Monday, 29 August 2011

Taken Along For The Ride

Auntie Sheila and Uncle Bob were not blood relations. They were chosen for me by the authorities. Or maybe they chose me. I cannot be certain which.
I think I would have been about 6 years old when we first met. They would collect me from the children's home where I lived, and take me to stay with them for the occasional weekend.
During the school holidays, I would sometimes stay with them for a week or more. I loved being with them. We would go on outings, traveling in Uncle Bob's motorbike and sidecar combination. Mostly I would travel in the sidecar, but once or twice I was allowed to sit pillion behind Uncle Bob. He used to put his coat belt around us both, to make sure I did not fall off.
Lots of times Uncle Bob would play cricket and Auntie Sheila and I would watch, sitting in deckchairs, as we ate sandwiches and drank orange squash. I can remember how proud I felt when he hit a four or sometimes even a six, or when he was bowling well and taking wickets.
Other times we would all go to the local park, and spent a happy hour or two catching sticklebacks in the stream with a net on a stick and a jam jar. There would always be an ice cream on the way home. Ice cream was a rare luxury for me.
They had a television too. The first one I had seen. Auntie Sheila and I would sit snuggled together watching children's hour.
They introduced me to their relatives, who were all very kind, and would spoil me with sweets and money. I grew to love Auntie Sheila and Uncle Bob. They had become my family. It was wonderful.
It was so exciting knowing that they were coming to collect me, and I would be free from the restrictions of the children's home for a while.
The worse part of our whole relationship was when it was time to go back after being so happy with them. I can still remember so vividly, the heartache I felt at saying goodbye. But Auntie Sheila would comfort me by saying we would see each other again soon.

One day as I was getting ready to go back to the children's home after another visit, they had some exciting news to tell me. They were so happy, because Auntie Sheila was going to have a baby. Of course, it meant that I would not be able to visit them anymore because the baby was going to keep them very busy.
That was it. Goodbye. The end of our relationship. More heartbreak.

I realise now that they were just temporary foster parents. They took me because they were paid to take me. I was, to put it bluntly, simply a commodity. Probably I helped to pay their mortgage. They took me to places and to visit their relatives only because they were going to do those things anyway.
I wonder if someone had taken the time to tell me the real situation right from the beginning, whether I would have understood. I think I would have, I'm told I was an intelligent child. But as usual it was a case of nobody taking the time to consider a child's feelings.

It was over 50 years ago when this happened. I thought I'd put the pain behind me, but right now as I write I feel angry. No wonder I made such a mess of my life, went off the rails, felt such a rage inside. The whole thing was almost engineered. Unthinking professional idiots shaped my formative years. I earned the right to be upset.
OK, sorry about that! Rant over. I'm a big boy now. I took the blows. I got knocked down, but I got up again. See, I'm indefatigable, I'm singing!
I want to make it clear that I do value the time I spent with Auntie Sheila and Uncle Bob. It was great while it lasted. The ending was thoughtless I suppose, but after all they were only doing a job of work.
Right that's it for now, I have to go. Got to look up that word, indefatigable.


  1. I get the feeling that in their way they cared about you. Otherwise they would not have made fun times for you when you were with them. Of course, they were playing at being a mommy and daddy and did not realize it. When they found out that they were to be real parents, they turned their attention to that. They served a valuable service for you because you knew for a time what it was like to be loved. And I get the feeling they did love you in a limited way. But knowing how love felt has undoubtedly enabled you to be the father that you are to your extremely handsome son George. You are right about many things. The people in charge of caring for children don't have caring souls. Certainly children need food and a place to sleep but love and knowing that they are cherished is just as important. And you certainly have earned the right to be angry and hurt and all of the other emotions you must feel at times.

  2. What a stupid system that let you be loved a little bit and then just dropped you off a cliff. I suppose it did give you an inkling as to what a good family life might be. I should be grateful that you had that, but it just stinks.

    I have to say that all those cricket words just sound so mysterious and wonderful. I have no idea what any of it means. It could be something from a fantasy book that is made up!

  3. I'm hoping that things have changed in this modern world. I'm hoping that kids are given more consideration. I'm hoping that a hug will stop that angry feeling ((John))

  4. Bit of a personal question now, John. After all the CR@P you have been through, is there anyone you can actually trust in a relationship....of course, I already know that answer. By the way, indefatigable HAS to be said in a Welsh accent like the guy from the Hornblower series!
    Jane x

  5. I think Emma's right, they must have liked you to show that kindness even if it did not end well. Thoughtless and downright cruel but perhaps there was more to the story that you aren't aware of. It sounded like a ruddy horrible system back then. I hope the so-called powers-that-be have gotten their act together by now.

  6. John, I'm with Emma and Denise on this post. I think your foster parents, Auntie Sheila and Uncle Bob, did care for you despite receiving compensation. Perhaps it was just as hard for them to tell you they couldn't take you anymore with their own child coming soon, while I'm not sure how that would necessarily mean they would have less time as you were not a baby by then. Still it was not handled in the best way for you.

  7. I would like to think that Sheila and Bob got into fostering because they wanted a child of their own. They knew they could love a child because you taught them how. Unfortunate that you got hurt in the process but you gave them a great gift, just as they gave you the same, no matter how brief.

  8. You were lucky to have them...even if it was for a short time.

  9. I can understand your anger. However their love for you at the time was probably real as they didn't have any children of their own. But it was very cruel of them or the system to cause you such pain.