Tuesday, September 24, 2019

NICE FEEDBACK

I hope you'll forgive the slightly whacky last couple of posts, it's just that from the moment our new puppy ('Friday') arrived I was totally struck by how similar her situation is to that of a newly-arrived foster child at the home of a newly approved Foster Carer.

I had to get inside Friday's head to anticipate her needs in a new home and it's helped my fostering.

It's not a pudding that wants over-egging, but as a seasoned foster mum I've welcomed many children into our house. Most of the fostering things I do these days I've done before and I pretty much know that they work (well, about 90% work...) I'm probably getting wise and practised about most events that might crop up. However the matter of welcoming a new young puppy dog is not something I've done for 15 years, so there's little I have to draw on what to do. 

I have to be alert all day (and night) to meet her needs. I have to THINK -on my feet.

Takes me right back to my first year in fostering when everything was new. I'd forgotten how exhausting it can be; not just the caring but the planning and the responding. Then there's the business of digesting a vertical learning curve.

Then there's the emotions. No two ways about it, there's some stress at first.

One big difference is this; at the end of a long day of peeing in the wrong place and chewing through a phone charger lead and dragging an entire plant in from the garden and into the kitchen along with about a third of the garden (this is the pup by the way, I'm not that far gone yet).

…at the end of a long day Friday will snuggle up against me on the sofa and look at me with an expression which is close to saying "Sorry about the mess, thanks for the chicken-ish supper, and thanks for the cuddles."

See, you don't really get enough of that kind of feedback in fostering. Not from the child anyway. If you're awake enough to notice there are little things that tell you that a foster child has started to trust you, and that they grasp that you dish up mascarpone pasta on Monday nights because it's THEIR favourite and Monday is usually a rotten day. But you're lucky to get a real gush of reward from your foster child, and so what? It's not why we do it. 

The plaudits come from elsewhere. 

You can look yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that you're doing something good and give yourself a deserved pat on the back.

You can wait for a family member or a friend to say "Wow, you're doing a great thing."

The security woman in my supermarket is a a total stranger to me. I got chatting with her. I mentioned fostering and she put her hands to her cheeks in awe and said she only wished she had what it takes. I told her maybe she did and gave her Blue Sky's number.

Or maybe, once in a while this will happen to you;

My Blue Sky Social Worker showed up today for something called 'supervision'. It's a roadside check-up - monthly in my case - to make sure you're alright and your fostering is on track. These sessions are fantastic, the people are so kind and professional, they add another 100% to how you do your fostering.

So, I'm having my current fostering work cut out with eldest foster child who's got stuff going on at school. Without going into details there are squabbles with other pupils, and other 'issues'.

Getting him to school every school day has been...interesting. But we're winning.

Then my Blue Sky SW turns up on the doorstep and presents me with a bag. She says;

"This is from us at Blue Sky because we know you've been really busy lately and we want you to know we think you're doing amazingly."

Inside was a stack of goodies. Marks and Spencer goodies.

Salt caramel popcorn, pistachios, a bar of dark rich chocolate, fancy biscuits, beetroot crisps, lime presse, apricot chutney…

Hey don't get your hopes up; I've been with Blue Sky for the best part of a decade, first time I've been slipped contraband.

My Social Worker said "Something for all the family". But before she finished the sentence I was tearing into the carton of spiced tea bags to brew us one each. The she said;

"Did he get to school today?"

Before I could reply "Nearly but not quite." a voice came from the top of the stairs; "What's the fuss?"

Long story short, eldest foster child joined me and Social Worker round the table. We laughed about stuff and he bagged himself the popcorn and the pistachios and went back upstairs.

And is going to school tomorrow, no problem.

So let's see; family okay, foster children okay, puppy okay…

…and me? I sat and watched a catchup Eastenders on my iPad and ate the whole bar of rich dark chocolate, and guilted, as you do.

So yeah,…Secret Foster Carer... okay.

Very okay thanks.

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