|This one is Eli...Wonder Boy himself isn't still long enough to take a picture...|
For nearly a month after W's return home, our family was 'on call' with our fostering agency. This was a huge surprise to my husband and I - we expected to get a placement very quickly after W left - though we've needed the break more than we realized. Especially since ALL of us got knocked down with a simultaneous cold and stomach bug this week.
In the meantime, a LOT of things went - remarkably - back to "normal". Eli and I have gotten caught up on his home school work, and the house is cleaner than it has been in quite some time. We'd begun to arrange some outings/field trips for him to take again, which he LOVES, and I can't believe how much easier certain logistical tasks are (like getting everyone in/out of the grocery store). I enjoyed tackling some projects that I've really wanted to handle, and part of me relished the time to read and relax a little. I also had plenty of time to pray about (and for) Itty Bitty. We desperately would love to adopt him, but I have been so frustrated with the waiting to find out if we will be able to.
Now, though, I am pleased to say that, after FOUR different referral calls, we do have a new child placed with us. We had about one referral call every 7 days or so, but until Friday, none of the placements happened. For the first child that we heard about, I immediately agreed to take her, but found out very shortly afterward that - due to the simultaneous nature of our call list - someone else agreed to take her first. For the second child, Patrick and I decided against taking his placement, as we really felt that he might not be a good fit for our family (for privacy reasons, I cannot disclose the issues). I NEVER anticipated turning down a placement of a child, and definitely felt a little sad about it....but Eli - as MY child - will always be my first priority in these decisions. He has been an absolute champ with W and Itty Bitty, and even though it hasn't always been sunshine and roses - he definitely struggles sometimes - both have had a really amazing impact on his character. The third call we received was for a child that we agreed to take if another home couldn't be located closer to his birth family (we were nearly 100 miles away), but DHS was eventually able to place him closer to home, and we weren't needed to care for him after all.
That brings me to introduce....Wonder Boy. We got his referral call Friday afternoon, and as with all foster kids, he has experienced more than his share of hard times. Wonder Boy is newly two years old...and is only an inch shorter than Eli. He is, quite seriously, one of the tallest two year olds (especially for a young two) that I've ever seen. Wonder Boy, though calm the first night (other than tears at bedtime), has earned his name by demonstrating the ability to leap a couch in a single bound and run so fast I thought he'd taken flight.
The morning after his placement was...challenging. See, he had no shoes. I had some of Eli's clothes, recently outgrown, that he was able to wear. But his feet were bigger than Eli's, and all he had were some soft-soled bedroom slippers. So, I wrestled all 3 kids into clothes (okay, okay, Eli politely dressed himself and the baby giggled the entire time I dressed him)...so, technically, I wrestled Wonder Boy into some clothes, grabbed the diaper bag and we headed to get some breakfast and some shoes.
So, I'm heading into town with three kids...a four year old, a four month old, and a large, sock-footed, mostly nonverbal, two-year-old who has been in my custody for fewer than twelve hours. What could go wrong?
I started considering the possibilities. Every Saturday morning, we try to go by a local coffee shop and let Eli (and previously, W) have a cookie or danish for breakfast as a special treat. Except that now, I have a toddler that does not know me and may run away as soon as his feet hit the pavement. NO WAY could I juggle a baby, Wonder Boy, and Eli across the busy town square on foot to the coffee shop. I didn't have Patrick with me to help, as he had an appointment that morning. I decided that the coffee shop, this time, was probably NOT my smartest-ever idea.
So, I rerouted through a drive through and got the kids a quick breakfast to eat on the way to the shoe store, PRAYING that Wonder Boy wouldn't make a mess. He didn't. Evidently, he was really very hungry and didn't play around at all with his food. As a side note, any food I've given him has disappeared remarkably quickly...that part is a nice change from W, who was a picky eater when he arrived here. I was able to get the kids cleaned up, holding hands, and walking across the parking lot in short order. I thought all was well....and then Wonder Boy had an Idea. As we walked to the back of the shoe store, where all of the kid's shoes are kept, Wonder Boy spied a bin of balls, snatched his hand away from me, dashed over and began bouncing a ball as high as he could, knocking several boxes of shoes to the ground. Still holding Itty Bitty, and letting go of Eli, I reached out took the ball away and regained Wonder Boy's hand. Just in case you were wondering, this was NOT easy to do while holding a 4 month old baby. We walked to the shoes. I showed him a bench toy that he COULD play with while I found his size in the very first pair of shoes my eyes lit upon. After a brief moment, I noticed him looking to see if I was watching...which I was...but I still barely had time to register his eyes light up and his maniacal laughter before he dashed over and made an immediate repeat of his ball bouncing performance. At this point an employee felt sorry for me (or she really wanted us out of the store ASAP) and came to my rescue. She quickly asked...across the store, since I was chasing Wonder Boy with Eli running behind me trying to catch up and Itty Bitty hanging on to my shirt, clearly delighted with this new game..."SIZE?"
"I don't know....9 wide?" I guessed haphazardly, basing my guess only on his height and speed.
"Which ones?" She hollered.
"The ones you are holding are fine," I panted as I dragged the kids back to where she was standing.
God bless this lady. She plopped Wonder Boy down, put the shoes on him and tied them before he knew what was going on, and checked the size. Apparently, I'm a great show size guesser....THANK HEAVENS. She immediately asked if we were wearing them out, and upon my affirmative...and Wonder Boy's immediate take-off went to ring them up and wrap up his little bedroom slippers. At this point, I thought we had everything under control. Wonder Boy was wearing shoes. We were leaving the store. While trying to pay...still holding a 4 month old baby, reassuring Eli that Wonder Boy WOULD quit this, and holding Wonder Boy's hand for dear life, it happened. Wonder Boy dropped to the floor in a classic two-year-old style as if he was about to have a tantrum. FORGETTING that Wonder Boy wasn't Eli and might not tantrum in place, I LET GO OF HIS HAND FOR ALMOST A SPLIT SECOND.
He began lapping the store. Eli gave chase. From the back of the store, I can hear my sweet, darling Eli hollering (and panting), "I'm tryin' to catch him for you Oma! I'm tryin'! He's so fast!" On the the boys' third time around the store, shoes blissfully unaware that they are now paid for, I stepped in front of Wonder Boy and made a lucky catch. Sad that his fun was over, he tried to drop to the floor again, but I was in full fledged no-nonsense, MOM MODE, and cheerfully said (through gritted teeth) "Time to leave now." I think I heard sighs of relief and thankful applause for our exit as the door closed behind us...
As I wrestled the kids back into their car seats, Eli managed to bring up THE ONE THING I really hoped he'd forgotten. The church festival. Every October, our church has a service festival. Eli and I were supposed to participate as volunteers, which I'd already had the good sense to cancel. Still, Eli insisted that we should 'at least go and see it'. I mulled this over for a few minutes before remembering...I had the jogging stroller in the back of the car. I could put Wonder Boy in it - if he would ride - and keep him contained. Yes, I'd have to steer with one hand (since the other hand would be holding Itty Bitty), but after months of prep, I really didn't want Eli to miss everything. I convinced myself that we could at least go and get Eli's face painted or see some animals in the petting zoo. So, I found parking (unfortunately next to a bed of extraordinarily ambitious and aggressive ants that thought I, in particular, was delicious) dragged out the stroller and set Wonder Boy in it. To my complete surprise, he stayed put. He actually seemed to like the stroller at first...and later I was able to keep him in it as long as he had a lollipop in his hand. Thankfully, at festivals like these, lollipops are plentiful, and we were able to stay for about a half an hour before Wonder Boy got THAT LOOK in his eyes and I made a hasty exit before he could leap from the stroller.
Later, I did have the sense to leave him home with Patrick while I did some shopping for basic clothing/necessities. No way was I taking a chance on chasing him through Wal-Mart...and he'd had more than enough candy for the day. It was blissful to have a break...but I did come home to find out that Wonder Boy does possess the inexplicable ability to turn himself into a human pinball for indefinite amounts of time (and yes, I did consider "Human PinBall" as a promising blog name...but I am hoping his behavior will calm down...).
Thankfully, today was significantly better...at least, for me. Except for when he tried to climb inside the clothes dryer. Wonder Boy, for some reason or another, has decided that he really likes Oma, and has been fairly compliant today - even in church nursery. We are praying for a great transition to preschool this week (he will start either tomorrow or Tuesday), and that the routine helps him to settle down. It definitely helps my feelings that he seems to love my cooking....