You are currently browsing the monthly archive for February 2011.

Do you think our agency would get us in trouble if they saw this picture?

(I did talk to his mom later about it, and she is fine with him playing dress up with his sister.)

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I was tucking Aaron in last week, and he asked me when he would get to go home.  My boiler-plate answer: “I hope it’s soon, but no one knows for sure.”

Aaron confidently told me the log knows.  Say what, Aaron?

“The log knows.”

“What is the log, Aaron?”

“The man with the log.  In the truck.  You know, a log truck?”

“Aaron, do you mean a logging truck, like that carries chopped down trees?”

“Yeah, that!”

Yes, it’s the magic logging truck that can see into the future.  Whaaaa?

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He also has a small cut on his thumb from falling off his scooter (again.)  While replacing the band-aid, he told me when he pulled the skin back on his cut, he could see his brain.

Whaaaa?

He explained, “I can see pink stuff under the skin.”

Right.

Where do I start, that his brain isn’t in his thumb, that it’s not pink, or that it’s not right under his skin?

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Got to be part of a team meeting today for Aaron and Allie’s case.  Actually, I’m glad I was there because I’m the one new face in this multi-year case – I did learn a lot about the history of this case, the parents’ attitudes, and where the case is going.  Everyone else was probably bored out of their mind because, apparently, nothing has really changed over the last few years.  They’re still discussing the same problems in the household and parenting.

Their parents though – wow!  I want to call them interesting, but they’re really not.  They are lower-IQ, mashed-potato personality people.  Not bright enough to understand how to parent their kids appropriately.

BUT.  They are smart enough to know what the system wants.  Dad actually expressed a certain viewpoint early in the meeting, at a later point the caseworker expressed the opposite, and then after that Dad completely flip-flopped to the caseworker’s view.  Without missing a beat.

I can only imagine this combo of stupidity and cunning will drag out whatever happens to these kids.  For now, the state is going to try offering a few new services to the parents, but the proof will only be when the kids are there in their home.  And the team believes the kids aren’t safe there.  Rock, hard place, rock, hard place…

 

 

Survived the 3-day weekend with all five kids!  We even got some bike-riding in, and that was exhausting because while Husband was fixing a bike for Aaron (including training wheels which we knew he needed but he kept insisting he didn’t) he would ask every 80 seconds or so if he could ride a bike.  Yes, Aaron, when the bike is fixed.  Repeat repeat repeat.

And wow.  Lisa warned me about it, but seeing it in real life is weird.  The kid has no sense of pain.  Crashes off his bike or scooter or whatever, over and over, and just jumps right back up.  And I mean crashes that would send any other kid crying to their mother.  He now has a whole lotta scrapes and scratches on his knees and palms, and I just hope they heal up well enough before their first visit.

I’m also trying to figure out if Aaron understands why we get stern/angry with him.  I’m pretty sure he understands that we are angry or upset, but does he know why?  Even if why is something that happened 10 seconds previous, there’s a look in his eyes like…what?  He doesn’t seem surprised when we are upset, but he looks like he’s waiting.  He’s just on autopilot when we are disciplining him.  Which really does make the discipline feel futile.

And poor Allie.  She’s had some real brooding sessions here, and she won’t talk about why.  I’m assuming it’s missing her parents, but I feel bad because she’s just so forlorn.  It’s hard to see a forlorn cutie-pie 5 year old.

 

Aaron’s a mystery.

Apparently, he has no real medical diagnosis for his developmental delay.

I’m looking forward, sort of, to learning all about autism, neurological disorders, and what he has been assessed and evaluated for.  I guess it’s sort of a feeling like “Well, I’ll solve the problem! I’ll figure out what’s wrong with him!”  Never mind the myriad experts he’s seen in the past.

Realistically, I should just focus on his day-t0-day parenting.  For that, I’m relying a lot on Lisa, his former foster mom.  We’ve talked on the phone some more, and she is very helpful.  Luckily, she’s also a lot like me in terms of how she parents.

Unfortunately, it seems Aaron is not going to be as independent as I would expect most of my kids to be, including foster kids we’ve had in the past.

So far, I’ve learned he doesn’t really know how to pee in the toilet well (getting it other places besides the bowl, including his pants) and he has trouble with bowel movements, accidents and soiling.  He also forgets to wash his hands.  Ewwwwwwww.

Last night at dinner, we learned he doesn’t really know how to use a fork or knife that well.  He does try, but often holds them the wrong way and moves them in the wrong motion.  Given his way, it seems he would just shovel it all in with his hands.  Again, ewwwwwwww.  There was a lot of food on the floor last night.  And his hands….wow.  Did I mention he doesn’t notice when he needs to wash his hands?

Finally, there’s that trying too hard thing and the need for repetitive instruction.  One thing I really want someone to tell me is if it does any good when I, ahem, raise my voice.  Obviously, I’m not screaming at him, but if it’s third time in 30 seconds I’ve asked him to put away his book, does it help him if I say it more sternly?  It certainly doesn’t really help me, so if I can know that staying calm is more effective than revealing my feelings, I’ll try the staying calm route.  You know, because some kids do respond better if they realize the parent is frustrated.  Aaron doesn’t externally seem like that, but there is enough of a spark in his eyes that I wonder.

So, Lord, grant me some patience in the coming weeks.  I believe this placement could be a real joy in my life, as long as I can keep some perspective and remember I can’t fix everything.

Took Baby and Allie to the grocery store yesterday morning, and of course, there were cameras filming ALL OVER the store for some ridiculous cable channel TV show.  I politely inquired about it to the man who looked in charge – he first asked me if I wanted to be on it (No Thanks!) and when I told him I had to be sure the little girls with me didn’t end up on camera, he assured me no one would be filmed without their permission.

Except they were in the peanut butter aisle when we wanted our peanut butter!

So we circled the perimeter of the store, dodging cameras and looking for bicycles, which Allie insisted to me they sold at this store.  Finally, Allie realized they don’t actually sell bikes there, the cameras had moved on to some other aisle, and we could get our PB and get the heck out of there.

I still can’t figure out how they could be so sure we wouldn’t be on camera – background footage doesn’t count?  I just don’t want anyone’s mama figuring out the locale of my local grocery store.

 

Yeah.  What was I even worried about?

I have absolutely zero concerns about parenting these kids.  Aaron and Allie are probably the most well-adjusted foster kids we’ve had.

Allie’s most annoying behavior so far:  asking why over and over.

For example, yesterday we spent almost 20 minutes in this sort of conversation

“Why isn’t your baby born yet?”

“The baby isn’t big enough to be born.”

“Why isn’t it big enough?”

“It hasn’t grown enough yet. ”

“Why hasn’t it grown enough?”  etc etc etc.

Aaron’s most annoying behavior probably relates to his developmental delays.  He is the most autistic non-autism diagnosed child I’ve ever seen.  I relate to him as if he were four, rather than six and a half.

He needs a lot of repetition in his instructions.  He constantly tries to help by doing non-helpful things like, you know, moving the toys I asked him not to move.  However, he does manage to come up with surprisingly intelligent comments every once in a while.  We still haven’t seen his IEP to know the full scope of his needs and diagnosis, but from what Lisa told me, it’s still murky as to what exactly is going on.

I’m much more concerned about the long-term picture – TPR is a likely possibility.  I’m not sure how working with these parents will go.  They don’t seem crazy or anything, but then again, they apparently have always been overconfident their kids would come home.  So if/when that doesn’t happen, what are they going to be like?

Before the kiddos get here (one hour!), I want to list out the concerns Husband and I discussed last night in making our decision.

We HAD decided to take a six-month break, Feb. 1 – Aug. 1, for the baby’s birth.  Honestly, it probably wouldn’t have ended up being a full six months except Aug. 1st, very nicely, ends up being when we get back from a two-week vacation out of the country.

So that was a convenient time frame to take.

In chronological order then,

  1. Rooms:  we just moved each of the kids, at their own requests, in their own rooms – no sharing!  Wowee, was that cool.  Well, mostly for Daughter, now that she’s almost 9 and looking for her own space more.  So we’ll put Allie with Baby and Aaron with Junior.  Baby is super excited to share her room again actually, and I think Junior will be too.
  2. Birth:  I was completely reassured in my conversation with Lisa, their former foster mom last night.  She actually brought home a newborn while they were in her care, and they had no problems between the baby and the kids.   She just constantly repeated “No touching the baby” and they didn’t!  Yup, I can do that.  (I hope I don’t sound too glib, because obviously I take the safety of my own kids very seriously. )
  3. Vacations:  We’d been planning a month-long road trip for June, you know, just ’cause we could.  Well, sacrifice is part of being a foster parent, so we just scrapped that idea.  It might still work out of course, depending on visitation with their parents and all, but mini-road trips will work too.  As far as the out of country vacation,  I’m doing some serious hoping that Lisa can do respite for us.  I’m sure she will if she is in town, so I just need to check with her on that.
  4. And more vaguely, our own kids needs:  Both Husband and I have started to really feel more in touch with our children’s needs, now that we are back down to our core family of five.  I’d planned on reading a few books to deal with some of Daughter’s emotional needs, Junior has an insatiable desire for academic enrichment as well as his own behavioral needs, and Baby, while a very happy three year old, should still get her share of the attention of course.  So while obviously we decided we can continue to meet those needs of our own kids while also attending to the even greater needs of two kids in foster care, we both acknowledged it will take extra effort and commitment on our part.  Now, to remember that in a few weeks when I’m wiped out…

How annoying.  Last night, I remember having five big concerns we addressed, and now I can only remember four.  Eh, guess that last one wasn’t very important.

So there you go.  Now I’m off for a quick round of vacuuming before they arrive!

 

They call you with a placement.

And instead of sticking my fingers in my ears and yelling “LALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU! AND BESIDES, I’M NOT ON THE CALL LIST ANYWAY!!”,  I listened.

And this morning, we’ll accept the placement.

A 6 year old boy I’ll call Aaron and his 5 year old sister I’ll call Allie.

This has all the hallmarks of a long placement: been in care before, no family available, and former foster family told me the parents have the classic “I’m a perfect parent” dillusion.

So.

That’s what I get for procrastinating on a nice night out with Husband!  Those plans are out the window!

And let me tell you, we sure had a romantic time last night, whispering sweet nothings about the concerns and benefits of accepting this placement.

(But isn’t it cool that we get the resource of their former foster home?  I talked to the foster mom for quite a while last night and got a great feel for the personalities of the kids.  She would’ve taken them right back but she just accepted a new placement and doesn’t have space.  She is heartbroken about it, and I feel for her.  So I think it’s a mutually beneficial relationship to keep in contact.)

Court is today to decide if the kids actually do come into care, and then if so, they’ll be here later this morning.

Back on the merry-go-round we go!