So I wasn’t even going to make this a real blog entry but here we are. Because I should be doing something for the class I’m taking but I’m too depressed and scattered. I keep switching tabs, type a sentence here, type a sentence there.
Last year there was a little floral dress at Baby Gap and I loved it and I wanted it for my daughter and I looked at it all the time, and then it went on sale or I had a coupon code or I was anxious over foster care and binging on children’s clothing, and I bought it. As an adult, I was in love with it, because it was just the perfect, most magical little dress ever.
It came in the mail and my then two year old daughter grabbed it, hugged it, and exclaimed with the utmost sincerity, like some kind of inspirational film, “THANK you, Mama!” It was like watching some poor homeless child who had never had nice things get a dress. (For perspective, she had and has more dresses than she could wear in her closet).
I’ve never pushed or prompted manners at all and my children have become spontaneously polite, thank you for everything, over and over and over. I cannot buy them something without hearing about it.
“THANK YOU FOR MY BOOK, MAMA.”
“THANK YOU FOR GETTING MACARONI AND CHEESE.”
“THANK YOU FOR TAKING ME TO THE ZOO.”
It is precious and sincere and it sounds entirely too saccharine, but it is true. They say it to each other. “Oh, thank you, sister!” …and they call each other sister and brother and now we sound like some kind of weird cult. They’re toddlers, it isn’t weird in real life but typed out it looks odd. I honestly don’t know why they are so polite, except I think they are truly very sweet, and I think they are kind. And I try, and often fail, but I think I do genuinely model some of it. I thank them for helping me out or for handing me things.
So on one hand, I am super proud, and this is certainly not something to complain about. On the other hand, though, I get weirded out by the potential for anyone to connect it to some weird and dramatic projected foster care narrative, or some “adopted children should be grateful” trope. They are not effusively polite due to deprivation. (This is not what deprivation looks like). They are not needy, they are not (and were not) oh those poor foster kids because honestly, at that point? I had them and we were a family and I was drowning my sorrows in Carter’s. And yes, foster care is hellish, but they were not lacking for parenting or love because, you know what, I was parenting them and loving them. I was declining Christmas gifts because there are children in foster care that actually need them and mine were getting literal vanloads of toys between me, my parents and grandparents and their birth family.
So this is my PSA, if they thank you for a straw wrapper, or a single piece of tape, or some other weird bit of debris, it isn’t because OH THOSE POOR CHILDREN ADOPTED FROM FOSTER CARE, LOOK HOW GRATEFUL THEY ARE, it is because they are insanely polite for reasons I haven’t fully figured out and they take immense joy from practically everything.
THE STRUGGLE, LET ME COMPLAIN ABOUT IT MORE. MY KIDS SAY THANK YOU AND LIFE IS SO HARD.