, Diederik and Mirella were in a room together, with her, me and Floris. Floris beamed because everyone was together. “It is of course obvious what preliminary advice Floris will receive; pre-university education”, I said. “What is pre-university education?” Mirella wanted to know. I explained it to her, but her attention soon waned.
Mirella failed to attend the final consultation in group eight. It was beyond her head, she told me. It was a downer for Floris. Yet when he said goodbye to primary school, I saw a stable, motivated boy, with many boyfriends, and even a girlfriend. Because of all the warmth he got in his father’s house and, to be honest, also a bit from his teacher, I was confident that he would be fine.
I immediately call Colette back, concerned about Floris. But he is doing well, she says, he is now in the second year of grammar school. She’s calling about something else. Mirella is admitted to a psychiatric clinic. Now Diederik and she would like to take Floris’ stepbrother Jochem (4) into their home. It concerns the child of Mirella’s new friend, who is a widower and cannot take care of Jochem, because he is also an alcoholic. Youth care needs a reference to place him as a foster child with Colette and Diederik. Would I like to give that reference? I get a lump in my throat. Angels exist. I don’t know how soon I have to say yes to the sweetest stepmother in the world.
This article was previously published in Kek Mama.
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