I said "yes" to doing respite care again this weekend. (Two boys. One is a 2yo, Peanut, that we have cared for before. The other is his 5yo brother, Cashew.)
Deep down, I had a pretty good idea that Cashew wouldn't speak English. (Last time when Peanut's older sister came with him, she spoke very limited English. Peanut spoke both when he was here last time - but he's just barely two so there wasn't a whole lot of language overall.) I knew if I asked the family though, they would probably tell me that English wouldn't be a problem.
Since this is going to be a quick stay, I figured we'd just muddle through. (Dagnabit! I wish I would have taken Spanish in high school instead of French. My sign language vocabulary isn't much help either.) If I absolutely have to understand something from him, there are plenty in our neighborhood that can translate. And, generally, once kids hit school down here they learn enough English that they can understand it -- just not necessarily speak it.
Well, this little guy wants to talk. He keeps saying lots and lots of things. And Cashew's English skills are almost non-existent. However, I can tell that he understands a lot of what I'm saying to him.
He's been here for just 2.5 hours. (Oh yeah. He was supposed to come this afternoon. But, for reasons I'll never understand, his foster family didn't call or let us know. They just didn't show up until nearly 8PM.) I let him have a little bit of transition time. (But honestly -- no five year old needs to stay up until 9:00PM...the bedtime his foster family says he keeps). I didn't want to throw him in bed too early so we played for a bit, then he got in his jammies. (They didn't pack pajamas or toothbrushes AGAIN!! Thankfully I kept the PJs I bought for Peanut last time and Cashew could fit in my son's. I keep a stash of toothbrushes on hand too.)
I tucked Cashew in just shy of 9:00PM. Then I held Peanut until he fell asleep in my arms. He was quite upset and cried himself to sleep. Personally, I think he was just trying to tell me that foster care really sucks and respite sucks even more.
Cashew isn't asleep yet. I went in to check on him. Of course, there wasn't much of a conversation as I couldn't understand a thing the poor dear was trying to tell me. However, as I was leaving the room he held out his arms and said, "hug?" Of course I turned around to give him a goodnight hug. He then said, "I love you."
Of course I'd like to think that this is a good thing. That he feels safe in our house. But I know better than that. (If I had time I'd write a huge post about trauma and attachment issues to insert here. But let's just say no kid should so comfortably tell a stranger that they love them within minutes of meeting them.)
Dammit. Foster care sucks!