Tonight I asked 6yr old Sloane* to sweep the kitchen. It’s a chore she’s been dreaming of since she arrived three years ago. But actually doing it
didn’t hold her interest for long. After running upstairs to deal with another situation, I came down to find only half the room done. Sloane had moved on to something else.
I called her back and said, “You only swept half the kitchen.”
“Yeah,” she answered, “I didn’t know what you were expecting.”
“I was expecting it all to be done.”
“Well, that’s not what I was planning on.”
This exchange sums up my life in ways I can’t begin to explain. As mentioned in my last post (March Madness), we had a 3yr old foster boy with us for the past ten days. The social worker and his foster mom described him as very shy and withdrawn. I worried how he’d fare in my boisterous household. Turns out he was anything but quiet. He dominated the atmosphere of our home. In a negative way he changed everything. For the first time I was at a loss. I had no idea how to curb all the behaviours. Most importantly – for me – I had no idea how to get him to sleep. He simply wouldn’t most nights. His foster mom said bedtime was easy. It was not so for me.
We muddled through then something shifted on Thursday. After another difficult visit with a foster mom friend, things got better. A comment she made changed my perspective. “He’s too young to have that scary look.” There were moments the look in his eyes struck terror in both of us. It was frightening.
I must admit I’m not always objective. Once I had a 13yr old pregnant foster child staying with me. Doing her laundry I was at first appalled by the lacy lingerie. Then I remembered, someone had bought this for her. Probably it was her mother who obviously wasn’t doing a very good job watching over her.
With everything thrown at foster parents sometimes you, or at least I, forget the kids are the victims. They didn’t choose this. Eric*, the visiting 3yr old, didn’t invite that level of anger into his heart. Someone else put it there. So I started praying it off. His temper tantrums became less prevalent. Joy began overtaking him. There were still trials – especially when we went to visit another friend of mine. Like Sloane, social settings seem to be a challenge for Eric.
In our final days together, he followed me around saying, “What are you doing mom?” I’d tell him and he’d chatter away. Apparently he doesn’t talk much at his regular foster home. “Every once in a while he’ll sing and I love hearing it because he’s happy,” the foster mom said when dropping him off. He sang, laughed, and smiled lots. In the end he was very happy.
Nothing about him was what I expected. But, in my case, life rarely is what I expected.
He left a few hours ago. I kind of miss him. Maybe we could have made more progress had we been together longer. I don’t know. But at least, in the midst of all the anger and chaos, I found his heart. Praying as he’s loved and cared for at his regular foster home, Eric continues to move past the inherited anger fighting to keep him. Praying he finds the courage to love.