Thursday, June 14, 2012

I hope there is nasal spray in Heaven











Friday, January 6, 2012

Just another night.

My husband is out of town tonight. It's Friday night: "Treat night" for the girls. Hubby took my car so I was stuck with his truck. He usually takes the girls to pick out a movie and get treats on Fridays, but I played the role tonight. This girls weren't too sure about this switch up.

"THIS is weird," says my 14 year old. "Do you know HOW to drive Daddy's truck?"

"Just because it's dark out and I'm wearing footie pajamas to Wal Mart doesn't mean I didn't USED to have a red sportscar with 5 on the floor. Don't panic," I said.

My 11 year old: "Mommy, SLOW DOWN. There's a stop sign up there. Daddy's truck doesn't work too well."

As we drove by the immense water tower in the distance, my 11 year old mentions once again how she's always wanted to "touch it."

We parked at Wally World. "Hurry-up girls. I don't want anyone to walk by that I know."
14 year old: "You should have worn sunglasses."

I glance into the rear view mirror. Oops. I had my newly acquired drug store +1 reading glasses on my head. Funny thing is, I didn't even read today. I guess I just thought it really accessorized my "look" I had going: White footie-pajamas with red hearts all over them, along with some MaryJane shoes.

They arrived back to the truck; each with a bag Ghirardelli chocolates in hand. I told them they had to pay tax for me driving them. "Daddy doesn't do that!"
"Do I look like Daddy to you?"
"That's NOT FAIR, Mommy! WE bought them!"
"Alright, have it your way. I'm gonna drive you to the funny farm then and drop you off."
I turned down a long road toward the water tower. They were a bit nervous. I hope I didn't push the envelope and my little stunt wasn't abusive in some way. But oh well. "It's not too far of a walk back home."

I pulled up, much to Signe's surprise, to the water tower. "Alright. Get out and touch it." She has been begging to "touch" this thing for five months!

She was too frightened to get out, "It's too tall..."

I got out with her. I, in my footie jammies with drug store glasses on my head; she, with her bag of chocolates. We held hands and jumped across two muddy little ravine' the dark...and again, need I say... footie pajamas....
She touched it, but wouldn't look up. Again, she said, "IT'S TOO TALL!"

We got back in the truck.
"So. How did that feel, Signe?"
Nope. I'm not Daddy. I'm the momma, and this is how I roll.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The System - The Cycle

These darn kids. They worm their lying, cussing, angry, defiant, sweet, funny, lonely little selves right into your heart.

Working in a group home is the pits. Living there must be two-thousand times worse. Three thousand.

There are up to eight different personalities at any one time where I work: These kids have to room together, eat together, watch tv together, ride in a big red van together; fight for hierarchy. They hate each other; but they bond and become “bro’s”. For awhile. Then someone new comes along, and the old friend is now low-man on the totem pole. Or somebody rats someone out. Or they run away.

When the kiddos turn 18, we turn them loose. Not “us” per se. The state does this. We are a non profit agency and just house these children. We follow the rules that the guardian(state) gives us.

These youngsters can’t wait to leave us. We’re “mean”, we have rules. They have bedtimes and study hour; they have to ask every time they want to go to their room. Oh, they can’t wait to turn 18! They can smoke without getting cited. They don’t have to ask if they can take a piss. They are out of the system! They’re FREE!

The new-found freedom lasts for a few hours. Then they are hungry. Then they need to sleep somewhere. They want more pot, more pills, whatever…so they can numb themselves again from whence they came. What I mean by that is, you can show/teach/guide these kids in different directions, but they always go back to what they know. It is their script. Parents: It all boils down to how you love your children as babies. I mean it. If you don't fire those neurons when they are infants...the DO NOT wire. It's over.

Shortly after dischage, we start getting calls at the group home. “Hey, it's me. How are ya? So…I’m having a baby. Do you and Leah still work on Sunday’s? Ya? Maybe I’ll stop by.”

For those of us who sneak our cell phone numbers to some of these kids…we get calls; texts, even years later after they’ve left us. Sometimes at midnight they start rolling in. “My cat got killed by our dog,” cries one little boy.
“My dad passed away,” says another young man.
It just breaks my heart that WE are the ones these kids call first when their cat dies, or they gave birth to a child, etc. etc. Well, breaks my heart and makes me feel good at the same time. To me, it means I’ve done my job if these kids know I genuinely care about them. That is one HARD concept for most of them to grasp. Truly.

“I’ve just been getting fucked up. I’m so sick of everything…I just wanna get fucked up and pass on.” Those are the hard calls. It’s absolutely heart wrenching. And it's impossible to leave your job at work. I thought I learned not to “bring it home with me” a long time ago. Nope. It always sneaks back in.

I know this is a struggle for most people in any line of work. I have both literally and figuratively brought my work home. My husband and I fostered a little girl for one year. But that is a whole other story. And long one at that. In fact, it's turning into a book on my computer.

What does “The System” do for these kids? We pass them around from group home, to foster care, to therapeutic group home, to residential treatment, to foster home, to group home, to detention, to hospitalization, to group home. Then they turn 18.

Truly…this is a vicious cycle. From every “important” meeting I attend: TREATMENT TEAM MEETING, CHILD-CENTERED MEETING, FOSTER CARE REVIEW, you name it. They are all pretend. They say the same thing in every meeting, and everyone types up fancy things: Stages of so and so’s anger and what to do and how to handle each stage. Here is a quote from one little girls psychological anger profile: stage one: “Turns red in the face and yells.” OH! I get it! Rocket science! THANK YOU FOR LETTING US KNOW THIS. WOW! WE WILL BE ABLE TO HANDLE HER SO MUCH BETTER NOW THAT WE KNOW THIS SIGN! ALL of the meetings are like this. “Oh…yes, we are working on getting the siblings some visits together.” Then they say it the next month, and the following month, and the next and the next and the next and the next.

How to we break this multifacited and vicious cycle?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

One thing I will never know, is how my mother does this, not only every year…but every DAY. Every DAY of her life she has had three homemade meals on the table, the mess cleaned up immediately afterwards, the house was ALWAYS clean, never was there one day where things were a mess (well, other than my bedroom). We could always have our friends over without embarrassment. She remembered everything for us, things were always done when they were supposed to be and never, ever forgotten. Cookies would be delivered to school on the day it was my turn, picture money turned in, papers signed. My bed was made every single day, but NOT by me. To this day, I do not understand why you would make a bed when you are just going to get back in it. All of these things were done humbly and without one sigh.

My two oldest girls are home for Christmas, so today I made lunch AND supper. Here’s the deal though, the manicotti was frozen stuff from Costco. Of course, I added salad and bread, (which required a lot of chopping). And the other meal was pulled chicken sandwiches and cheesy potatoes. (Again, both frozen from Costco) But as my kids told me, “You would never know the chicken was frozen mom, because you put it in this pretty bowl.” Guess I should have switched out containers for the potatoes too. The thing is…WHAT A MESS IT ALL MAKES. I swear, I had to clean that kitchen five or six times from messes today!! That takes FOREVER…get all the gross dirties together, wash, put things away, put dishes away again, wipe the counters…well, AFTER you get rid of mail piles, pens, catalogs, and who knows what else. In between all of that cleaning, I was making Christmas Wreath treats, peanut clusters, lime buttermint salad for tomorrow, the kids made bon bons and sugar cookies. I chopped all sorts of veggies for the tray tomorrow and made “real” dough for rolls…I made my Great-Grandma Swanson’s Swedish Sweet Rolls. (THAT doesn’t happen very often) What a freakin’ nightmare. I groaned and whined and complained all the way leading up to, and during that process. My mother would NEVER whine or complain!!!! Not over her dead body!!! Where did I come from?

Mind you, during all of this kitchen fiasco, the living room had to be cleaned and stay clean, laundry had to be going because seven people were in this house, one who is home from college with loads and loads. My kids, unlike me and my sisters, were SUCH a big help!!! Sarah kept the laundry going, cleaned Signe’s room (Signe helped), and cleared off my horrendous kitchen counter of my “important” piles (one thing of which was my Christmas letter from 2008/2009 which hasn’t been mailed yet). Paige went back and forth to Slater’s house, as he is home from college too, she also made sugar cookies, kept the little ones in line and taught Tuesday how to knit a scarf. Sophia made bon bons and flitted around being 13 and pretty. Signe took Corduroy, the 90 pound pup, for walks out in the cold and snow. Tuesday sat and knitted a WHOLE scarf and kept us laughing with her blond moments. “Mom, you guys sure do have a lot of weird hats on that hall tree”.

“Do we?” I said.

“What?” says Tues.

“Do we?”


“DO WE?” I yell.

“Who’s Duey?” Tuesday wonders aloud.


We also fit some Wii Just Dance 2 in, a small bit of Guitar Hero, presents and more presents were wrapped. Not to mention not only was the living room cleaned, but the whole thing had to be rearranged because my children are all OCD about where they sit to open presents on Christmas morning. They recreate the living room like our home in Wisconsin so they can sit exactly where they “used to” in our “real house”.

Well, it’s ten minutes til midnight now. There are still loud children in the living room. Dave has now taken over wrapping duty, Santa still has to come, he will have to write letters, there is still sugar cookie mess all over the kitchen. And like I said. I’m beat. I quit. We are having company for Christmas tomorrow. Real people. That always stresses me out. How on Earth will this house be clean by dinner time with our aftermath Christmas morning?!

Well, time to put cookies and milk out...some carrots for Rudolph too.  And I haven't read a Christmas story to the girls yet this season!  So I need to do that.
Merry Christmas to all!  And to all a good night!

Addendum:  Coming out of hiding from my bedroom, I found the reason the girls were so noisy.  Their movie was over and they were cleaning up!  The sugar cookie mess was fixed, the kitchen table clear again, and the livingroom ready for Santa to arrive...plate of cookies included! Signe even counted and put out one carrot for each reindeer.  We couldn't find our normal "Santa's cookie plate" that we always use...but they found a substitute.  I even heard my oldest reminding the "baby" to brush her teeth before bed.  Sweet girls <3  I read them a story as their little eyes closed.  

It's 2am now.  We are just finishing up.  It never matters how much you prepare ahead of time.  Dave has done something new this year...he just finished "papering" the girls into all of their bedrooms.  He has taken wrapping paper and wrapped the entrances to their when they open them in the morning they will crash into and tear through their doors...haha hope I'm awake to see that!