Friday, October 22, 2021

FINDING THE RIGHT MOMENT

 Our eldest foster child - not a child at all - is getting ready for the outside world.

He leaves fostering any time soon.

Ged's smart, in a street-wise way. He's only been with us a couple or three months, but he's still our boy. You have no option but to let them into your life from day one. Seeing him go off alone to face his future alone is emotional.

On the surface it seems more emotional for us, his foster family, than him, but I suspect his nonchalance is about acting grown up.

You remember how you fussed first time one of your children went off on their first sleepover? Making up that overnight bag of toothbrush, clean underwear, pyjamas ("I'm not wearing them mum, no-one's going to be in jim jams!") pieces of paper with phone numbers. And so on.

Well, let me tell you getting a child ready for an everlasting sleepover is a site worse.

Luckily his Social Worker has been on hand with the information about what he needs and what he's going to be provided with. Say what you like about the state, our country is magnificent at caring for young people who have problems.

He's been offered accomodation in a sort of sheltered home; a block of single room apartments with communal facilities. He's been guided towards several employment opportunities, and helped with his benefit rights. 

However, the poor lad is still dangling on a thread as to whether or not his estranged father will come through with his verbal promise of providing him with funding. And we have had no option but to find a way to break it to him that he may have to go it alone.

He'll be disappointed as heck, but surely less bamboozled if he has prepared himself it may happen.

The conversations are similar to so many that we fostering folk have with chidren in our care about their real parents.

We try to help looked-after chidren get a bead on reality about what's happened to them but have to tread warily because they don't ever want their parents to be criticised by someone else. One often  finds oneself diplomatically acknowledging that the parents meant well, and had a lot of bad luck, and may well be all the better from having some help with the routine problems that previously they faced alone. 

Only when you've laid the ground can you go into the matter that the children themselves deserve better.

Ged is reluctant to 'split' on his dad. Like many of us, he pictures his dad as somewhat heroic and noble; a victim of circumstances and other people's failures and deception.

I'm pretty certain that his dad is either in prison or spent plenty of time inside. Which can be quite colourful for a lad-about-the-streeets. It beats having a dad who's an IT manager. 

However the question remains; if Ged comes into his windfall, where has the money come from?

Technically and ultimately it's not at all my problem. But.

When one fosters each child who arrives becomes your child the moment they step through the door. It's the only way. You offer attachment and empathy from the get-go. You don't merely care, you also worry, fret and fear for them. You lie awake plotting how to make things as good as they can be for them. You live for the moments when you see them smile where previously they didn't, or hear them singing in their bedroom.

You simply want them to find some peace and ight-heartedness.

I'm gearing up to wondering out loud with Ged if he'd be better off without any apology money from his dad. Even if it materialises.

Got to find the right moment, and the right way of saying;

"You're smart. You've got what it takes to do what everybody does and try to build a good life and living on your own ability and hard work."

Then I know he'll say "Then how come everybody buys a lottery ticket?"

See what I mean about him being smart?




Monday, October 18, 2021

"PROMISE NOT TO TELL…?"

 One eternal dilemma faces most fostering folk at some point.

It's when a foster child says;

"I'll tell you something if you promise not to tell anyone."

I suspect we face this one often and it's forever tricky as so much depends on so many things, not merely what the child wants to tell.

At the crux of the dilemma is this simple fork in the road;

If the child's disclosure has to be reported and the child discovers that you told someone in authority it can damage your relationship to the extent that the child may never tell you anything again, and you may miss out on even more substantial information, which might be a damaging thing for the child.

A lot depends on the child's age and ability to understand if you reply to the request like this;

"I'll respect your privavcy in what you may want to tell me but you must understand that if you tell me something that I'm required to pass on I'll have no option but to tell someone."

If you're not in fostering you might be wondering what these revelations might be, okay;

I've had kids tell me about being asked to do things in their bio home that are breaches of the laws of abuse. Those things simply HAD to be passed on, and when the police visted to collect the allegations from the child that child rightly guessed I had disclosed. In the most startling of such cases I first informed both Social Workers involved who rightly advised me to contact the police officers who were already investigating the child's adult family and needed all possible evidence as the case was heading to court.

Most incidents of this headache aren't so straightforward.

For example, recently a child told me that it upset her that one of her (older) teachers repeatedly told her class to 'pick a partner' for an activity such as walking crocodile down to the public library. The problem lay in the fact that the child had been only recently placed in the school and being new, none of the other children wanted to pick her. To my way of thinking this was completely wrong, the teacher should put in some effort and pair children off so that some positives are had. I spoke to the school and it blew up in my face. The teacher took the child to one side and, rather than apologise, explained the reason for her practice, which, incase you're wondering, was some convoluted argument about children needing to feel comfortable with who their partner was when out in public as there was traffic and other pedestrians to worry about.  

I've got a recent one of these on my hands, they're always tricky. I can't reveal, so I'M not going to say to you "If you promise not to tell…"

It's going to be between me, my kid and one other eprson.

If in doubt ask your SW, and my lovely Blue Sky person has taken control with the usual clear mind, good heart and professional acumen.

X




Tuesday, October 12, 2021

TIME MILLIONAIRES

 Phew, had some loaded days just recently my end. 

It's partly fostering, a job that never sleeps, but also life seems so much busier than I ever remember it. Not for everybody though, it seems.

I'll get to the fostering story in a tick, but first; 

I've just finished reading a newspaper piece about a growing bunch of people who seem to think they're some kind of hero because they've decided to do nothing. Yep, do nothing. Or if they do anything they do as little as possible all the while making out they're busting a gut.

They used to float around the office acting like they were working, but in the new normal they log their laptop onto a YouTube 10 hour video of a blank screen so their boss doesn't get pinged that their device has gone to sleep.

Their philosophy is that you're only here for a short time, make it a good time.

What?

To give their shiftlessness a gleam of honour they fly a rinky-dink banner for their lifestyle, they call themselves...

"Time Millionaires".

One example was of a bloke who used to run a craft wine bar in Sheffield. He worked his fingers to the bone, even missing his mum's 50th birthday, which she'd expected, because he was "busy". He worked 6 days a week from 10.am to 1am, then on his day off did the paperwork. He's packed the wine bar in and now runs a pop-up coffee stall which closes at 1.00pm. His profits are down 75% but he's happy because he can get stuck into his passion which is photography.

I guess these Time Millionaires would look at fostering and run a mile. Too much like hard work.

My point is that worthwhile work is vastly more rewarding than meaningless inertia.

When our middle foster son came to us he was in a state. Terrified, haunted, pale and weak. Semi-literate, didn't know what a toothbrush was.

He was proper daunted. 

We stayed up through the night with him for the first few months, easing him in his terrors. We had to absorb a lot of anger, only maybe once or twice letting our own exhaustion get the better and talking back. Our Blue Sky SW said our couple of lapses were understandable if unfortunate but we're only human and she stressed that the child is coming to know we are for the child.

What we didn't get wrong was to pretend we were on the job while really spending the afternoon watching A Place In The Sun while gormlessly re-touching photographs of sunsets.

So; on to this week. The child in question has just had a hectic and anxious time fretting over several things; an assesment at school, a fallout with a friend, a 'which trainers to wear with which top' misery (very real BTW) and…

Whether or not he's picked to play for the school football team.

So; it turns out he got a B+ for the assessment, his friend-falling out is so mended  that he's throwing a 'gathering' (teenspeak for 'party') at our house including the errant friend, and…

He's playing central midfield for the school team.

Now, here's my point; 'Time Millionaires' have  empty wallets compared to fostering folk. The bloke who walked away from his wine bar to run a coffee stall and take up photography is impoverished beyond words compared to your average foster parent.

But I guess at least he'll get to go to his mum's 51st birthday.

We humans are indeed only here for a short time, but is sitting around in trackie bottoms diddling your life away a "good' time?

Nah.

You want a great time?

Foster.