Tuesday, June 25, 2019

WHAT DID I DO BEFORE FOSTERING?

Still feeling a bit thoughtful; my most recent foster child left to go home a few days ago. 

Today I had to take a different child to a thing called 'Contact' and it was no more or less tricky than usual.


If you were to ask 100 Foster Carers what's the biggest challenge they regularly deal with in fostering a great many would answer; "Contact".


Contact is when children in care are taken to spend time with their parents/significant others, often for a single hour, often once a week. It usually winds the children up a bit, for a thousand reasons - you can probably imagine most of the big ones. The parents/significant others are probably the adults whose behaviour is the reason the children have been removed from them. So there's going to be stuff in the kid's heads.


I never said fostering was all total plain sailing. Every responsibility in life has its downsides yet if you have the mindfulness those downsides are simply part of the whole;


We have a friend we often see in our street, a person who owns a yappy dog. The dog-owner is usually on his way home.


The mutt is leading the way, the owner lagging behind holding a bag of poo.


The owner doesn't mind. The love and company he gets from the dog is so huge it makes the downside of carrying its poo home a fair exchange. In fact, the sacrifice almost magnifies the love.


It's the same with Contact. With many of the children I've looked after, I've tried to make Contact my statement of how much I want to do to help them, even when they let me know how hard Contact is for them. They deal with it their way; which sometimes means an upset.


Today the little mite got heated up in the car on the way there, and was nearly in tears on the way home. I said; "I need petrol, while I'm in there what would you like to hold you until teatime? Crisps or a banana? Or what?"


This usually works. The little fellow got negotiating; 


Him: "Can I have some Haribo?" 


Me: "What about some sugar-free dental gum?"


One little trick from the Foster Carer and the corner is turned. I don't know how they do it. I simply couldn't. Try imagining the emotions of being the child at Contact. I'd crumble. They deal with it magnificently (with a bit of help).


The thing is; I come from a reasonably normal family. So I'm at my best in a reasonably normal family home. But the kids who come to us for help come from chaotic homes. They are more immune to life's frictions and fracas than most. They are more at home with uncertainty and turmoil.


This is a difficult fact to come to terms with,  but it's not a standpoint confined to fostering.


Remember the dog-walker I mentioned earlier? His name is Les. He is a friend my other half is very proud of. My other half loves football. The dog-walker is aged eighty-something and used to play for a big team professionally.


Not quite Manchester United big, but he played football for a living- 'Everton' I think - but now can't muster much more than a stuttering walk trying to keep up with his dog. His knees are not his own. He blames the cortisone they used back then.


My other half told me about the time he asked Les what he missed about the game.


Les replied; "I miss the changing room. The micky-taking. The madness. Every game you didn't know what was going to happen next. People came and went, some you loved some you couldn't stand. You had to have your wits about you to survive. Then I retired, got a job with the Coal Board. Every day the same."


So, yeah; he missed the chaos.


And when my time is up in fostering I'll miss the hurly-burly too. 


We often sit up in bed in the morning with our first cup of tea and ask each other;


"What did we actually do before fostering?"

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