The Cuddle Game

Hammock CuddleI know I have to cut them some slack. They were gone for the weekend and when I went to pick them up on Sunday, they were surprised to be coming home with us again even though I’d told them about a bajillion times that I would be back for them. They just adjust to whatever situation they are placed in and those people become mom and dad, even for two days.

I can’t even imagine 1) taking any of my girls to a stranger’s house for the weekend (either when they were preschoolers or NOW) and saying, “See you in two days!” and 2) If I *had* done that, seeing my kids just, you know, be okay with that. Kids who get shuffled around like checkers on a board just learn to survive with what they are given, but they don’t really get to form deep, lasting attachments.

So the boys were a bit of a trouble brew last night after they came back to us and today was more of the same, with some fun and sweet mixed in as well. And I don’t know how much of it is a foster shuffle problem and how much of it is just typical little boy behavior. Seriously. Today Chloe was wrestling with the boys a bit and R3 pulled his shorts down, stuck his underwear-clad bottom right up next to her face, and shook it at her while shouting, “BOOTY, BOOTY, BOOTY!” And there is just this little part of you that laughs because, y’all, *that’s* pretty hysterical, and there’s this huge part of you that’s mortified because, y’all, that’s completely inappropriate behavior and it MUST be addressed and not allowed to happen. “R3, you are to NEVER pull your pants down and stick your bottom in someone’s face ever. NEVER. Not here at our house or anywhere. Do you understand?” And he nods like he does, but it will happen again.

But then you get moments like the one pictured above where first he thought the idea of me taking a break in the hammock just too novel and surely I needed a preschooler to push me at warp-speed. So he did that for a bit and then he crawled right up for a little cuddle break. And later at the bowling alley tonight he and his brother wanted to play “bubble gum, bubble gum in a dish” and I’ve really just had my fill of that for one lifetime and I said that any of the girls would be happy to play that game with them, but I play the cuddle game. And what that meant was that every time R3 would finish bowling, he’d run right over to me and insist I play the cuddle game with him, whereby I’d pick him up and he’d put his head on my shoulder and I’d just hold him until it was his turn again.

I can tell you right now, inappropriate booty talk or no, the cuddle game is my kind of game.

After bowling we headed to Braum’s. Today was the culmination of them earning an “ice cream party” because of our sticker reward chart which is as simple as we give stickers for good choices and we remove stickers for bad choices and with these two, it pretty much takes a full month to earn the reward and that’s with us being generous. And after we left the bowling alley, complete with several serious talking-tos about how we behave and how we treat each other and how we act as a family, we were walking to the van and A4 said, “So are we still going to get ice cream?” This was shortly after trying to use the little kid bowling ball ramp as a slide, which was right after…a ton of other unfortunate decisions. I asked him if he thought he deserved an ice cream party. He thought for a moment and quietly said, “No.” I agreed with him and told him that we were going to go anyway, not because he’d earned it, but because we loved him and we wanted him to have it. We explained that’s what grace meant – getting what you don’t deserve, which is exactly what God gives to us by way of Jesus on the cross to pay for our sins – salvation, not because we earn it, but because He freely offers it.

And the boys don’t understand that, not really. They’ve been around the block enough to know a lot of people who they’ve lived with have had a lot of things to say about God and I know they are trying their preschool best to make sense of it all. But for tonight we showed grace in the form of a jr. sized scoop of mint chocolate chip and we hope it finds a way not only to their bellies, but to their hearts.