Woke up at four this morning, I thought I heard someone on the landing going to the loo. I've been a light sleeper since other people's children started living and therefore sleeping in our house. You're always on alert.
It had been a raucous bedtime last night. Bedtimes are spread over two hours, so there's always someone begging another half hour.
Have you ever heard that riddle "If a tree falls in the forest and theres no-one to hear it, does it make a noise?'
People are often curious about the money side of fostering. They never come out and actually ask;
"What does the job pay?" But it's what they want to ask.
I say "We aren't 'paid' . If it was pay, considering we are on the clock 24 hours a day, it would be about half the hourly minimum wage. As for the justifiable complaints of employees on Zero Contracts, it's been like that in fostering for ever; no child, no allowance.
An allowance, that's what it is. And before you put it into your personal savings there are the expenses of fostering; you could run up quite a list, mainly the child's food bills (especially snacks and treats, the takeaways). Clothing, toys (mainly add-ons to computer games at the moment, in my house anyway). A scooter is £100 (a stunt one is anyway). You could get pedantic and add the cost of bathwater and the radiator in their room, the petrol for picking them up from school etc.
Of course you are left with an income, but it's not pay, although having said that I paid a bit of tax last year. Nor is fostering a job. It's more than a job. It's somewhere between a vocation and a calling.
So I'm lying there listening, hoping if it is someone in the loo they don't need to flush because that might wake everybody up. Also I'm trying not to get myself wide awake because if that happens I'll have to go downstairs and make myself a cup of tea rather than lie there listening to the other half blissfully dozing.
There is someone up and about, I heard the bathroom bolt get drawn back and the light get switched off. Which child is it? If it's one of mine that's one thing, you know automatically whether to get up or not. If it's a looked-after thats something different especially if it's the youngest, he definitely deserves me going out and checking he's ok. It's lonely enough being in care, nowhere is lonelier than 4.00am with everyone else apparently asleep. Footsteps on the landing. By concentrating hard I could hear their weight and which bedroom door they were heading to. It was my eldest. No need to go.
I went anyway.
And then I'm awake, so it's a cup of tea at the kitchen table, with honey now were are off sugar, what with all the noise about the sugar tax.
And in case you're wondering, apparently there is an answer to the riddle about the tree falling in the forest;
If there's no-one to hear it, there is no noise, because there's no such thing as noise. All 'noise' is, is a signal in the brain that your eardrum has registered a change in air pressure close by.
No such thing as noise eh? There's some scientists who've never fostered.