Since we don't have any foster kids in our home right now, I thought I'd take a little time to write about my biological kids and how they've done with fostering. I'll start with Dinosaur, our five-year-old.
5 Things about Dinosaur
1. He loves music and dance. One of his favorite things is to turn on some music and make up his own dance moves. Many of these are inspired by Dance Dance Revolution, another favorite of his.
2. He loves all things silly. If you will rough house with Dinosaur, he will be glued to you for the rest of the time you're in his presence. He is also big into silly rhymes and nonsense lately. I'm a sucker for his big grin.
3. He knows his dates and times. At age 2, Dinosaur became obsessed with clocks, finding them wherever we went and making clocks at home. Before he was 4, he could tell time accurately, and he loves to live by a schedule. If you need something to happen by 8:15, just tell Dinosaur to remind you when it's 8:15. He remembers and focuses on dates as well, remembering when we visited family or what day his preschool started in Sept. 2012. His memories are always expressed in his sweet and peculiar way, reciting how old people were and what day it was.
4. He loves school and reading. Dinosaur did not look back when he went to preschool or kindergarten. He likes the activity of it all, and I think he thinks it's all for him. He has a fantastic kindergarten teacher and has just flourished there, reading far beyond what I expected him to at this age.
5. He is not big on empathy and conscience. If I'm going to brag on my kid with most of these, I'll throw in a weakness. I'm pretty sure no punishment or consequence has ever made Dinosaur feel bad for something he did wrong. He is also pretty unaffected by others feeling bad, and has never been one to try to make people feel better. Some of this is normal 5-year-old self-centeredness, but I really do think it's part of his personality as well. I have a double dose of empathy and B has a... meager dose. It's a good balance, so I hope Dinosaur finds his double-empathy match some day.
Dinosaur and Fostering
Dinosaur welcomed Pterodactyl eagerly and was enamored with her babyness. He would baby talk to her constantly, sometimes in his own odd way ("It's so dark in your mouth!"). Every time someone came from the agency to our home or we dropped her off for a visit, he would inform all social workers, "She is such a cute baby." This was a bit of a surprise to me, as when his biological brother was born, he ignored him as much as possible and acted out to get attention. With Pterodactyl, he adjusted quite easily and happily. He was a little too happy at times, and getting millimeters from her face and just not leaving her alone.
Pterodactyl is black/Hispanic and Dinosaur and Rhinoceros are white with white blond hair and blue eyes. Dinosaur processed a lot about skin color through Pterodactyl being a part of our family. He attends a school with more than 50% non-white students, and our church is more racially diverse than most, but the immediacy of having her in our home brought up more conversations. I think this was very positive, and while it wouldn't be a reason alone for us to foster, I'm grateful we had many opportunities to talk about race and people who look different than us. He hasn't seemed to pick up the lessons we try to teach him about taking care of others and sharing what we have, but I'm hoping they will stick with him over time.
Probably the hardest part of foster care for Dinosaur was the ambiguity. We tried to prepare him for our first placement, but we couldn't tell him on what day a baby or little boy or girl would come to our house, which doesn't sit well with his calendar obsession. We tried to prepare him for when she would move, but first we thought that would be in June, then September, then October, then November, and finally in December we had one day's notice. While I think that made it difficult for him to understand what was going on, he wasn't upset by it.
Saying goodbye wasn't emotional for him, and he's been hard to read in this transition. I've had to intentionally ask him how he's doing, or I don't know if he would have talked about her at all. For the week after she left, he said he was sad a few times, and confused once. This was all matter-of-fact, no tears, though the one that broke my heart was, "I want to give her a kiss." He did love kissing her so much and she brought a little extra joy to his life.
He is looking forward to a new little one in the house (and of course wants to know WHEN), though there was still some confusion if this was a baby in my tummy and why we weren't getting a kid his age. We've had lots of time for me to focus attention on him and his brother, as we had a week in Canada for the holidays, a week home during school break, and now school has been cancelled two days due to weather. Then today he came down with a fever as well, so maybe I'll have extra time again with him tomorrow. We may start to drive each other a little batty, but I think there's a reason God is giving me some extra time with my big little guy.