Friday, September 06, 2019


This happened during the summer, I hope I got things right.

Eldest foster child asked if he could go to a friend's house for a sleepover. Our lad hasn't always been much good at getting and keeping friends. We always encourage him.

I spoke on the phone with the other lad's mother who is also in fostering.  We reminded our lad of the do's and don'ts. We reminded him that he could call us anytime if he needed us. We made sure he had £10 in case of emergency and put him on the train.

The other lad lives about 40 miles away. They became friends through mutual fostering circumstances.

I don't sleep well when one of our foster children is away, whether it's on a school thing or a sleepover. 

My phone pinged in the middle of the night. A Whats App message from him;

"Are you awake?"

I messaged straight back "Yes".

Then I checked the clock. It was just after 1am. He pinged back;

"Er, I'm like, feeling sick."

Me: "Do you want me to come and get you?"

Him; "Another kid showed up and they put me on the floor on cushions."

Okay, so; he's feeling rejected and abandoned (his big psychological challenges). 

Me; "You alright? I'm happy to come and get you."

Him; "Yeah but it's like an hour in the car so nah I'll be fine."

He and I swapped messages for about an hour. Eventually;

Him; "So yeah come and get me if you want."

So I did. I climbed into the car and drove across the county. He crept out of the house and flopped into the back.

The drive home was very revealing. 

I keep a carrier bag and a roll of paper towels in the car if needed and they were needed. He was sick about ten minutes after we set off. Then he started talking.

"Oh my God I'm never drinking again."



"Oh dear, what happened?"

I obviously had a need to investigate while at the same time maintain the growing bond between him and me. Sometimes in fostering you call on your experiences as a parent of your own kids. Other times you call on your own personal experiences. This journey home was a mixture (or a cocktail, you might say) of both those experiences.

It's a shame that alcohol plays such a big part in young people's aspirations to be treated like adults. Us parents deal with it as best we can.

It turned out that the 'other kid' who showed up was a cherished acquaintance of my foster lad's friend. Cherished because he is 18 years old, and somehow able to occasionally buy soft liquor using this trick; he stands nearby an outlet and pitches the following scam at kindly-looking adults. He says that he wants to buy his grannie a present because it would be her wedding anniversary, but she is on her own these days. He tells the person that her favourite drink is something (forgive me characterising it this way) old-lady-ish. In this case he said she loved peach schnapps (having already spotted that the outlet sold peach schnapps).

They swigged on a bus stop bench before going back to the unsuspecting foster parent's home. A few hours later my lad's head, stomach and guilty-conscience was swirling. So he called me.

I chatted to him about alcohol and it's dangers. But he'd already learned the downsides first-hand. We'd warned him about drinking plenty of times, including mentioning it in our list of Do's and Don'ts at sleepovers when I drove him to the station.

I wrote it all up in the report I write regularly for Blue Sky, and my Social Worker talked me through how fostering deals with these things these days. Namely; we Foster Carers do what we can to protect every Foster Child in our care. As they get older almost every child will want to experiment, push some boundaries, try some risks. It's our job to do everything possible to protect them and at the same time prepare them for life.

Our job is to asses whatever's going on and act accordingly.

I'll admit a piece of me fretted as to whether I'd got something wrong. You shouldn't be collecting your 14 year-old foster child from a sleepover at 2.00am, tiddly and sick.

But we always, ALWAYS, have the back-up and support of our Blue Sky team.

The outcome was that we took encouragement from our lad's responsible behaviour once he discovered what he discovered about drink. We are also over the moon that he confided in me, and turned to me when he needed someone he trusted.

On the whole, I think, a positive bunch of events.

Oh and by the way, the personal experience I drew on was, in my case, a disgusting sweet cider. I'm not going to say what age I was, but it was close enough to my foster son's age for me to know the feeling.


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