There are two ways to look at fostering.
It's just like ordinary parenting except you have people looking over your shoulder all the time checking up on you.
It's just like ordinary parenting except you have loads of people helping you with everything.
I'd be a liar if I pretended there haven't been one or two moments when I've felt I was being checked up on. Why? Well partially because you are being checked up on, because fostering is important, and just like if I was a pilot I would want to be given my annual medical and have my eyesight checked and the plane serviced and MOT'd.
The truth is that 99.9% of the time I'm with number Two.
For example, you know those tricky parenting decisions, such as the righ balance between what time is bedtime if there's school and when is bedtime if there's no school. And when does bedtime get put back a bit because young people get older? Well it's even trickier in fostering. So you ask the question when your Blue Sky social worker visits, and you have a back-up if the child disagrees; the social worker said it's officially bedtime.
Pocket money is another good example. Mobile phone usage, that's another.
Plus, there are things that foster carers aren't expected to know inside out such as court proceedings, the legal status of various aspects of your child, the benefits system, smoking and the law.
Not only that, I once called my social worker from the car (having pulled over and turned the engine off, obviously) because I couldn't find any parking when I was taking a child to meet his mother and the SW sorted me out.
Mostly, they are trained in child development, and child psychology. They want to hear what you have to say about how the child is in herself, and then you get good feedback about how to move things forward for her.
Frankly, every parent should have that kind of support, but that's along way in the future, maybe when we don't have to spend so much money on missiles.
On top of all that, your support network knows how hard you're working for the child, even if it doesn't feel that you're doing all that much, they remind you that a warm clean bedroom, regular hot meals, someone to ask "How was your day?", someone to say "I don't think that remark was you at your best", those sort of basics, well, that's the job right there.
And every so often they just go ahead and pat you on the back for what you're doing, and that's a damn good feeling every time.
Yep, fostering is definitely number Two.