Ice Cream for Breakfast: How Saying Yes Fosters Connection with Kids

When you boil it down, life comes down to a series of yes and no decisions. I cannot remember which study I was working through at the time, but a piece of solid advice stuck to me like a dumpling to my thighs: What do you need to say “no” to so you can be more dedicated to the “yes”? For me, in parenting, I was living the opposite.

Two preschool girls sitting at table eating ice cream out of cupsIn my naivety and soul-crushing pursuit of foster parenting perfectionism, I became so dedicated to the “No,” that my yeses weren’t being heard too often. It wasn’t without good intent. I was striving to undo some of the damage our foster kiddos came with. Reverse the effects of poor nutrition, enforce stability, and create structure—all of the things I had been told during training were so important {and they are}. But somewhere in the process—I was losing a key element—connection.

Checking Boxes

In a flurry of voices, papers, and bags being tossed at the bottom of the stairs, it follows almost the same pattern. Kids come, paperwork is completed, investigators leave, and there we were, at opposite ends of the hallway sizing each other up like a bad western movie. Typically, my first thought is, They can smell my inadequacy.

There is no routine when it comes to foster care. People come in-and-out of your world like running backs crashing into your previously scheduled programming. One of the requirements is that you have to take your placements {children} to a pediatrician within three days of arrival and have a complete physical exam as well as administer a TB test. {These children have known you for 72 hours, or less and you are going to have them stuck with needles. Picture how well that goes over.}

Our first placement required three hours of complete medical exhaustion before we were given our stamps of reprieve and attempted to smooth it over with our new littles at Bahama Buck’s. I poured over the new paperwork—detailing infections, poor nutrition, and all of the things we needed to address. That was the day that I became {my husband may argue the date} neurotic about making sure that the boxes got checked.

Make the appointments…eat the right foods…see the appointed specialists… One day, a voice from the backseat painfully echoed what I was thinking, “Do we have to go to another appointment today?” Truthfully, I didn’t blame her. I was exhausted, too. No, ma’am, we do not.

Finding the Yes

No doubt, there are responsibilities for every parent in every category and the pressures can seem unconquerable at times. Foster parents, specifically, are held to an exceptional level of parenting that is often bewildering. But what that little voice was really asking for was a break—and she got it. We stood right in the middle between the people throwing every noodle at her trying to “fix it” hoping that something would stick and said, enough.

Time to regroup, recalculate. Figure out what’s working—and what isn’t. And that meant taking some steps back myself. No, I couldn’t let her wear the peasant blouse as a dress with her hind end sticking out, but when she came down in completely mismatching clothes…she was dressed {and her bum was covered}.

We found ways to “yes” in the middle of the chaos. Yes—you can pick which show we watch as soon as your brother has a turn. Yes—I’d love to take a nature walk after we finish cleaning the kitchen. Yes—we can absolutely have a dance party. I even served ice cream for breakfast {which is actually yogurt and fruit shaped like a popsicle—same thing}.

Language Shift

Understand that while my mom-view is wrapped in foster care, all children could benefit from a few more yeses. And as moms, it does our souls some good, too!

A bona fide word person, sometimes it just comes down to language. Here are some common scenarios we ran into: 

If it’s too late for juice: Sure, we can have juice tomorrow at breakfast. Will you remind me?

Being a little rough with the animals: We have to be gentle with the dogs. Watch how I pet them. 

When our budding Donna Karan wants to wear a sundress in 50-degree weather: Great choice! Can we wear leggings under it? 

Spontaneous fun can go a long way to fill up their love tanks. We have had surprise donut dates before school {sorry teachers}, random park playdates after school pick-up, breakfast outings in our PJs, make-your-own pizza nights, random picnics at a playground, and so on.

Get creative! Or let them plan a date—you will be surprised what they come up with.

And if you really want to throw them for a loop, serve ice cream for breakfast.


 

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Kirsten C. was born and raised in Texas Hill Country. After becoming a hopelessly devoted Bobcat and earning a degree in Mass Communications-Public Relations at Texas State University, she was wooed by the never-ending culinary options and vibrant street art of Houston and became a transplant. By day she is a marketing enthusiast for a downtown engineering firm, and by night, an over-the-top {and unashamed} dog mom. She and her husband William are licensed foster parents—advocating for children and families—who hope to one day grow their family through adoption. You can follow their unruly journey on their blog, Cornell Chaos. When she’s not trying a new restaurant, playing behind the lens of a Cannon, piddling in the yard, or scouring markets for hidden gems, Kirsten is often found teaching student ministry through Kingsland Baptist Church or escaping at a local coffee spot.

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