The desert dungeon.

The desert dungeon.


We have twenty nieces and nephews. And a subscription to Land of Nod.

We weren’t foolish enough to think these things would make us great foster parents.

But I did think they would give us a step up on making really awesome foster kid rooms.

In and of itself, this is a unique challenge. The rooms must be gender neutral and age ambivalent. Fit for a three year old boy or a 12 year old girl.

Enter Ikea. Plus a phenomenon named Margo Stedman, a friend who spent the better part of day with me walking the aisles and painting the rooms with the perfect balance of function and fun.

Knowing we weren’t the target audience, we had a focus group of nieces and nephews test out the spaces. The only suggestion was to add a clock. Done.

Our first placement was two boys (5 and 8) and a girl (10). And I couldn’t wait to show them the rooms I had made for them, equipped with enormous stuffed animals, award-winning animal illustrations and the token bean bag chair.

The boys couldn’t have cared less about their space. They fought over who slept up top on the bunk bed for a week and then we never spoke of their room again.

On the other hand, Jen.

Her room was my pride and joy. A 500 square foot third floor loft space turned ultimate playroom. What all the nieces and nephews and even the ac guy confirmed was the best room in the house.

What Jen soon referred to as the desert dungeon.

She hated it. Hated that it was a few degrees warmer than the rest of the house. Hated that it was on a separate floor away from everyone else. Hated that she was up there all alone while everyone else got to share a room.

And of course she hated it.

To be ripped from her home and her parents. To change foster homes four times. To have to find new friends at a new school. Of course she didn’t care about how big or cute the room was. She cared about how far away it was from her brothers and from us.

Trauma changes everything. I’m learning that. All too often the hard way.

And knowing my hard way hurt her is the hardest part.

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