December 20, 2009

Takes a village

Under the tree

Yesterday, when the two little neighbor kids came over, I gave them the task of setting up the Christmas village on newly washed white sheets. “We’ll be in charge,” Little Biker Boy said importantly. I knew he and Ponytail would be eager to play with the little figurines and houses. He’d asked about the Christmas village just as soon as Christmas commercials began appearing on television.

I was busy cleaning the kitchen — we were getting ready for our annual Christmas party — but I could hear the kids talking as they played. “We need to put the castle HERE,” Little Biker Boy said to his sister emphatically. “That’s where it was last year. I remember.”

Friends and family might tease me about making the exact same food for every party, but Little Biker Boy loves that predictability. “You’re going to make that punch again? With lemons floating in it?”

He loves the seasonal rituals of our household. His own life has not been that stable. He spent almost a year in foster care when he was small. Then when he was about kindergarten age, his father kidnapped him for a couple of years. The details of his life during those years he was a missing child are murky: he remembers that he lived in the Florida for a while, and that he lived in an apartment over a bar.

Little Biker Boy is looking forward to our first big snowstorm. “I’m going to shovel a path for you. Remember how I did that last year?”

Whenever our furnace clicks on, he likes to come into the kitchen and sit on the floor near the register, to enjoy the warm air flowing out. I usually sit down with him and we talk for a few minutes. “You aren’t ever going to move, are you?” he’ll ask as he leans against me for a hug.

“Not likely,” I tell him. “We own this house, and we don’t have plans to sell it.”

That answer always comforts him, but I don’t have the heart to say aloud what he already knows. His life is less predictable than mine, and neither one of us can predict where he might be next year, or even next season.

16 comments:

sherry said...

Does he know your phone number and how to call collect?

purple_kangaroo said...

I'm glad you rescued the village so they could arrange it.

zelda1 said...

Yes, I agree with Sherry. Teach him and the little girl your phone number and last name. I know this is silly, but even if he does move, and stays away for a really long time, he needs to know how to come back to the place he felt the safest.

liz said...

What Sherry and zelda1 said. And P_K too.

No matter where his life takes him, he'll always know where you are and what you are likely to be doing and he'll feel like he has a stable place.

jo(e) said...

Teaching him my phone number is a good idea. I'll do that.

Jackie said...

This post made me cry. His clear need for stability and consistency, and his sense that you might be the only avenue for it, just breaks my heart. Thank goodness you are there, and that you are who you are.

BrightenedBoy said...

His affection for you is so sweet. I can feel the precariousness of his life hanging like a threat over the happiness he and his sister share with you.

I hope they stay there, and that you continue to be an influence on them for a long time.

YourFireAnt said...

Wonderful post, Jo(e). Just great.

T.

susan said...

It's such a good thing for kids to have trusting connections with good adults--especially for your neighbor kids.

Silver Creek Mom said...

Oh Hugs! I would love to give that child a hug! Hugs are so important and stability. NOT always easy but they do need that.

The phone number and the address is a good idea !

liz said...

I just got an idea.

You know those id bracelets? Get one engraved with his name on the outside, and your name and phone number on the inside. THat way he'll have an overt reason to always wear it and he'll always know your number is near him.

concretegodmother said...

these are lucky children, having you as a neighbor. all it takes is one truly interested adult to check in with and have meaningful conversation with for a kid to prosper.

Rhonda said...

I'm so glad these two children have your family to let them see how a stable home works. I bet it will make such a difference in the homes they create for their own families down the line. You're doing something so very important here.

Lomagirl said...

And since we're making these kind of comments- I was thinking that you should get approved for foster care- just in case. (Not trying to overstop our blog friendship bounds here- just something I was thinking.)

Kyla said...

Again, I'm so glad you are in their lives...especially during the holidays.

Val said...

Rereading this now makes it all the more bittersweet. You and the kids are in my thoughts.