That previous 'Mommy Dearest' post and a reader's comment got me thinking about the many poignant times I've had so far in fostering.
This one is up there. The hoo-hah about the blue/white dress reminded me.
We had a lovely girl come to stay, call her Tamsin, very much on the big size. I would say about 18 stone, and when someone is 3 stone heavier than their age there's a problem alright.
Actually it was about the least of her problems. Oh dear, here I am again wondering how much I can say to illustrate the various joys of fostering, and where the line is drawn on privacy.
I'll err on the side of caution.
Tamsin's father was in prison for what he did to Tamsin's elder sister. Regularly. The notes we were given explained that social workers believed that Tamsin had deliberately ballooned to deter her father having the same designs on her.
Tamsin was an angry overweight girl, we had a few words at first. We had to let her use an extra room for all her clothes. She brought an enormous amount of stuff with her, both literally and emotionally. We quickly came to like her a lot.
My husband and I have plenty of family still living locally. Brothers and sisters, nephews and neices. Tamsin must have caught a glimpse of my other half's two nephews, sporty lads one aged 16 the other 18, because when she heard they were all coming for Sunday roast she took it all in.
Sunday morning came and went and Tamsin hadn't come down.
Lunch was set for 2.30. The family arrived at 2.00 and we negotiated that the meal would end before 4.00 so the men could sit down and watch the Man Utd match.
I set a pair of tables butted together in the kitchen for nine people. Bit of a squash, Tamsin was to sit at one end...
Anyway, they arrived. Two chickens almost done, two trays of roast potatoes. We're an informal lot, T shirts and jeans are fine. The men helped themselves to a tin of beer, the kettle didn't stop boiling. At just after 2.30 I called out that dinner was ready.
Our two families were assembed at the tables, then we heard Tamsin coming down. She came into the kitchen, and there was a brief silence, quickly broken by gallant young men helping her into her seat.
Gulp. Tamsin had gone the whole hog. Evening gown. A blue satin job gathered at the neck, not much at the back. Hair up. Heels. Jewellery.
Nice make-up; expensive looking foundation, some blusher with just enough glitter, slightly too much blue on the eyelids, I don't think the mascara had much to work with, but she'd twirled it on.
I immediately felt like a fool. I'd told her we were having people for Sunday lunch. It must have sounded grand; she'd feared it was a Royal Yacht job with Elton J at the piano and silver service (whatever that is).
I watched her for a while checking she was okay.
Then the penny dropped. She wasn't dolled up because she thought it was a fancy occassion.
Fact was she had a crush on one of the two nephews, but being new to that scene, she'd gone over the top poor love.
Luckily the seating had worked out that the teenagers were all at one end of the table, so they could talk about everything from X Box to X Factor. The elderly were sat at the other end so they could discuss what's wrong with the youth of today.
I have to say, the lads were fantastic. They avoided anything that might hint she'd made a slight social error, instead they asked her how she was settling in, agreed what a bunch of idiots teachers are, and discussed at length what a pillock is Wagner off X Factor and how One Direction might just make it.
The lads were respectful of her, and the truth is there's nothing wrong with the youth of today that isn't the fault of the middle aged of today.
Tamsin didn't get a boyfriend that lunchtime.
But the nephews were kind and generous enough to make her feel good about herself. This is what happens in fostering, your whole family comes on board and you see stuff you didn't know they could do.
I do know how Tamsin has turned out, by the way; ok. I don't know what happened to the blue gown but I do know it's too big for her now. Not that that matters much compared to other things.
Maybe it was white and gold anyway.