If you've been following along, by now you know that Topher is my newest kid. I just thought I'd share part of how I came to love a kid so much that I'd be willing to become a foster parent. One day, maybe, I'll share how he came to be in the situation he's in ... but I have to come to peace with it first, and my lack of peace is at least part of why I'm here blogging.
Topher came into my life because of my shop. About 18 months ago, I opened a LAN Gaming Center in downtown Lebanon. Currently we have XBox 360's, a Wii, a Pool Table, and 10 gaming PC's. Everything (except the pool table) is connected to the internet, and teens and tweens can come in to the shop and for $3/hr can play whatever they like (with their parent's permission, of course).
Problem was, Topher's family was broke. Flat Broke. Like, he never had $3 to his name. He used to come by the shop just to hang out and watch everyone else play. He'd bring things in to help decorate to trade for time. He'd walk in, go to the back for the glass cleaner and wash my windows...and then ask if he could get some free time for having done it. Sometimes, if the shop was busy, or something was going on, the answer was no. Most of the time it worked for him. I started being generous with my time. After all, he was a walking, talking ad for my shop, which is always good, right?
Now, people often come in and ask "Why did you open this place? It can't be making money!" No, it's not. It's losing money. Some months more than others. "But," I'd say, "you see I have 8 kids, and I need them to get some work experience worthy of putting on a resume. This is a relatively inexpensive way to do that given the state of the economy." As soon as I said "8", Topher would chime in (if he was there, which he always was) and say "9! You have me, too!" and I'd smile 'cuz he was cute.
Then, last June, after our annual Strawberry Parade, I saw him & waved, told him I needed him at the shop for something. The Scout Leader with me asked "Is that one of yours?" and before my brain engaged to say "It's just a kid that hangs out at my shop and does odd jobs for me," the truth popped out. I sad, simply, "Yep", because there was nothing more to say. You see, he was right. "9" it was.
That was the day I claimed him. That was the day that our survival got intertwined together.