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 has told it ad nauseam to anyone who will 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 gets really mad, T breaks stuff. He’s snapped numerous pencils in half in fits of rage. Unfortunately, so have 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 are one of the many signs we’ve had a really hard, awful day. We have lots of those. But, sometimes, he recites Calvin and Hobbes with perfect timing and an innocent sideglance, hardly aware or how clever he is being–and I love it. Those days (usually) make it worth it.