Thursday, January 17, 2019

USING YOUR NOODLES

I do hope you find these blogs useful and interesting. Maybe they might inspire someone to give fostering a go. I like to hope that.

I find it helpful to write them. They help my understanding of what I try to do in fostering. Having to write it down, I have to focus. It's almost as useful as my supervision visits from my Blue Sky Social Worker. A friend of mine goes to private counselling and estimates that if you were paying for the services of a monthly Blue Sky Social Worker visit (in my case for a couple of hours a time, sometimes three) your bill for time and expertise would be about £300 per session.

In case you wondered my friend (Kate) goes to counselling because she has a teenage daughter who has mental health problems. My friend is sad that her child is sad, but most of all Kate torments herself that maybe somewhere along the line she got her parenting wrong and that's why her daughter is all over the place.

OMG if my friend could only see some of the parenting that Foster Carers hear about when a new child arrives!

Kate frets that she missed signs in her daughter that she needed help. Kate beats herself up that she got the distance between her and her daughter wrong. Sometimes too removed, sometimes too smothering. Kate's wrong about these things, and is on the road to seeing things straight, namely that she's an excellent parent.

Kate and I have had many talks about fostering and it's now on her list of things to do to make the call and start the process to get approved. But she's worried that having a less than perfect family will disqualify her.

How far from the fact could she be!

No-one's family is free from fret for goodness sake. Blimey, no offence but if the Royal Family teaches us anything it's that if having everything doesn't mean an idyllic family, how could anyone be expected to have a happy family on a budget what with employment uncertainty and bills rolling in?

Just as an aside...wouldn't it be cute if one of the Royals opted to foster. I wonder how they'd do?

Back to my point.

Our eldest foster child has reached the age where he needs to challenge elders and betters. Just like my own children at that age he's out to see what it feels like to assert. Just like I did, actually when I was that age.

Just like maybe you did too.

So when our Social Worker turned up last time we got down to brass tacks about how to handle someone else's teenager when the teenager wants to test their early adulthood on their nearest parent substitute - namely their Foster Carer.
.
We talked about the behaviours. I listed some stuff...

Staying in his bedroom which is starting to smell of socks.
Being up late(1.00am!) in his bedroom and sleeping in on weekends until midday.
Not speaking unless you could call a grunt a word. Coming home later than agreed.
Giving off the opinion that middle-aged middle-class people are the world's biggest problem.

Every time I raised one of his ways my Social Worker went:

"Normal! Well done! You're doing a great job!"

"Normal! He's on his way to being fine!"

My Social Worker left me with the understanding that if he wasn't where he is we would have something to worry about. I think I kind of hoped that was true but when you're a normal parent you never know. When you're a foster parent you get to know. A qualified professional swings by on a regular basis and helps, advises, supports and empowers.

So. Eldest foster child is on his way, he's on track, he's being a pain in the you-know-what.

Actually, not a non-stop pain.

This afternoon he came home from school and forgot he was supposed to be Rebel Without A Cause. I was preparing a chicken meal with baked potatoes and a side salad. He hopped up onto the breakfast bar and started telling me all about his day. He was singing with the joys of the world, telling me funny stories about his teachers and schoolmates.

Then, suddenly, he remembered he was supposed to be a troublesome teen.

He went to the larder and fished out a packet of emergency flavoured noodles I keep there. He went for the Thai flavour. He tossed the packet on the kitchen table and grunted that he wanted them for tea.

I could have gone; "Excuse me, it's chicken and baked potato tonight."

I didn't. I boiled a kettle and knocked out his noodles.

He was in the back watching a Friends when I took the noodles to him.

He didn't look up but...

The way he said "Thank you" will stay with me for a long time.

He was thanking me for more than noodles.

And my team consisting of my husband, my children, my local authority social worker, and most of all my Blue Sky Social Worker, deserved those thanks, because he's on his way, and I know he's on his way thanks to the help and wisdom of all the above people.

And him.

I never forget that these children are heroes and that it's a privilege to support their journey back to a good place to re-start their lives. I have to remind myself of this a lot.

They remind themselves of this too.

Sometimes.





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