Sunday, January 28, 2018


I'm sat at the kitchen table, it's early Sunday morning, I'm the only one up. I wake earlier than I used to.

There are lots of ways of feeling old, some good, some not so good.

I'm feeling old in the good way that being in fostering gives you.  Actually, 'old' is the wrong word, a better phrase is 'grown up'. Being grown up is all about accepting responsibility, and when you foster you have the ultimate responsibility; you're looking after someone else's children. 

There's surely no bigger responsibility in everyday life.

We had one lad, 'Mack', stay with us for a 3 week respite for whom responsibility was everything. He was an older teenager who had friends a train ride away and liked to skip college and go hang with them in a park. His social worker hinted that they might be smoking something and we'd noticed a smoky smell on his Parker hanging in the hall.

He was charming, helpful and a delight around the house. So we had a challenge on our hands; whether to raise his absence from college (which was definite) or his smoking (which was less than definite).

What would you do?

Well, after lots of talking to each other we came to the decision that we would respect his quest to be regarded as a grown up and respect his right to make minor mistakes and learn from them (as long as no-one else suffered - which no-one did). After all, he'd only be with us a short time, not, long enough to do any major work.

We related all this to his social worker and our Blue Sky social worker and it was agreed that we confine our worry about missing classes to comments such as; 

"Your tutors'll forget what you look like..."

As for our worry about what he was smoking;

"Mack, do you happen to know if it's legal to use tobacco when you're 17? Just asking..."

One evening he got the very last train home, too late for the last bus so I had to pick him up from the station. We drove back along the High Street and there'd been trouble outside one of the pubs. Two police vans, lights flashing, an ambulance, groups of young men being spoken to by officers on either side of the road. We crawled past. I couldn't help notice how sober, articulate and responsible Mack was as he watched it all.

And dismissive of irresponsibility.

He muttered something like;

"No way you want to end up like that on a Saturday night..."

I don't know where Mack is now, but I'm confident he's alright. He was desperate to leave childhood behind him, as all children are, but for foster children it seems even more important; their childhoods aren't as good as they deserve.

Mack saw beyond drinkin' and smokin' as a badge of maturity.

Mind, on the subject of maturity I'm sitting here at the kitchen table with two feelings; the happy burden of adult responsibility and the heady delight of youthful irresponsibility...

...see, what I haven't mentioned yet is that I'm sat here at first light on Sunday morning finishing last night's curry. I came down for tea with skimmed milk and wholemeal toast and there was a load of it sitting cold in the oven. I remember we'd over-ordered. And d'you you know what makes it taste even better than being matured overnight?

I'll tell you; the zing I'm getting from indulging one's natural urge to be irresponsibly immature from time to time.

There are lots of ways of feeling young, and this is a good 'un!

PS I'm not having any of the rice. That would be irresponsible. 

PPS However. Poppadoms are a satisfyingly naughty breakfast. FACT.


  1. I hope young Mack did turn out okay! Just a question regarding respite care, what if your agency asks you to do respite care instead of short term fostering? are all caregivers expected to do respite at some stage, a bit like being a member of a team because at some stage you might want respite care for your foster kids yourself? or is it okay to stick to short term and long term fostering and not put your hand up to do respite?

  2. Hi and thanks for your good wishes for Mack!
    As for respite v short/long term care, I can only comment from my own experiences with Blue Sky. They cut the cloth to fit. No-one is 'expected' to do anything, everything gets talked about so that placements fit families (as far as possible). Tell you what; it's a great question, I'll devote my next post to it!