Tuesday, March 26, 2019

OUT

Every warm weekend or evening brings the same nagging thought to us Foster Carers. It's something that probably nags most parents. Come to think of it, one hopes. I wish it was universal.

I wish it was a niggle that bothered the parents of the children who come into fostering, they're the parents who probably don't get guilty thoughts like one the rest of us parents do when it's warm outside. Namely;

"Shouldn't they be out on their bikes?"

It's kind of one of the general thoughts about parenting which are sharpened when one starts fostering. Fresh air, exercise, companionship. 

In our house on a typical weekend morning it's myself and my partner who are awake first.  We prop up in bed with our first cup of tea and think about the day ahead. We call our early morning chats a 'board meeting'.

The particular morning in question was last Saturday. The weather promised to be warm...so once again we agreed...they should be out on their bikes.

Or at least OUT.

So we sat up bed sipping tea and drawing up battle plans. We mulled over taking a line of bikes to Sainsbury's for the weekend shop.

That idea is dissed . What,...go round three roundabouts with traffic backed up and fuming? And rucksacks stuffed with groceries?

How about we load the cars with bikes and go up to the Hikeway? The Hikeway is a footpath about three miles from us where cyclists battle against serious hikers, casual walkers, dog-walkers, pony-riders and the sporadic odd squad of motocross motor-bikes. Not to mention the occasional trio of Range Rovers chasing a hot air balloon. You can get a hamburger from the mobile kiosk at the other end. A couple of enterprising kids will wash your car at the start point for £5, worth £3.

Okay, scrub those ideas. But. They should still be out on their bikes. Not stuck inside with the curtains drawn.

Here's the thing; the two of us got to thinking anarchy;

Namely; maybe as parents we get strong-armed into thinking that children's lives and futures will somehow be worse if they're not OUT.

But what is OUT?

Is OUT such a big deal?

Maybe, me and my other half mused, (while plotting how to get the other one to go down for the second cup of tea), they're just as well off being IN. If that's what they want.

We talked about being IN when we were kids. A big truth dawned. Back then there was nothing IN for us. The TV didn't come on until tea time and at weekends there was no childrens TV.  Telly was for grown-ups and mainly males in black and white. The radio - if we kids ever had access to one -  told us kids that weekends and evenings didn't matter. The radio put on their second-rate output.

So why as kids did WE go OUT? Certainly our parents were less fearful of danger.

There was less traffic. There was less media about kids being snatched (it was just as big a danger back then, but different press coverage). Parents back then didn't see themselves as entertainment managers.

Most of all, we went OUT because there was nothing IN.

But now...there is loads IN!

IN is fantastic!

IN has three hundred TV stations showing fantastic stuff all day. IN has a pocket computer (mobile phone) which when connected to home Wi-Fi opens out onto the whole wide world...and at the same time lets you hook you up with close friends who are also curled up in their own bedrooms and are  desperately hunting what it is to be who they are and what they might make of this life thing and choose to try to be,  but hey here they are.

Another thing about why kids like to stay IN is that we modern parents are surely more 'in' than our parents were. More 'with it'.

So, we allow. We don't go cracking whips or herding kids into walks or parks. We like to let water find its level. I always quote how my dog used to know when he needed roughage and would eat rough grass.

So then, on this Saturday afternoon, at about 2.15pm, eldest foster child appears in the kitchen;

"Me and Ludo are going out." (Ludo is the current bestie).

The information is delivered with as much flippancy as a 14 year old can drum up, ie a lot.

They went OUT. Minus bikes. They were on foot.

Monster fostering moment.

By the way, monstering fostering moments fly in aplenty you just have to be cute enough to notice.

You spend hours anticipating this and that and then they happen.

As I write these words I don't know where eldest foster chid is with Ludo.

Well actually, what I mean is that I don't know to the nearest three feet of where they are, because I have an App on my phone which eldest is in agreement with which means I can click on any time I want and get a pinpoint.

So they're as good as IN.

But they're OUT!!!



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