I always forget how difficult it is for people outside our immediate family to see how completely beautiful this life with our foster babies is. A lot of it is our own fault. We don’t call our friends and family to vent about the perfect things. We don’t fill out incident reports for all the times we play at the park without a tantrum. We don’t call in specialists, case managers, home visitors and therapists for the lovely conversations that take place at the breakfast table. So, let me be absolutely, unequivocally, perfectly clear: For every tear in this house, there are a hundred laughs; for every minute of tantruming, there are hours of bliss; for each ounce of struggle, there are a hundred pounds of worth it.
Here are four beautiful moments from our home this week:
- We made a friend at the park. Her name was Maura or Moriah or Maria, and she and Little Man instantly got along. She asked if she could use his bubble wand, and he said “Yes, thank you for asking. It’s kind words to ask permission.” They played happily for an hour, checking in with me and Moriah/Maria/Maura’s mom regularly. Honestly, I was planning their wedding twenty minutes into this interaction.
- We made garlic bread. This week I finally gave up on keeping Little Man out of the kitchen while I cook. He’s fascinated with cooking and obsessed with helping, so I finally gave in, even though it makes me crazy to have someone at my elbow while I’m working. He brought his stepping stool to his designated work space at the kitchen counter, and he diligently painted garlic butter on each slice of bread. Little Man watched me like a hawk as I put his bread under the broiler, and then he vigilantly kept an eye on the timer. He was very proud at the table to announce that he had helped make dinner as he brought the tray of garlic bread to the table.
- Little Man advocated for himself against a bully, and got adult assistance when he needed it. Another day at the park there was a little boy a year or two older than Little Man who had found a gun-shaped stick and was pretending to shoot it. At Little Man. Over and Over. With steam coming out of my ears, I was about to go get involved, but as I approached I heard Little Man firmly tell the other child “We don’t play guns. Guns hurt people, and they aren’t a game. We don’t play guns.” The other child shrugged and ran off. A while later when the other child was at it again, Little man came to me and reported on the toy gun situation and calmly asked for help. This one gave me all the proud momma feels.
- The toddler is speaking! Our toddler baby, Little Sister, came to us almost completely silent. She would hardly even babble or make sounds at an age that she should be reliably using 15 to 20 words. After two and a half months in our home and some speech therapy, her expressive language is suddenly blossoming. She can say bubble, hungry, thirsty, banana, dog, cat, momma, daddy, book, ball, love you, and bye bye. She gets more words every day, and her pronunciation is becoming clearer.
I believe any parent (foster or biological) would be proud of their child doing any of these things, but these instances are especially sweet to us. These are indicators that the kids are feeling physically and emotionally safe with us. These signs that they’re developing powerful social/emotional skills that can help them wherever they are in the future. These are the watermarks that we just might be doing what these kids need from us right now.