10 funny/not-funny foster care problems

We’ve been doing this fostering thing for nearly 18 months now. In many ways I still feel like the new kid on the block. We’ve only had six little loves, and there are veterans out there with 30+ to their names and in their hearts. But all the same, I’ve learned quite a lot over the past year and a half. Here are ten unexpected ‘problems’ that I’ve discovered come with the territory as a foster carer. Some are funny. Some not so funny.

Maybe, if you know a foster carer, this will help you to understand a little more of their crazy life.

  1. The complete inability to plan ANYTHING

    Let’s say you want to book a family trip to the zoo a few months in advance. You probably have a good idea how old your children will be in any given month. In fact, you probably have a good idea how many children you will HAVE in any given month. This, friends, is a luxury I no longer enjoy. I know I’ll have at least two… but will I have three? Four? Will one be a baby and exempt from entrance fees? Will I have 7-year-old triplets? Only God knows – literally.

    Or let’s say you want to arrange to go for a walk with friends next Thursday. Thursday is your free day, so you know you can do it, right? How lovely. Thursday was my free day, too – until one quick phone call changed contact plans and now my Thursdays are full. Cue me cancelling my plans… again.
  2. Your life becomes a series of acronyms

    “I need you to meet with the CSW, IRO and HV at the LAC review next Tuesday. You will be discussing the recent care plan change from Section 20 to ICO, with a view to a FCO. We will also be discussing the upcoming IRH, which was mentioned at the PPM we had a few months ago. Your SSW will be there to support you, and a FSW will be there to support birth parents. You can bring FC6 & 2 with you, as we can arrange care here. If the courts rule for a FCO we would like to arrange a meeting with you and an ASW to discuss where we go from here.

    “Got that?
  3. Being the mom… but not

    I cook their meals, clean their clothes, wipe their bottoms. I teach them to talk, take them for their first swim, steady their hands as they learn to walk. I comfort them through teething, get up in the night with them, nurse them through illness. I read goodnight stories, get sleepy morning cuddles, tickle them till they giggle. I can read their faces better than anyone, understand their incomprehensible babble, and pick up on their subtlest cues. In my heart, I am their mom. But the problem is – I’m not.

    I send them off with strangers to visit their parents. I teach them to love another instead of me.   hand them over when I’d rather keep them close. I build in their now, so others can share in their future.

    I’m their mom – but I’m not.

  4. Getting the names wrong

    You know that thing you do as a parent when you try to call your kid, but call the wrong name first? Maybe you say, “Come here Jon – Davi – Lewis.” Well, my list of names is growing longer very quickly.

    “Come here, Ash – Am – Mar – Eliz – Bri – Luc – Ame – Charity…”By this time next year I might just call all kids by one generic name to save on memory space.  ‘Jo’ sounds good.
  5. The joy of the UNANNOUNCED VISIT

    So we all know the mad tidying up we all do before visitors arrive. But what if that visitor was a social worker? And what if, in addition to the 100 odd scheduled visits a year that social workers made to your house, there was also the promise of one unannounced visit a year. At any time a social work may just appear at the door, ready to record their findings of the state of your home and kids?

    Yep. Oh-so fun.
  6. The conflict of feeling new and experienced all at the same time

    When a new child comes to live with us, it’s like having, er.. I don’t know… a new child. Crazy, but true. And if that child is a baby, it’s like having a new baby. Obvious when you read it, right?  But the thing is, no one treats you like that. No one cooks you meals, asks if you need help, or sympathises with the demands of a sudden extra body in the house. (Okay, not strictly ‘no-one’. Some very wonderful people in our lives go out of their way to check if we need anything. If that’s you, know just how much it means to us. Thank you.)

    But at the same time, you’re not a new parent. And the longer you foster, the more experienced you are. You get used to constantly dipping in and out of parenting a variety of ages. You become experienced at dealing with different stages of childhood, because you’ve just done it so often and so recently. You don’t want people treating you like the newbie – you’ve most likely got more experience than them.

    We’re hard to please, us foster carers.  Sorry about that.

  7. Storage!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Now I know here in England we’ve all got small houses and not enough space. We all need more storage. But seriously, foster carers take this to the extreme. In addition to the stuff our core family unit own and need space for, in our house we also store:

    a full size single bed; two toddler beds; a cotbed; a moses basket; bedding for all those beds; three chests of draws; a wardrobe; two carry cots; two pushchairs; two car seats; a booster seat; a playmat; a bouncer; a walker; a toy ring; two play mats; a baby bath; a highchair; a nappy bin; two nappy bags; a night-light; a baby monitor; bottles; dummies; toddler cups, plates, and cutlery; bibs; girls’ clothes from newborn to age 6; boys’ clothes from newborn to age 6; toys and games suitable from newborn to age 6; spare suitcases; memory boxes; contact bags;

    I think God gave us expandable walls.
  8. Awkward introductions

    It used to be easy – “Hi, nice to meet you!  These are my kids.” Not any more. ‘These’ aren’t always ‘my’ kids. Sure, it doesn’t matter if I’m just meeting you in passing. You don’t need to know that one (or two) are not really mine. But what if you’ve moved to the area and you’re joining my social group? Do I tell you now? Do I tell you later? Do I just let you figure it out? And what if I’m signing a borrowed baby up for a mother and baby swimming group? It’s just so complicated. Maybe a more experienced foster carer has a good system worked out, but I’m still floundering in this one.
  9. Knowing too much

    We did a lot of learning before becoming foster carers. Then we went through the assessment process, where they put us on a course to learn some more. Then they require that we do a minimum of five training course/books a year, every year. Then we started fostering actual children, and the REAL learning began in earnest.

    Suffice it to say I know an awful lot about attachment, trauma, loss, and transitions, both in theory and practice. The trouble is, I know more than the professionals who I rely on for help. So when it comes to transitioning a child from my home to another, I am often helpless to make things better. I know what needs to be done, but there are too many others in charge who don’t know, and my voice is not enough to get it done.
  10. A really long prayer list and a head full of dreams

    The more kids we have, the longer my prayer list gets. By the time I’m 40 I think it’s going to take me all day just pray for each child.  This a good thing.  But time consuming.

    And my nights. They are filled with dreams of the little loves we no longer have in our homes, but are still in my heart. Here they visit me, sometimes happy and sometimes distressed. It makes for heart-achey sleep.

So there you have it. Ten things I’ve learned in eighteen months. But for all the ‘problems’, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Fostering has been the biggest blessing our family could have asked for, and we are so thankful God entrusted us with this beautiful life.

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Just for fun

Prince: Mommy – do Germans get sick more than other people?

Prince wanted to give a friend of ours a present…
Me: But we don’t really know what he likes.
Daddy: He likes sociology!
Prince: What’s sociology?!
Me: It’s about how people relate to each other.
Prince: Relate? Relate… relations! I know, we could give him Uncle Ryan!

This girl has SO - MUCH - CHARACTER,

This girl has SO – MUCH – CHARACTER,

I told the kids to tidy their room, and if they were quick they could read before bed. After a short while, this conversation ensued…
Princess: Mommy! I need to send this dress to charity.
Me: Why?
Princess: Because it’s a faster way than cleaning up.

Princess, on her way through the kitchen, noticed the dishwasher open, clean and full: “Mommy – I would be happy to unpack the dishwasher for you!
Prince, putting down his toys in the lounge: Me too!

Princess declared that: Granny Margaret, Pauline, Auntie Helen and Mommy will be the bridesmaids at my wedding. GUB [her great-uncle] will be the photo-er.

Prince, after our history read-aloud: I have more cashews than almonds. It’s like Babylon taking over Assyria!

Prince: You know, Mommy, not everything is made out of molecules.
Me: [Blank stare]
Prince: Molecules are not made out of molecules!

Prince: I want to have a 4×4 when I grow up.
Daddy: The trouble with 4x4s is that they aren’t very economical – they cost a lot to run.
Prince: Yes – but I want one so that Papa will like it when I drive him in it.

Princess:  My favourite country is Papua New Guinea. Because the first part is Papa.

Princess in the morning: I think I really can fly, you know. I think I remember flying before.
Later that the evening: I can’t fly. I tried. I just kept landing.

Princess: Isn’t it wonderful? What God has blessed us with?

Prince: I don’t think this bear can be in the Teddy Bear’s Picnic, Princess.
Princess: Prince! It’s the WIFE!

Princess:  Mommy, it’s quest time on Classic FM. I’d really like to do a quest.

Princess’s morning prayer:  “And God, thank you that you can hear our prayers even at the same time as other people might be praying. I know you have a thousand listeners. I don’t know what listeners means, but I just made it up. But you know what I mean, God.”

Princess:  Will, do you like tomatoes?
Will: Why, yes, I do!
Princess:  Oh… sorry – I ate them all.

Princess:  After eating two slices of pizza, a plateful of veggies and a blueberry muffin, my five-year-old looks at me and says, ‘Do you know what I am? A hungry Princess.’

Prince:  This house is one of heaven’s many mansions.

Life is so fun with this cool kid :)

Life is so fun with this cool kid 🙂

This rain is such a nuisance…

"This rain is such a nuisance..."

“This rain is such a nuisance…”

We’re just a little bit wet here in the UK this winter! With the recent flooding causing havoc and distress, I thought I’d lighten things up and share with you a poem my Grandmother wrote, reflecting on the days of Noah and the flood. At least things are not THAT bad here… 🙂

[NOTE: this poem may not be suitable for children due to references to the sexual immorality which was prevalent at this time in history.]

 

Après moi

Let me tell you of my neighbour –

He is such a funny man.

He doesn’t fit in.

For ever since I can remember

He’s been working on that crazy boat of his.

And he never comes to local celebrations –

He calls them sin.

He’s cold and dead and thoroughly a bore.

Why, only last month when we had a riot

– the Nephilim had come –

You do remember, don’t you? – Those little virgins –

We made them dance and then dismembered them.

Hilarious fun!

Why, that old fool! He didn’t have the sense

Even to lock himself up in his house,

To stand aside.

My dear, he tried to interfere, harangued us

Mouthing of God – and oh, my dear, the biggest laugh of all –

He cried!

And have you heard? He keeps predicting floods

He says we’ll drown!

Here we are, six days’ journey from the sea!

And although it’s getting wet down here

– This rain is such a nuisance – up the hill

It’s fairly dry, in town.

Just look at that monstrous structure!

It’s taller than the temples

And longer than the creek.

He’s closed the door now, locked his family in.

And my dear, they say he has a zoo –

We saw some creatures going two by two

Into the boat last week.

– But about that feast that we had planned for you –

An indoor orgy’s all we’ll get together

In this inclement weather…

Memories to remember

Some sweet and funny comments from my precious kids (Prince age 6/7, Princess age 4).  Enjoy!

Prince, after I kissed him goodnight, “You know, Mommy, girls are quite in style to me now.”

Princess, while watching me weigh myself: “Can I see how much MY feet cost?”

Prince: You know, Mommy, I don’t even know who I’m going to marry, yet!
Me: No, but God does. You should make sure you choose someone who loves God and will be a good mommy for your children.
Prince: Yep. I think I will go to town to choose my wife. I will ask everyone in town, ‘Do you love God?’ and if one says yes – I’ll choose her!

The beginning of Prince’s prayer on Friday morning at breakfast: “Dear God, thank you for this lovely day. Thank you that we are not having vegetables for this meal…”  (Oops!  I guess my vegetable passion hasn’t been passed on yet…)

Princess looked down at her feet while running in the park, and exclaimed, “My feet are going faster than I expected!”

Love these sweet and funny kiddos!

Love these sweet and funny kiddos!

Prince, learning about capital cities: “Which ones are the lower-case cities?”

Princess, on family night, picked up a chip from her bowl and exclaimed, “This chip is as flat as a pig!”

Walking home from swimming, the kids & I played ‘I Spy’. It was Prince’s turn:
Prince: …something beginning with ‘M’.
Mommy & Princess make some wrong guesses.
Prince: I’ll give you a clue – look all around you.
Mommy & Princess give up.
Prince: Molecules!

I asked Princess to give me a long kiss on my cheek (so that Daddy could catch it on camera). She looked at me sadly and replied, “I can’t, Mommy. Because one time when you and Daddy did a long kiss you said I couldn’t do that.”

Princess, praying before bed one night: I pray, Father Lord, that you will help me to love other people in a way to show them that I love them more than just princessey things.

Princess, writing a card at the table, spies Prince sleuthing in the hallway with a Nerf gun, and calmly comments: “Prince, I know your excellent plan is to shoot me.”

Prince, putting his arms around my neck and pulling me close:  Mommy – you’re my favourite of the physical things.

Princess came after a long and quiet period outside…
Princess:  I’ve been trying to rescue a snail from a spiders web.
Prince:  Princess, that’s very sweet.  But you should just leave it – that’s nature!  Just let nature do it’s thing.  You shouldn’t change nature.

Princess:  Who flushed that toilet?!
Prince: Me!
Princess:  Oh – I thought it was an invisible person.
Prince: There are no invisible people!
Princess: Except for the people who are…
Prince: Yes – like pick-pockets.

The things kids say

Children are such a joy! The things they say can be funny, unique, precious and insightful.  Today I just want to share with you some of the wonderful things my kids have said over the years.

Prince Quotes:

Age 5

Prince: Mommy, what’s ‘paradise’?
Me: A place where everything is perfect.
Prince: Well – this house is paradise.

An excerpt from Prince’s prayer:
Please may you spread out your wings like an angel around us that you may protect us from the bad people; that it can act like a shell.

Prince: What are those little bags made out of?
Me: A kind of plastic.
Prince: Oh, I thought so. I didn’t think of that!

Whilst watch a French cartoon: Mommy – Do French people know what they are saying?

Princess: I am a very, very beautiful person.
Prince: Princess! You are not quite a person yet!

On hearing someone mention “toiletries”, Prince looked up and said with a giggle: Toilet trees?!?!?!

Daddy: Can’t you fly?
Prince: No!
Daddy: How do you know – have you tried?
Prince: Yes

On noticing Prince picking his nose on the train…
Me: Prince, don’t do that.
Prince: Why?
Me: Because it’s not nice for other people.
Prince: But I’m not going to SHARE it with them!

Age 4

Prince, completely out of the blue: It makes sense, right?  If a kid is 8?

Prince was holding a tape measure: Mommy, how much do you inch?

Pushing his bread roll away: Here Daddy – you can have this.  The butter is embarrassing!

Princess quotes:

Age 3

Princess: I’m going to be an adult, soon.
Me: Oh, boy!
Princess: [giggles] No, Mommy! I’m a girl!

Sitting opposite her brother at the table:  I am oppositting you!

Princess: Mommy I’m REALLY hungry. I really want something that’s light green, and round.
Me: Like what?
Princess: A grape.

Trying to tell me her tights and panties are falling down: Ah! My bottom is falling apart!

Conversations with a 3 year old at 2am…
Princess: Mommy, I like water, don’t I?
Mommy: Mmm.
Princess: Water is healthy, isn’t it?
Mommy: Mmm.
Princess: It gives us exercise!
Mommy: [blank, sleepy stare]
Princess: We have energy, don’t we?
Mommy: (reluctant) Mmm.
Princess: But Uncle Ryan doesn’t have energy, does he, NO.

Daddy suggested Princess climb up and kiss Uncle Ryan. Her response was: Daddy – you do it.

Princess: “Mommy – when I think of something of my in head, I pray about it.”

Explaining a picture she has drawn:
This is a turtle. A turtle’s head. Been cut, by the people. And it’s crying with bursting tears.

Right after eating a whole slice of Daddy’s toast, drinking Daddy’s drink & drinking Mommy’s drink, at 8:40am:
Mommy, I’m hungry. Because I haven’t had lunch today.

Princess seemed to have pins & needles: Hey! My feet are bizzing!

Princess’ comment to me one morning: I wish your hair was like Micah’s, Mommy.

Age 2

Princess: I’m a Little Big!
Me: You’re a Little Big?
Princess: Yes, I’m a Little Big, and you are a Humongous Big.

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