I wasn't a foster child in the sense you are thinking. But a "Foster" child I was. My daddy gave me that name when I was born. It may have changed when I married but the character traits remain. There's a lot that goes along with being a "Foster." Temper, opinions, strength, pride, compassion, determination. Our clan can be as soft as we are hard. As cold as we are hot. As kind as we are unreasonable. The mold that makes up "us" is complex and often times misunderstood. That's okay though because confidence is another trait we embody and if you like us you do and if you don't .....well, we are okay with that too. If you stick around long enough to see through the rough stuff you will find we are the most compassionate, loyal people you will find.
I was born to Charles Foster and Dora Gillion in the fall of 67. My parents married when my mom was very young. By that time my dad had two other marriages under his belt. He was 10 years older than my mom, who was 14. They had known each other a very short time. Their life together as a couple would span 18 years and produce three children. It would also produce love, laughter, faith, pain, joy and broken hearts. I am the oldest of my siblings. I've heard stories all my life of how my mom would buy me dresses and spend all her money on me before my sister and brother came along. According to the stories I was pretty spoiled. I pinched my aunt and spit on my uncle...or that's what they say. Honestly I can't imagine still being alive if I had done those things but that's the rumor. Somewhere along they way my parents rid me of all the evil that was the brat my extended family describes because what I remember is being pretty obedient. My dad didn't play around. He was fair in disciplining us but when he spoke...we listened.
Like any kid growing up, I tested my limits. It didn't take me long to figure out where the line was but sometimes I would gather my courage and cross it. My dad was always right there to point me back in the right direction. When I was a toddler I wanted to roam during church but apparently that wasn't acceptable church behavior. After a few times of being taken out, I decided it was just best to do what mom and dad suggested :) I pulled up all the flowers in our neighbor's yard one time. That didn't go over well. I remember the worse part about that episode was having to face my victims, apologize and explain what I had done. My parents believed in accountability. My brother stole something from Walmart once and my mom marched him right back in there and he got in major trouble when we got home. Not to mention the fact that he broke windows. My dad played detective though and mom went to court and all that resulted in my brother doing laundry at the local hospital as community service. I guess I really should let him tell all of his stuff though so I'll stop there. I won't mention the episode where he climbed our small town water tower all the way to the top while sirens blared and the mayor and local cops swarmed at the bottom. Nope. I won't mention that at all :) My sister simply ran away and hitched a ride with a trucker while we passed out flyers searching earnestly for her. She took my make-up and clothes to her friends house too. That got on my nerves but the trucker thing was worse by far. We were pretty good kids though I promise. I did get grounded for a year once for being at a hotel with a group of friends. Boys were there and my dad didn't believe me when I told him we were watching movies.....I know what you're thinking but I swear it's true (we were watching movies!). There wasn't much talking when he brought me home. Just swift punishment and no fun for a year. Believe me...he stuck to it. He proved his tenacity during that period of my life. For 12 months he was my shadow.
(One thing I keep coming back to is the tale my husband tells of when he was a boy. He electrocuted a kid once just because he thought it would be funny and he's one of the nicest people I know (my husband that is..not the kid) If my in-laws survived him and he turned out okay....there was hope for us. Ken got a paddling every day at school and he wonders why..... BIG MYSTERY THERE. He still laughs at people when they hurt themselves. It's one of the things I'm still trying to understand about him after 30 years.) That has nothing to do with any of this but I thought I would just throw it in there for good measure.
While we were out breaking windows, stealing, pulling up flowers, and hitching rides with truckers, mom and dad were teaching us to say "yes sir" and "yes mam" and to respect our elders. Saying "yea" and "naw" wasn't acceptable and if we forgot.......well, we just didn't forget. It wasn't an option. We weren't allowed to interrupt adults. We asked for things with please and thank you. Cultivating manners was important to my mom and dad and years later as I hear young people respond or engage in conversation with adults it makes me sad that we are losing the art of teaching respect and failing to insist on our children having manners. Manners shouldn't be something from the old days or thought of as a "southern thing." When a person extends a hand in greeting, take it...return the offer. Whether you are in Arkansas or Kansas it's just simple courtesy.
(Disclaimer: If you don't agree feel free to click the red x in the top right corner and start your own blog :)
(actually I'm not.)
Anyway, on with the narration:
Being lazy was not a thought that would occur to anyone living around my parents. They both had strong work ethics. When you washed the dishes you best wash them right the first time. If not, ALL the dishes came out and you got to wash EVERYTHING..."sigh." Once as we were pulling everything out of the cabinets when dad found a dirty skillet I made the mistake of asking if we had to wash the silverware too. I don't think that had occurred to him but since I reminded him he decided yes, we had to wash the silverware too. We were all involved in keeping our home clean. Vacuuming, dusting, making our beds every day, washing dishes...it was all part of being a part of this unit called a family. We were expected to do our part. I resented it sometimes as I was growing up and looked around at most of my friends, who weren't expected to do as much as we were, but knowing all of these things would prove to be skills I would need later on...... I just didn't know that at the time. I'm sure my parents did.
to be continued......................
If you missed part I of this series click the link here.
A Foster Child's Memoir Part I
Sharing at Imparting Grace
A Foster Child's Memoir Part I
Sharing at Imparting Grace