Hello and welcome to Maine Memories, little snippets of life from our home state. This week, I’m going to talk about my childhood and an interesting thing I experienced. Enjoy!
From ages 10 to 17, I grew up with foster kids. Since I was an only child, this presented quite a challenge. And an adjustment.
My mother explained to me before any children arrived how they either had parents who didn’t love them or that they didn’t know how to behave. That was an understatement!
If children got in trouble, they had two choices: reform school or a foster home. At foster homes, they were expected to accept positive changes. If, at any time, the foster parents decided they weren’t “making the grade,” so to speak, they’d be removed and sent to reform school.
The first two foster children who arrived at our house were 6 and 15 years old, both boys. The 15 year old wanted everything his way. The 6 year old still did baby things and had absolutely no interest in school, which he ran away from more times than I could count.
I, as a 10 year old, tried to somehow accept these boys; they needed what our house had to offer.
Mom instinctively knew how to deal with their problems. She had great compassion and talked in such a way that we understood. Neither parent hit us or gave us spankings. It just wasn’t in them to be unkind.
The punishment I remember most vividly happened if we got into a squabble. She’d take two chairs, place them face to face – our knees almost touching – and we would have to sit there until we were willing to give in and be friends. Believe me, we’d sometimes prefer a spanking!
One day, the school called. The 6 year old had run away with a big dog from next door. Mom found him hugging the dog. She stayed on the opposite side of the road and said, “I’m afraid of that big dog, aren’t you?”
“No, I’m not,” he replied.
Well, Mom talked that little boy into helping her to not be afraid of the dog. Likewise, he promised not to be afraid of school. She’d be at the house when he got off the bus each day. That was all he needed, no further running away or calls from the teacher.
I could write a book about fostering kids. We met many others through those years, and bless my mother, she helped them all. The 6 year old grew up and visited my parents many times. One girl became like a sister to me, and we kept in touch for years, even after we married.
It was a rewarding part of my life, and later, I took in foster children myself. But that’s a story for another day.
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