Saturday, May 29, 2021


It's nearly June right now. Anyone who visits our house around this time of year could be forgiven for thinking I'm the lousiest homemaker in the world (I'm down there with the worst of them, but June is standout unkempt in our house). The hedge needs trimming, the grass is up past the ankles. The windows are foggy, the larder is half-empty, the shower head needs de-limescaling.

It was a lad called Sacha taught me the value of letting the house to go to seed at the right time.

Sacha had been with us for six or seven weeks when his school broke up for the summer holiday. A few days earlier Sacha had announced his intention to become a tennis pro and wanted to get going fast, no time to lose. 

It seemed like a healthy way to spend a summer so I bought him the racquet he wanted, the right trainers and a tube of new balls. I booked him a lesson from a tennis teacher.

Sacha literally ran out of the school building and hassled me all the way to the park.

I sat on the grass and watched him get more and more frustrated. He was no Roger Federer. That evening he anounced he was through with tennis, he was going to become a pro gamer, so he needed a pro headset.

I explained he'd done his holiday money on the racquet, he'd have to save his pocket money, we calculated it would take to the end of the summer holiday.

The next day he was in a mood.

I told him how great it was to have him home, how much fun it is when he's around (foster children need to hear that and often).

Meanwhile I was trying to come up with a scheme to occupy him. See, in my book, schools don't prepare kids for a sudden and dramatic change in their lives which is extended holidays. Week after week, month after month they sit where they are told, listen and look at whatever they're told to, told where to go, what to do and at what time. Then suddenly…they have to make up their own day, their own week - for six weeks on end. With no training or pre-preparation.

Sacha was so fuddled by being in charge of his own days he'd gone at it with too much enthusiasm. But now he was starting to cool it.

I stocked the fridge with Fanta, the larder with crisps and told him to help himself, don't overdo it please. I put him in charge of the TV remote.

I told him again and again how nice it was to have him around all day, and he relaxed. But I guessed his state of peace wouldn't last.

About 72 hours later the wail went up;

"I'm bored!"

I replied;

"You know that new headset you want for your games…"


"You remember it'll take to the end of the summer holiday to save enough pocket money for it?"


"How'd you like to earn enough to buy it by the end of..this week!"

Put like that, it was a no-brainer.

I'd drawn up a list of jobs which included how much he'd earn for each one.

I'd had to rustle up quite a few jobs that didn't really need doing to get him up to the savings he needed for that headset.

Sacha got his headset. I had got to help him stagger the jobs and have free time in between.

Sacha stayed for nearly three years. He never noticed the onset of household degredation that set in in the weeks before he broke up for summer, but I'd learned. I needed enough things that needed doing for him to learn that crucial lesson; how to structure life between work and play, and earn what he needed.

Better than learning to play the tuba or climb plastic rock faces.

Cheaper for me too.


  1. Mooglet (Anon)Monday, May 31, 2021

    I have never thought of this! Our house goes a bit to pot in the summer - I'm trying to keep on top of the garden and the house so neither gets my full attenion. Then the kids and dog are in out and trailing grass clippings in on their sweaty feet, or leaving paddling pool sized puddles after they've been under the sprinkler... I wouldn't change it - but I recon teens in the house might want a bit of extra cash.... :-D

  2. Heh…Hi Mooglet! I love your stuff, I get the whiff of a dear fosterer off you, full on. Maybe one day we'll have a cup of coffee and a laugh about fostering I'd love that.
    Meantime, yeah…school summer holidays are a challenge for parents in 'normal' families. They should try fostering...