Flashback scene from Quantum & Woody, vol. 2 #2. Words and art by Asmus, Fowlers, and Bellaire.
While there are a lot of laughs in the pages of this book, this scene took me back and really struck a chord.
Woody had bounced through many foster homes prior to landing at Eric and his dad’s house. Like many kids living on the foster system, Woody is basically expecting maltreatment and ultimate rejection. In clinical terms, this sort of acting out on Woody’s part is referred to as ‘testing the limits.’
This testing the limits entails the foster child fearing that he or she is only loved or cared for conditionally… and they will misbehave to test this fear (often unconsciously) so to see if the expectations are warranted. If he or she is still loved even when the child acts poorly, then the he or she can begin to relax and form an attachment to the foster parent(s). Unfortunately, many foster parents don’t realize the ‘testing’ aspect of such acting out and it all too often results in further mistreatment and eventual rejection/abandonment.
Fortunately, Eric’s dad is up to this challenge… he sees Woody’s testing the limits for what it is. …And it results in Woody’s ultimately being able to form a meaningful and important attachment with his foster family.