Sunday, November 29, 2020


 Having been in fostering a while I sometimes risk getting to think I know most of it.

That silly notion comes up and bites me every time.

So what happened a few weeks before the first lockdown was this;

Youngest foster child, who has been with us about 15 months, says they're ready to go into town on their own on a Saturday morning, hook up with school friends and come home as and when.

Didn't actually say "As and when".

The exact phrase was more like; "I'll come home when I'm ready, alright?"

Many foster children need to show a bit of attitude to aid their self-respect, I roll with the little punches;

Me; "Yeah, only it's pizza tonight so you want to text me what you want?"

Answer; "Maybe."

All children reach an age when they start to cross the bridge away from their parents and strike out on their own. It's difficult enough with you own kith and kin, much more complicated when you're managing it with somebody else's child.

I let the child go into town. I talked to our Blue Sky Social Worker and we reckoned it was about right for the child; right for their age and development. Anyway…what you going to do if you want to keep the child home, put a lock on the door?

My own feeling was that it was a bit early for the child. The child is, in my guess, a tad too young, too unstreetwise to deal with being in town without a parent/guardian.

I told the child my misgivings and said that if the child wanted to prove me wrong, stay out of trouble and be home before dark. (I know you see what I did there, it's not rocket science). I told the child I'd worry all the while, and the reason I'd worry is because I don't just care about the child, I love the child). I told the child I don't worry that the child will get it wrong, I worry about other people who can make mistakes about children's behaviour and attitude.

The child went. Walked in. And was gone about four hours. Where the child went and with who was their business, and late afternoon I got a phone call;

"Er yeah can you pick me up?"

"Where will you be?"

"Er yeah the bus stop."

"Which bus stop?"

"The one by the lay by! Obviously!"

I drove down.

Child got in car in silence unless a grunt counts as "Good evening and thank you for picking me up."

When we got home child jumped out of the car, slammed the door and dashed for the front door.

I noticed some forgotten shopping the child had done; not much, a Toblerone. I picked it up and stood it on the kitchen table. Child had disappeared upstairs, not to be seen until tea time. The family began gathering and when he showed up I said;

"You forgot your Toblerone, it's on the table."

And the child shot a look at me like I'd said something ruinous.

After tea everyone dispersed and I was left alone to deal with the debris as is often the case (I find it less hard work doing it myself than trying to commandeer an army of reluctant 'helpers').

The child appeared, or at least poked a head round the kitchen door to whisper;

"The Toblerone is for you innit?"

Child then added;

"Don't get emotional alright?"

And then was gone.

Can't bring myself to eat it yet, it's on the window sill above the kitchen sink so I see it every time I'm there...

Wednesday, November 25, 2020


Look, the Christmas holiday is complicated enough in fostering without pandemic fears, lockdown confusion, tiers, masks, distancing etc etc etc etc etc .


You're a ten year-old who's been separated from their real family and installed in a strange new home with people you've never met before in a house with strange rooms, unfamiliar smells and furniture, a toilet and shower you had to learn to use. Everything is new and unusual.

You're in fear. What did you do wrong to have this happen? They keep saying it's not your fault but all your life everything's been your fault.

All you want is to go home, at least you knew where you stood with the conflicts and chaos. 

You desperately need to know that your parents and the rest of your family aren't ill.

And now here comes Christmas, a time when you got given stuff, sometimes not much, sometimes too much (you don't understand the politics of over-compensation). What will happen this year?

Imagine that.

Or, imagine this;

You're a thirty-something adult whose life in in disarry. You can't make ends meet so you have to scheme and struggle to raise the cash to buy your essentials. Plus the dodgepot who supplies your essentials has just been busted.

Your partner is being a total pain and the police didn't understand your side of it they just wanted to nail you both for something you never did.

Then your kids got taken away and everyone thinks you are a bad parent not that you get to see anyone any more when you're meant to spend all day in your tiny terraced house which the council only gave you because you had kids so they'll probably boot you out any minute.

Imagine that.

Now imagine this;

You're a forty-something foster mum who has to organise some kind of Christmas for your own family while observing the rules about mixing AND organise some sort of acceptable Christmas between the foster child and the child's family. Something that will be (somehow) good for the child, maybe even good for the child's family.

Good luck.

Oh yes, and now imagine this;

You're  a Blue Sky Social Worker whose job (one of many, many others) is to oversee the whole kish and kiboodle not just for the above scenario, but for a bunch of others on your books. All of whom have the same headache only slightly different in every case.

On top of that...the 7 days between Christmas Day and New Years day is the busiest time in fostering with more children having to be taken into care than at any other time. Only this year is likely to be the worst ever because countless families have already got fed up with each other long before the previously welcomed spate of endless days stuck with each other's company comes along.

This isn't a 'Bah Humbug!' BTW.

I still can't wait for Christmas, even though I'm not a Christian. I love the holiday so much it makes me wish I was Jewish and Muslim and Hindu and Sikh so I could get excited about Hanukkah, Ramadan and Diwali. 

Maybe that'll be my New Year Resolution.

Oh wait. I traditionally resolve to lose ten pounds in weight and to stick to a diet.

A resolution which I traditionally trash every January 3rd.

Sunday, November 22, 2020


 I've never said this out loud, but I've thought it from time to time;

Thank you for reading this blog.

I thank you because if you're reading this you're either a Foster Carer or someone thinking about it, or a Social Worker or someone else with either a professional or personal interest in a walk of life which is, as you already know, a walk on the wild side.

So I'm saying a personal thank you for your humanity.

We need kindness and caring always, perhaps now especially so.

Middle foster child was awake well into the night last night (a Saturday night, so late nights are cool). But it was seriously way into the night, and I find I don't nod off until the last child is zzzing.

I heard a pad across the bedroom floor. Ten minutes later a bit of music - not loud, but loud enough.

When this happens you lie there wondering whether to knock on the door and ask if everything is alright, but if you do it would show you could hear and they don't want that, don't want to be monitored, fair enough.

I must have nodded off. 

Later, the sound of stairs creaking; someone going down. Probably to the kitchen to grab a clandestine packet of crisps or suchlike. I decided I'd better check up so I put on a dressing gown over my fostering pyjamas (T shirt and jogging bottoms) and timed a trip across the landing as the child was coming up.

"Hey" I said casually as child hit the top of the stairs with me pretending I was heading for the loo.

"Er…hey..." came back.

"You okay?"

'Not really. I've got a dilemma…"

I guessed as much. I said;

"Dilemma. That's a good word."

"Yeah? So what. I've been reading like you lot all want me to do. Jees do you ever 'king pay attention?"

Did I mention, child has anger issues. We roll with the punches.

"What's the dilemma?"

Child told me. If you've got an ounce of humanity this will hurt in a good way. This little person, who has been through more than I am able to tell you, seriously, and is left with emotional scar tissue that will probably never go, but perhaps they'll learn to live with, said;

"I've only got £2.16p in my account."

We're starting this youngster on the road to financial independence, Blue Sky have been great advising on the ways and means. We found a bank that supported an account that we could access as could the child. Pocket money gets paid in. We see the transactions. 

I was surprised the account was so low.

"What have you been buying?" I asked. Of course, I could check up, but it was the logical question to ask.

Child: "Stuff…"

Me:"Oh. What sort of stuff?" I asked, expecting to hear something about gaming and virtual weapons or some rock band's latest merch.

There was a silence, then;


I was a bit surprised, but asked;

"Presents? For…?"

"For you 'king idiots obviously!"

I said nothing. What's to say?

"Shoot! Everything's so 'king expensive!!!"

I said;

"Whoa, listen; Christmas is expensive. You don't have to fork out for the likes of me and dad and all the other folks in this house, we'll help you buying your presents."

Long story short, child did not want help. Child wanted to buy presents using own dough. Told me he'd bought 'dad' (yeah child calls my partner 'dad' but struggles to see me as 'mum' - no problem).

Child has bought his 'dad' a….


Yeah. Bought the foster dad a scarf. On the internet. With own pocket money. You tell me what that means about the child's heart.

Totally true, in case anyone ever thinks I make anything up here, I don't have to, fostering is this good, it's this great.

But back to my point, thanks for coming here, and whoever you are thanks, and may I be the first to wish you a happy holiday.


Friday, November 13, 2020


Long story short we have a spare bedroom, so we've put ourselves forward to take short-term placements. By 'placement' - if you're new to fostering - I mean 'foster children being placed in your home'.

We've stipulated short term for a bunch of reasons. One; we might need the bedroom back for family reasons (I said long story short…) but we'd get enough notice of that. Two; our unusual family is clicking at the moment and it would be silly to rock the boat.

But, yeah, we've got a new face in the house. I can't say the name, but it's a quaint one..think; "Horace".

The first clue you get about a child is their name. It tells you stuff about the parents. Homes where there's chaos often have children with extravagant names. Don't ask me why.

Horace is ten, very well behaved. One of the boons about short-term is that the honeymoon doesn't get a chance to wear off, so your placements stay good as gold until time for goodbye.

Horace is, however 'picky'. None of his food must be allowed to touch other food on his plate. He insists that meals are served at exact times, and he likes to show up on the dot. He inspects his laundry for any marks that have defied the washing machine. I guess it's about getting some control. I can deal with it, but it makes food preparation challenging.

He won't touch anything green. Tomatoes and mushrooms are out. Of the cereals only rice crispies. The smell of cheese makes him gag. And so on…

I don't consider it a problem, he'll either grow out of it or accommodate it.

Or like some apparently sane and normal adults, make it cause for celebration!

See, sometimes I shop in Waitrose (it's the nearest supermarket to me, the staff are great but some of the customers drive me to the edge - the ones who take some pride in shopping in what they think is a 'posh' shop and want to make sure everyone knows they're there. They do this by barking swanky remarks about how picky they are as if they're gourmets. Some things I've overheard;

Husband: "Shall we have some new potatoes?"

Wife: (very loudly): "Only if they have fresh dill. One can't have new potatoes without fresh dill."


To a staff member: "Why do you only sell quail's eggs in boxes of six? One should be able to buy two."

One woman bought a pound of whitebait at the fish counter and instructed the person serving to: "Clean each of them, and carefully please." Yep, she wanted her her hundred whitebait gutted…

This at the ham counter;

Wife (to husband): "There is no point getting ham off the bone because I'm serving them as closed sandwiches so nobody will know. If we buy ham off the bone I'll have to make open sandwiches and they need napkins. So no to your suggestion, packet ham will be fine."

I often wonder what sort of children they were. 

And frankly I worry more about them and their pickyness more than Horace.