Monday, November 26, 2018


Winter brings a curious high in fostering.

It's going on upstairs in our house today, started this morning.

One of our foster kids, Ryder, has a cold.

It's a proper cold too, not an exaggerated one - you know; the show-business coughing and blowing of the nose when there's nothing up there...

No, not this time, Ryder is proper poorly.

And very, VERY happy. In fact it's a joy to see and now that everyone else has gone to work and school, I'm looking forward to one of my favourite fostering situations.

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't wish a cold or the flu on anybody. I'm now an enthusiastic flu jabber. And - touch wood - I don't seem to get colds since I started fostering, something to do with being too busy for the germs to come out.

But when your child gets a cold and has to have a couple of days off school, well I have to say it's blissful for loads of reasons.

For a start I enjoy playing nurse. I love making a fuss of my concerns for a little one who is under the weather. 

On top of that I get a better chance to have a few meaningful one-to-ones with them when I take them a bowl of porridge or tomato soup or whatever comfort food.

If they're old enough for me to leave them for 10 minutes to pop round to the corner shop I can take orders for a Dr Who magazine, and a tub of chocolate chip ice cream for when they finish their soup.

It's always touching the gravitas with which they take their medicine, whether its Calpol or some other Junior over-the-counter preparation. They treat the matter with due importance, knowing I've had to unlock the cabinet where we keep our aspirins etc - they know it's actual medicine and not a spoonful of sugar.

I'll be totally honest about this next reason I get a high from when they need nursing; giving them a deserved day off school makes them happy. Happy because a day off school, a day of being looked-after and cared for is delicious for them and I get to feel their delight. Not least they are relieved that their under-the-weather head cold has been perceived as the truth, that they have an honest (minor) illness and have earned a recovery period followed by a convalescence.

But the biggest reason the house glows when the house is part-hospital is this:

Many foster children have been starved of the kind of mothering (and fathering) kindness that children need to develop properly. All too often when they arrive at your house they are confused by normal parental love and  some foster children find them selves resisting it. They come round after a while, but new Foster Parents are often surprised by their inability to accept simple kindnesses.

The big reason the house is blissful when you're nursing a foster child is that they quickly come to accept and love your kindness because it's disguised as nursing. At first they're a bit taken aback that someone should put them first above all else. Often they have been marginalised in their home. Now here they are the centre of kindly attention. People in the house ask how they are feeling and what their needs are.

I usually send them back to bed and say that if they are feeling a bit better they can come down in their DG and watch TV under a duvet on the sofa. Actually I do a bit more than 'send them back to bed'. I help them upstairs and straighten their bed, plump the pillows then tuck them in. A gentle hand on the forehead to check if they're overheating is an affection they might have squirmed at on other occasions, but when it's nurse/patient they take it. Then I go downstairs and cook up my crowning medical poultice.


Age cannot whither nor custom stale the infinite benefits of taking your foster child their first hot water bottle (not too hot obvos). It seals the deal, especially when you check on them at about mid-afternoon and say;

"Well I think you're not 100%, and they don't want people in school with anything contagious, so I think we'd better keep you home one more day". They struggle to suppress an exuberant; "YESSSSS!".

And you crown it by asking "Is your hottie still hot?"

And off you go for a re-fill, the pair of you high as a kite.

Happy as Larry, whoever he was.

1 comment:

  1. Oh no, I dont want any of my foster kiddies getting ill (though they invariably will) even if in a roundabout way the extra attention is good for them. I was worried enough when one respite girl scraped her knee after falling over in the park.
    PS respite going well. Just had a 16yo boy this w/e gone :)