A while ago I blogged about joining Big Brothers Big Sisters. It’s been a fairly laboured process, but I’ve finally finished the training and if all goes well I shall be acquiring a child shortly. It probably would’ve been quicker to just make my own kid, but I guess that’s not the point of the exercise. (It’s funny how any idiot can have babies, but lord help you if you want to spend a couple of hours a week with someone else’s).
So after completing an initial interview, psychological profile, police check, Working With Children check and some bland, superfluous online training (don’t hit your Little, don’t give your Little alcohol, don’t get naked in front of your Little), the next step was a training day. I turned up on a Saturday (only mildly hungover) and was submitted to a range of exercises and workshops designed to widen our perspectives and put ourselves in a Little’s shoes. It was very informative and entertaining, and then an actual Big Sister turned up with her Little Sister to talk to us and answer our questions.
And that’s about the point when my cold, cynical heart melted into my shoes. The Big Sister was perhaps mid-thirties, a lovely outgoing lady with a partner and no children. Her Little Sister was nine years old, one of five children from a disadvantaged family. They talked about cooking omelettes together and making Christmas presents for their families, which was touching….but the way that little girl gazed adoringly up at her Big Sister instantly turned me from “this will be a nice thing to do” to “holy shit, this is the best thing I’ve ever done, ever”.
After the training, it was time for the home visit. A couple of co-ordinators come over to ensure you’re not running a meth lab in the garage, then ask you every question imaginable about your family, friendships, relationships, childhood, religion, sexual leanings, drug use, alcohol consumption, illnesses, experiences…I almost felt like I was undergoing top secret positive vetting. They were lovely about it nonetheless.
Then they check your referees (the production manager at work made me sit with him while he phoned them – I squirmed and cringed while he delivered a glowing review that made me sound like Nelson Mandela), then there’s another online course to complete, then supposedly you’re ready to be matched. I can’t bloody wait.