Wednesday, November 05, 2014


I heard that old chestnut again today "Life's not a sprint it's a marathon"

I don't agree. For one thing sprints are more interesting than marathons, and life is actually a succession of sprints.

Being a child is a rush from one year to the next. Love and marriage is a dash to the line.  The world of work is one starting gun after another, anyone who thinks the tape is strung out for when you're 65 has got another think coming.

Fostering is one burst of activity after another, mental and physical. It is definitely not a long plod.

A child needs a home for a while. It might be a night, a weekend, a week, a month. Maybe a bit more. It's a short-term thing compared to say, your own children. Actually, having a foster child in your home breaks down into even shorter sprints.

The pre-arrival.  You get a phone call asking if you'd consider a particular child, Blue Sky's placement team are brilliant, they give you all you need to know and help you make your judgement. And you can't kick it around for ever, a child needs you. You  have to decide 'Yes' or 'No' based on the info plus your gut. I feel very alive during this process, excited that I'm maybe lining up make a difference.

Then you get the nod and rush round the house tweaking. Quick trip to the supermarket for whatever their favourite meal is.

The arrival. It's a tension, no mistake. In a good way. Usually happens mid-afternoon in my experience, can be any time though. There's always a Blue Sky social worker present for the arrival. Which is brilliant especially for your first few. But then they leave and it's...

The first meal. I am always eternally grateful that the background information on a new arrival includes food fads. I've learned to let the child know in advance the food will go out on the table in bowls, they can pile their plate as they like. I think it's a pressure for them if you load up a plate and put it in front of them, choosing the foods and the portions for them, on day one. I've tried to put myself in their place, first evening meal with a family of strangers. Wondering who we all are, and what's going to happen in their lives. I can't do it. It must be horrendous for them.

First night. You make sure they understand how everything in the bathroom works. I always tell them they can knock on our bedroom door at any time if they are frightened or anything like that. They sometimes do. Dealing with their first night is another sprint.

That's about six sprints already.

Then, frankly, every day is a new event. You learn their foibles and funny ways.You have your first setback; you try to sprint through that alright, but the pace is often out of your control. You spot the things that the child needs help with. Then you can do one of two things; turn down your hearing apparatus and opt for the quiet life, or roll up your sleeves, give the help and enjoy the ride.

I'll be honest, I prefer the ride, but equally I know you need to step back from time to time and give yourself a breather.

Hey, a hairdo and a Friday night out with best friends is another little sprint.

I remember when it was a marathon.


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