I shall try to recreate the blog post I did last night. I was so disappointed that my computer ‘ate’ it. This time I shall create it in a word file, then copy it across, rather than entering it directly into the blogging website.
Last week I was at a work lunch where I sat opposite an older colleague called Derek. Derek’s daughter had been very ill recently, so I asked him how she was doing and apparently she was doing so much better. I continued to ask him how many children he had. When he replied, I thought he’d said “ten”, because the restaurant was quite noisy. When I asked him to repeat it, I realised he had indeed said ten. I nearly fell off my chair. But being as noisy as I am, I proceeded to ask lots and lots of questions. It turns out the oldest is 31 and youngest is 14. And there are no multiple births amongst them. Oh, did I mention that he was a Catholic. But if that wasn’t enough, his wife apparently loves kids (- you don’t say -) and is also a registered child minder and has always taken in an additional 3-4 kids on a daily basis while the parents go out to work. Oh, and they live in an 8 -bedroomed house! I did ask him whether his wife is a true super-woman, but he replied merely that she was very organised and the children were well disciplined. And I think therein lies the secret …
2 days later I was on the train with another colleague, Christine, who it turns out, has 6 children, of which one is autistic and one has a ‘concentration-type’ disability and needs to go to a special school. Did I mention that Christine works full-time and she is a single mum? Oh, and she is a registered foster parent! Apparently a few years back, a friend of hers was taken to hospital so she looked after her 4 children. Social services decided that as she was coping so well, they might want to formularise the agreement, which now makes her a foster mum. She is quick to tell me that when she took in the 4 kids, she did have only 4 children of her own! Since then she has only had the odd one or 2 foster kids, usually between 0-5 years. She fostered a little girl from when she was 6 hours old, until she was 18 months old. She was seriously thinking about adopting her, but before she had made her mind up, they found parents for the little girl. It broke her heart! Understandably too.
When I hear stories like this, I realise that looking after a cat really doesn’t count! But also, I look at friends of mine who have 1, 2 or 3 kids who battle to cope, how much more so if you had 6, 8 or 10! Also, in South Africa, at least childcare is affordable. But in most 1st world countries, it is so expensive that it is almost not worth while. I recently met up with an ex-colleague in London who spends £880 a month on childcare for her little boy. She says they cannot afford to have another one, because they won’t be able to pay the mortgage and childcare! For families on less than a certain income, there is help provided, but most middle class families would fall outside this banding.
I salute all the super-parents in the world!