I have a confession.
I have a bit of pridefulness that my kids can keep their act together for the most part in public. No loud tantrums on playgrounds. They share with other kids, and don’t hit them. They don’t even ask for toys or treats in the grocery store, let alone throw a fit when refused. They don’t run wildly through restaurants screaming that they hate it and they want to go to McDonalds instead.
Enter a four year old foster child, who exhibits all of the above behavior plus more. Goodbye, pride. I am suddenly the mom receiving “the look” from the other good moms whose children are sitting nicely and using proper decorum.
It’s my pride that makes me want to whisper “He’s a foster kid” when passing by their table. It’s my pride that makes me want to explain, “So sorry, he’s a foster child” when apologizing for a stolen toy at the playground. It’s my pride that makes me want to explain, “He’s not mine, okay!?! I’ve only known him a week!” when he’s screaming loud protests in public.
But alas….he’s four with a tender heart, and he’s looking for acceptance. I won’t put a label on him. Yes, he’s a foster kid. But to name him as such to strangers…I just won’t do it. He would hear the explanations and the whispers of “He’s a foster child” and I know that would be damaging to him in some way. I can’t explain it really….except I just know that for that label…“foster kid”… to follow him everywhere we go would be wounding, and not healing.
So. I’ll take the judgmental looks. Go ahead. Slap the label of “bad mom” on me. I can take it. (Gulp.) I don’t like it, and I don’t like the pride it exposes in me that I feel the need to explain his behavior in order to justify myself. But I won’t give in to that need. Better I wear a label than him.
(And I’m going to start pretending those looks are just looks of empathy and not judgement….)