On my first night in my foster home, I was frightened. But I had dinner, and a bath, and watched some TV. And these things were okay. Meat pies were a treat, the bath was bigger, and Cartoon Network was normally restricted to the car dealerships when the step-dad once bought a utility vehicle.
And then my foster mother hugged me and kissed me on the cheek.
“Don’t do that!” I yelled up at her. “You’re not my mother.”
“Okay,” she said. “I won’t do it again.”
And she kept her promise. Because she knew that once a child in welfare draws an emotional and physical boundary, it has to be kept.
It’s just that I never knew that line existed. I craved that closeness and because it was always there she still unconsciously felt like a stranger to me.