I love my son Ben, he has a kind heart. He can be the sweetest, most sympathetic, gentle and compassionate little three years old I ever had the fortune to meet.

And he’s clever, he understands situations, even when not directly explained to him yet, and he always tries to help when he sees someone who’s sad.

He worries about Holly. Ben often tells me “Mummy, Holly is crying because she misses her mummy”, which is true as she just came into care for the first time. Ben got that by himself, even before we could actually explain it to him. He gets sad for her, he wants to help her, and sometimes when Holly is crying loudly in her room, Ben gets scared that something bad has happened to her.

A few nights ago Ben decided to take matters into his own hands. He marched into Holly’s room, stood timidly on the other side of her bed-guard, and sang her a lullaby. He was proud of himself when Holly stopped crying, and I’ve seen how his eyes brightened up with joy and satisfaction. Twinkle Twinkle is now part of their bedtime routine, and it’s amazing how that little gesture can make one feel helpful and the other feel safer.

But my son is no angel. He can be selfish, angry, loud, and quick to use aggression to solve a conflict. And there are so many conflicts between Ben and Holly. Constant, endless, incessant snatching, mocking, pulling, shouting, stealing, slapping, wanting…

Ben’s life has been completely shaken, and it changed beyond recognition. He went to bed one night, and he woke up to a different world. Can I really blame him for his bad behaviour?

I keep thinking of how I would react if someone would all of the sudden come live with us. Someone who I haven’t chosen, someone who would touch all my stuff and put them in the wrong place, who would take up all my husband’s time, who would keep challenging my every moves and ways, and who wouldn’t like both myself and my home.

Well, I would probably lash out like my son is doing now. I would get angry at my husband for having less time for me. I would try to catch everyone attention in any way I can. I would need to find a new way to feel important and valued, and I would need to find a way to include this new person in my new life only because I don’t have any other option. And that’s something really hard to do. I wouldn’t be happy, not straight away at least.

Fostering is a hard reality to get used to, and it must be even harder for a boy who is only three years old and who is still trying to make sense of his emotions and his world. That same world that is now a different one than the one he knew just a few days ago. I ask myself if we made the right choice to open our door to another child. There is so much unhappiness and anger in this house lately that it’s hard to keep smiling.

Sometimes I spot the sign of the good that is nesting inside each of us, I see the many little things we do for each other out of love, and I spot a feeble smile where before there was only fear and isolation. And then is when I know we made the right choice.

Fostering won’t come easy. We won’t master it quickly either. It will see us crying and screaming, falling on our knees in exasperation. But we will eventually stand up again, and learn how to live this unusual life that randomly brought us all together.

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