By P. Berman, & K. Hecht, A. Hysock
I can’t believe it. Tommy’s mom invited us over for ice cream after library next week. I didn’t even try to make her like me!
Wow, Claire didn’t even know what to think. She had just gotten off the phone with Mary, the mother of one of Davy’s friends at the library. Mary was one of those really organized moms who rushed her child in on time and rushed her child out after the story was over; she never seemed to be searching for one of Tommy’s shoes in the library, like Claire was often looking for something Davy had managed to lose.
Mary had told her this amazing thing on the phone that involved Davy- a great thing. Tommy had been having nightmares about fires ever since their house was struck by lightning last month; he hadn’t told his mom because he could already see she had so much to worry about.
Mary hadn’t thought anything about the 4th of July, she was still so busy trying to help her family live out of suitcases in a small apartment; it never occurred to her to connect the fireworks with a lightning storm. Mary was so relieved she finally understood why Tommy had been so grumpy and mean since they moved to the apartment; he wasn’t being selfish that he had to share a room with his brother, he was scared because his room at home had caught fire.
Tommy had told his mom that he hadn’t realized that fireworks were actually “fire” until he saw the video at the library. Then, he got really scared; maybe his new apartment would catch on fire too. But Tommy wasn’t scared now because Davy had really helped him. Tommy told his mom all the stuff Davy had learned from Claire about fireworks the moment they got into the car to go home from the library.
Tommy’s mom was almost overwhelmed by what she was hearing about Davy and Claire. Davy, that over active little boy had been so kind to her son and had given him such good advice, coming from…his mom Claire. Mary had started the library program with her son Tommy, before Claire and Davy joined. When they did join, Mary wasn’t anxious for her son to play with Davy. She worried that Davy’s running around all the time would make her Tommy less obedient. When Davy had introduced himself to the group, he had said he lived with his foster grand-parents the Carsons.
Mary had never met anyone in foster care before. It seemed odd to her that Claire and Davy were both in foster care? How old was Claire? Why wasn’t she living in her own place with Davy? When she tried to imagine what children needing foster care were like, she imagined some dirty, aggressive, badly behaved kid; someone whose own parents couldn’t be bothered to take care of.
Davy being so kind to her Tommy, and Claire having such helpful advice, shocked her into thinking more clearly about what she knew about them. Claire always brought Davy to the library early so that they were in the sitting circle on time. When it had been Claire’s turn to pick out a book and read it to everyone, her Tommy always loved them. Claire even brought healthy snacks when it was her turn, and she had made them herself; Mary, would just buy cookies and bring them in, because it was so much easier.
Claire wasn’t taking the easy road of being a mom; she had gone to school and worked full-time. Davy, the boy she had been worried about, had helped her Tommy talk to her about his nightmares, and his worries about fireworks. Mary realized she had prejudged Claire- in a mean way. Mary hoped Claire hadn’t noticed how standoffish she had been. Mary was going to try to fix that situation, right away. Everyone had a phone list; in case something went wrong and the book or snack schedule had to be changed fast.
Mary called and invited Claire and Davy to join her family for a treat after the next library session. Claire sounded so happy to be invited over, she even asked if she could help by bringing over a snack or some of Davy’s toys. Mary felt so ashamed of herself- but the phone call helped. Mary loved her son. She could hear in Claire’s voice the love she had for Davy. Thank goodness she had realized how wrong she was before she hurt Claire or Davy’s feelings.
It’s hard not to jump to conclusions about people and situations that are new to you.
Unfortunately, it can lead you to believe negative things about other people. It may unintentionally lead you to hurt them actively- by being standoffish or mean, or inactively by not supporting programs like extended foster care for abused children that could transform the life of some child in need.
To understand some common foster care myths that are out-in-the world creating trouble for people like Claire and Davy, consider reading:
Did you know that some very famous people have been foster children? To read about a few go to: