Friday, November 19, 2021


 How many and varied are the jobs of the fosterer…

Here I sit in an armchair in the hall watching over our recently-operated on dog. She's not meant to lick her wound now that the dressing is off but you try telling her that. She wears a collar at night and takes a sedative but in the day the collar drives her crazy so we take it off and simply keep an eye on her, which is time-consuming, but the newly eldest foster child takes his turn when he can.

I describe eldest as "newly eldest" because 18 year-old Ged has left, and being "eldest" again is good for him; this morning he asked how the toaster worked and he used it for the first time.

He also engaged me in one of the friendly arguments that he loves. To the outsider the arguments would sound a bit heated, but we both know they're his substitute for saying 'thanks' to me for being his mum.

He started it by asking me;

"Have you heard of Radiohead?"

I had. Then he asked;

"Who's the best band ever?"

I replied "Maybe The Rolling Stones?"

"The Rolling Stones!?" he incredulated.."You must be (expletive deleted) joking!"

"Well,"  I replied "I think there's general agreement that their mix of R and B with stagecraft has kept them up there for longer than anyone else."

I always quote the Rolling Stones, I quoted them to annoy my parents, now I quote them to annoy my children. 'Annoy' in that friendly way.

Him; "That's not the point. Have you ever listened to OK Computer?"


"It's the best album of all time everybody knows that."

"Well Sergeant Peppers wasn't bad."

The argument went its course, and ended with me being verbally frogmarched in front of the TV to watch a YouTube documentary on OK Computer (a Radiohead album).

The argument ended with me agreeing to download the album onto my phone so that I can sit in the hall a) keeping an eye on the dog b) writing this blog c) Fostering eldest. Fostering by listening to OK Computer. 

OK Computer is described as alternative rock. Not my cup of tea really, I was more Top Of The Pops than Old Grey Whistle Test.

But. When next asked I'll tell eldest something like "WOW!* I was amazed. It's fantastic."

And he'll try to pin me down that it's the best album ever.

Will I agree? I don't think so.

I'll hold out for the GOAT* album is a tie between OK Computer and Abba's Greatest Hits. Which will annoy him and kick off another friendly argument…his way of saying 'thanks for being my mum'.

And my way of saying 'thanks for being my son'.



* "GOAT" - Greatest Of All Time

* "WOW" - A well dated exclamation used by parents to remind youth that we were young once and that our music is better than theirs.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021


Ged is now proper gone. He was the soon-to-be 18 year old who came to us for a short spell, and part of our fostering brief was to gear him up for the outside world. Only a short time but even the ones who only stay for a weekend stay in your mind for the rest of your life. I’m not sure if it’s the same the other way round and that we fosterers have as big an impact on them as the young people have on us.

I’ve talked with our Blue Sky Social Workers about how they all stick in my heart and mind, they say it’s a healthy sign of how we try to offer attachment from the get go. 

It’s not a painful thing, quite the opposite. The only ache is that you hope with all your might that they are ok.

With Ged, it’s so far so good. He’s happy with his independence, or at least, if he isn’t he’s not letting on. He’s looking after himself; eating well, not staying late out and partying except ‘weekends and bank holidays’. 

He’d been promised by his somewhat dodgy father a windfall to set himself up on his 18th birthday, which ‘hasn’t happened yet’, but he’s ok financially thanks to a brilliant scheme Blue Sky do.

Basically; they open a savings account for the child and pay into it every month they’re in care. The money comes out of the allowance we fostering folk get for each child. It’s not a vast amount, I don’t even notice it. If I was good with paperwork and spreadsheets I’d know how much it is. But I’m not, so sorry. If you’re interested I’m sure it’s on Blue Sky’s website somewhere.

Ged had been in care for yonks, so he received a decent four figure sum. 

Now, the question you might be asking is this; since there’s usually no contact between Carers and children after a child leaves Care, how come I know all this?

Easy. See, Ged is an adult now and can do what he likes.

So. A few days after he’d been driven off by his SW my phone pinged. It was Ged;

“Have you seen an ear bud?”

“No. Where might it be?”

“Maybe in my bedroom?”

I loved that; “MY BEDROOM

“I’ll have a look”

Obviously I searched high and low, no luck.

I messaged him back;

“Can’t find it. When was the last time you had them both together?”

“Maybe the last night. I fell asleep on the sofa.”

I went and checked down the sides of all the sofa cushions and was about to message him again. But sometimes it’s easier and quicker to chat. So I phoned him, and we spoke. For nearly ten minutes. About everything and nothing. It was wonderful, and I could tell he found it great too.

We haven’t had any contact since, but there’s not a day goes by without me hoping against hope that next time I move a mat or rummage the contents of the fruit bowl where we ‘store’ random objects, I’ll come across the missing ear bud.

What I’d give to be able to phone him and say;

“I’ve found it mate!”

Then a thought flashed into my mind. Maybe he hasn’t lost an ear bud. 

Maybe he just wanted to hear his ‘mum’.

I know she wanted to hear her ‘son’.

Tuesday, November 09, 2021


 They say every cloud has a silver lining.

Not sure if that's applicable to what's been happening in our house this week, but it's fair to say that oftentimes something good comes out of something bad.

Our lovely, gentle, kindly golden retriever dog had an accident. She was 'playing' with a bigger dog on the green when she suddenly let out a spine-chilling shriek and went down. The vet diagnosed a ruptured knee ligament in her left hind leg, but when they x-rayed her it was worse; her whole knee was a mess. Result; an emergency op, then home for complete rest. They recommended she be kept sedated in a cage, but that woudn't work, she still too much of a puppy and easily worked up.

So. We built a confined area about 4 foot by six foot in the hall, right next to the front door so she didn't have far to limp for a pee. The vet gave us antibiotics and painkillers and sedatives but, while the sedatives took the edge off her, there was no way she could be left alone. One of us had to be sitting beside her area all day.

And all night.

(Pic not much cop, dog's lying on her right side, tail to the left, nose towards my hands. Sitter is lying on her right side too.)

It's meant that one of us sits an arm's length from her all day. And one of us sleeps, on sofa cushions, on the hall floor, every night. 

We've got this for 6 to 8 weeks, but hoperfully at the end of it, she'll be almost good as new.

Now, to the positive spin-off;

One of our foster brood is hard pushed to develop any empathy.  Not surprising what with the life the child led before Care, a fear of people and a fear of attachment is bound to happen. We've tried anything and everything to get some warmth and…well to be blunt, some kind of love into the child. 

Can't claim any big success. Yet.

The child does have a soft spot for our dog. But the treatment of the dog has been what the child describes as 'playful'. The dog doesn't seem to mind, which is just as well because no matter how hard we've tried to get a gentler approach such as smoothly stroking her rather than ruffling her about, no avail. The child is always deriding the dog as "Stupid", "Fat" and "Ugly". No prizes for guessing where that sort of talk was learned.

Then, the morning after her op, the child came downstairs to see us flat out next to the dog's area. We were in our PJs and dressing gowns and pretty exhausted, not to mention anxious. 

The child asked what was going on so we explained. Then the child marched off shooting off something unappreciative such as "Well make sure you get it right then!"

But that evening we saw the glimmer of new child. A child who tip-toed thoughtfully towards the dog and placed the palm of the hand on her head, and whispered "Are you alright then? Are you? Good dog…"

Sea change.

And it's not only the dog who's getting a new, softer housemate.

The child seems to be starting to turn the corner with people.

Maybe I'm over-reaching here, but I swear that in the last few days there's been a bit of re-thinking. We're not so bad after all. People don't all suck.

Perhaps the child remembers that for the first few months after coming to us I slept through the night on sofa cushions outside the child's bedroom door to help when night terrors kicked in.

Maybe the child can see, logically, that being kind is a good way to be, and is now faced with squaring up to some monstrous demons that live deep down in the innermost, and will probably always be there.

Can cold logic combat deep-held emotions?

I dunno on that one, who does?

I do know that our lovely dog is on the mend, fingers crossed.

And - perhaps - she isn't the only one on the mend around here.