Friday, June 03, 2016


Sorry I've been a bit quiet for a few days - half term.

Normally during school holidays I can find time for the laptop or the ipad, I'm now known for sitting with it on my knee while watching the box.

This half term there was a distraction that took up most of my poor wee brain.

One of our looked-after children got the independence bug.

It was always going to arrive, of course; it did with my own children and I think I remember well the days of wandering around the house wondering where they are and are they alright.

Then when they return home steeling myself not to show my massive relief. I'd get an Oscar every time for my over-casual "Is that you home?" while pretending to be washing up.

But it seems there's a different anxiety with one's foster children, at least for me.

Take yesterday:

The day before yesterday the child had enjoyed a day out with a friend. The friend's dad had taken them to the cinema then they had something to eat. Child was gone from 10.00am until 4.00pm. They were accompanied all day. No problem, absolutely no problem.

Next day I planned a quiet day in, so I let other half use the car.

Just after lunch looked-after (who is just turned 11) came up and said there'd been a text with an invite to meet a pal in the park on the edge of town, about 1.25 miles away. I can't desert a houseful to escort child. Risk check; if child goes alone...

The walk to the park is 90% safe, you only cross side roads except one quiet main road with a Pelican. 

Until you get about 400 yards short of the park where you have to cross a crossroads. One of the 4 roads is split into two with a big triangular island at the point where it meets the main road, so it's a 5 way crossroads. No traffic lights, no zebra, no bridge, no halfway obelisk. It's a main road with two busy side roads joining it in either direction at the same point. The traffic is meant to be doing 30mph, but they've been allowed 40mph until just before the junction and most of them find it hard to suddenly drop 10mph.

So, no way, that's too big a risk.

Child not happy, feels claustrophobic, wants the rush of being captain of own ship. Feels anti-my authority, worried that a friendship is at stake, and the danger of being thought of as a baby.

I try to call other half to see if I can get the car back. No luck.

Child comes back to me and offers to scoot to the park provided I waive the requirement of helmet. How child thinks scooting across the junction would be safer is not disclosed. No, again.

I send text to parent of child's friend explaining dilemma.

Child returns with another idea; how about bicycling over? On own of course, no helmet.

What next? Borrow our neighbours Harley Davidson? Throw a leg over an unbroken stallion? 

Rescued by the other parent who suggested they meet at the park in the centre of town which both children can reach using pelicans.

Child goes off with a cheery 'Bye!' and a little wave. A wave that spoke of going off alone. Heading out into the big beautiful world a great big step nearer being grown up, which is exactly what fostering is about.

Did I worry until I heard the front door about three hours later?

Do bears you-know-what in the woods...


  1. Hi, just wanted to thank you for your blog. I discovered it a few weeks back and it has been great to read your thoughts and views while I stressed out about attending panel. We were just approved today and I hope we can be half as good carers as what you appear to be. All the best and keep up the great, witty and amusing posts.

  2. Congratulations! It must have been a great moment so enjoy it.
    I dare say you've been told these three little things before , but I still want to say (1) on behalf of all the children you'll help, thank you for doing this. (2) it ain't easy, this fostering lark (3) when you look back on your time here you'll likely say it was the best thing you ever did.

    1. Thank you. To be honest panel was so straightforward I am ashamed of how worried I was about it (read form f numerous times looking for something panel wouldn't like). Our sw was like a proud parent when we left and gave us both a big hug, we were only her 2nd assessment. I now have to rush round getting two bedrooms redecorated and ready for children, as we are currently a child free household I'm sure it will be a shock to the system.

    2. Obviously, if panel was a scoot, you've got what it takes in shedloads.
      Once again, welcome to fostering; it won't be a piece of cake, but I know you'll end up looking back on it as the best days of your life, the best thing you ever did.

    3. BD27 and Anonymous: one year ago we were going through time as you: approved - awaiting placement. This was one of the most nerve wrecking times of my life.
      We have waited 6 months but in the end it was worth. We have 3 great foster sons now! I will NOT change my life now. Good luck!

  3. Just to say I love reading your blogs too. I was approved three months ago and am still waiting for a suitable first placement which is frustrating but your blogs keep my enthusiasm and eagerness to foster in tact.

  4. Thanks, you're very kind. Actually, you've given me (along with BD27 - see above), an idea for my next post; about the wait for your first placement.

  5. I worry that ours is missing out on this - eldest has just turned 11 also but we live rurally (20 min walk to the nearest bus stop) so I taxi him everywhere. He goes to youth clubs and many other clubs but I think he's missing out on just being able to go out with friends on his own steam. I know he used to spend a lot of time hanging out with friends so think it's been a big lifestyle change for him. Though to be honest I don't know if I'd be brave enough to let him go out by himself even if we did live in a town!

  6. Every home situation is unique to the independence thing.
    When we choose a home we think about schools and amenities, we never wonder how it'll work when the child wants to go out by themselves for the first time. We lived 20 minutes from anywhere when our children hit 9-12, the independence years and settled for us taking them into town and picking them up.
    Independence is also about other things; washing your hair yourself, making your own snack, remembering where you left your school pullover.
    PS sorry if my reply is full of typos, I left my specs upstairs and the screen's a bit of a blur...

  7. Interesting one this, I think the decisions are unique to each child and placement.

    We live in the 'burbs and the younger one (11yo) isn’t allowed to go out to the park without us or her big sister. Lots of her friends have doorkeys or are left alone during the day in the school holidays but we know ours is not ready for this.

    She is mentally young for her age, probably as she had a very limited and tightly controlled life before us, and I'm not sure she'd know what to do in an emergency. Luckily she doesn’t mind and is happy to be chaffered around and host gatherings of friends.

    The big independence battle we do have is sleeping out in the garden. We have a big garden and all the required camping gear. We’re surrounded by good neighbours and totally blocked in by other gardens, the side passage has a locked gate, set into a 10 foot high wall, topped by spikes. There is also an obvious alarm system. Yet this is the first year we’ve let the girls sleep outdoors, and then its never alone – minimum of 2 kids and if one wants to come in they must all come in. I didn’t sleep a wink the first night but they loved it, and they think it’s the best treat ever.

    Little steps I suppose.

  8. You paint a vivid picture of your caring care. Sometimes a sleepless night is worth all the following day's yawns.
    And you're spot on about safety decisions being unique to each child, doubly so with foster children. Of course we have to survive the protests that there's an unevenness due to one child's advanced/delayed maturity compared to another of similar age.
    I find sometimes that the rules and boundaries are as much appreciated as the treat itself; a lot of children in care have suffered a neglect in that they learned that nobody really gave a fig about their safety.

  9. Oh you are so right on that one!

    Brightone had a bump to the head in the playground and felt dizzy and sick. She was clearly distressed when I spoke to her so I went to pick her up. About 10 minutes after getting home she was bouncing about and asking for Minecraft time. She wasn't poorly, she just needed to know the care would be given if she needed it. A weak painkiller, some chocolate and cuddle was enough to sort her out. Was worth the afternoon off school to prove her value and our care. xx

  10. Exactly right. Don't foster children enjoy the fuss and attention we give their every scrape and bump? I love being asked for sympathy and concern; it costs me nothing and I know it's hugely rewarding for the child,

  11. Great post. Very related to our half term experience. Two of our foster children asked to go to Tesco - 2 miles away. Our first answer was "no" but after safety briefing including Google Street view "walk-over" we decided to let them go. Also our 12 yo has great orientation; We are calling him Sat-Nav.:)
    As promised they have called us 3 times. It was first time they walked that far away. I was very nervous, but in the end we and boys learned a lot that day.