Monday, February 18, 2019

PROGRESS

Some days in fostering you really feel your age. But you're never too old to learn.

Progress is the watchword in fostering, at least it is in my book.

I know there are children coming into care who need only feeding and clothing. Some of the older children are often well rounded individuals with fine social skills, good manners and bright futures. All they need is their meals, a warm home and clean pants and socks, and let's face it those basics things are crucial for survival so they matter most of all.  Getting them right isn't always easy either, especially the feeding. Children brought up on fast food, or no food, or having to feed themselves aren't going to take to three square meals a day straight off.

Then was once a foster child whose story I was told. She had been locked in the kitchen all day as a toddler and had learned to eat the pet food put down for the dogs and cats. Someone did a good job fostering that child  because the reason I heard her story is a story in itself; 

A young child came to stay with me who needed a new school so I found a Primary and signed her up. On day one I went to talk to the child's class teacher and tell her what I could about the child. The teacher looked at me with kindly eyes and told me that she hoped to make an insightful teacher for my foster child...because she herself had been fostered. 

The teacher went on to confide in me how she had been locked in the kitchen all day and had lived on dog food...

You don't hear enough about the successful foster children. She was a brilliant teacher but she must have been difficult to feed to start with.

So yes, the basics are extremely important for children coming into care, but myself  I've never had a child who cried out for the fundamentals alone.

If I step back from my fostering I can see that I treat every foster child as a work in progress. It's my hope that when they leave they are that bit better prepared for the things that life will throw their way.

It's not a one-woman-show either. I'd be lost without my regular updates with my Blue Sky Social Worker, not to mention the regular reports I'm asked to write up on each child's state; things like how they are at school, how they are at home, how well they get on with friends and their foster family. Your Social Worker reads each report and arrives at your home armed with praise (if it's due), encouragement, advice, insights and ideas.

They too are looking for progress in the child. The better a child becomes at making and keeping good friends the better. The day the child reads a book by torchlight under the duvet for pleasure is a red letter day. The child's relationship with their Foster Carer is crucial, but it can often present the poor child with a mountain of mixed emotions. But improving that relationship is one of the big things that indicate that the child is growing stronger and healthier.

And you know who else is a work in progress?

Me.

I KNOW that I'm a bigger, better, wiser soul than I was the day I picked up the phone and asked to be considered for fostering.

I also know there's even more work to be done. On me.

For example I hope one day to be more philosophical if things don't go according to plan, because in fostering you're often just a twig on the back of a stream.

And there are plenty of other tweaks I have on my To Do list.

Such as keeping bits of wisdom in the forefront of my mind. For example I like these;

"It's never too late to be the person you want to be."

"The greatest act of courage is not being afraid of who you really are."

Oh and one other snippet that I love to bits is one I heard on a TV documentary about an Englishman who went to Spain and became a bullfighter. He was aged 68 when they interviewed him and asked him how he felt about being 68.

Say what you like about bullfighting (I hate it with a passion), but you have to take your hat off to his reply which was;

"I'm loving it...you see..."

Then he twinkled and said;

                                 "...I've never been 68 before."






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