Saturday, November 24, 2012

Lying and foster caring.

How can you not lie sometimes? 

One of the regular bits of advice from the professionals is to be truthful with looked-after children. 

And yes, if they ask "When am I going home?" you start on a lengthy, truthful, explanation:

(1)"It depends on the next review of your parents, and by "review" I mean that the people who are helping them sort out their problems are trying to make sure that they will be happy and able to look after you and the rest of your family, and this may take a few weeks or it may be more than that, I will ask again when our Social Worker visits because I know it's important to you, and we want you to be happy, but I don't know at the moment when you'll be going home."

But you've probably lost the child with all that detail; they only want to hear a date.

Is it truthful though? The real truth might be:

(2) "You can't go home until your mother learns to treat you with some love and care, and she quits drugs and sleeping with the last man to leave the pub. And your father stops turning up at your house when he's been thrown out by whichever girlfriend he's shacked up with in the hope your mother will be "nice" to him, but she kicks off instead and someone ends up calling the police again. Oh, and when he accepts that your brother is actually his son, not his brother's son, and accepts that just because he can't read and write is no reason to tear up all three of the children's books in the house, and trash all the toys. Oh, and when your mother learns not to attack the police when she called them in the first place."

Actually, now I've written that, you know what?

There are times when  (2) might be the right answer.

Mind, the child, hearing (2) will probably kick off citing "Aw I ain't never going home then!" Cue broken heart. Broken plates, whatever.

Sometimes, you just lie lie lie. Little ones, but lies. The lies you used with your own children, but were spared worrying about psychotherapists and Sigmund Freud whispering; "Ze Truth. Tell zem ze truth always!"

Why am I banging on about this one at 10.30 on a Saturday night? 

Today we had, well, a bad day. A rainy Saturday. Everyone got a bit stir crazy. We tried a bit of Christmas shopping but the whole Christmas thing is radioactive to looked-after children, it's an amplification of their losses.

Long story short: Tantrum, just before bedtime, driving back from watching the turning on of Christmas lights. 

So; early bedtime for child - mainly for safety, but also to reinforce "Please don't try to hit me when I'm driving or it's bedtime when we get home". Was whiffed at again, no contact, no safety issue at all, but blimey I'm driving here!

Child is put to bed, with big dish of food, including double chips. The food thing is not a reward, child has previously been starved. Mazlo Mazlo Mazlo. Right enough.

Child always gets apple juice with bedroom food.

We are out of apple juice, take up a glass of water instead.

Promise child: will get apple juice next time in shop.

Partner and I chill. Glass of Jacobs Creek has been earned. Have to nip to One Stop.

Forget apple juice.

Child is at landing when I get back.

"Where's my apple juice?"

I went to say; "Unfortunately the pressures and stresses of nurturing and guiding a looked-after child such as yourself through the difficult circumstances of your life, which are not your fault, have taken a toll on my powers of concentration and recollection. Although I failed to remember your carton of apple juice, this doesn't mean I don't care deeply for you, in fact I hope you can see by my remorse the depth and warmth of my care."

What I said was "They're out of apple juice."

Big lie.

Child looked at me, I know the look was "They're never out of apple juice down the One Stop. Hang on though. There was the time they only had one bag of prawn cocktail crisps, and I was torn between smokey bacon and prawn cocktail and you said if I wanted prawn cocktail to be quick, so maybe your story hangs up. I can't prove anything. But this is one I can put in my back pocket."

I got away with it.

Jeez, living with looked after children is like living with lawyers.

The Secret Foster Carer, Your Honour.


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