The Ghost of Foster Care (Goes to School)

TInker SassyOur little Miss, Tinker, has just completed her first nine weeks of school. I haven’t seen her “marks” yet, but I can assure you, school is an arena of success for the little monkey.  Only one day out of the 45 so far has she said “I don’t want to go” — and she had a terrible cold. Even so, she changed her mind mid-morning and begged me to take her! (I did not, of course!)

She loves school, she respects her teacher, she adores her pod-mates, and she even loves aftercare. In fact, on several occasions, I have gone to pick her up early from aftercare only to have her complain that I’d arrived too early!

Don’t get me wrong; there are still challenges. Twice she has gotten “reflections” — a fancy word for ‘time out’ — for pushing or man-handling her classmates and had a serious talk for kissing a classmate’s leg during “nap.” (To her defense, I had not told her you can’t kiss people at school, and she is a kid who needs explicit instructions). This is a huge improvement from last year where “sad faces” graced her folder at least weekly, sometimes for days on end.

With former foster kids, sometimes you do have to dig deep. This year, we are taking “appropriate behavior” for granted; last year we had to look hard for something to celebrate each day. There are some heartbreaking challenges. One close relative cannot criticize the kids enough. She simply cannot seem to understand that these kids are different. They are hurt in a way that heals slowly, and that hurt often comes out as misbehavior.

The Captain is soaring through school this year too; last year behavior was such an issue. This year — dare I say it? — he has not had one sad face! One day he came home from school, showed me his folder, and said, “I’ve figured it out now, Mom.” I’m so happy for him. And yet in him is still that little one who believes he’s unlovable.  He often talks about kids not liking him, and I can see he’s trying to win his teacher’s love.

Those ghosts of foster care do go to school, but the healing child is going too. My hope is that one day the healing person will overtake the ghost enough for them to shake off the shackles of the past.  Time will tell.