Friday, January 15, 2010

Some Kids Are Orchids

I was hanging out with a colleague who has two really great kids this week and I had a thought. People are like plants. Her kids are like daisies. They grow where they're planted, they need regular amounts of sun and water, and their faces turn toward you with straightforward openness. They're great fun to be with and it always cheers me up to see them.

T. is an orchid. He's been through several homes searching for the right conditions in which to flourish. Sometimes he barely eats and on other days he has the exclusive desire for peculiar foods. He's beautiful and complicated, and when he comes and goes he rarely says hello or good-bye unless you dance around and manage to position yourself where you can catch a glimpse of his face as it turns slightly away or down toward the floor. But when you do catch his eye, there's usually so much to see and study there. When he does open up and talk, he's so funny and wise and the things he says are so often unexpected.

People are always telling us about their perceptions of foster kids - many think they must be difficult, dangerous, disturbed. In our experience, some are, some aren't. It's more complicated than that. But I will say that of the foster kids we've known, very few are daisies. Some are cactuses. Others, like T., are more like exotics: unusual, complex, fragile and possessing strange exaggerated abilities and uncanny strengths.

Sometimes I catch myself shoving him into the sunlight and expecting him to grow, and instead he wilts and fades. But listen closely, switch up the routine if he's showing subtle signs of stress, keep the temperature constant and the air in the room from getting stale and he settles into being himself. An orchid never turns into a daisy, but it can be a very beautiful orchid.


Anonymous said...

Interesting post- I like your take on the situation and the "orchid" analogy. Hope things are going well! -Ashley

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful image! Thanks for showing us some of the beauty of T.
--A passerby who enjoyed this blog very much

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