Monday, October 13, 2014


It's important to count your blessings, look on the bright side, stay positive and smile. For everybody, not just people who see other people in distress such as nurses, the police and foster carers.

My social worker likes to start our monthly sessions with the successes. This is round at my house, at the kitchen table, pot of tea on the go. I find I have to think hard; but then the successes are there, always. There's progress with each child every month and that's success. The reason it's hard to remember successes is that you don't have to get stuck in where something is working well. 

Where a child has problems you have to do some work; if they are frightened or despairing you have to talk and comfort and care and that's rewarding but draining. You remember the episode.  If a child is smiling it's wonderful, but a contented child means 'no action' so you forget it and get on with the washing up. A damaged child rarely rewards the carer with an eloquent verbal or physical hug when we've patched up their world. And we carers don't expect it.

It's the same thing when you ask yourself what your favourite fostering moment is. It's a healthy exercise because you start to think to yourself "Oh, it's that time when..." then you go "No no, it was  the time when..."

And you end up with a silly smile on your face. Nothing wrong with that. So here goes;

There was the time we had a lad aged 12 stay who was very angry. Not a danger to us in any way, but angry at life. He'd been locked into his bedroom for periods, nothing to play with - all his toys had been taken away as punishment for being 'naughty". 

He was surly, silent and jumpy.

I took him dog walking one day, out onto a piece of countryside which is the middle of the proverbial nowhere. Suddenly he stopped and looked around. There was nothing of civilisation in sight, not a house or a road or a pylon, nothing. His face started to beam. He threw both arms out as wide as he could, then let his head fall back so his face was looking straight up at the blue sky. He shut his eyes tight. And beamed. The widest most genuine grin I've ever seen in a looked-after child. He was at peace. Happy. 

I took a snap with my mobile (I asked him first) to show my other half, because this lad could wear you down, and I wanted Bill to share a glimpse of him in clover (literally). I deleted it afterwards.

The lad is in a secure unit now, I hear. I hope he gets out into the country occasionally. I think about him a lot.

Then there was the lad age 15 who came to us as an emergency from the foster home where he had been cared for since the previous year. The carer had been a lone mum. The lad had allegedly done something wrong, and it was being investigated. One morning I mentioned that we needed to call a plumber to have a look at the toilet which was grizzling all night. The lad nervously asked for the toolbox and disappeared upstairs. 

He fixed it. We think he probably just gave the arm of the ballcock a bit of bending. But I tell you this; he went upstairs a boy and came down a geezer. Voice an octave lower, body language all blokey. He was what they call validated. Turned out he became the man about the house in his real foster home when went back after 3 weeks with us, they found he'd done nothing wrong. I think about him a lot too.

A lad, nearly an adult, stayed with us for respite and liked it with us so much that he asked if he could move in permanently when he left fostering, no reflection on his other carers he just said he clicked in our house best of all. Didn't happen, he's out in the wide world now. When he sat us down and asked us to be his mum and dad for life...phew. Great moment. Think about him a lot.

Girl with cerebral palsy, wheelchair user. Kindest person I've ever met. How can you show kindness if you can't talk or walk? She did it with her eyes mostly, and the first time I cottoned the way she communicated which was with a mixture of eyes, head movement and speech-like noises, the moment she and I 'talked' to each other was unbelievable. I think about her a lot, especially every time I see a person using a wheelchair, only now I make a point of smiling and saying good morning to the person in the chair.

The girl who opened her heart at our kitchen table one morning. I'd agreed she didn't need to go to school, she watched a bit of telly, then came to the table because I'd laid on a big lunch. Lots of bowls of things to choose from. I got her talking and she ended up sobbing, talking about how hard her life had been, using up two sheets of kitchen roll at a time. Later she told me it was the first time anyone had listened to her.

There's a load of favourite moments once I sit down and think about it. 

Maybe my favourite moment is each of the moments when I get a chance to think about the job as a whole; and what it means to me, my family, but most of all...what it means to each of the children we have the privilege of looking after.


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