Having never parented, our learning curve was steep. To put it mildly.
Our first long-term placement began in June 2014. Three siblings: Jen, Victor, and Nick. All had suffered severe trauma and unimaginable neglect during their short lives. At one point in that first month, my husband Jonathan asked Victor if he knew what love was. Hesitantly, the eight year old shared, “I’ve heard of it. But I don’t know what it is.”
Changing that became our priority.
Jonathan sang the kiddos love songs. Gloriously ridiculous love songs. We added “precious,” “handsome,” and “smart” as if they were prefixes to their names. And we snuggled early, late, and often.
As the school year fast approached, we stayed up nights filling out the 847 necessary enrollment forms for multiple schools. Crossing our fingers for three spots at the very best in St Louis City. Which equated to finding three of the very kindest teachers in St Louis City.
Victor’s teacher, Mrs. W ending up being just that. And a close talker. But she was so gentle that you couldn’t imagine stepping back and away from her sweetness.
At the end of the first week of school, I waited in the gym for the kids when Mrs. W stepped in. She told me about a lesson she taught every year. How to fill each other’s buckets. She shared ways the kids could encourage each other with compliments and generosity.
Mid-lesson, Victor chimed in confidently, “I know how to fill someone’s bucket. Give them grace. That means being kind to someone even when they don’t deserve it.”
And right there I was undone. Pencil skirt pretense gone. Heart Exposed. Crying in that gym, in Mrs. W’s face.