Fostering is hard. It’ll come as no surprise to anyone if this blog goes on to sometimes resemble a wailing wall.
But we do it, this fostering thing, so there must be something about it we like, maybe even love. And as this is the first post, why not start by reminding ourselves that it can, occasionally, be brilliant.
“HOLD MY HAND”
There are the little things, the ones that are actually easier to spot. I had a six year old who refused to hold my hand when crossing the road. I stuck out for him to do as he was told - he was a bit of a runner, and the fostering goal of returning them to their real home becomes an even greater challenge if you have to keep pulling them out from under a truck…
THE BACON SECTION MOMENT
So every day on the way to school we’d get to the kerb, I’d reach down for his hand, he’d pull it away. At first I’d have to grip hold of his wrist as I didn’t want to squeeze his tiny hand. After a few weeks he’d hold my hand, but always unclasp the second we reached the pavement. After a few months the “hold hands to cross the road” thing was on board, but it didn’t seem much of a triumph, until one day, in Tescos, when we were doing a quick bread and milk run. Walking past the bacon section (I can remember the moment with absolute exactitude) he reached up and clasped his hand in mine. Without a word. And he kept it there until we got to the milk. If it was, as my social worker said, an even bigger deal for him than it was for me, then this was a deal as big as the great outdoors.
Then he went and had a major wobbly in the car, as in: “I hate you!”. But because I’ve tried to keep up with the training, I knew it was not because he hated me, it was because he felt guilty about holding my hand. So that’s another little triumph in itself, learning the ropes, and putting the knowledge to good use.
The Big Triumphs in fostering are, I think, harder to measure. Helping a youngster to like themselves, and others, and enjoy life in general; that’s a tall order, a long road to travel. And anyway, they’re achievements that seem to elude a great many people in general, never mind about looked after children. The closest I get to this particular reward is when my partner starts a conversation “Do you remember what he was like when he came to us…?”
STILL TO COME
Next time, I want to talk about one of fostering’s big bugbears, namely Contact. Until then if you have time to mail me a fostering moment that brings a smile to your mind’s eye, here’s thanking you in advance.
The Secret Foster Carer