December 02, 2012

Smashing ice

To the waterfall

“Maybe you can help him look at this,” Biker Boy’s foster mother said, handing me a photo album. “It’s making him anxious.”

Biker Boy, who had gone running off to find his sneakers, stopped in his tracks. He didn’t say anything, just turned and looked at me. I knew right away what the book was, and I tucked it into my bag.

“We’ll take a look,” I promised her. Then I looked up at Biker Boy. “But first, let’s go run around outside somewhere. Get your coat.”

I got to Biker Boy’s foster home early this morning, in hopes that we could go hiking before the rain started. Temperatures were still above freezing, and most of last week’s snow had melted, leaving pockets of white in the woods. I’d looked up some new hiking trails on the computer before I’d left home, but Biker Boy said, “We need to go to the waterfall again. It’s a tradition.”

He is a boy who loves traditions. We stopped to buy snacks (another tradition) and then I took a detour to look at one of the kettle lakes. It was a pretty lake, small enough for just canoes or rowboats. We passed several hand-painted signs advertising Christmas tree farms, and then we passed hillsides filled with Christmas trees, rows and rows of them spreading in all directions. We crossed the railroad track several times, with Biker Boy looking anxiously each way for trains before we drove over it.

When we got to the trailhead for the waterfall hike, we were the only car. “We have the whole place to ourselves,” I told Biker Boy. We both paused to listen to the stream rushing down over rocks.

“IT’S ALL OURS!” he yelled. He ran ahead on the trail, eager to lead the way. When we reached the waterfall, we could see chunks of ice that had melted and fallen into piles at the base of each little ledge. The rocks were slippery this week, and we both kept sliding back as we scrambled up and over them.

I handed Biker Boy my mittens so he could pick up the chunks of ice. “Go ahead and throw them,” I said. “It’s just ice and rock. You can’t hurt anything.”

He grinned and began throwing the chunks of ice. They smashed against the rock with a satisfying sound that echoed throughout the valley. After a few minutes, I took a second pair of gloves out of my camera bag and joined him: the thinner pieces of ice were the most fun because they crackled as they crashed.

The rain began while we were still climbing around the waterfall. The rocks and dead leaves were slippery, and we were soon covered with mud from sliding down on our butts. We’d hoped to find a trail to get to the top of the falls, but I think we went the wrong way. I probably should have looked at the trail map a little closer.

“I don’t know if hunting is allowed in these woods,” I said to Biker Boy as we started back to the car, “but we’re off the trail so we better sing just in case.” So we sang Christmas carols in the rain as we trudged back to the trailhead. I think any hunter could have heard us coming from miles away.

By then it was lunchtime. Pizza is another tradition, and it’s an easy one to keep. Every little town in this part of the country has a pizza place. We found a pizza parlor with a friendly owner, an electric fireplace, and vinyl booths that could accommodate two hikers whose clothes were wet. Once we were done eating, I pulled from the album from my bag -- a book put together by a couple could potentially adopt him. “Want to look at this now?” I asked. He nodded.

We looked at the photos of the people, their pets, and their house. We read the carefully typed words that revealed so much longing, and Biker Boy pointed out the details that he liked the best. Adoption is a slow process, and this is just the very beginning. Biker Boy and the team of people working with him know that there are many hurdles to overcome before he ends up in a family.

“Where’s their town? How far away from you?” asked Biker Boy.

“It’s about 40 minutes from my house,” I said. “Don’t worry, I could visit you there. It’s near a big lake – there are lots of beautiful places on the shore of that lake.”

“What if I go live far away?” he asked. “What if I go live in Miami?”

“I will take an airplane to visit you,” I said. “And we’ll go look at alligators.”

The pizza ovens made the little diner warm, the rain made a splattering sound on the windows, and we both felt sleepy. We split another piece of pizza, just because it tasted so good, and we put the album away. There was, really, no way to predict the future.

“Just keep an open mind,” I said to him. “There are good people in the world.”

“I know,” he said. “You and I – we’re good people.”

“That’s right,” I told him. “We are.”

21 comments:

Elizabeth said...

Every time I read your stories about this boy, I cling to the fact that I read somewhere that the one factor that best predicts whether kids get through tough childhoods ok or not is whether they have a single person who is unconditionally on their side. I'm so glad that you're in his life, and I hope that he winds up with good people.

What Now? said...

I choked up as I read this. I'm so glad that he knows he's good people. Obviously he hasn't heard that nearly enough in his life, but clearly he's heard it from you and has internalized it at least to some extent.

Cindy said...

I'm keeping him in my prayers.

motherissues said...

This made me weepy because I've been the one sending that inadequate description of who we are and I've been the foster partent sending kids on to something else, but I've never been the Mommy from The Runaway Bunny the way you are here and I'm so glad he has you.

jo(e) said...

Motherissues: I've seen these albums before when friends have put them together in hopes of adopting. This is the first time I've seen one from the adoptee's perspective -- getting that look into a couple's lives. What I read between the lines made me choke up.

Jan Culpepper said...

I have followed this young man's story on your blog and I have grown quite attached to him. His story is heartbreaking. I pray the best for him - a forever family who loves him with the same unconditional love you have shown him over the years. Please keep telling his story.

rented life said...

My thoughts are always with him.

liz said...

Motherissues put it exactly right. You are the mommy bunny from the Runaway Bunny.

robin andrea said...

I'm so glad he has you in his life and on his side. No matter how far away he may go, you'll be there for him. I hope he has a computer or tablet and a way to Skype, so he can see you if/when he goes. He may not know it, but through your blogging he has so many people cheering him on with love.

Melissa Sarno said...

I've said this many times but I always read your stories of Biker Boy with great interest. And I'm always tearing up at how beautiful your relationship is (and this natural world, which you highlight through the places you take him.) I think of him often and hope he finds a home where he is loved.

Kathryn said...

You are responsible for him thinking he's "one of the good people." I wish I could hug you both.

Anonymous said...

Jo(e) -- Does BB know that he has all these adults on your blog who follow his story and love him from afar? I don't know if it would be helpful, but he *might* like to know that so many of us are out here rooting for him, waiting to hear your news of him.... hoping for the best for him, hugging our kids a little tighter, and wishing we could transmit that hug to the BB who needs the love and faith in him so badly....
It's wonderful for him to have you as that person who is his rock, but I wonder if it would also be nice to know that it isn't just *you* who can see his worth, his beauty, etc.
So if you think he can know about his cheering squad from your blog, I hope you will let him know (if he doesn't already, of course).

jo(e) said...

I don't think he really gets the concept of a blog. A couple of times he's taken photos of himself with the iPad we have in our living room -- and I've posted those to my twitter account and he has the general idea that his picture is "on the internet."

But he's met most of my extended family (and there are a lot of us) plus many of my friends who live in my town. So he definitely has the concept that I'm part of this bigger community of people who are rooting for him.

TC said...

BB's story always makes me tear up, and I'm clearly not alone. To hear that he considers himself "one of the good people..." Oh. He's going to be OK, isn't he.

Tie-Dye Brother-in-law said...

Keeping my fingers crossed...

Elaine said...

Yes, good people.

Zhoen said...

Just knowing that makes a huge difference. In anyone's life.

purple_kangaroo said...

I hole he ends up with a family that's a perfect fit for him. Thanks for being in his life.

kathy a. said...

i'm crossing my fingers. BB needs a forever home -- and he also needs, whatever happens, to know you and your clan are there for him. which you SO are.

kathryn is right: you are the one responsible for him thinking of himself as a good person. that is just huge.

xoxo

Kyla said...

Oh, my heart!

Magpie said...

The title of this is just perfect.

Also, you and LBB really are good people.