Monday, November 16, 2009

Sweet and Sour

     I made meatballs for dinner. Well, the meatballs were the storebought kind, I just cooked them in homemade sweet and sour sauce. Ian loves meatballs. So does Scott. Tonight was for them. As we gathered around the dinner table as a family, for the first time in two weeks, Ian looked at his food and said, "Yuck. I don't like meatballs."
     He missed out. So did Tawni. And Beka. And Zack. So while Scott and I partook of the delicious bounty, everyone else stared at us, and murmured. And fought amongst themselves. But at least we were together.
     It occured to me, as Beka accidentally-on-purpose spilled water on Zack, that we could have family home evening while sitting there. (Maybe it was Scott's idea. My memory fails me this evening.) Anyway, I called upon Tawni to quickly think of something. She did. She said she'd been thinking of service lately and wanted each of us to tell about either something we had recently done for someone, or how someone served us. I started.
     "I noticed that someone cleaned the pantry. I don't know who did it, but it looks wonderful. Thank you."
     Tawni piped up. "It was Dad. We were looking for my phone."
     Next it was Scott's turn.
     "When my truck died, someone went to the car dealer and bought me a car. They did all the paperwork and hassle so I wouldn't have to."
     Ian pointed at me, smiling, "It was Mom! Is it my turn?"
     We nodded.
     "Let me see," he tapped his chin, "Nope. Not that one. Hmmmm. Okay. This is it. When I was like six or maybe five and we went camping? Do you remember that trip?" We nodded even though we didn't have a clue. "Do you remember that Megan cleaned my room for me?" This time we did remember. Megan Loutensock did a service for him several years ago and it made an impression.
     With his turn complete, and the attention now on Tawni,  Ian decided to go back to playing on the computer. He typed in COPS on YouTube and turned up the volume. Tawni's tale of service was told to the background music of, Bad boys bad boys. Whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when they come for you? We tryed to get Ian's attention back on spiritual things, but handcuffs and sirens will trump the Lord every time. After Beka and Zack shared their experiences, we called it quits. Just then, Ian left the room. When he came back he was holding a picture of Jesus with a little child on His lap. Ian said, "We need to be nice to little kids, like Jesus. I'm nice to Jessi, and Colby, and Skyler, and Christeal."
     I turned to Scott. "I guess he was listening."
     We smiled and talked some more about helping others, especially children. My heart swelled with love for my little boy, precious and innocent.
     About an hour later, I called him to the bathroom and told him to get some toys for his bath. When he returned with a Little People schoolbus and a Hummer, I thought to myself This is going to be messy. In spite of my misgivings, I left him alone and started picking up the house. After about fifteen minutes I decided to check on him. I found him naked, standing on a stool holding a dripping waschcloth. The sink was on, the tub faucet was on, and there was a lake on the floor. The carpet outside the bathroom squished when I walked on it and the paint on the baseboards was bubbling. These were not the only casualties. Two bottles of shampoo lost their lives. One expired on the bath mat. I needed a forklift to heft the sodden thing into the washing machine. I hope the machine can handle all the bubbles. I keep picturing that scene from Mr. Mom when the suds overflow. Needless to say, I was not happy. And my boy knew it. His bedtime moved suddenly from eight o'clock to seven fifteen.  He managed to escape a few times, seeking sanctuary with his father, but I am Mom and my sweet doth cower beneath my sour.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Open Arms

     We have a new addition to our family. She may be temporary, she may be permanent. But while she is in our home we will love her as our own. Call us crazy, gluttons for punishment, tell us we have a "save the world" complex. It's all true. We can't help ourselves. We just love kids.
     Last Sunday we met our new foster baby for the first time. She came to our house for a get to know you visit. Before the doorbell even rang, we were all in love. Beka walked into the kitchen and said, with a precious smile on her face and a light in her eyes, "She's here." When that sweet bundle of baby fat toddled into the house it felt like she was coming home. Tawni, Beka, Zack, and Ian were enamored. They sat and listened to the current foster parents talk about her, about the cute things she does and says, about her home situation, her likes and dislikes. They asked questions and played with her. I was so proud of them. I sat on the couch observing my family and my heart filled with love. My kids are exceptional people. The way they unselfishly welcomed a tiny stranger into their home, knowing she would demand more of my time and energy, and yet their arms were opened wide.
     And little Ian. One of the reasons I wanted to do foster care again is because of him. I wanted him to be able to experience having a foster child, so that he might better understand how he came to be in our home. He has questions about his birth family and we will sit together and look at pictures and talk about them. He knows their names and is just beginning to grasp the concept of adoption. I know having a foster child will help him in many ways. He has been so sweet and loving. I've seen such a tender side of my boy these last few days. He told me, "I will protect her. I won't let anybody touch her toys."
     "Are you going to be a good big brother while she is with us?" I asked him.
     His eyes lit up at the realization that he, like Zack, was now a big brother. "Yes, I am."
     And so far so good. Tonight he played kitchen and dollies and when his little sister screeched for a certain toy he wasted no time in giving it to her. I'm sure the novelty will wear off eventually, but I am so proud of him.
     The previous foster parents, bless their hearts, told me they have been praying for weeks about this little girl. They just felt like she was in the wrong place and needed to be with a different family. When they walked into our home, they felt the rightness of it. And so did I. My heart was so full of warmth and that tingly sensation, that my ears were literally ringing with it. It's been a long time since I've felt the Holy Ghost that strongly. Any doubts I've harbored about doing foster care again are all gone. I always knew it was the right thing to do, but sometimes fear gets the better of us. I don't know how long this precious child will be with us. I hope forever. But if she returns to her birth family, then that means goals were met and her parents did everything they could to improve themselves for her. It means saving a family. What is better than that? Nothing. But my heart will break . . . And when it's not quite healed, I'll open it up again to make room for another sweet someone.