Safe Families for Children: A Life of Visits

The social worker visited first.

The social worker who walked up and down our long apartment hallway, stepped into bedrooms, checked bathroom safety. The social worker who asked me, my brother, the little ones, if we were okay with extra children living in our home. The social worker who sipped the water the mother had poured her, listened to the parents tell their stories, playing verbal volley ball as they passed ideas and memories and convictions back and forth.

The social worker who approved our home, our family, as a Safe one.

The J-man came in April; the first, maybe the second. Monday afternoon, freshly home from Spring Break, the mother collected him first, then, short downtown drive, I was waiting for her in the parking lot when she drove past Moody. Excited, nervous, I turned around in my seat every three minutes to look at the sleeping child. Full lips in perpetual half-pucker revealed white teeth in sharp contrast to his dark, dark face. His hair was braided back in two cornrows, tracing his scalp in wavy lines, tapering into matching braids at his neck.

J was intense, loud, and uncontrollably active. J’s two months as a Shull were exhausting, stretching and wildly unpredictable. J took a cup of milk at bed and slept wrapped in the Superman blanket the girls helped me make for him and talked about his little sister, his mommy, frequently.

I cried when a wooden train track left his hand and connected with my knee, but I cried more in the days before we packed his backpack again, kissed his butter-soft cheeks good bye. J loved bike rides with Papi and called the girls collectively”Grendy-rissa” and one night while still at school, the mother sent me a video of him after his nightly bath, warm water still moist on his brow.

“Good night, Na-dee-dee.” He says. I still watch that video.

J left at the end of May. Miss B came and went in July. J once again brought life and energy and a swirl of action in September. Monkey giggled her way into our hearts in November. And now, Lala sleeps in pink footie pajamas that she’s zipped “my-by-self” on the toddler bed in the room I share with the girls.

Nine months. Four three-year-old visitors. Always an adventure.

Safe Families for Children is about caring for children, of course. But more than that, it’s about families. Because J’s mom is a wonderful, sweet, thoughtful woman working hard to raise her children. Because Lala’s mother, sister, uncles came over today, and that tiny girl was at the top of the stairs when they came in, and her little face was first confused, then ecstatic as she shouted, jumped, for her sister, to see her family.

The father and I visited the J-man on Monday. Drove into the city. Knocked on a wrong door, asked directions, before finding the right one. Always the owner of a part of my heart, J is calmer now, gentle as he played with my hair, pretended to braid it. He talked about his bike in the basement, how Papi took him for rides, and kneeling there on the floor, I called the mother, put her on speakerphone, while J shouted greetings, excited, to the girls, to his Aunty.

I left that visit grinning; I couldn’t stop smiling. Because I hugged and I kissed and I high-fived my boy, of course. And because there is a home and there is safety and there is joy and there is restoration, wholeness, family, community.

Which is exactly what Safe Families is about.

~Natalia

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. D-Roc
    Jan 14, 2014 @ 18:11:52

    :-,

    Reply

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