Sunday, September 02, 2012

Fostering and Witchcraft

When the schools go back after the summer holidays many foster carers will go down with a headache, a funny tummy, a summer cold. Maybe all three. This is because when the kids are with us every day, we don't have time to be ill. Our body refuses to let these sorts of ailments come out. It's storing them up for later, when we have time to be unwell.

The official medical line is there's no such thing as delayed illness. So maybe I'm just another foster carer who believes in things science doesn't.

Most of the women who were accused of witchcraft were the women who assisted at childbirth. In other words, midwives.

They offended the doctors and churchmen. These women were all...well...women. And amateurs. Who were doing a crucial job the professionals could only view from a distance. And who gave the impression it was a job the professionals couldn't do as well as them.

I suspect that if fostering had been around back then, quite a few foster carers might have been up in court for witchcraft too.

We're not doctors or psychiatrists or scientists. I've never heard of a foster carer being granted a research fellowship to investigate a theory. We're too busy fostering.

And we do a job the professionals can only view from a distance.

I wonder if some professionals feel unnecessarily vulnerable that they have never fostered, and as a result are a bit biased towards the "evidence-based" theories.

I was at a training session about the long term effects on children of their early experiences when a carer said to the lecturer "I think there must be more to humanity than electrical impulses in the brain." He replied "Where's your evidence for that?" She didn't have any books or slideshows with measurements of the human soul, or whatever her point was. So she let it go.

Carers do have evidence. Evidence of things we've witnessed with our own ears and eyes over and over, so we know they are fact. They won't go away or even diminish just because the men and women of science haven't got any equipment sophisticated enough to measure it. "Ah!" they say, in reply "You see, your evidence is merely anecdotal."

For example. (And please don't laugh, I'm totally serious).

I am almost certain that a full moon throws all of us off centre, including (perhaps even especially) looked after children

The experts say the moon doesn't affect us at all.

And yet...

When I worked in a care home many years ago, the supervisor said to me "You're on overnight shift  tomorrow. Be on guard, it's a full moon." I laughed, assuming it to be a (bad) joke. "Oh, don't laugh" she said with a very serious face. I learned a lot that night. Residents were wailing in their sleep, stumbling around with glazed expressions, even coming to blows. The next full moon one died and fell out of bed.

I mentioned the full moon once to a policeman, a superintendent. "Yes, we know about this." he said "Every Friday night after a full moon our cells are always full to bursting." I asked him "Why don't you say something?" He replied; "Because I like my job, and this would make me sound, well....loony. Literally."

A florist told me she has to make more wreaths on the days after a full moon than the rest of the month.

The moon's cycle is 28 days. Maybe if men's bodies were pulled around every 28 days they'd put two and two together.

Our house is fairly well prepared for the full moon, though sometimes it catches us unawares. Everyone's on tenterhooks, whackier than usual, tetchy, forgetful, belligerent, then suddenly one of us will come out with our catchphrase "Full moon last night?" And sure enough... 

I keep one set of records (for approved legal reasons) of a child who has particular episodes. I highlight each episode in yellow. I've just checked them, and since January this year, sure enough, about 50% of these highlighted episodes happened during the week of a full moon. And two of them the very next day after the moon was full.

I wonder if other carers have ever noticed this particular one, or if they would keep an eye out for it over the next few full moons.

In the meantime, enjoy the peace and quiet. And the headache, nausea and runny nose. 

The Secret Foster Carer

ps I tried to find a nice picture of a witch to add to this post for fun, but all the Google images for "Witch" were either teenage bimbos in pointy hats or overly hideous warty crones, neither of which is how I see us...



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