Wednesday, February 10, 2021


 Sometimes, not often but sometimes, you forget you are a fostering family.

Which happened quite early this morning like this;

I was on the landing heading for the stairs with the laundry basket and aiming to get the washine machine fired up with another load in time to get it on the drier and dry for tomorrow morning.

As I got to the top of the stairs I noticed something on the carpet in the corner, couldn't quite make out what it was, it was shiny but odd-shaped. I put down the basket and picked it up. It was a torn scrap of a crisp packet.  Not far away was another scrap.

It took me all of three long minutes hunting around and bending down to find and pick up what was clearly a dismembered and licked clean crisp packet.

I guessed it was licked clean because the insides were spotless, the only kind of clean you can get by licking, so obviously whoever had the final go at it was probably canine, the finger pointing squarely at the dog.

However the dog could never be more than an innocent bystander in such an incident as the crisps are kept way out of her reach.

So the question was, which of the human family members had helped themselves to a bag of crisps then left the wrapper lying around for the dog to get at, lick clean, then tear into strips.

In fostering one is well advised to know when not to notice that somebody has done something that deserves a rebuke because if you pick up on everything you're at it all day and people either get fed up or grow immune to your badgering.

But two of my brood, one a foster child the other child one of mine were near enough to the washing machine for me to blurt out:

"Did either of you leave a crisp packet lying around for the dog to get?"

"Nah" came one answer.

"Nope" came the second.

Having asked them both it was only fair I should ask the others so I called up the stairs;

"Did anyone up there have a packet of crisps and leave the bag out for the dog to rip up?"

"Not me…" etc etc from upstairs.

I started loading the washing machine and realised that everyone in the house was having a nice recreational morning except me, because after getting the laundry started I had a dishwasher to empty, an online click and collect supermarket shop to order and a number Nine to order be delivered (not a Chinese takeaway this time, a metal number Nine for our gate post to replace the old one which has got so rusted over that delivery drivers are getting confused). In other words it was the beginning of another day of lockdown jobs jobs jobs. Followed by jobs.

I felt hard done by, a feeling which always wafts away when I'm onto the next job, but it didn't waft away quick enough. Before I could stop myself I ordered;

"Right! Can I have everyone in the kitchen please now!"

As they showed up sheepishly I began to regret turning the home into some kind of suburban Stalag.

I regretted it even more when what happened next happened.

I started to interrogate them as to who was the guilty party, but before I got very far I sensed they were forming ranks. As far as they were concerned they were ALL innocent and if any blame lay anywhere it lay with me.

"If you'd trained the dog properly she wouldn't rip up wrappers" said one. The rest all nodded.

"Whenever we ask if there are any jobs to be done you always say there aren't, but you could have asked us to do a house-tidy instead of getting all stroppy. We only charge the going rate." The others nodded more, in unison.

So there we stood, a Mexican stand-off I believe it's called. Me versus a posse of children, some of whom belong to me, the rest belonging to others. They were all for one and one for all. 

Thick as thieves. The children of one big happy family.

Y'know what? When my fed-upness wafted off, it felt great. Really fantastic. When your own children and foster children bond into one unit you know you're getting something right and that good things are going on.

As for the guilty party? Ah...I noticed as I was putting the shredded packet into the pedal bin that it was a packet of cheese and onion flavour. This gave me a pang of guilt. I buy our crisp snacks in big assorted bags, some of our brood like salt 'n vinegar others prefer plain. Some like Hula Hoops or Pringles. Towards the time for the next delivery the only single packs left are cheese and onion which…

…none of them like.

So me and my other half end up eating most of them.

I honestly don't remember leaving an empty packet lying around, not my nature. Other half has been known to.

Did I tackle other half on it? Not on your nelly. I let it go, but not without another smile at the memory of our houseful of kids sticking up for one another as if they were all family.

Which is how it's best in fostering, if it happens.

You just have to keep your eye out for it, the evidence is there m'lud. 


  1. It's great to see this. We added a new child to our brood about 2 years ago, and he's been quite a handful. When it became clear he wasn't going to be reunified with his birth family we were asked if we'd turn the short term placement to a long term one. We consulted the other kids on this before going back to the social worker. The kids opinions generally went along the lines of humorous but honest - "well he's hard work, but he needs to be here, who else would put up with him!" and "He's a nutter but he's our nutter".

  2. I'm going to have this comment framed. "He's a nutter but he's our nutter" is pure gold. You should be very proud of your fostering and parenting, you deserve to be.
    Without getting lyrical the remark reminds me of a moment in the film "Ghandi" when Ghandi has a meeting with the British rulers of India and tells them he wants the British to leave India. One of the generals says "But Mr Ghandi, there will be chaos." and Ghandi replies;
    "Yes, but it will be our chaos."
    Keep up the good work anonymous carer, you are a credit to the human race.
    Secret Foster Carer
    ps India's chaos turned out pretty well for them in the end...

  3. ps mind, I understand your child's use of 'nutter', it's not a term of choice for us professionals.
    I tend to use 'challenging', but have been known to utter stronger things in the privacy of my own head…
    SFC x

  4. Challenging is a well-loved word in our house! It suggests things will get better and is nothing we can't overcome. We also have "rough patches" "blips" and “ups and downs” - all suggesting little temporary periods which will pass.

    I remember early in our training being told we might deal with “difficult behaviours” but we would never have a “difficult child”. That stuck with me because a behaviour, situation, attitude can be changed, and doesn’t label who the person is.

  5. Love your comments! Sounds like you're doing great work, it's an honour to have you reading the blog, thank you. And thank you on behalf of all the children you care for, past present and future.
    Lots of love, SFC