Reaching up to the nearby stereo, I pushed the play button and adjusted the volume. Soon joyful praises rang out inside our house. I rightfully assumed Susie’s sisters would leave their beds as the music woke them.
“Where are you Mama Dar?” said the sleepy, shouting voice of four-year-old Deni* from the bedroom.
“I’m in the kitchen girls.”
Before I could turn around, my hands laden with breakfast fixings, two tiny hands pulled on my leg. “Good morning, my little princess,” I said, turning to look at the two-year-old African-American.
“We eat?”Jamie* smiled as she spoke. The shock of hearing the sweet voice for the first time nearly toppled my load.
“Yes, Sweetie. It’s called breakfast.”
“Susie eat breakfast?” said Jamie as though we’d always had a regular conversation.
“Yup. Susie just finished eating. Now it’s your turn.”
“Deni in duh batroom. I go tell her we eat breakfast.”
“Thank you, Jamie. Please, ask her to help you wash your hands. Then, both of you come sit at the table.”
The Princess sprinted out of the kitchen while I lifted my head to the Lord in thanks. What a marvelous way to start the new day. Jamie not only could talk, but she felt safe enough with me to carry on a conversation.
Our breakfast rang with the excited chatter of the pre-school variety. I laughed as I caught my own sentence structure following their four- or five-word pattern. Talking made Jamie eat more slowly; a piece of toast protruded out of each fist. Jamie’s sentences flowed like a rushing river. What a vocabulary this little girl had hidden.
I slipped into the girls’ bedroom to set out their clothing while they finished eating. Taking advantage of the situation, I lifted Jamie’s pillow. The bread hadn’t been touched during the night.
I brushed off the crumbs from the sheet and pillow and set the slice of bread on the dresser. Quickly making both bunks, I prayed for God to help me address this sensitive issue.
Back out at the table, I noticed the children take the final swallow of milk as I approached. “Did you get enough to eat?”
Both grinning heads nodded. Suddenly their smiles dropped, replaced by the narrowed brows and a thin line of little lips pressed together. The kids had seen the bread in my hand.
Jamie jumped off the pillows boosting her up in the chair. As her bare feet whipped the pajama-clad youngster around to run, I swept her up in my arms. I nestled my face against her soft curls and made loud kissing noises. “Oooh, Mama Dar loves Jamie to bits!” I said, followed by a kiss on her head. Deni laughed and so did I. Jamie sat frozen.
Sitting back down in my chair, I gently positioned Jamie on my lap. I signaled for Deni to come, swinging my free arm around her narrow shoulders.
“Listen, kids. This is your house for as long as you can live with me. I promise you will always eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner—every day. But, I know adults sometimes make promises they don’t keep.
“Jamie, if you feel better having a piece of bread with you for the night, that’s just fine with me. May I put it in a sandwich bag, so it doesn’t get dirty?” Jamie smiled and nodded, so I continued. “Deni, are you okay or do you need a piece of bread for your pillow?”
“No, I sleep. I eat breakfast when I wake up, right?”
Uncertain if the preschooler wanted reinforcement for choosing the correct word, or reassurance that she would be offered breakfast, I responded, “Exactly right! Breakfast is the name of the first meal. You will eat breakfast every morning.” I exaggerated the nod of my head. Both girls laughed.
“Now, it’s time to dress for church. Jamie, I put your clothes on your bed; Deni, your clothes are on the top of the dresser. When you’re ready for the socks and shoes, come back here and I’ll help you tie the laces on your shoes.”
The phone rang just as I finished clearing the table. “Oh, what a surprise! Hi, Mom!”
“Daddy’s on the extension, Honey,” Mom said.
“Hi, Daddy! We just finished breakfast, and the girls are changing into their church clothes. I’m about to put my dress on. I remembered Mom said to leave the baby for last. What’s up with you two?”
“Oh, Honey, Daddy and I won’t keep you. I know how hectic things are on a Sunday morning, trying to get three kids ready for church. We just finished eating, too. Daddy and I want to come for lunch on Wednesday. Is that okay with you? We’ll bring lunch with us.”
“Of course it’s okay, Mom! Daddy, do you have more than just Wednesday off this week?”
“No, I still have the same work schedule. We’ll not be spending the night, but Mom and I want to meet the girls.”
“Are you kidding me? It’s 192 miles—one way!” I laughed and pictured my loving parents driving nearly four hundred miles to have lunch with the new little foster family. I heard them laugh.
“Oh, we know, dear, but we just can’t wait. Can we bring you anything?” The excitement in my mother’s voice warmed my heart.
“All I can think of off the top of my head is Glenda’s little blue youth chair. Do you still have that after all these years? Jamie is teetering atop a couple of couch pillows to reach the dining table now. Glenda’s chair would be perfect if you could bring that with you.”
“Daddy wants to drive his pick-up, so we’ll have plenty of room. You need to run, Dar. We’ll talk again. You can be thinking if there’s anything you’d like to have. See you and those precious little girls soon,” Mom said.
My thoughts raced as I dressed and moved to baby Susie. Unsure how my proper mother might react if Jamie plunged both hands into mashed potatoes, I prayed God would direct her to bring something easily eaten with little fingers. At least, they’re not spending the night, so Mom’ll never see the bread under Jamie’s pillow.
Throughout the following two days, I vacillated between joyous excitement over my parents’ upcoming visit and anxiety at what might happen during that first visit. Little did I know that God had planned an important revelation for the new single Mom.
Story thread begins with the following link: With Just One Phone Call