Tuesday, July 18, 2017



                6.45pm Bathtime for Joe. I don’t ask him if he wants one or tell him that he’s getting one, instead I say “Do you want foam in your bath or not?” Gives him control. Being asked to make a decision distracts him from an opportunity to be oppositional. He goes for suds so I run a warm one about six inches deep leave a towel out for him and he does the rest himself. I keep the door two inches open and ask him something every five minutes, such as if he’s using the sponge. He dries himself and puts on his pyjamas and dressing gown before coming out of the bathroom. Submerging looked-after children in warm water always calms them, Joe is no exception. He sits peacefully on his bed while I dry his hair which he always gets wet. Perhaps in part because he likes me drying it for him.

7.00pm Joe's in bed, with a glass of milk and a bedtime snack, a healthy one; carrot sticks and cherry tomatoes. I bring the model Mummy up for him to see it’s going dry. We do his spelling for tomorrow. I help by making the shape of difficult letters with my mouth, so he gets 10 out of 10. Then it’s time for a bedtime story. Always the same format. It has to be about “Paul”, the fictional dog with the same name as my own son. I have to make suggestions for the story;

“How about the day Paul learned to ride a bike?”


“The time Paul went to the One Stop on his own.”


“The time Paul cleaned the windows?”


Joe usually rejects the first two ideas and approves the third. Control, I suspect, or maybe he identifies with Paul and wants the storyline to be one which helps him ground himself in his new life. Paul cleaning the windows is Paul as a mature being who helps around the house.

I make up a tale in which Paul gets lots of things comically wrong, but wins through in the end.

7.15pm Lights out. I say goodnight sleeptight.

Joe doesn’t reply. No problem, never replies to 'Goodnight' Or 'Good Morning'.  He still can’t bring himself to say 'please' or 'thank you', those expressions are too intimate, conventional and somehow submissive. I don’t give a tinker’s cuss.

I go downstairs to clear up the kitchen and make noises so he knows there's still someone downstairs with whom he has a connection, plus if he can hear me then I will be able to hear him if he calls, and he is more likely to sleep with the security of knowing that.

7.20pm Clearing the dirty sink. Good chance to ruminate about a totally knackering day of fostering. But I’m already thinking it was pretty darn good.

7.35pm Joe has usually called out by now, just to check the connection. I creep to the top of the stairs for a peek. He's asleep.

7.35pm and 30 seconds. I'm in the living room with a glass of Jacob's Creek sharing Infinite Tolerance Day with other half.

In a nutshell; it worked. Joe had an entire day without feeling the onrush of panic that left him angry, frightened, crying his eyes out inconsolably. But it was what I call 'emotionally expensive' for me.

Looking back - this episode happened six years ago, but I kept thorough notes throughout the day - I now think it was more successful than I realised at the time. Joe achieved some invaluable firsts;

  • He sought my company, wanted to be with me (game of Scrabble)
  • He asked me why I was being so kind (when I agreed to yet another chase game)
  • He experienced a panic free day (and fell asleep in 10 minutes)
And looking back; what happened the next day, and for each the rest of the days he's been with us (2109 as of today), there's been an over-arching air of infinite tolerance, but we put down a few lines in the sand, and added more boundaries as he became more calm and self-regulating.

Joe is on his way. He still has a way to go, but his progress is so fantastic that last week his social worker asked us if we wanted to have him re-assessed so that it could be recorded that he has made a considerable recovery from his nightmares. 

So big thank you to Infinite Tolerance Day.

The End

(Or in Joe's case, the Beginning)


  1. WOW this is such a great account. Thank you for keeping notes, and for sharing :)

  2. Thanks Alice. Re-reading my own notes was useful to me in processing how things were with him back then.

  3. Thank you so much for these last few posts.....all of them, but these last few in particular. My Form F goes in tomorrow, then panel next month. Your blog has been very much a part of the last few months for me.......from the seedling idea to the decision to go for it.

  4. Tremendous! Well done, and here's to the future. Not just yours; but the little ones out there who need you, will never forget you.