I am the proud foster carer of a little boy. Bobby (not his real name) arrived at the beginning of October. It was an emergency placement and as far as I knew, he would be with me for 21 days. The local authority had no intention of paying to house him after that. Being a newbie, I accepted their words and prepared for 3 short weeks of supporting Bobby.
Three short weeks, huh? After the first, I realised that the remaining 16 days had the potential to become the longest I had ever experienced. Bobby was aggressive, abusive, naughty and lacked any boundaries that would have helped to make my job easier.
He arrived on a Monday. I was crying by the Friday.
If your first thought was, ‘Poor thing, she clearly couldn’t cope’, I’m happy to tell you that your assumption was wrong. I could handle Bobby and his tantrums, the smashing of things and tireless disobedience. I wasn’t ready for the lack of support from the local authority.
The people who had tasked me with safeguarding this childs’ future were nowhere to be seen when I needed them… and so I cried. Partly out of frustration, partly out of despair, mostly out of exhaustion. It had only been 5 days but I felt that I was alone in the wild.
That feels like such a long time ago now. The child I can hear creatively playing with the toys he received for his fourth birthday yesterday, is so far from the tall three year old who ran into my house eager to take control. We persevered and Bobby has become a different person. My social worker is supportive and I now know where to go to find support. Although I am still experiencing a lot of challenging firsts, I feel more equipped to handle them.
When I look into the eyes of the little boy that has moved into my house, I can feel him moving into my heart. It’s not a dangerous fondness that will damage us both when he leaves. It’s hope that he will become the best person he can be as I try to teach him that his situation does not define his ultimate outcome.
It’s been 52 days and I’m not sure when the placement will end, but time has moved forward and so have I. And, if I’m honest, being alone in the wild isn’t so bad after all.