Thursday, September 14, 2017

BLOSSOMING ADOLESCENTS



Fostering brings surprises and challenges whatever the age of the child you're looking after.

I sometimes refer to my foster children my 'clients' at the moment (not in their earshot), it reminds me that fostering is a professional thing, although it tickles me that many of the other people involved such as psychologists, teachers, nurses etc - even sometimes the police, solicitors, contact supervisors etc, love to refer themselves as 'the professionals' and generally exclude foster carers from their meetings. 

Ah well, if it gets the best out of them (someone once told me that the Titanic was built by professionals, Noah was an amateur, but anyway...).

One standout challenge is when the client is reaching puberty, it's a big enough challenge when it's your own child, but when it's someone else's; it's something else.

It's going on in our house right now, but I'm not going to pass on anything about this particular set of experiences. Why? Well even though none of our children know about the Secret Foster Carer Blog, and probably never will, if there's one aspect of growing up you want to keep totally sealed and private it's surely the whole business of hormones, hair sprouting in funny places and, most of all; the intricate connection with that most private domain; love, romance and sexuality.

My current lad deserves to be spared their details being put out in the ether in the present tense, even though they'd be oblivious.

What I can do is celebrate some of the minor instances we've enjoyed in the past, both recent and dim and distant.

There was the girl who came home from school one Thursday - funny how I remember it was definitely a Thursday - dumped her bag in the hall as usual, kicked off her shoes and as she rushed past me on her way towards the stairs barked;

"Oh and I started the lady thing today!"

Then there was the lad, fourteen at the time, who suddenly started following my husband around the house and imitating him. I dunno if this was conscious on his part or subconscious, but the standout moment was when I pottered into the living room one evening when there was some football on. There were the two of them each with one leg languidly draped over the arm of their armchair, hubbie sipping a can of lager, foster child sipping a can of Fanta, both going;

"Aw, c'mon!", "Rubbish!" "What was that!"...they were sharing that male thing of enjoying bemoaning the efforts of otherwise enviable young male millionaires. They were even doing those silent burps after a good slug of their respective fizzy pop.

One poignant memory I can share is a girl who came to us aged sixteen who noticed on day one that one of my own sons was that bit older then her and quite good looking. She had let herself go, as the phrase goes, largely because while in the chaotic home she had been removed from there had been an adult who had interfered with her. Her defence mechanism, we were told, had been to make herself unattractive. 

The son of ours came in late most evenings, being a sports fiend, so the first occasion when we were scheduled to all sit down together and eat was the first Sunday lunch after she arrived.

I didn't notice at the time that she'd disappeared into her room two hours before mealtime, I was busy trying to get my roast potatoes perfect (a lifelong crusade in my case, an ambition regularly thwarted).

When I called out; "Five minutes!" (I always give them a bit of notice so they can round off whatever they are up to), people started arriving. The girl's was the only empty chair when I started transferring dishes of food to the table. I called "Come and get it!", and as I did she appeared.

Sunday lunch is a dress-casual event in our house. Tee-shirts and jeans are fine, shorts in the summer are okay too. I suppose if there is a dress code it's no more stringent than 'no pyjamas'.

The dear girl had dressed up to the nines. She stood in the doorway, hair up, full make-up, long lashes, lippy on, wearing a sequinned blue dress and bright red heels. Necklace, ear-rings and a silver clutch bag.

We all politely commented on how nice she looked, and ate up. It was never commented on again as it was a bit of a faux pas, and we didn't want to risk her feeling silly.

Speaking of risk, I find it important to share suchlike developments with our Blue Sky team and log them in our reports. The awakenings of adult feelings in foster children requires careful and responsible management, and you have to keep yourself and your family safe as well as the child.

But that said, it's always a beautiful blossoming, and a privilege to witness it, and moreover; to nurture and celebrate it.




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