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 6: A Magical Time…
First of all I’d just like to say to every single one of my loyal readers that I hope you both had a wonderful Christmas, and that knowing you’re sticking with me makes writing this all the more worthwhile.
Secondly, I was going to say a special thank you to my supervising social worker, G, who bought me a brilliant book for Christmas entitled ‘The Horologicon’ which, in a nutshell, is about words no longer used today that have a relevance to different times of the day. For example, ‘Philogrobolized’ relates to first thing in the morning and means ‘hung over’.
You’ll note I said, ‘was going to say a special thank you’ because there was a card attached to the book which read, ‘I saw this book and thought of you,’ which I thought was a reference to my liking for words. However, as with many books, before the actual beginning there was one of those little sayings which in this case was, ‘Therefore doth Job open his mouth in vain; he multiplieth words without knowledge.’ I now know that what G meant by, ‘I saw this book and thought of you,’ was ‘you rabbit on too much about nothing in particular’ and I’ve a horrible feeling that what’s currently going through my head to write this week is going to reinforce that sentiment.
You’ll remember that my last blog ended with the story of R’s genuine concern for one particular member of Her Majesty’s Constabulary – George – who unfortunately had to work on Christmas Eve.
Before I continue with R’s progress, however, I’d like to tell you about something that happened this Christmas Eve which was equally amusing but a bit, well, surreal I suppose. I should warn you it has little or nothing to do with fostering, but it was one of those events you can’t wait to share with anyone and everyone who’ll listen.
A Strange Surprise…
It was 10.30pm and my current placement (we’ll call him ‘M’) and I were quietly minding our own business watching a film on TV. Now, it’s fair to say that M is a great worrier, and is particularly sensitive to what he perceives to be strange noises. We both thought we heard a knocking sound coming from the back door which immediately placed M’s senses on the highest of high alerts given the lateness of the hour.
I told M to stay where he was (which, if I remember correctly, was making a dash for the back of the sofa), whilst I went to investigate. I was met in the kitchen by an elderly Indian gentleman dressed mainly in what I can only describe as clothing reminiscent of that favoured by Indian Holy men, together with flip-flops on his feet.
As a foster carer you learn – and indeed may well be told during any one of the numerous training courses you’ll attend – to expect the unexpected but, try as I might, I cannot recall ever being told that the unexpected might include an elderly Indian gentleman whom you don’t know in your kitchen at half past ten on Christmas Eve (I must make a note to contact the training department about this oversight).
Anyway, I asked if I could help him and he said – in very broken English – that he thought he lived in my house. On a serious note, I was by now concerned for his well-being but, before I could say any more, he obviously twigged his mistake and apologised. I then showed him out, checking that he was all right and knew where he was going.
M, in the meantime, had just about plucked up the courage to peep into the kitchen as I said goodbye (and locked the door behind me!). It transpired that the man was staying with relatives a few doors away from me over Christmas and, having gone out for a walk, had become temporarily disorientated!
R Feels Sick…
Anyway, going back to R and Christmas 2012, all went well and we had a brilliant Christmas Day. This continued into Boxing Day which we spent with my son and three year-old grandson. In the morning we went to the local park, played football and generally messed about before going home for lunch and chilling for the rest of the day.
Just before midnight, I was woken up by a knock on my bedroom door. As I opened it R, who was crying, ran off and into his room. I followed him and immediately realised from the give–away aroma on the landing that he’d been sick. When I entered his room it was obvious he had been very sick but I wasn’t prepared for what I saw.
R was cowering in a corner of his room still crying and looking more terrified than he had that first night he came to me. I felt so sorry for him. He thought that because he’d been sick I was going to hit him! I gave him plenty of reassurance that no-one was going to hit him or punish him at all, got him cleaned up and wrapped up in a fresh duvet on the sofa downstairs while I set about the room.
Fortunately, the reason for his sickness was not that he was unwell. It was because of the mixture of things he’d eaten throughout Boxing Day. Yet another lesson. It seems that children in care are often worse at regulating what they eat than those kids in a ‘normal’ (for want of a better word) family, and it’s one of our jobs as foster carers to help them.
In R’s case he usually ate a lot anyway, but this was accompanied by a very active lifestyle which meant he always kept in trim. Later in my brief fostering career, I was to have another placement to whom food was almost the be all and end all but trying to get him to exercise was a nightmare. But more of that perhaps in future blogs. R was able to go to bed again around 1am and had fully recovered by the time he got up.
A Budding Magician…
Over the previous few days he’d watched ‘Dynamo, Magician Impossible’ on the TV and seemed to be particularly interested. On the day after Boxing Day he went out with his placement support worker, and while he was out, bought himself a magic set with a voucher he’d been given for Christmas.
After returning home he spent the rest of the day practising his magic tricks and was so enthralled that the next day I took him to London where we visited a specialist magic shop and he bought another couple of tricks. R spent much of the following day as well practising his magic, and in the evening we went to see ‘A Christmas Carol’ at a local theatre. This turned out to be a real eye-opener in that R’s reaction was totally unexpected (what was that I said earlier about expect the unexpected?).
We arrived at the theatre in time for R to have an ice cream. He knew the story and we chatted a little about Scrooge and the Ghosts before we took our seats. When the curtain went up, R tapped me then whispered in my ear, ‘They’re real people! Up there, look, they’re real people!’ I said, ‘Of course, what did you expect?’ and he replied, ‘A DVD. I thought we were going to watch a DVD!’ I glanced at him from time to time throughout the performance and I don’t think he blinked or closed his mouth the whole time, so entranced was he by the experience.
By this time R had been with me about a month and I sensed that we were starting to develop a real bond. As Christmas came and went and he returned to school, however, things began to take a turn for the worse. The ‘honeymoon’ period was about to end.
And on that slightly sad note I’ll close out for this week but, before I do, I’d just like to wish you an enjoyable New Year’s Eve and hope that on New Year’s Day you don’t find yourself philogrobolized.
Next week: ‘Trouble on The Horizon’