Been laid up after having a minor op.
In fostering you try to turn any and every situation into one which keeps the fostering going.
What I mean by that is that fostering is about a good bit more than providing some poor child a roof and food.
Our job is to get them ready to go home, to fly our nest and make a go of it in the nest that nature intended.
Foster children usually arrive badly equipped for family life, not their fault. The question is what sort of a role should we encourage them to take when they go back to their real family?
With our own children we help them find their feet and become increasingly independent of us while at the same time take on more responsibility in the family. They progress in little stages, it's a delight to see them go up to another level. Sometimes it's natural development, sometimes an event triggers it.
I've found that children who are taken into care are often very confused about their role in a home, and lack the self-esteem a child needs to play any positive part in what's happening around them.
For example they tend not to have any sense of obligation to pick up things after themselves. Nagging doesn't help much, nor do any sanctions or rewards. It's a small thing to have to go collect crisp packets or get a pile of lego back into its bucket, but your eye is always out for little breakthroughs.
So. This happened.
One of ours has an absolute about tidying up after himself. An absolute no-no. We've talked to professionals about it, wondering what's at the root of it in the faint hope that if we can locate the cause we can nurse the trait out of him, but no luck.
Way back he used to get stuff out deliberately so that he could spread it around floors and walk away. Didn't play with the stuff, just arranged it in a chaotic carpet so you couldn't cross the room without stepping on something. One professional said maybe it was territorial. Another suggested he was testing his trust in us to get repeated re-assurance we wouldn't go ballistic. Yet another theory was that maybe the only way he got attention in his real home was to make a mess and someone would have a go at him, so the only way he could get any sense of affection was by being a nuisance.
On top of that the dear lad wants everything on a plate, literally. I've shown him how to make a snack but he won't, or maybe can't bring himself to do it himself.
I always find the trouble with analysing a troubled child is that even if you get to the bottom of the reason behind the behaviour, it's down to the foster parent to find ways to improve things.
A few days ago I came out of hospital on crutches, I'd need them for the best part of a week. We'd arranged cover for me so the home would run as normal, but right from the time I struggled up the stairs and into bed I was completely fascinated about how this new set of circumstances would affect our looked-afters, especially the one who needs me to go round doing everything for him.
I found sleeping difficult, painkillers muck your bio-clock around.
So it was that at 4.00am I eased myself downstairs and into the kitchen for a medicinal cup of tea.
Lying on the kitchen table was a note. It said;
"I went to the fridge and there was watermelon.
Who can resist watermelon?
But it was sour so I put it back.
Hope that's OK
I checked everywhere for the evidence, expecting to find a wet knife, melon seeds, a half eaten slice, a dirty plate.
There was nothing.
He'd taken it on himself 1) to get himself a snack (tick) 2) to make a healthy judgement about the food (tick) - BTW the melon was simply unripe - 3) to clear everything away, blimey he must have actually wiped the table top (TICK)!
Later I said something casual like; "The melon was a bit sharp then?", and he replied something like "Yeah, I put it back".
I wanted to say something grand to him about the moment but instead wedged myself at the cooker and said;
"Can you get the bits for your breakfast, save me walking?"
"Okay" he replied "Provided I can have a go on your crutches."
So he went back and forth to the larder and the fridge fetching bacon eggs and baked beans on my crutches, and went to another level, then another.
As did I.