Pass the Tissues


Oh dear, it just seems to go from bad to worse doesn’t it?! Argh, need to get some positive stuff on here or I’ll look back and remember only the misery and despair… 😉

Seriously though, feeling the weight of what we’re doing at the moment. Just when it feels like you’re getting your head round the practical, daily care of 3 small (but growing!) people, you remember that there’s a whole lot more that you need to be doing.

It began with a meeting with the Inclusion teacher at school, talking about doing some ‘Bonding Through Play’ sessions with the kids. Basically little games and activities that focus on nurture, structure, engagement and challenge (and maybe a few others…). And it is SO GOOD. I can completely understand the importance of it and the reasons to do it. So I left thinking to myself, “Ok, could be tricky to squeeze it in with the activities that they already do and homework, not to mention the 45 minute drive home from school, but we’ll make it happen.” Fab.

Fast forward a few hours and I find myself sitting in a meeting with a class teacher, discussing Smallest Person’s progress at school. He’s doing SO WELL and it settled, doing great, making progress, lots of positivity. She gives me a few things that we could also be doing to boost his maths and writing. “This is good”, I think. “He could get age expected!” Still ok.

Then comes today. Been having a couple of rough mornings with reaallly not being patient as we almost force feed Smallest Person and Middle Small Person to eat half a satsuma each. No mean feat. [Just to clarify, we don’t actually force feed them. Not quite]. Normally I can come back home, have a good nap/rest which rejuvenates me (a little) for the afternoon. Today though, there was some training. Which was SO GOOD. I mean it was inspiring, practical, useful, enlightening…I circled nearly all the positive words on the feedback sheet…! Life Story Work – so so important for them, whatever happens, so that they can make sense of this period in their life and how that affects them.

And yet I left feeling burdened. “Ok…another thing to fit in. When on earth are we going to fit this in? We can’t just do it with them all together, how can we actually do this?!?!” Remembering this side of fostering has hit hard these last few days. All this ‘extra stuff’ that your average parent doesn’t have to think about, or bother with.

I check my messages just before I leave. Our respite afternoon on Saturday isn’t going to happen. Holding back the tears…

School pick up: I realise that there was a parent/grown up thing in class. Which I hadn’t known about (because I didn’t read the whole newsletter), and wouldn’t have been able to go to anyway. So I wasn’t there. My heart sank and I could have cried. How could I have let them down like this?

Least Small Person arrives (early, whilst I am in the midst of feeling anguish) and DOES NOT STOP TALKING. I mean, seriously. He just talked and talked and talked and talked, without stopping, even for breath. Middle Small Person arrives, clearly not in the mood to listen, but quietly proud of something that I can’t hear about because Least Small Person IS STILL TALKING.

Smallest Person arrives and we leave. Not before Middle Small Person has a bout of ‘I will not look at you or listen to you’. And then nearly stops in the middle of the road (when a car is on it’s way towards us) to wave to a friend. Oh man.

I put some music on on the way home, but Least Small Person continues to talk, talk, talk. Beginning to wonder if this is more than just being a confident, chatty child. Most people around us seem so convinced that he’s functioning normally and well, though. I must be wrong…

We arrive, a bit of a rush to get to football. Middle Small Person refuses to leave the car. Brill. On the way to football, when Least Small Person has my full attention…he no longer wants to talk the whole time. ?!?!?!?!. Same story on the way home.

Tea, showers, not too much drama. Smallest Person goes to bed before storytime – not listening to the grown ups means you obviously don’t want to listen to a story, right? :\ So begins the ‘I am naughty, I am not good’ rhetoric which we have been trying to counter in recent weeks. My brain hurts.

Downstairs and it is time to cry. And try to come up with some sort of action plan. And then cry some more. THIS IS HARD.

Not Today

Some days, I just don’t want to. I don’t want to do the 30 mile round trip to school. I don’t want to get a healthy, balanced meal prepared. I don’t want to do the washing, or clean the bathroom, or tidy the lounge. I don’t want to print off the colouring pictures, or do the crafts, or play the games. I find myself thinking, “Not today”.

I’m tired of looking after someone else’s kids. Tired of doing their washing, feeding them, dealing with the defiance and the moaning, making them read their book and do their homework. Fed up of the constant need to tell me things over and over again (I must have heard about 5 times about the sunburn, or the tooth fairy who “brought me £1.50 when I was at home”, or the football tournament), fed up of holding onto my temper (and losing it a couple of times), of questioning my every decision and wondering if it was the right way to respond to a certain behaviour. I need to get the potatoes in the oven so that we can eat on time, I need to buy frozen peas, I need to call the social workers, I need to talk to the inclusion teacher at school, all in the next 25 minutes before I leave for the 45 minute drive to school.

But today, I just want to crawl back into bed, or watch a film, or do anything that is not related to these kids.

There’s no succinct conclusion to this post, but this is where I’m at and how it feels right now. Pretty rubbish. 😦

Woe is me

Ergh. I feel the need to get all of this rubbishy feeling stuff out onto somewhere, but now I’ve come to write it, I can’t figure out how to articulate the murky waters of my current emotions. May this rambling, unstructured post be a reflection of what the HQ of my brain is doing right now.

Basically just feeling pretty bad about myself and how I’m performing as a foster carer. I’ve feel like I’m always grumpy with the kids, constantly telling them to do something, then navigating the defiance and fallout when what we want them to do doesn’t align with what they want to do. And not navigating it well. I find myself frustrated rather than being all nurturing, I end up feeling all cross and often, at least one child ends up sulking or crying. It’s going SO well. A certain small person’s behaviour is becoming slowly more and more defiant, contesting facts that we give and things that need to be done.

“I want the green cup – it’s not fair!” “It’s NOT minus 2, it’s 2 degrees!” “No, I don’t want to go, it’s not fair” “No, I don’t want to listen to the story, we ALWAYS listen to the story [we don’t], it’s not fair!” “No-one ever listens to me [after refusing to listen to me tell said child to move and stop squashing a sibling]!” “I never sit in the middle, so-and-so always sits there…it’s not fair!” “Why? Why, why, why, why, why?”

And so on, and so forth. SO ANNOYING. The most annoying part, though? That I keep getting sucked into this cycle of moaning and end up making things worse. #fostercarerfailsagain

Another thing that has particularly struck home this week is the parents. These particular parents are lovely people, very compliant and all that – just incapable of maintaining a ‘good enough’ home and level of care. They have consistently not met the needs of their children, for most of the kids’ lives, and have made pretty bad choices in their own lives which has impacted their own capacity to manage themselves, let alone 3 kids. And yet this week, we’ve been told that they may, in fact, go home. After 2 months of all professionals being fairly certain that this would never happen. Quite a turn around. And I hear these parents talking in the review meeting, listening to them talking about what they’ve changed, how things will be different now…and I just do not know what to think. It’s not my place to make any sort of judgement, after all I have no say in what happens to these kids in the end, but I find it quite hard to remain completely impartial when it’s 3 kids’ futures on the line.

Not much movement on the attachment front, either. Still feel pretty bad about that, especially as everything seriously points to people ‘falling in love’ with their foster children. As one (pretty awesome) lady put it, I pretty much feel like a glorified babysitter. It does make me feel like a bit of a failure – like I’m not giving them the best care because of that, like they might be better off somewhere else – but hey ho.

I know that it’s me that’s the root of all this, after all, I’m the adult in these situations and cannot expect three young children who have had a pretty awful home life to be perfect and get things right. They need to know that their feelings, even if they’re frustrating me, are valid, and that it’s ok to feel those things. They need to know that we are here to help them manage those feelings and learn what to do with them. They need to know that they are loved, unconditionally. Even if we’re not ‘feeling’ the connection, they are still loved with a love that we cannot match, the love that God has for them. And ultimately, that is the most important thing.