Friday, May 24, 2019

LEARNING TO CARE

They say that having two dogs is easier than one, they play together and keep each other company. Whenever I hear that remark my thoughts turn to whether the same is true in fostering.

Here's what been happening between two of my current foster children;

The older one (by four years), male, is almost certainly never going to be able to go home.  How he feels about this depends on various things. He 'yo-yos'; sometimes he's cool about it and feels that life works out in the end, sometimes he not and feels life's unfair.

He has a really good foster-sibling relationship with Ryder (female) who is now 10. They like and respect each other, the more so as they are in the same boat. Foster children relax in the company of other children in care. It's one of the big plusses at Blue Sky's event days, I get to meet up with other foster parents and chat about fostering, and the children find themselves in the company of children NONE of whom will wonder about their circumstances because they all have the same key circumstance in common. For children in care being surrounded by nothing but other children in care is one of the few occasions when they can feel a measure of being the norm.

But as with any human dynamic, there can be tensions, and when I tell you what's going on right now you'll get it in one.

Eldest is never going home.

Ryder is. Soon!

Everything in starting to fall into place, a schedule is taking shape.

It happened quite quickly. Social services broke the big news a few days ago, Ryder's SW phoned me then came over and gave the youngster the news sat at the kitchen table with me making tea and all ears. Ryder was very un-bothered at first. Her point seemed to be "What took you so long?" But later she let her emotions out.

I can't begin to tell you what a mixed bag it is in your house when a foster child is preparing to go home. Of course one feels pleasure in the child's happiness, and pride in having done your job. But the child sometimes has concerns which the foster parent has to watch for and help with. There's a sadness that a child who has been family is leaving, hopefully for ever. It hurts, even though you know it's for the best.

The tensions are never higher than if you have a couple of foster children and one is going home and the other isn't.

Imagine.

I heard the following while driving them across town, eldest to the cinema, Ryder on her way shopping with me;

Ryder: "It must be s**t for you, man."
Eldest; "Not really. Who cares."
Ryder: "Seriously. You be okay?"
Eldest; "Dunno. I suppose."
Ryder;  "You did tell me you thought it was better you were here than what you had before."
Eldest; "Yeah. I guess."
Ryder; "I'll miss you mate."
Eldest: "Yeah? Go on then...why?"
Ryder: "You're cool mate."
Silence
Ryder; "Like, when I came here I couldn't believe that you wasn't the family. I thought how could a guy in care be so cool about being fostered? But you was. And that made it better for me."
Eldest: "Yeah. Like it's no big deal."
Ryder; "Yeah but if you'd been like; 'Oh s**t I hate being here and the world sucks' and that kind of stuff, I'd have probably flipped."
Eldest; "You did flip that time about the goldfish."
Ryder; "Yeah, but I chilled when you came downstairs, I was like; 'Oh I don't need him to see me wrecked."
Eldest; "You've never been wrecked. If they'd let you have a goldfish the goldfish would have been well wrecked."
Loud laughter.
Ryder; "Seriously, you be okay?"
Eldest; "Shut up man. I said yeah, alright."
Silence
Ryder; (talking to me) "Can me and him, like, stay in touch and that?"
Me;  "I'll see if something can be arranged. I'll talk to your social workers. I'm afraid they tend not to be keen for good reasons. You might have to pass messages via them."
Ryder; "What?"
Eldest; "Forget it!"
Me: "I think you'll be able to write to each other, that could be the best thing."

With that their conversation turned to which was the best superhero, with Eldest nominating Blade (clearly a specialist's selection), and Ryder going for Iron Man. I chipped in with Superman, and was roundly condemned for choosing an alien - apparently the new take on superheroes is that they have to be human.

I was tempted to come back with an ironically witty political-correctism  about discrimination, but I was still glowing with the moment; two children who had all the cares in the world, getting all the care I can give, and caring for each other.

If I've done nothing else for them I hope maybe I might have helped them learn to care.







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