Saturday, February 27, 2021


 Is it only in my house? My current foster children and my own lot are finding sleeping more difficut than before the pandemic.

It's a real headache when they have to get up for virtual school, can be very upsetting.

One of the first things you learn in fostering is how to deal with the middle of the night. Blue Sky put on masses of excellent training but there are some things they can't really train you for because they are so child-specific, and the middle of the night is one of those things. Luckily you can chat things through with your Social Worker, but in the wee small hours, you're on your own.

Many foster children find sleeping hard, almost all of them in my experience. Their first night is like our first night on a new bed or in a new house or on holiday. The strangeness can keep sleep at bay. Then their minds turn to the overall strangeness of their lives, and dark thoughts start swirling such as why the whole break-up of their family is their fault, and how they might be in trouble when they go back.

Today's a Thursday, they have distance lessons this morning.

One of mine texted me at 02.28am last night asking if I go to the corner shop later could he have an energy drink. I don't think he actually enjoys them, he's just worried that he's going to underperform.

I think these distance-learning classes can be a bit fretful for some children. When they're in class among twenty or thirty other students they can switch off for a couple of minutes here and there, take a breather from out-and-out concentration. People can't concentrate non-stop. You need to be able to look sideways out of the window for a moment, even if your eyes appear locked on the whiteboard or the teacher as if you're rivetted.

I went to an old primary school back in my day which had been built in Victorian times. The classroom windows were so high our teacher had to stand on a chair to see out of them. This was because the schools didn't want children looking out of the window when they should have been paying attention. The teacher stood on a chair one sweltering afternoon because a boy had asked if the could 'be excused' - go to the toilet. The toilets were outside, across the tarmac playgound. She gave the boy permission then, when he'd departed, climbed onto the chair to watch him. I'll never forget the triumph in her voice when she muttered;

"I knew it! He's gone straight to the drinks fountain!" She'd got him!

I mention this because in a couple of decades time many of the fears and pressures we currenly put on our children in the name of education will be seen as just as harsh and as those things from the past. These are my own thoughts BTW, not Blue Sky's or anyone else's. It's just that I notice things keep moving forward nicely and maybe one day we'll have a nation of children all of whom really, really really want to go to school to learn...

My dear little foster child, who's been to hell and back and will live with awful memories all his days is this morning so frit that he'll mess up his electronic lessons that he's begged for a caffiene-packed fizzy drink to help his energy levels after a sleepless night. His sleeplessness is caused in part by his urgent efforts to nod off and we all know that doesn't work. Then the mind starts working overtime and he pictures himself being dumbstruck when asked a question or struggling with a task as his eyelids droop.

I went to the corner shop specially and bought a bottle of some sort of low-sugar non-caffiene fruit drink which I'll pour into a glass, top up with sugar-free tonic water and take into his room where he will be at his PC and tell him it's what he needs. He'll buy it…I hope.

But what to do about sleeplessness in this pandemic? 

Maybe the additional screentime they have to put in is playing a part? Maybe it's the fact that they can't go to school because a potentially lethal disease is out there? Maybe they can sense that the whole house is also struglling to fall asleep.

See, I was awake myself when my phone pinged with his text, at 02.28am. I texted him straight back to let him know he wasn't alone in his wakefulness.

I also texted him to say I knew how hard he worked and he replied;


Then I texted him that I know he hates praise, but that I'm very proud of him.

I'm proud of every foster child who's stayed with us, you couldn't not be.