Saturday, April 10, 2021

COKE ISN'T ALWAYS COKE...

 Kennard was eleven when he came to us. In fostering you normally don't know how long you'll have a child for, or what you're going to get in return for your efforts.

You try to give something to the children and somehow they give something back, however long or short their stay.

In our home we work on the basis the placement might be for a long time, but always we're working towards getting them ready to go home. It's a what they call a dichotomy right there I suppose, but in practical terms it goes like this;

The instant they walk through our door and into our home for the first time they are family.

And we care about them so much that we want to help them go away; to their real home.

Yeah, it's a weird one, but no-one in fostering will tell you fostering is a straightforward thing.

So; Kennard…

 Eleven years old. Mum white British, Dad second generation Caribbean. I'm quoting the information we got at the time, if in a hundred years from now someone reads this and thinks I'm somehow out of order even saying it, it's how it was back in 2021.

Kennard's dad is in prison. Kennard loves and worships his dad. Kennard's mum is a wreck. Kennard loves and worships his mum.

So you have a situation in your own home like this; it's teatime and you sit down with your partner and your own kids and a foster child. The foster child is shy and quiet at first but soon discovers that he has a credential; he's more world-wise than anyone else at the table. When I say 'world-wise' I guess I mean 'street-wise'.

The foster child's version of the "my dad is tougher than your dad" thing is more like "my dad knows more about crack than your dad".

Yet Kennard was never more buzzed up than by the fact we kept cans of fizzy drinks in the fridge that they had to ask for…but we usually said yes. Fanta was Kennard's big one, we also kept a few tins of Coca Cola.

So. You find yourself at your own dining table with your own children listening to an eleven year old who you have never heard of until a week ago explaining to everyone how you cook up a batch. Or something like that. I wasn't really listening I was wondering what effect Kennard's world weariness would have on our kids, my partner and me.

Make no mistake, this is what fostering sometimes brings into your home; the stark reality of an existence you've striven to protect yourself and your loved ones from.

But. Life is a two way street. Kennard left us after nine weeks. His mum had sobered up enough and the person in her life who was a danger to Kennard had got the message.

Kennard left us having learned how to bake brownies and loving Spongebob Squarepants more than .. oh I won't bother you with the TV he'd been milked on. 

Kennard left us having picked up some tinges of normalcy. I wouldn't claim he had a song in his heart, I wouldn't be at all surprised if he's behind bars or even underground. 

But Kennard asked if he could keep the Teddy Bear we gave him on his first night.

Well, to be precise, he nicked it.

And in return, my family all know where to go to score coke...and how to make a snowball.

Exchange is no robbery...




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