Fostering – is it worth it?

We’ve got a Washing Machine and a separate Dryer.

That’s how posh we are.

They are in what we call The Utility Room.

In The Utility Room, there’s a cupboard full of cleaning stuff, a fairly redundant ironing board, a sink, and a toilet.

Once, one of our Foster Kids went to the toilet.

That’s not that unusual.

What was a bit unusual was he decided  to remove the detergent dispenser from the washing machine and smear his pooh in it, around it and sort of all over it.

Smearing is not that uncommon.

You can learn about it on Foster Carer courses.

However, cleaning smearing is generally not covered, and you’re left to work it out yourself, using whatever comes to hand.

In this case, my hand was the most suitable tool.

The typical Washing Machine has many nooks and crannies.

Only human fingers can really get pooh out of a Washing Machine’s nooks and crannies.

I’d say the excrement was still warm, just below body temperature.

My other blogs will give you an insight into some of the other highs and lows we’ve experienced over the last ten years or so.

On some days, I absolutely cannot believe we have wilfully and deliberately chosen to do this.

The emotional rollercoaster can be both terrifying and exhausting.

I don’t go on Rollercoasters. I get all the adrenaline I need from doing the school run.

There can be aggression, violence, destruction and allegations.

You will be tested.

On other days, I cannot believe the difference we have made to the lives of the children we have fostered.

I once read an article written by a Palliative Nurse.

On retirement she reflected on what she’d learnt from the dying people she’d cared for.

She thought younger people tended to do things they perhaps regretted.

They got drunk, and filmed themselves kissing road cones.

They hurt people needlessly or made career or relationship mistakes.

However on people’s death beds, the Nurse noticed that people regretted the things that they hadn’t done.

They regretted the decisions they had avoided making and the risks they hadn’t taken.

I was walking to the park with a kid. He’d been in and out of care for most of his life. Our home was the most permanent he’d ever known. Out of apparently nowhere, he began to talk.

“Phil, when I am old and you are very very old, what will my kids call you?”

This was a very unusual direction of conversation.

This kid usually lived absolutely in the moment and rarely thought of anything other than ‘now’.

I considered for a moment and we began to discuss possibilities.

“Uncle Phil, Mr Phil, Old Phil….Grandad…”.

We didn’t reach a conclusion but both agreed we would raise the issue again, at a later date.

Lots of little differences add up to make very very big ones, sometimes.

Every day that child is with us he is safe.

This is an improvement on the early years of his life.

By some criteria, he is even beginning to thrive.

He can make toasted sandwiches, put on his own shoes, and find his way to Home and Bargain when he wants to buy sweets and noodles.

Without my family’s decision to foster that might never have happened.

It seems quite likely that we will always be in each other’s lives.

There’s no end to what we might teach each other.

If things follow the natural order, one day, he might go to my funeral.

He might bring his family and his kids.

Perhaps there are people not yet born, who will benefit from our decision to be a family to a kid who didn’t have one.

Heather Smalls once asked me ‘What have you done today, to make you feel proud?’ ‘I’ve looked after a kid’ was my best answer.