Life with a Six Year Old Boy

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Yes, this is how I often feel in the mornings too, Buddy.

My foster son is so very smart. He’s also a six-year old boy. Which means he says and does gross things and he almost never stops moving. Luckily, I have a high tolerance for sometimes gross boy behavior (see working with a couple hundred Marines every day for 8 years). He also has a lot of fears and anxiety. He’s much too old for his six, going on seven, years. But I’ll just keep working on giving him a stable, safe home so he has space to be a kid.

Now that it’s just the two of us, we’ve had some great days doing normal kid/family stuff. He’s been riding his bike in the cul de sac, doing his chores, and learning what not to do with the dog (he took her bone from her and she nipped him), while also learning how to care for her. He was upset, but that’ll never happen again. She absolutely adores this kiddo. Abby the Wonder Dog has totally forsaken me (except when we go to bed). She even “tucks” him in at night when I do. She has to get right there, in between me and the bed. You think I kid. She really and truly loves him. They’re pretty adorable together.

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FS6 was riding his bike ahead of us. This was a BIG deal to him!

We went to Fort Macon last weekend. He literally could not contain his excitement and questions. He has a ridiculous amount of energy which is exhausting (haha) but we’re doing our best to keep up with each other. It has been much better since I have gotten rid of most of this bug that followed me all of March. Thankfully, I got a remicade infusion last week and my joints already feel better – which helps everything.

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Standing on top of Ft. Macon

It is the best feeling to see how excited he gets when I pick him at school or at childcare. It does my heart good. In recent days he’s:

  • Asked if he can have a dad.
  • Asked if we can have a baby come to live with us (and/or a little sister or brother)
  • Asked if he can change his name (that was today).
  • Asked if I can give him a nickname & referred to himself as his first name & my last name.
  • Has informed me that “flicking” boogers is not okay (Thanks, Bud. I wasn’t clear on that before.).
  • He’s obsessed with tobymac which has meant we’ve watched videos on YouTube and listen to him on Spotify nearly every time we get in the car. I so need a break. Haha.
  • He eats constantly. But he never stops moving (so there you go).
  • To quote his sister’s foster mom, “He’s a jolly one.” He sure is! His smile lights up a room.
  • My mom fixed his alarm clock. He said, “She knows magic.” LOL. And then at dinner he said, “I wish your mom lived next door so she could walk over here anytime.” I can’t even.

I’ve had some moments. Last night was one of them. I took him to Cub Scouts to try it out. I was overwhelmed. It’s hard sometimes to know what he’ll be able to handle and what he won’t get. There are just some things he’s never learned. It may be too soon for Cub Scouts. I’m not sure he’s ready  – and I’m not sure I’m ready.

But adding to the struggle was being around the family types. You know those two-parent household types. Haha. I so wished for him that he’d have a dad that will teach him what it means to be a godly man. I might’ve cried all the way home. Okay, I did. And now I’m crying again.

Today, his teacher walked him to my car in the pick up line to let me know he’d had a really great day. It has been a bit of a hard week. He was all smiles and told me that he stayed on green all day. She told me he’d had a great day and she just wanted me to know. I am so thankful he has such a caring & understanding teacher.

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We went to the beach today after school. He was the most excited I’ve ever seen him. I wish I could share the photos and videos. He was ecstatic. The first thing he said, “Oh, so that’s the ocean?” I think he’s been to the beach before. But he was fairly young. He had so much fun.

I love his little heart. I’m exhausted most of the time. But super thankful we are finding our way and that God has given me the gift of building into this little guy’s life. I don’t know where this path leads us. But for now, he’s home.

Random

I have a lot on my mind. I’m not sure what to share so here are a few random thoughts about things:

  • My foster son is African American. If you doubt racism exists, I can confirm for you that it does. Go ahead and stay in your safe little corner if you disagree. But, I’ll also tell you that it exists across all lines and cultures. I’ve been looked at with disdain by people of a few different colors, when we’re out and about. The kids in the neighborhood don’t care. His favorite friend is a little Caucasian girl that’s in the same grade. They became quick friends. It’s sad that adults are so f’d up. I wonder sometimes if our culture is beyond healing.
  • In brighter news, today I took FS6 shopping. DSS provided me with a voucher for some clothing, shoes, and personal items. On top of some summer shoes & clothes, I bought him some hair care and skin products. I read up on skin care and hair care for African American children. I still haven’t picked out a barber for him though. Anyway, the checker at the store was an older African American woman. She looked at the lotion and hair products I bought and though I’d spent some time reading about them she said, “You’re not really sure what to buy are you?” I said, “No.” Honestly, I’m not. I’m just trying to find the best things for his skin & hair. She said, “See what you do is, you find a barber near home. You take him there every two weeks and let them take care of his hair and show you what he needs. They’ll teach him how to comb it and care for it. If you like the first one you go to, ask him to be your personal barber. He’ll take care of him, for you.”
  • I was touched, to be honest. It’s one of the first times that anyone has kindly given me advice (versus looking at me with disdain). She talked a bit about her own daughter. At one point, my FS6 was acting up a little. Not much, because he’s a good kid, but he honestly didn’t listen to me. Well, she took care of that and told him to knock it off and act right. 🙂 He sure did. To be honest, one of my prayers right now is that if he’s with me long term, I will know how best to keep him connected to his African American community. I so appreciate her kindness.
  • She also told me she thought about fostering at one time. Many people have told me that. It’s not easy to step out and do it. Frankly, it’s not easy once you’re in it. But if it’s on your heart somewhere, it’s worth pursuing a little until your figure out your place in the world of fostering.
  • Maybe you’re not meant to foster. But if your heart is with those who do, maybe finding a way to support organizations or families who do, is a great place to start.

For the random people that run across my blog because of foster care, one word of advice I’d offer the single women – particularly if you’re over 40 like me. Take a long, hard look at where you stand with your own journey with having biological children. If you’re still grieving the life you don’t have, maybe hold off on fostering for a bit.

It’s not a life that is without pain and grief. My gut feeling some time back was that if I wasn’t going to be given the gift of biological children, perhaps I should adopt an infant before becoming a foster parent.

I can tell you that this is absolutely what I should have done. Being 42 and knowing that your chances to have a biological child are fairly non-existent is a grief that isn’t easy to process. And as such, foster care isn’t the right answer for that kind of grief. It doesn’t mean it’s not part of my calling. But I do know for a fact now that rushing myself through these painful feelings was not good for me.

And it makes fostering, which is complex and filled with some sad and painful moments, that much harder. Actually, if you’re a couple struggling with infertility, I’d probably offer the same advice. Make sure you’ve really processed through the complex feelings regarding having bio kids, before you jump in.

It’s not that it won’t ever be right for you. It’s that maybe you need a little time to work through what won’t be, before you’re fully ready. I was not fully ready. But here I am so . . . I keep movin’.

My FS6 is a sweet boy and for however long he needs the safety and stability here, he’ll have it. I pray in the meantime God hears my prayer for healing and…for a baby. When I’m feeling really cray cray, I ask for the opportunity to give birth. But that’s probably getting really crazy. 🙂