Tuesday, March 27, 2012
SLICE #27- COMING HOME
I bring Isaiah home for the first time on a Friday night. It is pouring rain, super unusual for our very dry state. Kadeem has not gone to school that entire week, and the social workers have decided that until he goes back to school, he will not be allowed to come on weekend visits either.
Isaiah and I make a stop first at the foster care agency that is doing my training. The agency is anxious to place the boys quickly and have created a ramped up schedule of classes for me to complete. Every night, I do a module, then meet with my social worker to discuss it and turn it in. Tonight, Isaiah watches videos in a crowded office, while we meet. He does not interrupt once, except to ask for a bathroom, for the entire hour.
When I am done, Isaiah and I head for home. My home, an 80-year-old thousand square foot bungalow, is much smaller and much less fashionably decorated than the boys' previous foster home. Isaiah, I think, is a little disappointed in his new home.
Ramsey, my hundred pound golden retriever, and Mattie, the exuberant yellow lab who will soon assume the role of therapy dog, greet us at the door, the same way they have done every night for many years. Isaiah is a little taken aback by their size. "Don't worry, Isaiah, they are kid friendly," I assure him. He pats the dogs tentatively and they follow us happily from room to room, as I give him a tour of the house. By the time we are done, it is nine o'clock, and we are both tired. We watch a little tv, and then I tuck my son in for the night.
The next morning, Saturday, we have much to do. Isaiah came with the clothes on his back and not much more. The soles of his tennis shoes are flapping. My dear friend, Deb, has purchased underwear for that first weekend. One of Isaiah's friends has given us a bag of hand-me-down clothes. It is clear that we need to go shopping. We start at Target, where we pick out shorts, t-shirts, and a pair of khakis and a collared shirt for him to wear to meet my family the next day.
We then move on to Famous Footwear. Isaiah is thrilled at the prospect of picking out brand new tennis shoes and his grin stretches from ear to ear. When I tell him he needs to pick out a second pair of shoes, one that he can wear for dress up, he is incredulous. "I never had two sets of shoes," he declares in complete disbelief. "These are beauts…" says Isaiah, as he models the second pair. I think of the 10 or 15 pair of shoes in my closet at home.
The rest of the morning becomes, in my mind, a metaphor for what will become our life together- me trying to pretend that I can do the mom thing and the work thing equally well, that there will be no difference between the life I have known and the one I am about to assume. . I am in charge of a parent appreciation breakfast at the school the following week. There is a mile long list of things that need to be purchased, picked up, and created. We pick up thank you presents at two different Pier Ones, tablecloths and paperware at Party City, thank you notes at Hallmark store, and groceries at King Soopers. Isaiah is a trouper the entire morning. At every stop, the car gets fuller and fuller, and he squeezes into a smaller and smaller space. Finally I ask him if he is used to running errands with his foster mom. "Yes," he says, "but usually Kadeem and me sit in the car and wait."
By the time we get through the grocery store, Isaiah is totally spent and I am beginning to realize that the busy, crazy running around life I have always known may need to change a little…