Today I have an after school play date with a little girl named Mackenzie.*
Mackenzie is the foster child of some friends of ours, a couple who have been like true angels to countless foster children in this area over the past few decades. These selfless people have improved the quality of life for those kids lucky enough to become a part of their noisy, fun, affectionate household--and they've helped to boost the self-esteem of so many troubled kids, oftentimes even connecting them with loving adoptive parents.
Mackenzie is an eight-year-old girl who is currently repeating first grade and was recently placed with our friends. The poor little thing has had a tough life; at eight, she's had to deal with more heartache than most of us will see in a lifetime. She's suffering from a negative self-image, and she has complicated mother issues. Because of this, our friends thought it might be good for her to spend some time with an adult woman (one she wouldn't see as a "mommy" figure), doing the kinds of girly things she enjoys. Our friends know me pretty well--so they know that, although I raised only boys, I love all kinds of traditionally girly activities, like sewing, crafting, baking...and playing with dolls!
In preparation for Mackenzie's visit this afternoon, I went out yesterday and bought some goodies: a sketch pad and a package of new crayons (I still have lots from the old days, but they're mostly broken); a soft-covered book of Disney Princess paper dolls; and a chocolate cake mix and a big bag of M&M's, so that Mackenzie and I can make cookies together. Actually, we're going to make what we folks around here call "cakeys," using the easiest cookie recipe in the world. You take a cake mix (chocolate or yellow, your choice), add two eggs and 1/2 cup of oil, and then throw in some semi-sweet chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, or crushed M&M's. You make one inch balls and place them about two inches apart on the cookie sheet and bake at 350 for about eight minutes. Simple and delicious!
So if all goes according to plan, we're going to draw pictures, play with paper dolls, and bake cookies. (I sound like Elf, don't I? Maybe we'll eat some cookie dough and make snow angels, too!)
When I think of my boys during their childhood days, of how safe and secure and love-filled thier lives were, my heart aches for this little girl. I really hope that our play date goes well and Mackenzie enjoys being here. I'm not sure how she's going to react to me; I'm a bit shy and reserved (unlike her uber-extroverted foster parents), and she's a bit gun-shy about new people. She may tell our friends that she'd just as soon not have to come over and play with me again! Since I'm feeling a wee bit nervous, I thought perhaps I should pray to the Patron Saint of Foster Children to help me make Mackenzie's visit a positive experience for her. I had to do some digging on-line to find out who this saint was, and I found the name St. Matthew Guku. I was unable to find any biographical information about him, but I'm definitely going to pray to him this morning. I'll pray to St. Joseph--Our Lord's loving foster father--as well, and hopefully Mackenzie will have such a good time today that we'll be able to schedule another play date.
St. Matthew Guku, pray for me! St. Joseph, pray for me!
*Name changed for privacy.