One of the things that's most interesting about fostering, and at the same time most rewarding, is building the right relationship - that is, the one to help each looked-after child.
Most relationships that young people have with adults are well defined, historic. You have parent-child, teacher-pupil, nurse-patient. The exact relationship varies, of course, but everyone is pretty much agreed on the basics.
Grandparent-grandchild, older brother-younger-brother, sister-sister. I could go on.
The fact is that in fostering you start fishing for the right relationship with your foster child the minute they arrive.
People who've never fostered usually assume you go for one of the parent-child relationships, and for sure that's the foundation of it, usually.
But because the children usually have real parents elsewhere, for whom they have feelings (one way or another), we can't simply take the reins and parent them the way we parented our own children.
In a nutshell; we foster parents have to work out what each child wants and needs their foster parent to be.
And, just as important, what they don't want us to be.
By way of example...
As foster parents there is something we must avoid, in my view, at all times.
Most children are embarrassed by some aspects of their parents. It might be something that can't be helped; the fact that there's no dad on the scene, or mum drives a knackered car or has a piercing laugh, or dad has an uncool tattoo, or even worse, wears a tie on the school run.
We are unwittingly uncool.
But those things are innocent, it's when we try to show we were young once, or that we watch MTV or that we know how to use a smartphone that we are crossing a clear line.
We must be very careful trying to be their elder sister/brother.
For one thing we are trying to muscle into one of their most treasured private possessions; their youth culture. We want to keep certain corners of our home private, they want ownership of kidz stuff.
Like when a song comes on the radio and they know the words; I never sing along.
I still act naively I don't know what twerking is, except I'm supposed to disapprove.
I wear slippers in the house where before fostering I wore comfy trainers. I've let the highlights grow out. I dress like I remember my old mum bless her used to dress to pick me up from school, even though I can do better.
I know there are foster parents who can get down, and that's great, but for most of us I think we are somewhere between parents and grandparents. Even a bit uncle/auntie. Sometimes a completely neutral semi-official trained and dependable robot/butler.
Anything but a foster parent trying to be a contemporary or a mate.
A bruvva o a sista, man. A gangsta o a diesel mo.
I'll shut up.