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Another fit last night from Mark, but at least it made sense. After wetting himself twice after school, he pooped in his pants right before bath time.  I told him to go in the bathroom and clean himself up.  Thus, he threw another hour-long fit.

Okay, so I guess there is more to it than that.

He was already slightly upset because I let the girls (23 months apart in age) bathe together while I wouldn’t let him and Junior (37 months apart in age).  I floundered a bit in my explanation; after all, I couldn’t just say “No, because of problems in your past and therefore we can’t trust you won’t sexually act out here.”  So instead I ended up arguing with him on the details of the age and gender differences before I finally realized, duh, just to not let anyone bathe together.  I know it’s what we really should be doing anyway, just to be safe, but darn it.  That adds another 20 minutes to bath time.  That wasn’t the answer he was looking for though, so he got annoyed at me.

Then he pooped himself.  I didn’t pamper him, coddle him, or give him sympathy.  I said “Clean your bottom and then get in your bath.”  He spent the next 40 minutes crying and screaming that he couldn’t do it.  At various intervals, I went back in the bathroom and asked him why he couldn’t, but he didn’t really have an answer.  So finally, I made a choice that turned out to be a bad one.  I told him if he didn’t clean himself in 5 minutes, he couldn’t have the friend over on Saturday that he had invited.  That got him crying even harder, and in retrospect, I realize he was too emotional to react logically to that motivation/threat.  But you know, once ya say it, ya gotta follow through.

So after 5 minutes, I walked in, put him in the tub, screaming and kicking, and showered off his butt.  (The worst thing is that the drain is slow, so the poopy water started backing up, and boy, Mark didn’t like standing in that.)  After getting most of it off, I got him out, told him to clean up the rest with toilet paper, and he did, albeit crying and slobbering.  Then straight to bed.

And just as he got into bed, Husband came whistling in the door, fresh out of a class on positive communication with foster children.  He uttered a few magical words imbued with love and care, and Mark calmed down immediately.  I sat downstairs in the kitchen, trying to will my blood pressure lower.

So the interesting things here are two:

  • I’m not doing anything differently than I was the first week he was here, but I’m framing it differently.  The first week, if he had an accident, I spoke soothingly, told him it was okay, got him wipes, got him his new clothes, and generally stayed positive.  Now, I act unsympathetically, and have him do all the work.
  • This particular tantrum, I found myself getting fed up.  The zen patience was gone, and the cold, steely exterior kicked in.  I was sick of his behavior, and while I wasn’t going to yell and scream back, I was going to get hard.  It might’ve actually been better;  I’ve noticed when I’m too glib or calm while he’s upset he thinks I’m making fun of him or belittling him.  So it might have helped him to see I do have reactions, but he was too hysterical to notice.

Anyway, it was draining.  I hate to think of him this upset, because I doubt he was like this a year ago.  When I spoke with Mom about the first rage he had, she was shocked.  I don’t know how I’ll tell her about this.  Being away from his mom is screwing him up, and it makes me start to question his need to be here.  At this point, he’s safer in the state’s custody,  but…what? What am I trying to say?  I’m not really sure.  There are a LOT of facts unknown to me, and I try hard to trust the judges and case workers.  I guess entering foster care is just not fair, right?

And then the kicker on all that, this morning he woke up dry!  The first time in two weeks!

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Mark is 30 minutes into a rage/tantrum – he’s sort of alternating between don’t-even-look-at-me and hug-me-but-I’m-still-inconsolable.  And he doesn’t show signs of slowing.  He won’t let me shut the door of his room, so everyone has to hear.  He’s in his room because he was screaming at the other kids when they stared at him while he was screaming in general.  He even screamed AT me, which he’s never done before, and threw his shoes, backpack, and coat.

Theoretically, this is because I talked to him and Junior about pushing/shoving at the front door after getting home from school (while they wait for me to unlock it.)

So anyway, it really helped when I signed into wordpress and saw that yesterday I got a hit from someone who used the search term:

“peed in a” “gave it to”

(Unfortunately, I deleted the incident that search is referring to for privacy reasons, but it’s still a totally funny search phrase.)

Now I know you must be looking for something specific if that’s what you’re searching, so I’m just glad I got to witness it.

Mark still showed some residual signs of anger yesterday, but it seems he did all right at school at least.  BUT we did have another showdown at dinner, mostly centered on a small cube of potato that he refused to eat because he cut it in half.

(His argument:  “I can’t eat a piece that’s too big, but I also can’t eat a piece that’s been cut.”  AMAZING.  He should be a lawyer.)

So towards the end of the showdown, when all the other kids had left the table and it was just him and Husband, he had an ‘accident’.  The smelly kind.

Now, most of the time, his accidents do seem accidental.  They’re small, almost just streaks.  But a few other times, the timing and manner really suggests a vengeance poop.  And this was one of those times!  So I had him go upstairs, get new clothes, come back down to the downstairs bathroom, and clean himself up.  I meant to make him carry the poopy clothes back upstairs to be washed, but I forgot, so he’ll just have to do that today after school.

So really, it’s no skin off my back if he poops himself.  And Husband later told me he admired my patience when Mark does that.  Apparently, it really bugs Husband.

Anyway, Mark had to sit back at the table after that and finish his dinner, and about 20 minutes later, he did.  No theatrics or announcements, he just swallowed the potato, gulped down some milk, and left the table.   (I was spying on him.)

I’m glad he came through, because I was starting to doubt my decision.  He’d already had a rough day, and I don’t ever want to push a kid so far he enters emotional extremes/behavioral instability.  But now I know what he can do.  In fact, he even told Husband (about the potato): “I faced my fear!”

In case there was any doubt, Mark did NOT enjoy leaving his Mom yesterday.

And then this morning was his psych eval.  Great.

So as I was trying to get him to school in time for lunch, he was angry and kept doing odd things like telling me not to say his name.  He also wouldn’t tell me what he and the doctor talked about during the eval.  Fair enough, but the name thing was really unlike him.

But I’m nervous that I pushed him too fast back to school.  I do think it’s important for him to be there, but I don’t want to embarrass him if he’s still got emotions to work through.

And then I ran back in to the cafeteria to give him his gloves, and he was sitting all by himself eating lunch.

😦

There were a lot of kids in line still getting their trays, so maybe someone ended up near him, but I now wonder if he’s not exaggerating when he says he eats all alone.

Again,

😦

I know it’s hard being the new kid.  I really want to think of some ways to make it easier for him, but I’m just not sure what.

The visit on Friday night went just fine, but because of the funny way the drug court schedule is set up for visitation, we had to set up yet an other two-hour visit for tonight.  And the only time that worked was 5 – 7.  Blargh.  Another dinner interrupted by chauffeuring.

And my husband will point out to me that I don’t HAVE to be the one to drive them; in fact, for all the rest of our kids, the case worker did the driving.  But I guess because this case has moved onto unsupervised, and because I’m the one who lives 45 minutes away from everyone else involved, it doesn’t make sense to have them all drive extra far to meet at some midway point.  And I like to whine.

So from here on out, the kids get every Sunday afterno0n with Mom and supervising relative.  It will be nice for them to see Mom more and nice for us to have a few core-family hours.

Tonight’s visit involves dinner at McDonald’s, so Mark has been dancing around the house, chanting “We’re getting McDonald’s! We’re getting McDonald’s!”  I know he’s not really trying to taunt me, but boy, does it feel like it.

The kids talked with Mom last night, and she shared the announcement that her visits are being upped!

They can be supervised by a family member, so they’ll most likely be on weekends.  Frankly, I’m surprised at how quickly the judge is allowing non-CPS supervision, but Mom is seeing the judge once a week, so I’m trusting.

So tonight is a visit, and then I assume next week, we’ll start the new schedule.  We also get a new worker next week.  The visit tonight is 4:30 – 6:30 – what a STUPID-BUTT time!!!  I have to premake dinner for Husband to heat up (falafels, peas, and salad) and then bring something for us to eat in the car on the way home;  it could be falafel too, but I don’t like it cold.  It will probably be Pb&J, and we’ll just eat more when we get home at 7:15.  I could do fast food but I hate spending extra money for food that gets me that much closer to cancer and heart disease.

I had more heart-to-heart with Mark last night about why he’s here.  He was asking about what his relatives did wrong to make him and Nikki have to leave.  He asked about why the judge won’t let him go home right now, and that led to more talks about drugs.  I hope this is a potent anti-drug message for him.

He seems to be doing better than earlier this week anyway!

Like I suspected, Mark wasn’t sick at all, and because he had to stay home today, we went out in the morning and did some fun things around town.  He got to talk to Mom a little on the phone today AND I tried to explain to him last night why she can’t talk to him at bedtime as often.  I talked about addiction, drugs, and the classes she’s taking.  I doubt anyone, even Mom, has explained to him exactly what she’s doing to get him back home, so I hope it helps him feel more secure in his Mom’s love.

Other things:

  • Eliza’s allegation turned out to be true, so now Eliza will be moving in the next few days to a new house.  Concerning is that they’re a friend of the family’s.  I hope that works better for Eliza, but I’ve only read bad endings when friends try to take foster kids in.
  • Mom sincerely thanked me today for what we’ve done so far.  It was really nice to hear, and I told her so.  I bet it might have something to do with not being as gross as Eliza’s foster family.

The school nurse called to tell me Mark had fallen asleep at lunch, and then thrown up in her office.  I guess he wins.

(Or he might actually be sick.  The ever-helpful nurse told me “There is a stomach bug going around.”  She would say that even if he’d broken his leg.  That’s her excuse for everything.)

I tried really hard to help him calm down after his fit this morning.  He ate a good breakfast and was even giggling some.  I spent some time with him alone talking before he went into the class, but his body language wasn’t reassuring me.  He’s sleeping on the couch now.  Wait and see.

In Mark’s ideal world, he would play uninterrupted all day, and then talk to Mom for an hour or two right before going to bed.  Basically, his conversations with Mom are his lullabies.  (He would also get pizza and cake for all three meals, but that’s another story.)

So when, like yesterday, Mom has important classes to attend at his bedtime, and he’s forced to choose during the day between playing and talking to Mom, he gets perturbed.  And when bedtime rolls around and it really hits him that he CAN’T talk to Mom FOR REAL, he gets even more perturbed.

And then morning comes, and the camel’s back can’t take it anymore.

So that’s why Luke spent 45 minutes this morning screaming.   And why I had to carry him out to the car wrapped in a towel at the waist.  And why he was an hour late to school.

NOT because I wouldn’t let him change clothes in the bathroom this morning, like he’s been told not to do.

*************************************

And on another “Now THIS is foster parenting” topic, Mark and Nikki’s sister, Eliza (preteen), alleged something yesterday about her foster family that is pretty gross although not technically enough of a reason for them to have their license removed.  Mom is pissed off and probably going to push for Eliza to be placed elsewhere.  There might be an aunt or uncle who could take her, but if not, I know I’m going to be mighty tempted to offer our home.  There are many more reasons to NOT do that than there are to do it, and I don’t even know if Marge would allow it, but I know I’ll be tempted.

I’ve been thinking about our family life now.  Mark and Nikki have been here a month today, and they are about 95% integrated into our family.  The big differences right now are just

  • food – and Nikki has really improved a lot.  She actually told her mom she loves broccoli.  Mark still has a lot of hang-ups, but he now expresses a preference for cauliflower and plain lettuce, and has also eaten raw carrots.
  • church – and that is certainly okay, and not something we expect to change.  At Nikki and Mark’s ages, if they were our children, we would be trying to teach them a lot more of the details of our faith life, the whys and hows, and also more about Jesus.  But we know that is the responsibility of their own parents, so while not shutting them out of our faith routines completely, we also can’t fully engage them either.  And it’s tricky because they ask lots of good questions, especially after church!

Otherwise, they are just like our kids.  They play like our kids, dress like our kids, read like our kids, study like our kids, whine like our kids, and get in trouble like our kids.  It’s so underwhelming, it’s…overwhelming.

Unless something really crazy happens, Mark and Nikki will be with us until at least July.  That’s the earliest Mom and Dad can complete their case plan, so it could also be a lot longer.

Knowing that, plus how seamlessly they blend with us, feels strangely heavy.  There are no more big mysteries to solve (except those accidents of Mark’s), no vague uncertainties.  They are here with us until they go home.  The End.  (That’s certainly dependent on how Mom and Dad will do, but based on their actions so far, I think they will work as hard as they can to get those kids home as quickly as they can.)  So I don’t know why the whole situation makes me feel so weird.

I guess I could be used to more unpredictability, from our other placements.  With every single one of our other placements, there were reasonable wisps of thought in the back of my head about issues, problems, TPR, adoption, etc.  I just didn’t know for sure where anything was headed.  It’s funny to think I actually got used to that so easily.

And now I’m here in Monotony-ville, and I’m getting itchy.  I’m sure this will pass, and I’m super-glad for Nikki and Mark that they have such committed parents.  I just need to get my head back in the real world and do what I can for them while they’re here.  Six months seems like a long time to me now, but I know it will fly by once I stop thinking about it.