The Birthday Duo

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We celebrated with an apple cake at the beginning of a long day and homemade cupcakes at the end of the very long day. This year, 42 and 11. I love these two. I’m thankful for them even when I forget to tell them. I should remember to tell them more often.

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The flip side of foster care

He’s a handsome little guy and when he’s sweet, he’s so very sweet. I tell him that when I can. “J5, has anyone ever told you what a sweet boy you are?” He grins and looks away. Like most boys growing up in this technological age, he’s fascinated with the iPad and asks to play it several times a day. I give him turns, but sometimes tell him he needs to find something else to do. We have plenty for him to do. He likes blocks and cars and playdough. Telling him, “no,” to the iPad is about the only thing he accepts that response on. If we tell him no to, say, having a doughnut at bedtime, or if we tell him no to hitting one of the girls in the face hard with a stuffed animal, he flips an internal switch and moves into a rage I’ve never seen in a child before, let alone experienced or had directed at me.

And I hate to admit it, but there’s just so much, “I hate yous” and 20-minute in-your-face screaming sessions I can take. I’ve cried a lot this week. I’ve prayed for the next phase for this one to come quickly.

As Craig mentioned, he is bearing the physical brunt of things, as when J5 moves into one of these full-scale melt downs, Craig has usually been here to help and by help, he’s the one to get hit. When this is happening, I make the girls go into a bedroom or downstairs and I join them. We let Craig handle this as much as possible.

As it was happening again last night, I shot an email off to my case worker and asked her to intervene to speed things up for his long-term placement. I confessed weakness. I confessed fear.

And today, a new day, he wakes up sweet again. He eats cereal and plays quietly, and coos at Baby M for a little before running off for more toy time. And I know we’ll have a pretty decent day and I feel guilty for my email last night. But, lo, the night is coming, and I do dread it. I dread it every day.

It is hard not to blame the boy. It is his behavior that is acting out against us, but is it really? He is living what he’s learned. And he’s old enough to know this isn’t where he belongs and he’s not where he wants to be. He’s not thankful that we’re keeping him out of the shelter for this short season. Should he be? He’s five. Five year old boys don’t belong in shelters, and they know it. So they aren’t grateful to the family who takes them out of it. No, they are just angry that they aren’t with their family anymore and now the people to blame aren’t the workers who removed them from their home, or the shelter where we picked him up, but us. In the eyes of J5, we are the ones keeping him from home. And for the majority of each day, he’s content and happy here. But then something happens that reminds him and suddenly we’re the enemy again. This happens every day and I’m losing my mind in the waiting for it to happen and weathering it while it does. Every day.

Foster care is not all baby coos and snuggle puppy fun. These are real little people who have already experienced really hard things.

And once again I find myself saying this is not the way things are supposed to be and begging God to come and make all things new again. Because these kids, because I, so desperately need Him to.

So we wait. And we pray. And we hope.