Sometimes foster children call you all sorts of things. Sometimes they call you Mom and Dad like everyone else. This go-round we are Mrs. Tammy and Mr. Parker. For reasons unknown to us, we acquired those names after about two weeks of being Mom and Dad. It doesn’t matter to us, but I will say that “Misser Parker” has a very sweet sound coming from the mouth of a tiny five year old.
We have a tradition in our house where I pray with the boys every night before they go to bed. It’s sort of ‘my thing.’ One night a week or so ago I was not available so Tammy stood in the gap and prayed with all three boys. When she finished and said, “Amen” little K. asked why she said that. After a short explanation of the customary ending to prayer, he said, “Mr. Parker never says that!” I don’t know what he has heard me say, but it isn’t ‘Amen’.
The next time I knelt for prayer with him, he adamantly exclaimed, “be sure to say ‘A man’, Mr. Parker!” So, I was sure to enunciate and prominently proclaim the apparently absent capstone to my prayer. His face lit up with a huge smile! I was finally praying as well as Mrs. Tammy did!
The next night he asked again, as if the prayer didn’t work if we didn’t get this right. Then, he started another tradition that I really like. He asked with big expecting eyes and the grin of the Cheshire cat, “Can I say ‘A man’, Mr. Parker?” Of course, I obliged. Now, when I finish praying I say, “In Jesus name …” and he chimes in with an emphatic, “AYYYYYMEN!”
He has also become the one who makes sure we pray before we eat, and he is the one to remind us all to pray each night. A few weeks ago I wrote an article about the eternal impact we can have on a foster child, even if we have them for a short period of time. It is great to see these small patterns emerge, even if they seem insignificant at the time. They encourage us to keep on keeping on. They remind us this work does, in fact, have eternal reward and everlasting return.
We don’t know how long he will be with us. We don’t know where he will go next if not here. What we do know is that for this time, in this moment, he has learned a love for prayer. He has learned the importance of thanking God for the food he has been blessed to eat. He has learned what the arms of Jesus feel like when we tuck him in each night. He has learned he can boldly approach the Creator of the Universe. He has learned about love.
Can someone say, “Ayyymen, Mr. Parker”?