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|Stairway to Heaven - Page 10|
I thought these children needed the opportunity to process what had happened at their own pace and in their own ways. If they wanted to talk, they could come to a staff member that they felt comfortable with; if not, they could play safely and develop new childhood memories and experiences to begin offsetting their earlier, fearful ones. We wanted to offer structure, but not rigidity; nurturance, but not forced affection.
Each night after the children went to bed our team would meet to review the day and discuss each child. This "staffing" process began to reveal patterns that suggested therapeutic experiences were taking place in short, minutes-long interactions. As we charted these contacts we found that, despite having no formal "therapy" sessions, each child was actually getting hours of intimate, nurturing, therapeutic connections each day. The child controlled when, with whom and how she interacted with the child-sensitive adults around her. Because our staff had a variety of strengths—some were very touchy-feely and nurturing, others were humorous, still others good listeners or sources of information—the children could seek out what they needed, when they needed it. This created a powerful therapeutic web. And so children would gravitate toward particular staffers who matched their specific personality, stage of development or mood.
But these children needed more than just the ability to choose whom to talk to and what to discuss. They also needed the stability that comes from routine. In the first days following the assault with no external organization imposed upon them, they immediately replicated the authoritarian, sexually segregated culture of the Davidian compound, where men and boys over twelve were segregated from women and girls, and where David Koresh and his representatives ruled with absolute power.
Two of the oldest children, siblings, a boy and a girl, declared themselves "scribes." The female scribe dominated and made decisions for the girls, and the boy led the boys and also held sway over the female scribe, with the other children falling into line and complying without complaint. The girls and boys sat at separate tables for meals; they played separately and deliberately avoided interaction if at all possible. The oldest girls, who had been in the process of preparing to be David's "Bride," would draw stars of David on yellow Post-it notes or write "David is God" on them and put them up around the cottage.