Thursday, February 13, 2020


One of my foster children started a new school a few weeks ago. I have a shorter drive on the school run, tend to get there earlier, but I make use of the spare moments. I still wait in the playground until they ring the bell in the morning. 

None of the other parents talked to me at first, they all had their own little gatherings. I stood by myself and watched the children, mainly my own child, who at first stayed with me but quickly managed to break into one of the friendship groups which was a joy to see.

So my child would run off as soon as we arrived in the playground and I got to do some people watching. Little people watching.

The first thing I noticed is that the boys hog the centre ground, the girls stick to the edges. Sad that in this day and age of gender awareness old ideas are still alive in the playground.I don't want to bang on to teachers about something else they should do, they've got enough on their plate, but it would be good if we could even up the playing field from the earliest age. The boys zoom around more, the older ones acting like they're the oldest. A game of football takes up the very middle bit, I couldn't work out how they decided each time who was on which team, I think it was probably the same sides every day. Reassuringly there were two girls who played every day. If the other girls played anything at all it was skipping, and that didn't attract mixed-gender.

I always found my eyes wandering to the little lost souls. Always have, always will. Perhaps it reminds me of how it was to be me when I was a junior - I was moved schools aged eight and for the first year in the new school I was a loner in the playground.

Nowadays, sadly, it's more normal for a child to have a background issue than not. So called 'broken' homes' (horrid term) are commonplace, single parents abound. That in itself isn't necessarily a problem, but it's likely that there were problems at home surrounding the break-up, and there will still be complications. 
Children themselves can be identified as having any number of difficulties ranging from the barely visible (but impairing) such as dyslexia or Aspergers. Some children carry support aids; one boy in my foster child's playground has hearing aids, others carry their inhaler. Attention Deficit Disorder and Autism aren't grounds for special education when they're diagnosed as being 'on the spectrum'. Other children are overweight, many have allergies.

Many children probably have background issues that haven't yet been identified. Watching children at play is a great way to get insight. 

The reason I mention this is because despite my many years in fostering, I still find it next to impossible to spot another child who is in foster care from those that aren't.  There are so many reasons why almost every child sticks out that the foster child is pretty much like all the others.

I now enjoy having a chat with the other parents.

School is one of the few places I'm not at pains to point out that I'm the child's foster parent. I often do tell people what I do, if it comes into the conversation, because fostering needs more Carers and people frequently reply that they are thinking about fostering so I give them Blue Sky's number.

The reason I don't bring it up at school is that if I were to tell parents they might mention it to their children and if the child gets teased about it then it's in part my fault. I don't think I'm over-thinking with this one, you just have to be as considerate as possible of your foster child's right to privacy.

There's one other thing I spotted that's worth mentioning, to do with the parents. Most of us parents go through the school gates and stand on the tarmac playground. A handful of parents do not. For one parent there's a good reason; he has a dog on a lead. Another parent has a reason to stay outside the railings that's both good and bad; she lights up a cigarette (a real one) as soon as her child runs off.

I sometimes wonder if these parents, the ones who can't even bring themselves to visit the playground of their child's schools, are the ones who had bad times at school and pick up bad vibes just bringing their children to school. Awful for them, and not good for their children. 

My child is doing okay at the new school; has a friendship group at the moment. It's my child I worry about and care about, but when I see all the hundreds of little ones running around every morning I can't help wondering if they'd all benefit from the strength of support of social workers and the backup of Blue Sky and other professionals that enables us Foster Carers to do what we do.


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