When you're a foster parent, the kids in your care have been through some pretty wild stuff and they don't always have the language to tell you about it.
Little Dude apparently didn't see much fruit before he joined our family. For the first several months, every time (every time) he saw a piece of round fruit within reach he would announce, "Ball!" and launch said fruit across the room. Apples. Oranges. Tomatoes. Watermelon.
This is very taxing when your custom is to leave a fruit bowl on the table. Embarrassing when your friends and family do the same.
He now understands that an apple is food. This is after many sessions of me demonstrating, "No ball. Eat. See? Yummy!" and showing him how we cut into it and eat the pieces. An apple is still fun to throw, but now it tastes good, too. Tomatoes, potatoes, watermelon, oranges, those are still tossing toys.
This week we stopped by a roadside stand to grab some apples. I left the little ones in the car, walked the 10 feet to drop my payment in the honor box, and returned to find Little Dude wailing, kicking and screaming in his carseat. Between sobs he was pleading, "Ball!?"
Did he want an apple? No. I followed his eyes and realized we had pulled into a roadside stand in October, gaily decorated with what to him were an astounding number of orange balls. Big orange balls. Little orange balls. Huge orange balls. Tiny orange balls. Orange balls with faces. Orange balls on straw bales. Orange balls with scarecrows.
This boy LOVES balls. And I was the witch who wouldn't let him out of the car to have the time of his life throwing balls around at the great orange ball playground.