Thursday, July 29, 2021


 Fostering really is Forrest Gump's box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get. We've had all sorts, which has been great; but when we began fostering we hoped for teenagers because we felt we'd be able to manage them best.

So here we are now with two teenagers in the house, the one we used to call eldest who is now no longer the eldest, and Joe who who  has been with us for 3 weeks, and is due to leave us in about 15 weeks.

What happened yesterday is a nice story of why teenagers can be great foster children.

What happened was this;

It was the middle of the night. Nearer daybreak than sunset. Noise had woken me up, it had only been a little noise and the reason it woke me up was because it wasn't one of the usual little noises of the night that you get used to (a little gurgle of the waterworks or the far off yap of an urban fox). It was the sound of someone moving about downstairs.

I lay there for a bit straining my ears for it to repeat but it didn't.

Nevertheless I'd heard it. So I put on my dressing gown and crept down the stairs. There was light coming from the living room, the door was half open. But it wasn't the light from a lamp, it flickered. The TV was on. But the sound was off.

Either someone had left it on with the sound down or someone was watching but not listening. I peered round the door only to see Joe wrapped up in some movie or other and wearing a pair of wireless Air Buds. After a few seconds he sensed my presence, snatched up the remote and paused the film.

"Hello" he said quietly, adding; "I haven't woken you up have I?"

I asked him if he was okay. He said he was fine but he couldn't sleep...

He told me he couldn't sleep ever, at least not in the conventional sense of going to bed when it's late then sleeping until it's about time to get up. He had never been able to sleep normally.

Joe had been with us for three weeks now, and he's only just revealing that he has something worse than insomnia, he has a phobia about beds, he's practically allergic to bedrooms.

But here's the amazing thing: he has been awake through the night every night since he came here, but we didn't know; he didn't want to bother us with his problem. So when we'd go to bed he would say he's just going to stay up for a little bit…then he stays up through the night. If he does sleep it's more like a nap with his feet up on our sofa. He often watches TV, but has connected it up to his Air Buds so we don't get woken up. The noise that woke me was him creeping into the kitchen for a snack.

I came to suspect there might be some dark reasons for his problem with bedrooms, so I decided to let him tell me about it if he wanted to, or keep it private if that's what he preferred. Might be best if I don't know, and best that he doesn't revisit seriously nightmarish memories.

The other possible scenario might be that he himself doesn't have any clear recollection of anything that might have caused this aversion.

The big positive all of this is that Joe has developed strategies for dealing with his problems, which include not wanting to inconvenience or trouble anybody else.

He is a fine young man, a credit to his generation, we can only hope that he develops better and better strategies in the future for dealing with his past and his present.

And if there' s any justice in life, and there often is in fostering, he will.


  1. Oh that is heart breaking. I'm so glad he is with you.
    If he;s staying I wonder if turning his "bedroom" into his own living room would work? Daybed that is clearly more sofa than bed (no quilt, just some throws and scatter cushions, blinds instead of curtains, a tv, mini fridge and few other "living room" bits etc might help?

  2. That's a good shout right there. He's not with us for much longer so I'll stick with what we've got, but if things go pear shaped I've got your idea in my back pocket.