Saturday, August 4, 2012

Respite for Three, Please?

I know, I know...  I once again postponed the "Foster Friday" Tips post on keeping organized.  I actually had a good excuse this month though!  I was the proud "respite mom" of three kiddos this past weekend!

  • Six-year-old "Shadow," an adorable little girl who followed me around all weekend long and was an absolute joy...  
  • Her 6-year-old foster brother "Rocket," super ADHD, but super cute and who greeted me every morning with a "Good Morning!" and a rundown on his night's sleep.  :-)  
  • And "Shadow's" 11-year-old brother "Mr. Serious," who asked me all sorts of questions about foster care and my relationships with my past kiddos because he knew that I still had lots of contact with them, and who helped keep the little ones entertained and on task...

The weekend began Friday night with three separate knocks on my front door.  Apparently each child wanted to knock, so I'm glad I didn't open it too soon.  After introductions and a quick tour of the house, the kids made themselves at home.  These kids were so good!  Even Rocket, who was insanely hyperactive, was easily corrected when he got too crazy.  I think it helped that I had the weekend jam-packed full of activities so they were way too busy to get into any real trouble. :-)

So how does a single foster mama keep three kids she's never met before entertained for two days?

    Baking and decorating rainbow cupcakes!  

    Two batches of cake batter mixed with ten separate colors of food coloring along with three tubs of frosting mixed with fifteen separate colors of food coloring and enough sprinkles to rot your teeth...  It really doesn't get much better than that!  I have to admit I wasn't thinking very clearly when I decided to take on this task at my dining room table over the brand new carpet.  My once cream-colored carpet is now a plethora of lovely colors after having brightly-colored batters and frostings spilled on it.  I assured the kids it was okay (mostly because Heaven taught me how to get it out :-), and Mr. Serious cracked me up when he looked up and said, "Well, at least you have something to remember us by!"  ;-)

    After cleaning up the cupcake mess, we lathered up in sunblock and hit the swimming pool.  We got lucky and had the whole place to ourselves for an hour and a half before we headed inside.  I think the kids would have stayed out there all day, but my pasty white self tends to burn full-clothed, so we had to go in when the sun was the brightest.  I managed to bribe them with going back out after dinner and the promise of super-fun things to come in the house.

    Which led to...  Setting up a tent in the living room and packing it full of balloons.  :-)  By this point, I was rated right up there with Walt Disney, the people who design roller coasters, and whoever came up with the best way to make chocolate candy bars.  The kids were already asking me if they could come back and were plotting ways to convince their foster parents to go on vacation. 

    Over the remainder of the weekend, we went swimming for two additional hour and a half long sessions.  Heaven, Kelly, Kama, Booger, and Banana came over for a Taco Party and swimming on Sunday where Banana very quickly developed a baby crush on Mr. Serious.  She clapped and cheered for him every time he did a trick in the pool.  She batted her little 17-month-old eyelashes and called out his name.  He was eating it up! :-)  I spent the majority of the weekend with Shadow as we worked on "decorating" my house, reading books, playing tea party, and doing the dishes (which she surprisingly loved!).  The boys were busy on their PSPs and having Angry Bird tournaments on my Kindle when we weren't busy doing other things.  Just a busy, fun weekend...

    Kid quotes:

    Shadow (to a lady in the pool who was with her daughter and her boyfriend) - "Does he pay your bills?  NO?!?  Well he should!  He's wasting your money!!!" 

    Shadow again (to the same lady in the pool) - "What would happen if someone went to the bathroom in the pool?"  After we explained how that wouldn't be a good thing, Shadow replied, "Ohhhhh..."  I asked her if she needed to go to the restroom and she hesistantly replied, "Well, yeah..."  Lady pipes in "Well I'm really glad you asked that question then!"  (And so ended our swimming session for the evening.. . ;-)

    Mr. Serious - Mr. Serious was awesome at problem-solving, and could usually handle most of his and Rocket's predicaments that they might have come across.  When he couldn't, he would come to me.  I think I heard "Miss Tammy, I think we have a problem..." a dozen times over the weekend.  :-)

    But the one thing that completely broke my heart occurred when Rocket asked me "So what exactly are the rules in your house?"  I think he thought I didn't have any because I really hadn't had to get onto them for anything.  I told him that my main rule is to "Be Respectful of Others" and that included things like no yelling in the house (because I have neighbors upstairs), no hitting or kicking, etc.  He replied, "Why no hitting?"  I told him that hitting hurts people, and that I never wanted anyone to be hurt.  Rocket just got a really sad look on his face and replied in a quiet little voice, "People hit at my real house."  :'(  I knelt down in front of him and told him that that made me sad and that I was really sorry to hear that.  Then I assured him that no one hits at my house.  Ever.  He looked up, smiled, and said, "You're a really nice lady."

    I'm so used to only fostering infants and toddlers that it was a whole new experience having children who could verbalize about their experiences before coming into care.  It took me by surprise a little because for the most part, you never would have known these kids came from hard places.  The only real clues were Rocket's comment and the way that Shadow absolutely craved my attention.  The weekend did help solidify my decision about one thing though.  I had been debating on whether or not to open my age range up to 5 or 6 years old, and after the weekend I'm more convinced than ever that I can do it.

    I'm still waiting to hear something on the girls before I take another long-term placement.  I don't want to take one and then have them call me saying "We chose you!  We're moving the girls next week!"  The last update I received was last week and was a very vague "You're one of the families being considered, but we don't have a timeframe right now."  So in the meantime, I am open to weekend respite while I'm waiting to hear something definite.  I like being "Nice Lady," and I love that I can give these kids a safe, fun place to stay while their foster families need the help.  :-)


    Diane said...

    Sounds like awesome fun! Want to do respite for me?!

    NoMatterWhatMom said...

    Respite is such an important support for those foster parents who need it. I'm glad that you were able to provide a fun and loving home for the weekend and that the kids' foster family was able to get some down time.

    I loved the tent with balloons idea. We have a very large camping tent and that would be a great idea for a fall birthday party for our youngest, who, until recently, hasn't been well-enough regulated to have more than a family birthday party. I bet I could stuff small prizes into the balloons. My son loves to pop things.

    aka. "Mimi" said...

    Do you want to play in a balloon tent, Diane? :-)

    Nana said...

    You didn't add that the Respite 3s foster mom called you a couple days ago and said the kids are already asking when they can come back to your house. LOL.

    NotACabaret said...

    You must love balloons! My favorite post on here is the video of the balloon pit, and now a balloon tent! So cute! And those cupcakes look fabulous.

    aka. "Mimi" said...

    The sad thing is that as many times as I've done these balloon pits for my kids, I never once thought of using an air pump to blow them up until THIS time! That balloon pit that I did for Booger and Ka-Diva had about 200 balloons in it. ALL BLOWN UP BY YOURS TRULY!!! I thought I was going to pass out!

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