I have discovered the Holy Trinity of (foster) parenting: Add a 10 year old on Half Term, a teenager doing GCSE exams and an 8 month old baby – mix these together and take a deep breath! I sound dramatic, and I must admit the thought of it was actually far worse than the actual week. I had nightmares of juggling Baby S, dealing with fits of revision hysteria from M and ferrying J to and from football camp with a screaming baby in the car. Actually, none of that happened and mostly because we were a household of snot, gunk, drippy noses and hacking coughs, and too ill to do much.
Poor kids! Baby S had a dose but coped with it best out of all of us. The only one that got away with the spring cold was Hubby. But then who else was going to make emergency runs to Tesco to get bulk purchases of cold cures, tissues and Lucozade?
Apart from the sneezing and spluttering, we have all survived half term and even enjoyed most of it. M was supposed to be revising, and as long as there is a GCSE in celebrity footwear, she’ll sail through! J missed the first day of the football camp which really upset him, but with a high temperature, I didn’t think it was wise. It was a shame as he was worried the other kids would have formed friendships, therefore excluding him and I had similar silent worries. However, it was unfounded as his football skills spoke for themselves and J is a naturally likeable boy.
Baby S is such a delight and even full of gooey gunk she managed to smile 90% of the day. She is being assessed for a couple of potential health issues and will soon be undergoing tests. I used to worry about it all the time; the ‘what ifs’, how would it affect her? What about her future? However, over months of comparing her progress to other babies, Netmums forums and slightly gloaty Facebook posts, I no longer lose sleep. She’s delightful, very happy and developing at her own pace. I’ve learnt a valuable lesson this week about baby groups. They offer brilliant stimulation for babies, encourage movement, core development and social interactions for both baby and mum but the flip side is the neurosis they bring out in mums!
One baby group I go to is particularly good for Baby S as she enjoys the music and bright colours, but the mums are super competitive. Individually, they are all very pleasant, but there are little clusters of mum’s comparing each stage of development and secretly trying to win whatever contest is currently going on, be it who’s baby rolled first, which one sat up earliest, who’s eating solids and who’s making the best super organic baby food? Unfortunately, S is not in competition as she’s not rolling or sitting, but she is the cutest… in my opinion!
Last week I had a blog planned for Volunteer Week, but due to various colds in the household and Half Term it got lost in my ‘to do’ list. Although I’m a little late to the #Volunteerweek party I do think there is a huge benefit to volunteering, to the children in the household and to myself. I volunteer at a Food Bank run by Trussell Trust, and although I’ve written about the effects it has had on M and other children I have fostered, it’s worth a mention again. M used to make disparaging comments (back in her early days with us, when confrontation was her main mode of communication) about me being lame because I helped in a Food Bank and about the people who used it. Gradually over the months and then years, she stopped, mostly because she got no riled response from me, but also as time went on, she had less need to resort to confrontation (a defensive tactic often used by a lot of Looked After Children), as she began to feel more secure. She started accepting it was just something I did, and then began asking the occasional question, usually giving a compassionate response with an understanding beyond her years.
Researching awareness and celebration days in the UK for future blogs, I came across a website that lists them in date order. I found out that Chocolate has 3 days dedicated to it (International Chocolate Day – January 27, World Chocolate Day – July 7 and a whole Chocolate Week of celebrations in October) and there is even an International Carrot Day (April 4) but best of all is World Gin Day (June 10)! Who knew? There is still over a week of GCSE’s exams to get through so that might be handy.