To say that I have been losing my mind a little during this lockdown period with 6 children in the house is the understatement of 2020. One slightly soggy Tuesday morning, when my husband had taken off for the safety of work, I decided, on a whim, that we needed to get out. Obviously, at the moment, pickings are slim. So, after narrowing down my options, I decided on a trip to the local lake to feed the ducks. To be fair, I thought it would go down like an absolute lead balloon, so I kept quiet about what we were doing, bundled five out of six children in the car and went. It only took ten minutes or so to get there and from the excitement in the car, you would think they had expectations of ending up at Disney World (this was birth as well as foster children – the joy of not leaving the house in weeks)!
Arriving at the lake, we parked and I grabbed the loaf of bread I had flung in the boot as well as various coats/hoodies and any other pieces of paraphernalia which I now realised would be in abundance every time we left the house as a family. There is a small jetty into the lake and as we approached it I opened the bread and handed each child a slice. My birth children went ahead to have a nosey at the ducks and my foster children just stood in front of me. After a couple of seconds of confused silence the oldest one looked at me and asked, totally deadpan, “Am I supposed to eat this?” It took a split second to realise she was serious. Hiding both my surprise and horror I quickly explained the concept of feeding the ducks.
And just like that, the pressure I had been putting on myself to be this all-singing, all-dancing, swinging from the rooftops foster carer dissolved. I realised I didn’t need to be creating exceptional experiences, I just needed to be creating experiences. Bog standard, simple experiences that would be the makeup of a normal childhood – something children in care don’t always have access to, yet need so desperately.
All in all, it was a great morning. We fed the ducks and then went climbing on wooden stumps and made dens. Free, simple, yet potentially life-changing.