I woke up at 1.40am this Sunday morning, don't know why, possibly partner creeping upstairs after coming in from a Beach Boys tribute concert. Whenever one of us is going to be dead late home or getting up, one of us sleeps in the spare bedroom, if there is one free. Partner went with pals but without me because one of our current foster children is not yet able to be babysat. Maybe she is maybe she isn't but in fostering you always minimise risk.
When I wake up suddenly that's when I remember the dream.
We're spending a lot of time with therapists recently, they work with the child, but also talk to us. They're helping the child with her life story, so she can get a picture of who she is. It's not healing the child yet, because there's a lot of anger to come out first. But the therapists explain the way the mind works and it makes sense.
It makes us think about our own minds too.
In the dream, I was back in the house I was brought up in as a child, but I was an adult, and my dad, who is 10 years dead, was alive and sitting in his armchair. The foster child was giving us all some ID badges she'd made, the kind of things you wear round your neck with a length of ribbon, and a plastic card saying "Visitor", when you visit a big building.
In the dream, she had clearly painstakingly made the necklaces out of those pop-together little toy beads you used to get, but don't see anymore. She was helping my dad put his over his head. I was just about to look at what she'd written on mine, and try to sneak a peek at the one she'd made for herself, when I woke up. I never saw what she'd written, but somehow knew that the cards gave us all the same status.
When I woke up later with the sun in the bedroom, after checking partner was okay and making a cup of tea I found myself wondering about the dream, before its memory faded, as dreams do.
The therapists talk to the child about her nightmares and night terrors, so I've picked up some titbits of how they interpret them.
In the dream I felt proud of the child, for being clever enough to make something like identity cards out of stuff lying around. And chuffed she had made one for my dad, who often used to think he was left out of things. As always I was curious about what lay behind the child's activity, what its real meaning could be.
It was obvious I had dreamed the activity because I wanted her to feel part of the family, and in my head there was no more powerful image of her being one of us, than for her to be giving out identical official identity cards and putting them round the neck of my dead dad, like a garland.
It was a useful dream.
Not as good as the dreams of one of the Blue Sky team who is a big football fan, and last year dreamed the exact result of several matches, and I know this for a fact because I got the predictions as a ps on the emails that fly between foster carers and the Blue Sky offices.
Actually, I lie, it was the best possible dream, assuming I understand it right.
I understand partner right for sure, and the slightly heavy footed trip to the bathroom I've just heard is French for "Any chance of a cup of tea?"
So I'm off downstairs to brew, and hear a quick report on how wonderful the fake Beach Boys are complete with compulsory "I really wish you'd been there, I missed you....etc etc", followed quickly by my story about the dream, then a very quick whispered chat about whether I tell the child or not.
Our stairs creak you see, and foster children are all usually very light sleepers.
Secret Foster Carer