I’ve been a foster parent since November of 2016. T came to live with me a week before Thanksgiving. He learned that broken pencil joke shortly after that, and he told it ad nauseam to anyone who would listen (and to plenty of people who weren’t listening). Telling jokes was one of the ways we connected early on.

But that’s not the only reason I named this space A Broken Pencil. When he got really mad, T broke stuff. He snapped numerous pencils in half in fits of rage. Unfortunately, so did I. I’m not proud of that fact. Though, it was pretty funny to see his reaction the first time I matched his tone and volume and broke the pencil I was holding–trying to show him how ineffective his behavior was. I also got a sliver, which wasn’t so funny.

Broken pencils were one of the many signs we’d had a really hard, awful day. We had lots of those. But, sometimes, he recited Calvin and Hobbes with perfect timing and an innocent sideglance, hardly aware of how clever he was being–and I loved it. Those days (usually) made it worth it.

T lived with me for two and a half years. I’ve had a range of respite and short-term placements since then, and when I have time, I tell those stories in this space.