Obviously, in fostering you come back from holiday for a rest.
Here we are abroad, I've just come up from the pool via one of those little shops that sells everything except actual PG Tips, to make a family lunch and catch up on emails. Other half is having thirty minutes of eyes-in-the-back-of-his-head time then he'll round them up for melon and salad bits on our balcony.
There's a funny feeling going round the family. One of our looked-afters might be going home soon and despite the good feeling that you have hopefully played your part in helping them get back on track, it's poignant.
One of my emails confirms the possible date when the child will be collected by his social worker.
The child hasn't been plain sailing. We had one group of sibs once who were plain sailing from start to finish; I felt like Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music.
We're not in it for plain sailing; we stuck our necks out when we joined Blue Sky and said we're not afraid to look at any case.
I say this purely to get the point across that our experiences are probably a bit more colourful than most, at least that's what social workers tell us from time to time. Maybe they're just being encouraging. The point I'm on about is that in fostering you can set your own limits; we're all different, have different things to offer. I met one brand new foster carer who was waiting for her first placement who told me she only had one stipulation, that was that there'd be no bad language. That was about 3 years ago now, I keep meaning to find out if she's still waiting; you've got to be realistic.
Back to the might-be-going-home-soon child. The bugbear as you would probably guess is that the other(s) aren't going home soon. So you've got yourself an exercise in diplomacy.
Mustn't overdo the "Isn't it wonderful to be going home soon!" stuff with the lucky one, because the other(s) will be dented, which can come out as "Can I have a new XBox?"
Here you are giving them a holiday of a lifetime (hopefully) and they may never have a holiday again, at least not as children. The child in question had never seen the sea before even though the family 'home' was 2 miles from the coast.
So you split the difference with your sympathy and support. There's something of a bereavement about it too. Someone who was there in their pyjamas at 6.00am in your house and made you miss your turn in the bathroom because they were in a grump becomes family of sorts, no doubt about that.
You sometimes half expect them to appear again, even years later. Someone says their name and Bang! You almost call up the stairs to see why they're so quiet.
You tidy their old room, change the bed, inevitably find some ten pence knick-knack of theirs which you put somewhere safe in the unlikely event it's asked for. You notice it from time to time, it brings them back.
You should throw it away really but that would be to somehow throw the child away.
But fostering is about the future, and one of the other emails was from Blue Sky asking if we wanted to wait a bit before being approached with another potential placement.
I replied that provided the child goes home on the date that's being talked about, we'd be up for another from the same day.
Provided I've had a 20 minute rest after this holiday.