Wednesday, January 14, 2015


Now that Christmas is back in its box it always seems like it never happened. It's such a standout Bank Holiday. That's all it is really, a Bank Holiday. The Christians big day. But we all go to town, especially the athiests and agnostics. 

It lasts ten days, ten days away from your normal life.

Things happen differently. Family is right to the fore. If you foster it's a very special stretch.

This Christmas in our house a foster child came of age.

We had a mini-crisis. An elderly family member fell very ill a few days before Christmas, and things looked bleak. A younger family member took the news badly and struggled to cope. Christmas in our house this year was all ambulances and worrying hosptial visits. The younger family member was staying with us, and became inconsolable.

We all felt bad, but rallied round. Life is about the living, and if one of us isn't going to be around much longer we make things as good as they can be for them, but also look out for the ones who still have lives to make something of.

We had a good Christmas Day, but we were all feeling sad, and one family member was showing it. It's hard to stop going downwards when you're cooped up in a house with no shops or work to go to. Weeping gently, staying in the dressing gown, not joining in.

We'd have phoned the doctor but, well, you don't like to bother people over Christmas.

Here's what happened. I still have to pinch myself, it's all true.

The foster child stepped in.

Maybe it was down to the fact that our family was in some kind of mild chaos and foster children usually have more experience of chaos. Our problems were no more than a '2' on the Richter Scale, I'd have called Blue Sky if we had any concerns on the fostering front.

Blue Sky always point out that a foster family is exactly that, a family, and things happen in families. It's how you deal with those things. If they wanted an even ride for chidren in care they'd put them in a Travel Lodge.

Maybe the foster child was more used to chaos than us. By 'chaos' I mean strong emotions, good ones, but nonetheless over-riding and intrusive. 

The foster child I'm talking about had it bad from birth, from what we've been told barely a day went by without deep anguish, anger and fear. The child was a challenge to us all from day one. With help from all sides we've seen good progress. 

The one thing you can't change in your home is that the foster child is the foster child, everyone else is not. It's almost impossible to promote the child to full family status for obvious reasons. So the child has to live with the fact that they are the ones with the biggest problems, the one everyone feels they ought to help, the one who's entitled to blow a fuse from time to time.

There's a syndrome called "Learned Helplessness", it's next to impossible not to imbue your foster children with a smidgen of it, because they are always the ones  being helped.

But then a situation, God given in this case, can free them up from that status.

The child grew. With everybody else in the house in various states of care and woe, the child ascended to a height of calm equilibrium never before seen. Exuded empathy (kindness is a gold star quality to nurture in foster chidren isn't it?), wise thoughts, words and behaviour. 

Not a squeak of the "Me me me" that looked after chidren can understandably have as their normal mode.

I actually said to the child at one point; "What's it like being the rock of the house?" and I got back nothing but a gentle nod.

Everything in the family is fine now. The older family member is back from hospital good as ever, the younger one has bounced back, as people do, and we are getting on with 2015. 

Some families get themselves a Dyson for Christmas, or a Moulinex.  

In fostering, your family can get themselves a revelation. Which is what Christmas is supposed to be all about.

Isn't life grand?


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