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I got in trouble – Aaron’s parents complained he was dirty at his last visit.

Yes he was.

Because he was playing in the backyard before the visit.

And I will not NOT let him play in the yard.  This kid thrives on playing outside.

So, does this mean I’ll need to give him a bath immediately before leaving for visits?  Uggh.

I’ll just tell his parents at the drop off why he’s got dirty knees: because I let him play!

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More like two fox and two ducks.  (Maybe it’s foxes?  Foxen, like oxen?  Whatever.)

The problem is,  Aaron and Allie were the ducks and their parents were the fox(es, en…) and I was in charge of them all.

The kids were at a supervised visit when I got a call from the supervisor that Aaron was having a medical issue.  Not life-threatening, but not good by any means.  So I called his ped and they, of course, advised us to take him to the ER.

Did I mention I was far from home, at an event with Daughter, and I didn’t have any of Aaron’s insurance cards or papers?

We arranged to meet at the ER.  I left Daughter with a friend of ours at the event – lucky she was there and I need to bake a loaf of banana bread for her for thanks.  I rushed home for Aaron’s paperwork, then rushed back to the ER.  I had, ironically, been just blocks from the ER at the above event.  Wait, that’s not irony, that’s just annoying.

And so began my 7 hours with Aaron, Allie, and their parents.  Even after that much time together, I don’t understand them.  I don’t understand how they think.  But I do see their patterns and issues.

I understand now why Aaron asks questions over and over and why he interrupts conversations all the time.  Because his parents ignore him and don’t notice him talking.  Or if he’s talking to them, they will completely interrupt him to start talking to someone else (about something completely different.)  He gets verbally confusing messages from his parents, and I can see the gears grinding in his head, trying to figure it out.

Example: Mom hands him a book that is too difficult for him to read, and tries to get him to read it to her.  She tells him “You can do it!  You can read it!”  She’s doing it in a positive, encouraging voice, but the problem is, positive encouraging voices don’t make a difference to the fact the kid can only read about 10 words.  And I could see the confusion and conflict on his face that he couldn’t or didn’t articulate.  Actually, he did try to tell her he couldn’t, but she completely interrupted and overrode him, repeatedly telling him he could.

That would be hard enough for a typical kid, but for a kid with developmental and neurological problems, it’s so sad to watch.

So at the time, the logistical problem was that they technically weren’t supposed to be alone with the kids.  But there’s only one of me.  And sometimes I have to go to the bathroom.  So rules were briefly broken, but I wasn’t even comfortable going to the cafeteria to get dinner without them, so I just suffered through my hunger until I got home at 10:30 pm.  (The hospital staff was cool enough to let me have New Baby there in my Moby, so I was also nursing away my energy during those 7 hours.)

They complained a lot about their victim status and how much the caseworker hates them.  I just let them talk and tried to sound neutral to it all.

They also revealed some personal info that doesn’t help their case.  Minor, but perhaps telling.

Finally, the doctor we were waiting for showed up, said “Yep, do xyz.”  And left.  Seriously, he didn’t even need to lay eyes on Aaron; he could’ve just called us from where ever he was.  I think it was Canada, from how long it took him to get there.  Anyway…

The icing on the cake?  I could’ve left 20 minutes sooner, except Dad FELL ASLEEP in another part of the hospital.  So asleep he didn’t hear his phone ring over and over.

And that really typifies the parenting issues in this case: if it were just this one thing, there wouldn’t be a problem.  But it’s a million things just like this.

The doc hasn’t called, so Aaron is still med-free.  The more I examine his behavior in terms of a disability or medical diagnosis, the less inclined I am to want him on medication.  I’ve also been pointedly letting his parents know that his behavior has been very good at our house – I’ve been told they were the ones pushing most for medication.

On a downer note, I’d gotten a visit approved by the caseworker for this weekend, then thought she would call the parents and the visit supervisor to inform them.   Of course, she never said she would, so the parents and supervisor never knew and the kids missed out.  I feel really bad.  And it adds more fuel to the parents’  “we’re the victims here” fire.  (They never miss a chance to tell me how lousy she is at communicating with them.   She’s not stellar, but then again, all they have to do is call.)

 

Kids start their overnights this weekend.  Mark was very excited, of course.  “I’m so glad I get to stay the night.  I really needed a break.”

Me: “From me?”

Mark: “Yeah.”

 

New better-at-privacy but still informative-about-foster-care blog, take 2.

So.

This is tricky to just restart, ya know?

I will definitely go back and filter out the TMI from my old posts, but that will take some time.  I’ll try a little catch up here.

Okay.  Let’s see…

The unsupervised visit hours are up and running.  Definitely everyone’s favorite!  It’s been harder and harder to think of activities for supervised visits, especially ones that don’t end up costing, be it admissions, lunch out, etc.  I’m looking forward to the upsupervised visits taking the whole weekend and we can just drop the supervised.  Because of how things have been scheduled though, we have at least two more weekends with some sort of supervised component before the unsup hours go up again.

The case is still moving forward (I can say that, can’t I?).  The whole family, including older sis, has been getting together during the visits, and they have been VERY positive times.  It’s so nice to see, and such a relief.  I was worried that this family might never be fully functional again.

Based on my own unofficial, unregulated reckoning, I anticipate the kids going home for good around mid-November.  BUT someone on the team pointed out that will be right before semester ends at Christmas break, so maybe the kids should finish the semester at their current schools, and then go home right before Christmas.  And you know if one person on the team is thinking this, they’ll all be mulling it over.

Dang it! It doesn’t matter for elementary school! They don’t have finals or term papers!

Not that I don’t love Mark and Nikki in my own peculiar foster-y way, but their parents love them bunches more.  And I know they love their parents a LOT more than me.

Mom and Dad were granted some UNsupervised visitation in addition to their supervised.  I’m probably reading more into it than I should, but that looks like the court trusting them to me!

Means bullet points!  Yay for lazy thinking!!

  • Mark’s foot is getting better slowly, so he’s a lot less crabby than before.
  • We chipped away at some of the visitation we got behind on from going out of town, but now we’re going to a friend’s cabin this weekend, thus setting us behind even more.  Mom and Dad are being nice about it, but I’m sure it’s annoying to them.  And unfortunately, Edna is too busy the next few weeks to help out with supervision.
  • Had a good visit with me, Mark, Nikki and their mom to go buy school supplies and some new clothes.  Had a seemingly good visit with their dad at the pool, but then Mark got really hostile and defiant when it was time to go home.  He was expressing it to me AND his dad, so I’m not sure who he was actually mad at or why, and whether it was actually just because it was the end of the day.  Either way, it really got to dad.  He seemed insulted that Mark was acting that way.
  • Finally got the kids to the dentist.  No way am I going to do all the hunting involved to find a Medicaid-dentist, so I just take them to ours and pay out of pocket.  And to make myself feel good, I’ll even tell you I even splurged on the fluoride treatment and sealant.  See, I’m not doing it for the money!!  The best part was Mark giggling through the whole appointment.  He thought it was all really funny.
  • Mark has an OT/sensory eval next week.  I just finished filling out the pre-eval questionnaire, and his results were sort of erratic, but there may actually be a specific pattern there.  But I think it also could just be due to his background and upbringing.  I’m actually interested to see how they’ll tease that out.
  • Worse part of the last week:  two of our kids french-kissing!  All four of them were upstairs in the girls room, and the stories diverge from there.  Without going into details, someone(s) was definitely lying, there were boundaries crossed that (I think) should have been obvious to the older kids, and we now have a brand new rule: no kissing other children.  Perhaps I should add a few others, like no tongue touching, no tongue rubbing, no tongue licking, and no lips bumping.  You know, just so the bases are covered.
  • Mark’s counselor is going to keep working on the repoire for a few more weeks and then start talking about boundary issues.  It’s about time.

“The days are filled with years.” – that’s from a song or a poem or something.  I don’t remember.  But it is completely happening right now.

Since returning from our trip, which was just okay for all the effort spent planning it, Mark stabbed himself in the foot (accidentally) with a pencil, requiring crutches and bandage-changing every day, but luckily, no doctor visit.  He looks awful hobbling around, but it’s actually not that bad.  We’re still not sure whether the tip of the pencil is really far inside his foot or not, but it’s healing either way.

Swimming lessons ended (with Mark having to miss the whole second week due to his foot.)  The kids all learned some new skills, and now I just need to get my lazy butt to take all five of them to the pool during the day.

Which leads me to my next point, which is why I haven’t been feeling well, cleaning as much, doing as much with the kids, or eating as much.  That is….morning sickness!  Hooray!  So, yeah, actually it’s been pretty crappy, and I spent a few days consuming only rice cakes and pink lemonade, but it is slowly getting better.  I’m only at six weeks or something, so we don’t want to tell anyone yet, but it’s frustrating to be feeling so blah and not be able to explain why.  Although I’m sure most of our family has guessed it, seeing as how our kids have all been 2.5 – 3 years apart.

Due date mid-March, btw.

So that means we won’t be taking our license up to three.  I can still see how I feel in September or October when Mark and Nikki go home – it can hopefully only be better – but I’m learning I should start leaving myself some more room for error.

Anyway, today we’re visiting a kids’ museum with their mom and dad.  I’m hoping the visit will be 6 hours in all.  They had an hour earlier in the week supervised by Ollie, but that is still not all of the hours they’re supposed to have this week, plus we still need to make up all the hours from our trip out of town.

I’ve talked with the other supervisor, Edna, and she likes to “schedule” things “ahead of time”.  I think this means I may have to start changing my MO with regards to the visits.

Crazy, hectic, no time to blog and all of a sudden it’s been two weeks since I posted!

Not that I really care about anyone who reads this, :), but actually, this has become a very valuable tool for record-keeping and holding others (okay, Mom and Dad) accountable.

So what has been going on the last two weeks?

We’ve been slogging through the visits.  I, personally, am sick of McDonald’s and Pizza Hut.  I’m spending money and gaining weight, which is always a bad trade-off in my opinion.  But until the heat passes and it’s bearable to spend four hours at a park, we’re doing a lot of lunches and dinners at fast food.

I don’t blame Mom and Dad.  Their home is just too far away for visits to take place there.  But I worry that Mark and Nikki are starting to highly associate Mom and Dad with fast food, if it wasn’t that way before.  Plus the quarter-trinket machines, which are now 75 cents [side tangent: there’s no cent key on the keyboard anymore! When did that happen?].  Dad blew 8 bucks last night on crappy little toys.  Mom has told me she has had trouble saying no to the kids in the past, and I worry that might not have changed much.

Put it all together, and the visits are not exactly quality family time.  I spend a lot of the time talking with Mom and Dad, which is nice enough, but the kids are so busy playing with happy meal toys, stuffing their faces, or begging for quarters that I don’t think they even really talk to their parents.

The good news is Mom did find someone else to do some supervising.  She should be approved in a week or so, and she lives near Mom so the visits can be at their home.

Second most important bit: stupid stupid stupid.  Found Mark and Junior in the bathroom with their pants off.  They each independently confirmed the story, and it seems Mark was in there putting his clothes in the clothes chute (it was bedtime) and Junior barged in to pee.  After he peed, he asked Mark if he wanted to show each other their penises.  Mark said sure, so they did.  Then Junior suggested they touch their penises together, so they did.  And that is apparently when I walked in.

This is just like last summer with Junior and Poet (well, the ages make a big difference.  I expect a hell of a lot more from an 8-year old regarding keeping private parts private.)  Junior didn’t seem to care at all about it; obviously, he initiated it.  They were both happy and talking normally when I walked in.  And neither of the boys have really changed the rest of their behavior around each other or anyone else.  Ollie chalked it up to normal boyhood stuff, and it’s true that there hasn’t been anything like this between them until now, but given all the problematic sexual crap with Mark, I’m annoyed, worried, and frustrated.  There have been other various allegations of sexual inappropriateness in Mark’s extended family too, as I found out at a meeting last week.

The team would like to get Eliza and Mark and Nikki together for some visits, so Mark and Eliza can start not hating each other.  Eliza’s foster family lives 45 minutes away too, and I’m not really excited about Mark and Nikki spending time at her foster home but I’m not so keen on having her here too.  She’s a surly 13 year old.  Nuff said.

Summer is fleeting, school starts in a month, and I’m enjoying summer.  I wish I had a little more time for it though.

Yesterday was an 18-freakin-hour day, and from waking til laying down, every single task I focused on was for someone’s else’s benefit.  Except maybe peeing, but even then, as they say, if Mama can’t pee, ain’t nobody happy.

So the parts of yesterday relevant to this blog: the visit.  We (Mark, Nikki, my three, and myself) had a visit with Mom and Dad.  Some time at a local petting zoo, and an hour at McD’s.  It was hot, but the kids were troopers.  Mom and Dad were great, but by the end, I was still sort of resentful at having to fit this into my already super-crowded day.

We also did the typical Independence Day activities: parade (kids had a lot of fun) and fireworks (good also; no one was too scared).  So every given part of my day was okay, but put it all together, and by 10:00 I was running on fumes (and still had in-for-the-week friends coming over).

So right, wah wah.  But then at church this morning, where Mark also pooped his pants (4th time this week, I guess that’s another post), our priest was homilizing on – you guessed it – sacrificing self for others.  It was good, exactly what I needed to hear to stay positive about life.  The problem is, I’m self-sacrificing by nature, so when I stretch myself too thin, I tend to get bitter and crabby, because I feel like I didn’t really have a choice.  I don’t feel noble and heroic because, look, I have to do this.  After all, no one else is.

But if I can connect my suffering to a greater good, well, it tends to reduce that bitterness.  Bitterness morphing into grace, and grace sustains.  (It’d better, because nothing else is getting me through another of Mark’s accidents.)

Anyway, sort of digressing.  Mom still hasn’t come up with any good ideas on how to increase supervised hours.  The only person she came up with sounds a lot more like a very casual acquaintance, and a busy one at that, so I don’t know if anything is really going to come of that.  The whole situation is to the point where it’s stressing me out, because part of me wants to offer to supervise more hours, but a whole lot more of me knows there are lots of reasons not to do that, and all of me is sad for Mark and Nikki.