Wednesday, August 15, 2018


There's a phrase I like;

"The smallest fish are the sweetest." I'll tell you how I first heard the phrase shortly.

In life our greatest moments are simply great, how could they not be? There are the traditional milestones if you are lucky enough such as falling in love, marriage day, birth of our children. We might be lucky enough to enjoy other milestones such as passing exams, getting that job, getting promotion. 

People beat diseases, they pass driving tests, they win £500 at online bingo.

And for many people in this wonderful new world we have, there are new and huge milestones; coming out and being accepted, discovering who you really are and that your friends and family are happy for you.

Whatever your backstory, being approved to foster is one of life's biggest milestones. I'll never forget walking out of the room knowing that people who knew what it took thought I had what it takes.

To be honest fostering doesn't throw up endless milestone moments. It's real life. Mind, you get a few; the best milestone moment we've had so far was when a foster child who was with us was nominated for an award, it was going to be staged at a big hotel in a big town so we splashed out and booked a suite at the venue. The child was so agog with the accommodation that the evening was given over to watching back-to-back new-to-view films in the suite's dining room while room service brought endless chips with everything.

Here's the moment... when it was the child's turn to go up on the big stage and collect the medal and certificate, he ran up and punched the air. First and only time the child was unequivocally in a great place, hopefully he found more such moments as he grew.

Well done social services for organising it, it was a moment the child will never forget and nor will we. Milestone moment.

But milestone moments don't have to be massive occasions, and in fostering if you are on your toes, the little moments come thick and fast.

So here's last night's one, I hope you can get that it wouldn't have even been a tremor on any scale, but it was seismic for us.

Foster child brought the eating debris down from the room. 

We didn't ask. We've never nagged. Sometimes on a Sunday morning there would be dead plates which once were spag boll or Chinese. Empty crisp packets, apple cores, juice cartons. The child ate healthy but was territorial and seemed to be attached to the clutter.

So I'm standing at the sink keeping it moving as cups and plates and cutlery go through. And suddenly, there in front of me without any flag up that he's coming is foster child with all the debris.  An armful of plates with cups and food remnants piled up, the child is heading for the kitchen bin to scrape off the waste and then looks at me with doe eyes saying "Do you want this stuff in the sink or the dishwasher?"

Any idea what a killer moment that was for me? So what did I do?

I went (casual as you like); 

"Yur thanks, can you stick them in the dishwasher?"

So the child did. A tiny thing, but huge, huge.

He'd probably had it up his sleeve for a while, wanted to deliver his surprise new self as and when it suited him.

Milestone.  Small one, but in fostering you have to stay alert for them.

I mentioned earlier where I came across the phrase the smallest fish are the sweetest. Years ago I was at a birthday celebration for a girl friend who happened to be Irish but the bulk of the folk were local. It was staged in a big pub backroom, and a darts competition broke out. Men and women had come from all over, some from across the water, and  my other half (who follows darts) said one of the Irish fellows looked vaguely familiar. 

The darts got very competitive, except for the aforementioned little fellow, who seemed not to care much but managed to scrape a win every time.  He ended up in the final, against the overwhelming favourite, a slightly cocksure local man.

Short story long the Irish fellow won (by a whisker) and a while later myself and my other half found ourselves at his table. We said to him "Do we know you from somewhere?" He put his finger to his lips and whispered who he was. He'd made the finals of the World Darts Championship several years ago.

So I said to him; "What does it feel like then, winning fifty quid in a little occasion like this?"

And he smiled and said (and I'd like to believe it was true); 

"Just to make it fair I threw with my wrong hand."

Then he said (and I know this is true);

"The smallest fish are the sweetest."

As they are in fostering.


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