It has been a week of anniversaries, and today marks another milestone: two years since our youngest boy first bounced onto our doorstep and into our lives.
The anniversary is a bittersweet occasion – while we cherish having our foster son with us, the date likewise marks a tragic turn of events in his life, and in the life of his biological family. Hence, it is difficult to know whether it is more appropriate to celebrate or to commemorate.
The tragedy, of course, is nothing I can, or want to, tell you about. With just cause, confidentiality surrounds much of the matters relating to foster care, and there is plenty that even we, the carers, do not know. In any case, none of us can undo history, and while the wounds and scars borne by the past need to be acknowledged and tended to, it serves little purpose to dwell on them. Instead, I offer some of our family’s journey with this little man.
Inspired by Dr Seuss’ Thing One and Thing Two, we initially called him ‘Thing Three’ – largely in recognition of his gorgeous curly hair and the endless trail of destruction left wherever he’d go. Later, this somehow got abbreviated to Mr T. He arrived early one Tuesday evening, barefooted and in a scraggly singlet. I received a call from DCP barely an hour or two prior, asking if we would be willing to take in a little boy ‘for a week or two’. The social worker wasn’t sure of his name, but thought he was about four. All other details were very scant.
I said yes immediately; we were all quite excited. Our last placement, two little boys who lived with us for about half a year, left us a several weeks earlier. Whilst enjoying the break that came with no longer having a baby and toddler to look after, we missed the pair badly. It was time to get busy again.
My husband was away at the time, so it was just me and the boys who greeted Mr T at the door. He had none of the initial shyness and reserve of the other children who stayed with us. Instead, he ran inside, a little bundle of energy, and immediately set to exploring the house. The bedroom? Loved it. Lego? Wow. Older ‘brothers’? ‘Hi!’. He found a stash of bright orange Nerf guns, and for the next fortnight slept with one each night.
The novelty wore off soon, and the next few weeks were hard. Many, many destructive tantrums, violent outbursts and language which would make a sailor blush. It got to a point that my boys begged me to call DCP ‘to give him back’. I admit – I DID call. How grateful am I now, two years later, that I was not able to get hold of my case worker that day. See, slowly and steadily, we fell in love.
Mr T has boundless energy and a glowing smile, happily bestowed on just about anyone. The whole school and neighborhood knows him, and he has formed many, many friendships. Despite all that he has been through in his short life, he radiates positive energy that is nothing short of admirable. He is warm and caring, quick to forgive and forget, and gives the best hugs. Don’t get me wrong, life is not perfect – Mr T and the rest of our motley crew bicker and fight just like any other siblings, he is crap at picking his stuff off the floor, and I have been known to yell and carry on on great many occasions. But, while there is no doubt that Mr T made our life busier, louder and harder, he has also made it so, so much richer. For this, I am eternally grateful.
I fully realise that I am not his tummy mummy, that future is still uncertain, that there is another world that he belongs to as much as he belongs in ours. For now though, I cherish his small hand in mine.