Make me laugh, blue room
Read me good books about firefighters, talking trucks and a silly alligator named Doodle
Play finger puppets with me again
Put on shows for me with funny character voices
Blue room, make me laugh again
Spin me around until I can’t stand on my feet
Hold my car, blue room and I’ll hold the other while we play smash ‘em and crash ‘em
Look down on me every night while I sleep to make certain that nothing bad will come to me
Never be dusty, never be silent or sad—never be blue
I never spent much time in there when it was my office. The room was a dusty white, full of a mish-mash of furniture with raggedy shades across the windows. At the time it seemed a bit of a daunting task to rescue the little room and make it a space for our blossoming two-year old foster son. Our little boy had just started potty-training, he had learned to dress himself and it was time for him to sleep in a real bed.
We did not agonize over paint samples. For some reason when we popped open the can of paint, the color was just right. The walls soaked up the milky blue color as if they had not seen a paint brush for twenty years. Boy beds are easy to figure out—you have your choice of cars, trucks, or action figures, then a few extra pillows and you’re done. There was the assembling of colorful IKEA furniture, setting up his new train table and train toy box, loading his bookshelves and finally moving all of his stuffed animal friends into their new home. The unveiling was more like a party. We threw in a number of new toys just to ensure that the transition would be a success. That first night he slept soundly in his blue room.
His old room lay empty for only a matter of weeks. And then one day, there was Lucas with his scrunched up newborn face looking up at us from his crib in the happy yellow baby’s room. It again became the site of daddy-baby time, quiet play, late-night feedings—a calm, hushed place. The blue room on the other hand, became the center of the house: two dads, two kids and now three dogs. Our furry family members were always forbidden from the baby’s room. It just made things calmer, cleaner and simpler. But in the blue room, the big boy room, all were welcome.
We played there together—two kids, two dads, and three dogs. We read books; we had puppet shows; we put puzzles together and played board games. We had group hugs each night before bed. It was a good life.
I have recounted the story of how our foster son left us. Just a few months after celebrating his fourth birthday, we drove him to his parents’ house with his things and left him there. We have not heard from him nor seen him since that day. His beautiful blue room went dark for more than a year.
It has always fascinated me how life continues its march forward whether you are ready for it to or not. I had not spent much time in his old room until very recently. Sometimes I would find the door open and would close it to avoid having to see the piles of bedding and stuffed animals. It became this place where I feared that the emotional assault of loss and grief would come back for another round.
But in the yellow room, another little boy was growing and maturing. Lucas was learning to swim and to brush his teeth and was becoming too old to be in a crib or inhabit a baby’s room. It was time to begin potty-training, for him to learn to dress himself and for him to sleep in a real bed too. Just as we had transitioned our foster son from one stage to the next, so it was time for Lucas. Unfortunately, we were suddenly forced to deal with the things that remained in the blue room. Over several weeks we went through the last of our foster son’s things. We left whatever we could bring ourselves to reuse, we tossed what we could and boxed up those things that we could not bring ourselves to deal with. It felt like the final throes of what grieving had not been done yet, though I suspect that I will always grieve over him.
It was easier this time, since the paint was still fresh and the shades were in good shape. All I had to do was put up a shiny new fan. Lucas is a straight-up trucks and tractors kind of guy. We found some great construction truck-themed bedding and wall decals. We ordered a beautiful red toy box, got him a spinning chair and brought his Buzz Lightyear tent from his old room. There wasn’t the same kind of apprehension around his transition. Sometimes the trick is recognizing that in the journey from infancy to boyhood, they are more eager than you are for what comes next.
We bought him a few toys and wrapped them as welcoming gifts, though my sense is that we didn’t really need them. He was mostly interested in his new bed. Lucas loves to sleep—naps, nighttime, anytime. I suspect giving up the hard crib mattress in favor of the “new” soft, comfy big boy bed was what really sold him on the place. He climbed up onto the bed and that was all there was. That first night he put his head down on the pillow and settled into the covers like he was so completely at home. And just like that, the blue room became a little boy’s room again.
The blue room has become a place where we play and read books and laugh. It was destined to be a happy place. With little Lucas all moved in, everyone began to inhabit the space, just like when our foster son was there, only this was different. Lucas brought new life to the blue room in a way that I can only describe as different. It is no longer a dusty museum filled with haunting memories.
Thank you Lucas.