Sunday, March 28, 2010

Finding Eggs

It was pretty clear to me when I pulled out the plastic Easter eggs that Sister in particular had no idea what they were for. We have spent a week practicing egg hunts. Which seems pretty silly, but have you seen kids hunt eggs recently?

Last week, I stuffed the eggs with old Valentines candy and hid them. Curly caught on quickly, being the competitive guy that he is. Sister, though, stared at me like I was asking her to clean the catbox. Until she opened the eggs. Now, we are hunting eggs daily, stuffed or unstuffed, living room or backyard, in anticipation of Easter. Today, we had a small egg hunt at Sunday School. There was a three egg limit, then you had to go sit down. I am happy to report that Sister was the first one sitting down with three eggs and a big smile.


Twice this weekend, people who know me but don't know what my "deal" is, have approached, asking about the kids. Not sure what the lady at church thought exactly, or was thinking I guess, when she said: I thought you were just bringing different nieces and nephews to church with you. (every week? every race? for 2 1/2 years?) They are well-intentioned, of course. And curious. And I am happy to be the spokeswoman for what a great experience this has been. But inevitably, and I know it's coming before they get the words out, I get the #1 most frequently asked question: Isn't it hard to let them go?

I have been asked this question by people in the grocery store, people at church, at school, at work, pretty much anywhere. The super short pat answer is "yes." Dear Abby would surely have a snappy comeback to give me. But the truth of the matter is this:

Letting kids go--no matter how long they stayed, no matter what I thought "might" happen, no matter how right the next stop for them feels in my bones--hurts beyond hurt. It hurts 1 month, 3 months, 4 months later. When a certain song comes on the radio, or a certain phrase comes out of Curly's mouth. When I pull out the bin of 3Ts that Little Bit wore that Sister can now fit. When I find beads from Bug's hair underneath what was once her bed. When I celebrate annual holidays with new kids and floods of memories of the "old kids" come back. My swiss cheese of a heart aches all the way to my toes. Each kid has crept in so snuggly, changed the core of who I am, of what I enjoy, of how I look at things. So yes, letting them go is horribly difficult, and emotionally wearing, and yeah, maybe I won't be able to say goodbye too many more times.

But then ask me why I do it? Thankfully, there is so much more to fostering than saying goodbye. There is saying hello, you are safe, I love you, we want the same thing, you are an amazing kid, you make me smile. There is going to the same park with 15 different kids and finding out what each one's favorite is. There is watching my friends love on each kid differently and sometimes the same. There is seeing how a community comes together in support of foster kids and their families. There is developing routines and little traditions that may last 2 months or 11 months or more. There is learning what makes a kid tick, what makes them smile, what makes them cry, and what makes them squeal with joy. There is the journey as a whole, which in my mind (and I often have to repeat this to convince myself), outweighs the goodbye at the end of the trip.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The List

I keep a list beside my bed of all the kids I have ever been called about. Some have names and ages, some just names, some just ages, a couple just say "sibling group of three." Today I got a call for a kiddo who ultimately didn't land here for some logistical reasons. Some kids don't come because CPS finds someone else first, some don't come due to logistics like daycare not having space. Many kids (more so in the first year than now) don't come because my placing agency places way too much faith in me and calls me about: teens, babies, preteens described as "runners", sibling groups that I do not have enough beds for. Regardless of why they didn't land here, I still think about them often, wondering what they would have looked like, enjoyed doing, taught me.

Today, as I added "2 year old boy" to my list, I counted.

92 kids have made my phone ring in less than 2 1/2 years.

15 of these I have had the pleasure of meeting and loving.

I am hoping tonight that all 92 are in good, safe, happy, and fun places.

The New Dinner Time Game

Poor Sister. She is our target for lots of games because she is so willing to PERFORM. Curly is determined that between him, me, and Miss Sally the speech therapist, we are going to get Sister talking. To be clear, she DOES talk some. It's just that we understand so very little. Curly calls it "baby English." Our dinner game is seeing which of us can get Sister to repeat the most words. They are not clear. They are often "muh". But if YOU are the one she repeats for, you win the game. Yes, you have caught on....Sister decides. Last night:

Curly: Say Stubby!
Sister: No.
Curly: Say CC.
Sister: No.
Tammy: Say Leave me alone, Curly.
Sister (with great grin): Nee me no, day day!

I won!

Flying High

"Cheers" at the dinner table have become regular guests. Tonight's cheer was "We got to go to the kite festival with Miss S." An adventure well worth such a cheer. Our festival experience included a wonderful friend, a 3 mile round trip walk to/from the car, a kite string that would NOT stop getting knotted, and a stranger approaching us w/ an already flying kite he wanted us to have. I am pretty sure our kite knocked a few people on the head, cut a couple of strings, and wandered off on its own at least twice.

Curly can't quite figure out what "annual" means. He is confident that we will go to the Kite festival again very very soon. I'm thinking the school playground may become our own personal space for the next not-so-annual kite fest.

As an aside, this year's festival brought back strong and fond memories of the two Blonde brothers. I think by the time the festival hit, I knew our road was coming to an end and just needed to have a fun day with them. It was a blast. It did not entail 3 miles of walking or 3 hours roundtrip on the bus. It just involved one very happy 9 year old climbing a rock wall, a 5 year old getting his face painted, and a foster mama enjoying every bit of two kids that were rather, rather tricky.

Monday, March 1, 2010

A bit on the type A side

(The author fully acknowledges that this is a pot-calling-the-kettle-black type of post. Fully.)

"I'm a planner," says Curly yesterday. "I like it that way!"

I am sure he's heard me allude to him as a planner before, but didn't realize how very much he likes it. Here are some of the things that have been planned out recently:

1. Underwear: I will only wear my yugioh underwear on Tuesdays.
2. Behavior: "Hey Tammy, I have an idea. What if at school I do a pattern? Green day, green day, red day, green day, green day, red day?" "Well then you'd get this pattern at home: Good job, good job, uh-oh lose a privilege, good job, good job, uh-oh lose a privilege." "Oh, never mind then."
3. Books: How about tonight and on every Monday, I will read a bat book, but on Tuesdays, I will read "I'm Bad." and on Wednesdays, I will read....
4. I will eat special Kix every day at school except on Tuesdays. Then I can eat the other choice. "Well, what if you don't like that other choice?" It doesn't matter. It's TUESDAY, so I have to eat it.

So tomorrow my yugioh underwear wearing curly headed boy will NOT be eating special KIX, should be getting a green smiley face, and will read about the bad dinosaur at bedtime.

Life is predictable. Life is good.