Ever wonder what the first hours of respite are like for foster care? This evening we welcomed three brothers aged 14, 13, and 9 to stay with us over the weekend while their foster dad is out of town. Here’s how it’s gone down so far.
On Monday, the placement worker emailed us asking if we could take three boys for a couple of days, beginning on Friday. All we knew were date, ages and gender. Since we were interested, she emailed us more info – a paragraph on each child listing their name, a sentence about their individual personalities, one or two of their interests, their academic performance, and the medicine they take. We asked for the diagnoses to go along with the medication and whether their symptoms were well controlled by medication. So with this scarce info we said yes.
We drove half way to pick up the boys, agreeing to rendezvous with their foster dad in the parking lot of the local grocery store. We had no idea what they looked like, but knew their foster dad drove a blue Ford Explorer. We saw a car that we thought was them, but when we waved and they didn’t wave back – well oops! Not them. Another Explorer approached. We waved and they waved back. Yay! We found them.
They pulled over and everyone piled out. We introduced ourselves and the boys immediately jumped into our car. I made a bit of small talk with the foster dad, who we were also meeting for the first time. But it was cold. And we were in a busy parking lot. So after 2-3 minutes my husband and I hopped into our car and drove off.
Food’s always an easy topic, so my husband asked the boys if they liked pizza and, if so, what they’d want on theirs. After an enthusiastic yes and a lively conversation on the merit of pepperoni over plain cheese, we called in the order for delivery. We moved on to the topic of sports. Basketball was a favorite so we talked up the hoop in our neighborhood. Two things for the kiddos to look forward – a great way to overcome the weirdness of staying with strangers.
When we got home, the boys wanted to see their room right away. They dropped their stuff off. A few awkward moments while our teens were figuring out how to find common ground. A quick suggestion of video games solved that.
We purposely have video games for up to 6 or even 8 players, so a large group can all play at the same time (no having to wait for your turn!). But a few of the remotes had dead batteries, so I made a quick run to the grocery. Since I was at the store anyway, I picked up syrup for tomorrow’s pancakes.
While I was on my battery run, the pizza came. We let the kids watch anime while eating. Then back to video games.
So that’s the first two hours. And we’re all having fun.