Having raised three kids, when my daughter first told me that she and her husband were looking to become foster parents, my first reaction was, “Are you two sure?” The act of raising “someone else’s child” could inevitably present some real challenges. But most importantly, I thought, they wouldn’t understand the child’s specific needs, moods, behaviors and all the other historical nuances that develop as you parent a child from the start. But, I bit my tongue. After all, my daughter had experience because she worked in a profession helping adolescents. She did, however, get to go home at night…
Eventually, they took in a 10-year-old boy who came from a troubling background. Not too shortly thereafter, they announced that they were expecting their first child. Once again, I had to push aside the desire to squawk, “Do you really know what you’re getting to?”
But what I observed over the past year was not what I had feared. Instead it was remarkable, and inspirational. My daughter and her husband rolled up their sleeves, and dug in. We all did. Though we didn’t have a past with this child, we certainly could have a present. What we didn’t know, we could learn. We could catch up. And so, we did. We learned that this boy loves basketball, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and You Tube. He’s great at building things; he’s not so great at reading. He can be quiet at times; he can get sassy. He’s just a kid.
As his newly assigned grandma, I have enjoyed doing those grandma-type things: helping with homework, watching movies together, taking bike rides, giving swimming lessons, making soup and scrambled eggs, teaching manners and respect, recognizing and bragging about his many talents, and of course – complimenting him on his new glasses.
It didn’t take long for this child to work his way into the fabric of our family. With the recent elevation to grandparent status, I have been dubbed by my foster grandson, “Gucci Grandma,” despite the absence of fashion from my repertoire of traits. This 10-year-old miniature man has melted my heart. He has skillfully yet unknowingly crafted the affections of those around him, ultimately stitching his way into the seams and souls of a once-group-of strangers to become an heirloom to treasure for years to come.
As a grandparent, I have come to understand that years and experience do not automatically render wisdom. Even we, as grandparents, can continue to learn from our kids, and from their kids. And even more so, from our foster grandkids.
I write this blog from the heart. If your, or your child’s, heart is calling- please answer it. Becoming a foster parent, or in my case a foster-grandparent, is transforming.