Thursday, April 16, 2020

FOSTERING; STOCKHOM SYNDROME?

Being locked-down with somebody else's children - that's fostering in the age of the coronavirus - is hard work, but interesting.

There's been a strengthening of the bond between ourselves and our looked-after children, though they don't rush at us to tell us that they like us even more than before. But they do...they do seem to like us even more. And I'm not sure why.

Our middle foster child came chuntering into the living room while we were watching a 5.00pm TV coronavirus update;

Middle child; "What's all this, oh b*****y h**l!! They still going on about the d****h bag virus. Duh! Yak yak! Virus duh and virus… er duh! It's a germ dude! Get over it. J***s C****t!"

And he left. I thought he made a number of decent points, albeit within the parameters of his own vernacular. What had he told us?

He's scared for himself. The news has felt the need to report the deaths of young people and children, presumably to help everyone understand that everyone is at risk, but it must be sickeningly frightening for many kinds. Also; he hasn't had much good happen in his life so far and he'd feel totally cheated if he had to leave for Heaven without having had much in the way of Ambrosia.

He is scared for his mum and dad. His mum in particular, he doesn't know much about his dad. But he knows his mum doesn't know how to look after him and she sure doesn't know how to look after herself.

But how come the new wave of empathy from our foster kids?

Is it the Stockholm syndrome? That's where captive hostages form a bond with their captors. If I'm not mistaken one kidnap victim joined the group of terrorists who had kidnapped her and helped carry out a bank raid. Surely not, after all, foster children are hardly in captive are they? Although the facts of the matter might not get in the way of how some of them might perceive their circumstance.

Perhaps it's just that they can see that the virus is serious, that anyone can get it and it can be life-threatening for anyone. We have a fostering agency keeping us on track with how to protect our foster children, and we stick to it to the letter. Some of the requirements are a pain for them - our eldest was very miffed that we wouldn't let his bestie come round to shoot the breeze last weekend. His argument was that his bestie has a mum and dad who live apart and he's been able to visit both of them, so er…he's obviously not got the virus. We stuck to a simple and obvious 'No' and threw in that we thought the bestie's mum and dad were taking a chance, we weren't sure what the law might say, not that we were going to raise it with anyone - after all it was his hearsay and almost certainly skewed to shore up a flimsy argument.

Then there's the constant hand washing and anti-bac wipe-downs. Middle foster child was indignant that a bag of hot chicken wings ridge crisps that had been specifically requested had got antiseptic 'all over it' which would 'ruin the taste'.

They roll their eyes as if it's a pain when I insist they keep track of their parents wellbeing, and that we all wish them well.

There are lots of plusses, no really there are. Of course the illness is awful and has caused terrible grief and fear, and it's not done yet (it's mid-April 2020 at the time of writing). But just as previous generations told us that there was something special in the ether during wartime, there are good things going on all around.

I think that our foster children are more in tune with us foster parents at this time because they feel a bit safer with us than they might have done in their real homes. They would know what their real parents are like, and whatever their faults, the children will be desperate to know that their folks are being sensible, taking advice about staying home, and observing the precautions.

They might even be happy that we show we care about their parents, that we make sure we keep them informed about their parents…but are dealing with the fact that they might feel personally safer in our house than in their real home.

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