Sons For Anne
Fritz and Daniel
It is December 10, 2001; I answer a call from our social worker. As it happened, we moved to a larger home in October, and I have a vacant bedroom with two beds in my home that I share with my thirteen year old daughter, fourteen year old daughter, and three year old daughter. My social worker wants to know if I would consider accepting two boys ages ten and eleven. Until now, I have not even considered boys. There is no Dad in our family. My father lives across the street; I know Granddad would be pleased if there were more men in the family.
Within two hours, Fritz and Daniel arrive. They are extremely pale and are sporting “buzz” hair styles. Daniel is carrying a high school biology textbook and his response to my smiling, welcoming greeting is to tell me he likes science and knows a lot about science. Fritz responds to my greeting and extended hand by telling me it is good we have a Christmas tree. The boys arrive with all of their worldly belongings in one large shared suitcase with a handle of duct tape. Their new bedroom is small, but has a dresser, bed and light for each boy. The social worker leaves, and I inventory their belongings which is required for every child placed in foster care in the state of California. Fritz’s and Daniel’s inventory is completed quickly.
It is difficult for most children to converse with strangers, especially strangers that are going to be their parents. In order to get to know a child quickly, I will direct conversation. I do this by asking questions: I discover that Fritz’s favorite color is dark green, favorite cereal is Raisin Bran and he likes hot wheels cars (he does not own any hot wheels cars), and Taco Bell. Daniel repeats again that he likes science; His favorite color is red, he likes “Sugar Frosted Flakes,” and pizza. We have dinner at Taco Bell.
Tomorrow, it will be the 11th of December; two weeks until Christmas, and I have two more children to surprise and delight on Christmas morning. We have two pre-holiday rituals that Fritz and Daniel will partake in. The first is an excursion to downtown Sacramento to do a little shopping and select the 2001 Christmas Tree Ornaments. Each year, every child of mine selects an ornament of their own and this collection provides memories for their Christmas trees when they become adults. My adult children still have most of their ornaments and every year we remember why we might have picked a certain ornament. This event also includes a ride on the light rail trolley. The trolley takes us over the river and to the shopping mall downtown in about seven minutes.
The boys’ arrival coincides with the release of the first “Shrek” DVD; as a result, many of the songs from the DVD are frequently resonating throughout our house. At bedtime, as I am bending over, tucking Daniel in, Fritz is in his bed, facing my behind and singing “I like big butts, and I cannot lie.” I know it is not intended as an insult and we laugh; because of this anecdote, Fritz selects a “Shrek” ornament. Daniel opts for some sort of “alien.” I learn, during this excursion, of Daniel’s propensity to wander off. We learn this too late, and we have to call security to help locate Daniel. Ultimately, we return home safely; everyone clutching their 2001 Christmas Tree Ornament.
The second ritual is our cookie baking day. I make a cookie dough recipe that is an old family favorite, all of us roll out the dough and cut out cookies. The cookies are decorated around the kitchen table with various colored sugars and icings applied with paint brushes. We sit around the table talking and laboring over our beautiful creations. I enjoy this ritual, sitting with my children as we create together. This is how I discover Daniel’s talent. Daniel is unafraid to try new things and will sit at the table for as long as it takes to complete any project that interests him. Daniel decorates beautiful cookies.