Just like last time.
There were a few differences, though. Last time, he sat down in my recliner when I got up, leaving me to feel like I didn't have an "spot" in my own house. Last time, he would say that he wasn't going wherever I said that we were going (no matter how much fun he might have); leaving me with no choice but to play his game until he finally got in the van. Last time, he asked for a bunch of stuff in the store. I don't mind him asking for snacks, of course, but he was fairly pushy about it and it left me feeling obligated.
This time, he went out of his way to hop up when I came in the room so I could sit down. (Mind you, that wasn't completely necessary, but the consideration was appreciated.) This time, he put on his shoes with the rest of the kids and hopped in the van. This time, he made a point of not asking for much and nothing too expensive at the grocery store. And, of course, I made a point of buying him plenty of snacks, anyway. ;)
And, as the end of the visit neared, there was another marked difference. I didn’t have the same sense of relief that he was going to be going home. I realized that I didn't really want him to go. I mean, I definitely wanted my laptop back, haha, but I really wasn't anxious for him to leave.
He was with Jennice (friend/babysitter) and they were going to the park. Suddenly, he clammed up. He wouldn't talk. He wouldn't do anything. I called and had her put him on the phone because I foolishly believed that I might be able to work my magic. But he wouldn't talk to me, either. So, of course, I got all freaked out and figured that this was it. He was changing. The Patrick from the summer was back. I emailed his GAL (Guardian ad Litem). I vented to the people at work. I left a few minutes early and anxiously rushed to the park. And, of course, while I was on my way, Jennice texted me to let me know that he was fine. He said he had a headache and was thirsty. She pointed out to him that he should use his words like the other three. And, by the time I got there, it was like nothing had happened. I've been told that this is a very teenager-like thing to do; not necessarily a troubled foster child thing to do. I find that a little comforting and a little not.
Anyway, we all moved on. We went home and had a peaceful (scratch that); we had a hectic and noisy, but pretty awesome, night.
And, after bedtime, from the bedroom, Patrick facebook friend requested me on his 3DS. I'm not positive, but I think that puts me in the cool kids club. So, after deleting a few things that I said about him on my facebook, I approved him and have had the privilege of receiving deep, meaningful messages like "was up" and "what are u doin," ever since. I kind of love it. :)
The next morning, we got up and headed to meet his GAL. The ride was bittersweet. He talked to me about the clarinet (He's first chair at his school, by the way!). He talked about school. He talked about his foster home. He talked about nothing.
And, we were there. And, I started worrying again.
Last time, when his case worker got there, he shut down. He quickly rebuilt the parts of the wall that we had managed to knock down. (I do love a metaphor!) He barely talked to the kids, barely hugged us, and blatantly refused to be in a picture with us. So, I was worried.
But, not this time. :)
This time, when Antwan and William were arguing about who was going to sit next to him, he got up and positioned himself in the middle. (That made my heart so happy.) He let me give him way too many hugs. He let me take video of him playing the clarinet that his GAL had brought him and then post it on my facebook. He basically acted the same as he had all week. :)
And, they were gone. And, I headed home with my three.
I now knew why the GAL had gushed about him. This week, I got to see a different Patrick. Between the two visits, I had experienced two different Patricks, two different kids. (Although, I had seen glimpses of this kid the whole time.) And, I knew that the Patrick of Christmas was the real one. Of course, I know that he can't be on his best behavior all of the time. He is a teenager, after all. And, more to the point, he's human. But, I know, in my heart, that I saw his heart when he was here. And, he has a really good heart. How he's kept it safe, after everything that he's been through, is beyond me. But, it's there.
And, this Christmas, he let us see it.
I guess that was our own little Christmas miracle. :)