Since Gary moved in, less than two weeks ago, he has received:
- A used iPod that happened to come with a lot of cool music already on it
- A cell phone with unlimited texting
- His very own set of toiletries that he doesn't have to share
- Brand new misc. stuff for his room (laundry basket, lock box, etc)
- A new bicycle, helmet, and lock
- New shoes and cleats
- Swim trunks
- A summer youth bus pass
- An old library fine paid off so that he can have a new library card
- A plane ticket so that he can go on vacation to Maine
And he has been watching me make him a quilt that he picked out.
The agency is paying for most of this, but that isn't really the point. From Gary's perspective it doesn't necessarily matter who is paying. He just keeps getting stuff. He announces that he needs something, like new swim trunks, and the next time we are out we buy them. Sometimes he doesn't have to ask. Roland came home one day last week and gave him a newly-cut key to the house and garage.
And Gary is very appreciative. He is delighted. He shows off to his friends ("but not to Y, because she doesn't have much"). He is having FUN. He told me today that he figured out that if he plugs his phone into the charger every night before he goes to bed it never runs out of power. He can text all day if he wants! It is fun, "spoiling" a kid who isn't used to it and appreciates it so much. I snapped a picture of him the other day, sitting in the van, earphones in his ears, texting on his phone. He was the essence of an every day teenager.
Though it is fun, it is also uncomfortable. I feel like the White Witch giving him turkish delight. Seducing him with material goodies, trying to convince him to forget his home and stay here and be happy. Don't miss your father...don't let your heart break over him...have another piece of candy...
I am not treating him any differently than I have the other kids. I have made them all quilts. With the exception of the used iPod, which seemed to be a fairly modest "welcome to the family" present, everything is standard issue for kids in the agency or in our home. The intention is not to bribe him into wanting to be with us, but just to make him not feel like the "the foster child." We want him to feel normal. It is a huge change for him, after living in the group home where he was not allowed anything, and living with his aunt who threw out most of the possessions he had.
Still I cannot help but wonder how this affects his relationship with his father. I don't think that his new-found material wealth is significantly different than what he might have had if he had been able to stay at home. His father is neither wealthy nor impoverished. He would have had many of these things.
If he does go home he will take them with him (except the cell phone). He knows that.
And I know that even if had had to leave them all behind to be with his dad, he would. He would do it in a heartbeat, and that is as it should be.
But I still feel just a little bit like the White Witch...