I have a problem, it comes with fostering. It's not the biggest problem ever, but it's there.
It's this; almost every time I use my mobile phone to make a call I scroll down to the name I want. This usually means my eye has to go past the name of a child who was with us about a year ago.
The child owned a mobile phone, so I added the number to my phone, obviously, while the child was with us.
The child went home in the end, after about three months with us. It wasn't an easy placement, as if there is any such thing. The child had good times and bad moments; everything between being down in the dumps through to slamming the bedroom door one time so hard that a bit of plaster came off and left a gap the size of a humbug down by the skirting board.
The hole is still there, needs Polyfilla. The phone number is still there too, on my mobile.
I have a strong suspicion that my social worker would advise me to delete the number and move on, I haven't asked. Come to think of it that's definitely the professional thing to do. Delete it. Move on.
That's my problem; I keep worrying I ought to delete it, but deleting it seems so callous.
I called the child once. It was a couple of days after the return home and the call had been agreed by all concerned, just to check that something that had been promised had happened. It had, so all was well.
That was a year ago.
So why can't I let this number go?
I let other numbers go. Sometimes I come across a name and number on my phone and I can't work out who the person is, or why they are on my phone. I delete those, but not without the temptation to call the number and ask who they are.
Now that I think of it, my phone's Contacts pages are loaded with fostering numbers; previous social workers, a child psychiatrist, a Contact centre, schools, guardians, mums of school friends, a police officer, Blue Sky people of all shapes and sizes.
And an ex-foster child. Well two ex-foster children to be precise, but the second one's a mum who was with us as a Parent and Child placement and has just moved out. She calls and texts us plenty, so that's a live contact.
But this young person I haven't talked to for a year. Come to think of it, the young person isn't a child any more.
Part of the reason I haven't deleted is that there's always the possibility that I may need to get in touch. You never know. Blue Sky might phone me and say; "Remember that young X who went home, we wanted to ask about their experience with Blue Sky, you don't happen to have their contact details?"
But deep down, the reason is glaring. This youngster shared our home, our lives, for long enough for us to care. There's two types of care; Care (with a capital "C"), which in fostering is where you provide the necessary, and care (with a lower case "c") which is what happens when you attach to someone.
The advice from Blue Sky is to offer attachment the minute they walk through the door; even if they're only going to be with you for one night. So when it's three months, the attachment is there for yourself even if not always for them.
So how could I delete this poor dear person's number in cold blood? I get a positive just seeing the child's name on my phone's screen.
Yes, I hope one day to find out that things have turned out well for the child.
Yes it would be great to get all the child's news, even to reminisce about some of the times we shared.
But I would never, ever make a call on those grounds.
It's simply that the child is part of my life, part of my memories of my home and my family.
In fostering you can't keep a bedroom the way it was in memory of departed foster children, for obvious reasons. You're supposed to remove all records of any previous placements from your systems.
In any case, it's almost a given that the child is probably on their fourth or fifth phone since leaving, so it's most likely the number is dead anyway.
So I haven't deleted, yet. And I'm glad I haven't.
So if it's a problem, it's a fine problem.
Thanks for listening.