A Symbiotic Relationship
My parents have wisdom, experience, and time. In our household, we have physical stamina, energy and the ability to program the VCR anytime Granny and Granddad need it. We settle into our new homes across the street from one another. Currently, I have only three children with a five bedroom, three bathroom home. The girls walk past Granny and Granddad each morning on the way to school and wave to them as they are sipping their coffee and reading the newspaper. The grandparents know if the girls are running late, what they are wearing and what neighborhood children they have befriended enough to walk to school with. Ivy and Lea comment on the fact that Granny and Granddad see them every morning, but I don’t think they mind. Being noticed each morning by someone who cares, gives them a feeling of safety. Lea is 14, a freshman in high school, Ivy is 13, in the 8th grade at a charter school, and Nina is 4 years old and attends preschool. Soon after we move into our new larger home, I get a call from Billy, a previous foster child who wants to come and visit and is now 19. I would love to see Billy.
Billy has no home and needs a place to stay. I would like to have her around and invite her to stay with the understanding that she knows it is only a matter of time before more children are placed in our home and that I need her help and will ask her to do things for me and Granny and Granddad. I want Billy to get a criminal back round check so I can use her as a baby sitter now and then. Billy gets a clear criminal backround check. All of us enjoy her presence for the time being.
Shortly after Billy joins us, Corinne, our current social worker calls and asks if I am interested in two boys, brothers ages 10 and 11. I am very interested. I think boys will be a nice change. Because Daniel and Fritz are biological brothers and have always shared a room, I put them in the smallest bedroom and use bookcases to separate the largest secondary bedroom for Billy and Nina pending a new placement or a different arrangement I may decide on in the future. Billy starts to grumble, just a bit. I point out to Billy that all of the children except for her come with child support and if she is interested in paying rent to let me know. Lea and Ivy have their own rooms and will keep their own rooms.
Daniel and Fritz come from a family of nine children. The tiny bedroom with two beds, two small dressers and two night stands is very adequate for them and they like their room. Between the two of them, there is one large suitcase with a handle made of duct tape. This suitcase contains all of their possessions. The incident that initially put them into foster care is a broken femur suffered by Daniel at the hands of his father. My new sons are easily pleased, they have never had a Christmas tree in their home and ours is up and decorated, ready for Christmas morning. I cope with encopresis for the first time with Daniel. Fritz is very emotional and bursts into tears when he realizes the chocolate cookies I provide are not “Chips Ahoy”. The boys will only eat pizza, fast food, cereal and sweets. I purchase “Chips Ahoy” cookies and they are not served until vegetables are eaten at dinner time. As I am putting away clean clothes in Fritz' dresser, I discover 36 granola bars I thought I left in the shopping cart at Costco. I leave two and take the rest. Within days, the encopresis disappears as regular balanced meals are eaten.
As quickly as I discover serious issues with my boys, I discover things I love about them. My boys love me too and Granddad is very helpful. Soon after Fritz and Daniel join our family, one dark and stormy night, Shari calls.