One of our foster children is a permanent placement.
Poor child, she can never go home. Has no home to go to, no family. Nobody.
She's facing up to being alone in this world, yet she's barely tall enough to be allowed on the flume slide at the swimming pool.
Alone and angry.
Probably terrified beyond imagination, but she bottles up the fear.
Doesn't bottle up the anger, lets it out, mainly at me, for some reason.
Been with us nearly two years now.
Always given me the cold shoulder. Routinely rude. Bit cruel sometimes. Only to me, not the rest of the family, charming to them. Won't hold my hand even to cross the road, gives me the brush off if I rest a hand on her shoulder. I've shed the occasional tear about it.
I've managed to keep the kindness going; it's my job.
The child likes to be watched doing things.
Little things such as sitting on the table and hopping off "Look at me, watch, watch"
One evening this week she was on the sofa playing a game called Minecraft on the Kindle, and I was required to watch.
Sit next to her and watch, watch, watch.
Try to get the comments right; I mustn't show too much knowledge about Minecraft, she doesn't like that.
"You're on good form tonight" Is fine.
"It was brilliant the way you climbed up there".
But here's the thing, it's late and I'm tired.
So tired that I'm drifting in and out of sleep, and my comments are starting to get weird and dreamlike.
"You're great at Minecraft... but we're out of milk for the Spanish holiday, bananas and Jeremy Paxman...."
I rambled a few times and she dug me in the ribs to keep me from napping.
Then it happened.
She snapped off the Kindle and leaned towards me.
"You're tired" she said.
"You should have a nap"
Then she leaned over and gave me a peck. A mini-kiss on my forehead.
On the hairline, where my widows peak is getting noticeable.
I felt like the whole of the great outdoors had been wrapped up and squeezed into a moment, and given to me, to keep.
And I'm filling up, a little bit, tapping at my laptop keys at 5.30am this morning, remembering.
Isn't life grand?
Is there any better way of feeling grand than these little fostering moments?
The Secret Foster Carer