I wasn’t sure if the grinning eight-year-old boy understood who I was or why I sat at his kitchen table hobnobbing with him and his father.
We talked about basketball, his new school, the places he’s lived, and how he felt about Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Kharim Abdul Jabar. He raised thin eyebrows to learn that this old lady has seen the last two in that list play ball. He talked about the swingset in the backyard (he’s too big for it), the hoop (he and his stepbrother play against Dad) and what he’s been doing this summer. Every once in a while, his father added a gentle comment or I asked a question, interspersing the ones to which I needed answers with milder ones aimed at seeing the interplay between man and boy.
He pegged a few events as occurring before or after he “went to foster care”. A flicker of pain crossed his father’s face each time the child casually referenced a dark time before the father and son reunion. His father said, I thank God for that foster mother. He reflected a moment. I thank God for holding my boy in the hollow of his hands.
I broke a moment of silence to ask the child if he knew what “foster care” meant. The boy looked beyond me, into a space where no one else could walk. He drew those delicate brows together, and then the liquid pools of brown beneath them danced with light.
Yes, I do. He smiled. Foster care is when the people give their own time, and their own money, and their own love to help the children who don’t have any parents to take care of them.
I felt a rush of chill throughout my body. His father and I looked at one another. I asked the boy if someone had told him that or if he just thought of it. I thought of it in my own head, he replied.
I had no doubt.
It’s the second day of the forty-second month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.