HOW DO FOSTER CARERS STAY SANE?
I attended a school Parents Meeting this week, they laid out what they were about, with a PowerPoint.
The first slide was what they needed from us for the children.
The first request was "SLEEP".
The teacher said "We need the children to be fresh and ready to learn each morning, so we ask you to make sure they get enough sleep every night."
I didn't want to be a dissident, so I chickened out of asking her; "How do we do that? If you know please tell us?"
All children seem to fight bedtime and going to sleep and in my experience looked-after children fight it even more than our own ones. And by God they can fight it literally too. Every evening works toward a climax of "It's time to go upstairs" Once in a blue moon it's a straightforward carry up. Most night's it's a right carry on.
Like yourself, I'm sure, we've been to all four corners of the Universe looking for the answer. We've tried everything bar what a train driver once tipped me; "Put a drop of Drambuie in their last bottle at night. Works every time." Having said that, when they are very young, Calpol doesn't just help with sore throats...
You can feel the tension rising as the clock ticks round to the time. They start all sorts of tricks to gain a few more minutes downstairs. You quieten the house, you've made their bedroom tidy and restful. "Yes you can have a drink and a snack to take up." "Yes I know someone in your class goes to bed later than this." On it goes.
You try being fair, gentle and calm. You try being firm, and forceful. You still remember the time you lost it and had a bit of a paddy. You beat yourself up with guilt because you know that part of the tension is that they're eating a piece out of your own quiet time. You brand yourself rubbish because you don't have the brains or the skill to do a simple thing; get your child to go to bed and go to sleep.
Thank God for other parents, or in our case other carers, where we find out it's the same for everyone. Which helps a lot. Until tonight, when it's another case of "Seconds out, round one!"
This morning I watched the children racing around the school playground, the ones who the school wants to arrive full of energy. They are.
I decided, in a dark moment, that if the kids are falling asleep in class, maybe it's because the lessons are boring.
I can be a very bitchy foster carer.
The Secret (Bitchy) Foster Carer