Saturday, May 19, 2018

A BUTLER FOR A FOSTER MUM!

Sometimes fostering is rewarding in the most unexpected ways.

We had a fifteen-year-old boy, Keaton, stay with us, not for very long, three weeks as I remember.

Long enough to get to know him well, and he was worth getting to know.

For despite a lousy start in life he was a top lad.

His mother had been all over the place with menfolk, and Keaton was one of eight. All eight with different dads. I know, if you aren't in fostering some of these stories are hard to credit, but true.

Keaton told us he'd got into his stride in life when he was fostered, he was taken into care several years before he came to us. He'd been with the same foster carer all that time, but needed to come to us for a complicated reason;

His foster mum, Margaret, was a magnificent carer in her seventies, she'd been a full-time foster parent for donkeys years, generally had two in her home, and on top of that took in a disabled boy for weekend respite. She was organised. Margaret could mind mice at a crossroads.

I met her when she dropped Keaton off at our house. Part of the reason she drove him herself was because she wanted to check out our home, make sure we were good enough for her foster boy.

What had happened was this; her other foster child had got into a spot of hot water with the police and it had been decided to remove him from Margaret's care while they investigated. They needed him to be a solo placement for the duration. Margaret was worried for the lad, because he was more wayward than Keaton and she feared he'd go off the tracks completely if he was moved.

So; Keaton volunteered to leave instead.

Yep. How fantastic is that? What a boy!

To say that Keaton was no trouble at all is the understatement of the year.

He was politeness itself, considerate and helpful to the point where we felt as though we had a butler in the house. He learned how to work our kitchen and made cups of tea for anyone and everyone from the off.

He went running in the evening with my husband, they became mates and would sit watching Match of the Day until half past eleven every Saturday night.

He cooked us an evening meal one night, a Polish recipe which he knew how to cook because one of the foster children who'd been with him and Margaret had a Polish dad and Keaton taught himself Polish cooking to help the child feel at home.

One night shortly before Keaton went back to Margaret my husband came home from work and said "Where's Kete?" They'd become buddies with pet names for each other, Keaton called my husband "Bilbo".

I replied; "Sit down and I'll tell you. You not going to believe this."

He sat.

"You know we've been saying that Keaton is too good to be true?" I said, "Well it just gets better. How many times have I asked you to have a look at the toilet?"

Our upstairs loo had been filling in a funny way; sometimes it was ages before you could flush again, and a couple of times the bowl had re-filled a bit too full for my liking; it was a wet floor waiting to happen, but not a job either of us fancied, party because we'd probably make a mess of it and have to call a plumber who'd be sniffy about our bodged job.

Husband stared at me and got it in one.

Keaton had asked where we kept our tools. He picked out various spanners, vice-grips and pliers and a tin of some sort of perma-putty and went at it. He'd been upstairs for an hour, I'd taken him a cup of tea and watched him, sleeves rolled up, muttering things like;

"Well it's not the flow.."

"Do not like the look of the ball-cock.."

We were sat there, the two of us foster parents on some sort of cloud when he called down;

"I think I've sorted it."

He had. A temporary job, he explained, the arm of the ball cock was the guilty party, we would have to replace it eventually but there was no rush.

It was emotional when he left, as usual. But in his case there was none of the fear for the child's future which can be commonplace.

Keaton is doing fine, wherever he is. He told us he hoped to do something with his hands, he wasn't much good at paperwork.

He also told us that whatever he did, he hoped to foster.

We told Margaret she should be so proud of him. She brushed it off saying she was no good at accepting praise.

We felt pride too, not for anything we'd done for Keaton.

Proud to have colleagues in fostering the likes of Margaret.

And Keaton.

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