‘R then responded with a line that will remain forever with me and never fails to make me laugh.’
Col has been fostering for two-and-a-half years. He has had a variety of fostering placements and shares his experiences of fostering as a single male carer.
Week 5 – It’s Christmas Eve and welcome to the night shift..
In a previous blog, I mentioned that one of the lessons I’d tried to learn was not to make assumptions. For the purposes of this episode, however, I’ve decided to temporarily ignore that lesson (even though as you read on you’ll realise I still hadn’t really learned it anyway) and assume that you’ve got far more pressing things to do this festive week than read my lengthy ramblings through the world of fostering.
This week, therefore, my ramblings will be short(er); more of a one hundred than a fifteen hundred metres I suppose.
If you’ve read any of my other blogs, you’ll know that I had my first placement – five-feet-nothing, 12 year-old ‘R’ – and that Christmas 2012 was almost upon us.
I thought I’d use this week to tell a couple of stories leading up to that Christmas which illustrate two different sides to R. Although the first of the stories shows a particularly good side, the second doesn’t show a bad side but one which was a bit more challenging but funny as well.
R loved football and our local non-league team were involved in a 2nd Round FA Cup replay. Now, anyone who knows a little about footie – and more particularly the FA Cup – will know that once the competition reaches the third round, all of the Premier League teams come into the draw. The hope was, therefore, that our team would win the replay and be drawn against one of the top Premier League sides in the Third Round.
Having just realised I’ve spent most of the previous paragraph giving you information which is barely relevant to the story, I’ll now cut to the chase and tell you what happened.
I got tickets for R and me to see the match. Before the kick-off, R suddenly stood up and started to clamber over his seat and the seats behind. Thinking he’d got bored waiting for the action to start and had decided to go walkabout, I went to grab him (and missed), and was about to launch a verbal assault when I noticed an elderly man with crutches four rows back. By this time, R had reached him and it was then I realised what he was doing. The man had dropped one of his crutches and as a result couldn’t lower himself into his seat. R picked up the crutch, gave it back to the man, then helped him sit down before clambering back and into his own seat once again. This was such a pleasant surprise that I must have resembled a goldfish with its mouth jammed open because R just looked at me and said, ‘What?’
I’m sure it won’t go unnoticed that I had, once again, made an assumption and to my eternal shame that assumption was made based purely on the fact that R was in care.
As for the second story, the title of this week’s blog is a bit of a clue in that the event took place on Christmas Eve.
R had once again gone out with his friends and once again had failed to show up for collection at the appointed time. I went through the usual rigmarole of contacting Families Fostering and the police (although by now it had become a regular occurrence and I was not as worried as I had been the first couple of times it happened), and waited for the police to turn up with him later on in the evening.
The police phoned around 10pm and asked me to pick up R from the police station as they’d had to suspend his ‘regular taxi service’, being as it was Christmas Eve and they were quite busy.
As with most police stations nowadays, my local one was closed and so I’d been told to go to the door at the back of the building which served as the exit/entrance for officers coming off or going on duty.
I got there about 10.15pm and could see R through the door chatting away merrily to the policeman who’d found him. The officer let me in, R was as happy as Larry and thrilled to see me, saying he was glad I’d turned up because the policeman had told him that if he continued to go AWOL, he would drive him to somewhere in the wilds of mid-Wales where he would stay until he was eighteen and ‘you wouldn’t wanna go there.’
At that point, a couple of policemen appeared from one of the corridors on their way off duty, and as they passed R, they said a cheery ‘Hiya R, how’re you?’ as if they’d known him all his life (which, on reflection, they might well have done). R responded with an equally cheery ‘Watcha.’
They opened the door to leave, holding it for another policeman to enter the building. When he saw R, he chuckled and said hello as well. I’m now beginning struggle to display the sort of gravitas one should when dealing with a youngster that has stepped out of line, but what followed kicked any chance of me remaining serious into touch.
R very politely said, ‘Evening George, you working tonight?’ to which George the policeman replied, ‘Yes, ‘fraid so R.’ R then responded with a line that will remain forever with me and never fails to make me laugh. I’m not sure what it was that tickled me the most at the time and still don’t, what R said, or the seriousness and concern for George with which he said it. Anyway, R replied,
‘Aw, that’s a bit of a bugger innit?’
And on that happy festive note I’ll end this week’s blog and wish you a very Merry Christmas.
Next week… ‘A magical time’