Wednesday, February 26, 2020


One of my foster children started a new school a few weeks ago. I have a shorter drive on the school run but I leave at the same time and 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 the 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. 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 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 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 ay 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 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 lights up an old-fashioned ciggy as soon as her child is gone - there's good and a bit of bad in that. But, for most of the parents that stay outside the railings, I suspect the reason is sad, a tad dark.

Many people had a rotten time at school. they hardly remember it but they found themselves labelled ' not very clever' or 'a nuisance' or 'badly behaved'. It stays with them, these unpleasant memories. They're the parents who never attend parent evenings, don't engage with their children's education; it hurts them to even think of the concept of school.

A lot of the parents of foster children are like this, I think.

Nothing much can be done, unless one day we make school a good time for all.

Won't happen in my lifetime, that much is certain… oh well..onwards and upwards.

My kid is happier at the new school!


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