by Caryl Harvey
up dreading this day. It is my turn to help with the first grade reading party. I had baked three dozen monster M and M cookies
and bought the two packages of Styrofoam cups the teacher requested. Seven-year-old Donnie is knocking at my bedroom door.
probably need to get up with him He may not remember to go to the bathroom,” my husband says.
dangerously quiet in the hall outside the bedroom.
you need to go wee-wee in the potty,” I say.
It is too late.
fifty six, I remind myself. I’m too old to be the mother of a first grader. Donnie doesn’t think so. He is standing
in the hallway grinning ear-to-ear. He is dry.
you, God,” I breathe.
the one who got us into this. We’d thought of becoming foster parents, but had given up on the idea. Then, at an outdoor
community church service, the speaker suddenly looked directly into the grandstand, to our seats.
God is dealing with you to become foster parents, you need to do it.”
and we were certified. Now, five years and eighteen kids later, I have to force my fifty-six year old body into one of those
tiny desks with all the twenty-something mothers of the other first graders.
wants peanut butter toast for breakfast. His older brother Paul is already pouring himself a bowl of sugary cereal. The dog
waits below for the inevitable spill.
gets up, dresses and hugs me goodbye before heading out the door to work. “Have a good day,” he calls over his
day,” I repeat. I take a medicine bottle from the cupboard and pull out a tiny blue capsule. “Here, Paul. Take
your Adderall.” He quits fidgeting long enough to get up and retrieve the pill. It has made a world of difference in
his battle with ADHD.
my glucosamine and my ibuprofen. They make a difference, too…in how long I can sit at one of those miniature desks.
Then I clean up the kitchen. The boys leave for school.
tired. I couldn’t sleep last night. Our daughter is having financial trouble and I feel so sorry for her. I pray, asking
God to bless our family, and to give me strength. Then I get the housework done and head to the grocery store.
my church friends stands behind me at “check-out.” She pats my arm. “Boy, am I glad I’m not paying
for that cart load.”
and Charlie are saints. I couldn’t do what you do. Can I send you a pie over for Sunday dinner?”
again. We pray God will send us the children He wants us to have. Once they get to us, we pray that He will give us strength
and wisdom to teach them. That, I figure, gives them an advantage over many foster children. But we can’t do it alone.
The church family helps us a lot. They hug our foster kids and keep them from sliding down the church banisters. They compliment
them on Sunday school papers and shush them when we can’t sit with them in church. They are foster parents, too. They
just don’t know it.
grown children help out. They take over when we haven’t got the energy, or the time, to take the foster kids to shoot
hoops. Doug, our son-in-law, buzzes the boys’ hair. And we never have to use respite care. Our daughters and their husbands
keep the children for us when we have to go out of town. Without their help, we couldn’t do what we do. I guess it really
does “take a village.”
again, I put away the groceries. In another hour, I have to start for the school. Donnie’s jeans slouch on a chair,
waiting for me to patch the knee. He only has three pairs of pants. Still, he came to us in the middle of the night with just
a sweat suit. When he leaves, at least he will have clothes to take to the next home.
over a child’s shoe. (Why do you never find them in pairs?) I bend to pick it up and discover the dog has erped his
cereal on the carpet. By the time the stain is cleaned, it is time to go.
school, Donnie’s teacher greets me. She is my age, nearing retirement, and thinks Charlie and I are insane. A sweet
little blond takes the seat next to mine. She looks ten years younger than my daughter. She gives me a shy grin and turns
to another girl who is wearing tight jeans with holes carefully cut in the legs. They discuss the preschool spaghetti supper.
Thank goodness, I don’t have to worry about that…this year.
it is time to serve refreshments. Donnie appears at my elbow.
says we get to help pass out stuff if our moms brought it,” he explains.
him the foil-covered pop flat piled with cookies. He grins and carries it away as though it is the crown jewels on a royal
pillow. When he returns, he has a grimy yellow construction paper card in his hand. “I [heart] Mom,” it says.
Donnie a sideways hug, the way Social Services taught us to hug sexually abused children.
know what a Godmother is,” he offers.
my head to catch the words he is whispering, waiting to hear his synopsis of Cinderella. “You do?”
says Donnie. “It’s you.”
six isn’t so old, I think.
published in "Fostering Families Today"