I've got one off school and at home all day at the moment, not very well.
I LOVE it when they are off sick for a couple of days.
Obviously I'm only talking about a cold or a sore throat or something, touch wood I've never had a foster child with anything more serious.
I love it because it's a fantastic opportunity to get to know them better, and vice versa. They can't rush out and play, can't spend the day in front of the PC or on their phone. I let them come downstairs and lie on the sofa under a duvet watching TV. There's some good stuff on; wildlife documentaries, they all love Ray Mears (the outdoor survivalist) and that dangerous animals chap Steve somebody.
The day starts great with me going straight into their good books when I say;
"I don't think you're well enough to go to school today..."
So I phone the school then get them settled downstairs where a) I can keep an eye and b) I can get some quality engagement going.
I do a regular Florence Nightingale; hand on forehead checking their temperature, asking if their tummy is alright, asking to see their tongue (God known what I'm looking for but it all adds to their sense of being cared for).
I re-assure them "It's nothing to worry about, just a bug. You'll be fine in a couple of days, in the meantime just concentrate on getting better."
Then I keep up a supply of nice healthy things to eat and drink. They seem more susceptible to things such as raw fruit and veg, plain toast and a glass of milk, when ill.
I often linger after a delivery and watch a bit of what they're watching, doing a bit of bonding, just showing appreciation of the programme they're enjoying.. Then after a bit, when the telly gets a bit stale for them, they start a conversation.
I'm not flattering myself; I know they're talking to me because there's no-one else around and they can't message friends or disappear upstairs; they're not well enough. So you get some decent chats going, definitely better than the average.
Of course, there are all sorts of forces at work, one being the hope that a day off school might turn into two. But if I can get meaningful chats going it's an investment for the future, because foster children often don't really know how to have a joined up conversation and it's one of our jobs to show them how it works:
So. I say something and they say something about the something I've said and add something of interest or maybe finish with a question, to which I reply and then either ask a question or make an observation and ask if they agree and blah-de-blah-de-blah you're having a conversation.
So many children in care try to avoid the intimacy of an engaged conversation with their carers, we can easily get disappointed when we hear them burbling away with friends in the back of the car.
Looking after a looked-after child when they are unwell is sometimes the very closest we can get to being a real parent to them. They are vulnerable, we are strong - but gentle and kind.
I feel it, and I think many of them do too.
It matters not that I've actually got the same illness as the child, and wouldn't mind being under a duvet on the sofa myself with someone bringing me a regular supply of hot sweet tea, Covali and chocolate digestives.
I know that Brideshead Revisited is on somewhere on ITVRemembers, but I'm happy to do the nursing and share Spongebob Squarepants, because what I'm getting is sweeter than any sugar and more substantial than any classic drama with Jeremy Irons.
It's an unwell child getting better in body.
And in spirit.