Tuesday, January 19, 2016


Romeo has been with us six weeks. 

Certain patterns and traits are becoming obvious, and it's interesting to link them to his past.

Food is important, you find this so often with foster children don't you? Of course food is important to all of us, but it's different for children with chaotic backgrounds. Sometimes they were told "No tea for you" because of some real or imagined misbehaviour when the real reason was that people couldn't be bothered or the money had run out. Or spent on something else.

Plus, to be completely nutritious food has to be served with a bit of love and respect. The portions arranged attractively on the plate. Food fads such as nothing touching must be respected.

I don't go as far as saying Grace, but I notice myself respecting the food and the company, and hope it rubs off.

Romeo didn't know how to lay a table. Not because he'd never been given it as a job - he was given plenty of jobs such as helping mum up the stairs to bed some nights. He didn't know about laying the table because people didn't sit at table in his house, ever. "Lap food" was the order of the day, every day. Takeaway or "Ding-Meals" (microwave). Nothing for breakfast, maybe everyone bar Romeo was too hungover or didn't get up until lunchtime.

He's filling out, he was a bit thin when he came, unlike mum, who I've now 'met' twice at Contact. She won't look me in the eye. I don't want her to feel I judge her harshly, I really really hope I don't, I really hope I don't come across judgemental, but a piece of me is getting protective of Romeo and feels like saying; "You be careful with him for the next hour, he's my foster child" but obviously I never would. It's a positive feeling to experience though, it means I'm starting an attachment to the child, and I honestly believe they can sense it when you do, and it's a first step towards them finding some attachment to their foster family.

I've bought him some new clothes. BIG TIP IF YOU'RE NEW TO FOSTERING: for Contact I dress him in the clothes he brought with him when he arrived. Same with haircuts; he needs one but he wants it shaved above the ears, and it'll be a few weeks before I know his mum well enough to mention it to her, which is how I do it. Having your child taken away is traumatic enough without the foster mum kitting them out in their idea of trendy or buying them a salon cut.

Yes, he shows anger sometimes. I try not to rise to the bait, but if I have the argument it blows over quick and he seems very peaceful afterwards, more so than me! Almost like he needs two minutes of raised voices. Maybe he's used to it and kind of needs it. 

He also shows new things like full-on politenesses. When he says; "Thank you" it comes out as "I'm grateful for the bag of crisps you've just brought me". In other words it's not the meaningless burp that so many parents insist their children say from the age of about 18 months in the hope onlookers will applaud the well-brought-up child. Sorry, I got a bit het up; I just hate the question "What do you say?" when a tiny tot begs something. 

While I'm on my pet hates of parenting what the heck does "Be careful" mean? It's all I hear on the walk to school and in the playground. It's meaningless compared to specifics such as "Try to run around the puddles" or "Do stay on the pavement" It's as useful to the child as "This product may contain nuts" on a packet of nuts. Even the negative "Don't run in the puddles" or "Don't run into the road" is better than the lazy "Be careful". 

Rant over.

Romeo also shows signs of being comfortable around the house, fetched himself some juice. It's a type of respect for our respect for his maturity.

He's not afraid of telling the X Box off. I've reminded him that at least two of the words he uses are really not for teacher's ears, or his foster mum's, and that I wish he'd hold them back when the other children are around, but heck they've heard them before and we've talked about it. Romeo's language is what he was taught, you can't un-teach linguistics, only expand vocabulary.

What's next? Just more of the same really.

I find in fostering that as long as you're not too tired you notice they pass little milestones every day and that's the joy of it isn't it?


  1. I've put "funny" because it did make me giggle, but anyway it was informative too, and reinforced some of the stuff we did at the training day last Saturday. The whole haircuts thing took me by surprise. I hope that the assessors are assessing whether I make good judgements, and that if I pass the test they will then allow me to make good judgements, so that I will think about things like haircuts and clothes for myself (or with your help!)and not need to have a rule planned in for every single thing. But the training day did seem a lot more realistic than the books I've been given to read. That's a relief! Last night I was "observed" with the grandchildren. It won't have told anyone much about how I handle difficult children because they are impeccably behaved - even the challenging one gave perfect answers. Medical done, assessment continues, one more skills training day. They are right to make me work hard to earn this very big privilege, to help a child and his family get through a difficult time. H.

  2. You have a fantastic attitude. Over the years ahead a great many children are going to be very well fostered. You're right, the approval process is thorough, but you're right a second time when you suggest that it needs to be, because it's such a big and important job.
    When the assessors see your impeccably behaved grandchildren they aren't thinking 'Oh well we're not learning much about her here" ; they are thinking: "This lady is a big big part of the reason these children are so solid. She will be able to do it for other's who aren't descended from her".
    Go H!

  3. Oh, that's a lovely response. Thank you. And this blog has been a very important part of the process, too. Without it I would have felt this rather a lonely journey. Now I've met the others doing this journey, at the training day, I feel less alone, but thank you for keeping me company too. Helen

    1. Enjoying every minute of it Helen; foster parents have to stick together, we're the only ones who know what it's like, who understand the challenges and appreciate the massive highs.

  4. I never really thought about the impact of using the same clothes for contact. Its a good point, I'd have automatically put them in whatever was their best daytime outfit (new or old) as part of presenting them as well cared for. I'll definitely take that on board if the situation comes up - so far the children we've had have all been with other carers for at least a year so its not been an issue.

    With Romeo growing so quickly you will probably face this - what do you do over long periods, with the original clothing falling apart or getting out grown? Gradually slip in a new tshirt etc? Perhaps nothing on its "first wear" so the child doesn’t feel any need to highlight its a new item?

    And, this is more relevant with older kids I expect, how do you handle the child or young person wanting to wear new clothing?

    I've seen the rise in self-esteem that new clothes can cause - something that has the brand name they so desperately want, or that just isn't a 3 year old hand me down. I appreciate how parents might resent it, but in the long term they must expect the kids to be new in clothes.

    One point I learned - we are very careful about throwing any old clothes away. A previous carer of one of ours had brought the kid new clothing and thrown out the old without consulting the child on either! The child NEVER forgave them for the loss of favourite items, and hated all the new stuff on principal.
    We operate a consultative system, and mostly the kids have been happy to not save the clothing, but instead keep a photo of them wearing it. Keeps the memory box from filling up with tshirts and odd socks!


  5. Oh I buy 'em clothes alright Mooglet, I love it and so do they. They know what's cool. I suppose one should remember that the del is you're working towards them going home and it might bite them back if they go home and start singing your praises fro buying them nice things, but while they're with us we treat them like our own.
    Good point about throwing stuff away, like you we hang onto everything they come with just in case. WE had a girl turn up with 5 packing cases of stuff once, and when she went home we could hardly get it all in one car run, but we did.

  6. Some great tips here, thank you. Hadn't thought through keeping all clothes, so taking photos for the life story book is one I'll keep in my back pocket, if you pardon the pun!