Friday, August 05, 2016


It might be my imagination but foster children seem to develop in sudden spurts, more so than ordinaries.

By the way, I hope 'ordinary' children is an okay way of describing one's own children and other children who are not in care, only I can't think of a better single word.

It's like when there's a cup of tea being offered and you hear "Do you want fruit tea or ordinary?". It's no slight to call a rock solid cuppa 'ordinary', same with children.

One of my foster children has always struggled to make friends, it seems to me quite common for them to have a poor set of social skills beside all their other challenges.

This may possibly be because of the poor social skills on show in their real home. They may have picked up conflict, disloyalty and self-seeking as the basic skill-set. They may have seen judgemental-ism, sarcasm and verbal abuse as the norm.

If a child is let down by their role models perhaps they experiment with letting down their peers, and that's not the basis for friendships.

This particular child was the playground loner.

Used to have to hang around the 'Buddy Board' at playtime.

The 'Buddy Board' is a sign on a pole for kids with no-one to play with to stand next to and wait for another lonely child to go and join. I told the school I thought it was grotesque and that the staff should be involved in playtime helping show children how to play and develop friendships.

My child, meanwhile, seems to have been trying to work out what it took to get friends, and it was a long process, but suddenly a penny dropped.

All of a sudden, like over the last few weeks, the child is almost inundated. She has formed a gang of neighbouring children, and a separate gang of school friends. She rallies them up for hanging out, banging away until they are in line. When one gang disperses she's bugling for the other.

She has a bestie and a second and third bestie. I've never seen her so happy.

The thing is; I want to make a mental note of how this fantastic development came about. But I'm at a loss.

Perhaps it's this:

I find that some foster children have learned to despair. It's a tragic thing to see any person who has given up, even more tragic in a child. They must feel as though they've tried their best and the world just knocks them back every time, so why keep trying? The older a child gets the harder it is for us carers to inspire them, we keep trying but it might be that the best we can do is make things comfortable for them and join them in shielding them from any more disappointment.

I know plenty of adults who gave up trying a long time ago, and they are passably happy with what they've put in place of hopes and dreams. But in children hopelessness has surely arrived too soon.

I'd be chuffed to get any credit for inspiring this child but, without being self-deprecating, I reckon I just got lucky in having a child placed who still wants to make the most of life.

But I'm not going to let myself miss out on doing cartwheels every day when the house is full of her gangs and the laughter rings around the house.

It's because most foster children have so much ground to make up that their development often comes in sudden spurts, so much so that it's easier to spot progress in foster children than your own.

Ain't fostering grand!


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