November 30, 2021
November 29, 2021
Sometimes I do things that are dumb. I know. Hard to believe. Sometimes I'm busy and I don't take the time to use my noggin. I'll share this recent RARE brainless moment, and then it might have to become the-thing-that-we-never-speak-of-again . . . because I'm still not sure I can laugh at myself for this one. Unless of course, you find it entertaining and you encourage me with comments like: IT COULD'VE HAPPENED TO ANYONE (even if we all know the truth).
Coach and I casually discussed whether or not we'd serve turkey on Thanksgiving. We'd decided to stay home and enjoy the day just the 8 of us. Cooking a feast meant a lot of work for yours truly. Curly was scheduled to dance on Friday this year at Oireachtas, or to commoners like you Irish Dancing Midwest Championships.
Don't be offended. I wish I was a commoner and knew less about Irish dancing. Let me pause to imagine that kind of blissful existence . . . well, not possible.
Anyway, I kept hearing on the news: gonna be hard to score a turkey this year. I found myself at Costco one day . . . over a week before turkey day. There were fresh turkeys for the taking, well, technically the buying. So, I bought one. My only thought: WELL, THAT'S DECIDED. No need to come up with a different meal plan. It'd be work, but I knew what sides I'd do. I've done turkeys. They're not impossible. Plus, I had two college guys coming home. They'd be expecting turkey.
I'm not one to disappoint. Well, on this rare date, I was also not one to ponder that even though the date on the tag said 'sell by November 28', said turkey might not last that long unfrozen in 'me fridge. I also live in fear of not making it back to the store before 'XYZ', in this case, before all the turkeys were purchased.
You know where this is going, don't you? Ole Blondie here opened the turkey wrapping Thursday morning and decided it didn't smell all that fresh anymore. Duh. I pushed aside the ill feeling a moment later and rallied. Last minute turkey shopping, after all, waits for no guilt and WHAT'S WRONG WITH ME? hesitations.
I called the grocery store. Fresh birds? Check. Off I went.
At first all I saw were turkey-sicles, aka the frozen variety, and my heart sank, but alas I spied a 19.15 pounder that was indeed fresh. I shelled out another $50, hauled it home along with other last minute stuff those of us with dancers need at the last minute, ie: the brightest red lipstick available for Curly, since she couldn't find her barely-used-for-previous competitions
WHORE RED stage makeup lipstick.
Our new, promising-not-to-give-anyone-food-poisoning-the-day-before-a-big -competition turkey, was still in the oven by the target time of 9 am.
I outdid myself with the side dishes and desserts and my brood was extremely pleased and stuffed. Success, albeit in a round-a-bout way. *see what I'm doing here, trying to gain some ground with you all, my faithful and supportive readers, who may have lost faith in my capabilities after reading the above nonsense.
All in all we had a nice relaxing day. Coach and I took a 29 mile drive to the venue where Curly would be dancing the next morning so that I could pick up her competitor number, wristbands, and buy a program.
Not gonna lie, it was a little distracting/irritating to have to get dance stuff prepped (shoes shined, laces changed, makeup bag organized, dress sleeves lengthened) alongside turkey prep but I've never had a kid dance on Friday of Thanksgiving weekend. We've always danced either Sat/Sun or just Sunday. Oh, how I loved getting it OVER WITH.
I went to bed crazy early to be prepared for the long day ahead. More on the dancing tomorrow or Wednesday (look at me, all undecided about how much time I have to write vs prepare for my trip to Scottsdale with Coach on Friday. He's teaching. I'm chilling - and by prepare for Scottsdale I mean make meals for the kids and make sure everyone has a ride, etc).
I'm going to share Curly's dancing videos here, if you're interested go ahead and check them out. You might watch one and find that is sufficient. No worries. I watched about 300 round of dancing on Friday, but who's counting? Mini and I videoed Curly's rounds with my phone from the livestream (they only started livestreaming during the pandemic, it's a perk - otherwise you could never re-watch your kid dance, but they limit how many spectators attend nowadays, so livestream it is). You'll have to excuse the sounds of Finn in the background. There's also the moment Mini forgot we were taping and pointed out the part of Curly's steps that aren't her favorite.
These clips aren't a perfect reproduction but we aren't allowed to video it live. In real life I find Irish people to be much more go-with-the-flow blokes and have-ye'self-another-pint-there types, and isn't-it-grand sorts, but the Irish dancing world is full of rules. Curly's the tall one in the dark green dress, and blond wig. Perhaps you might be wondering if I borrowed her blond wig for my blond moment while shopping at Costco the week before Thanksgiving, but alas I did not.
November 23, 2021
Before I share a few other things I love, let's pause for something aggravating: Ed came home from college Friday evening, coughing and congested. He sounded awful. Why did he not call and make an appointment at the doc on Saturday? Well, college kids sleep late and it just wasn't a priority. *Sigh* He went to a minute clinic Sunday. The doc told him to try Flonase and Zyrtec. What.On.Earth. I was fired up. He'd had a cough for over 2 weeks. Hello?
I'm not a doctor, but I know a thing or two.
Monday: he visited our real family doctor. The doc ordered a chest x-ray and a covid test. Covid -negative. *Drumroll*
Chest x-ray showed PNUEMONIA. He has walking pneumonia, guys.
This morning, I'll be giving the minute clinic a jingle to make them aware of their big MISS. Ed admitted that the doc only listened to his chest for a nanosecond, in one spot. What? He'll be fine, but sheesh. Pay attention, doc.
NO MORE READERS (as in glasses). Did I get your attention while I was shouting? I couldn't help it, it's just THAT EXCITING. I saw my eye doc in the spring. I can't believe I've been too swamped to tell you of this life-changing-for-me event.
I wanted to avoid reading glasses. She said I'd know right away if these contact lenses would work or not. She wasn't kidding. I'd heard some people say that wearing one contact for distance and one for reading (I think that's the breakdown, but don't quote me) made them nauseous. How amazing that
I, THE QUEEN OF EASILY SQUEAMISH, DIDN'T FEEL GROSSED OUT.
Can I get a round of applause?
Well, there was one icky part. I drove Curly to dancing after my appt. I was wearing the sample pair. The doc told me to try them for a week before ordering. I was falling asleep on my drive home. I dragged myself inside and fell asleep on the couch in the study for HOURS. When I went to bed later that night, I couldn't get the contact out of my left eye. I scratched away at my own eye like I had some secret mission of permanently blinding myself. *Gag.* Everyone else was in bed. I finally gave up and decided to sleep with it in.
The next morning, I called Becky, my babysitting, partner-in-crime friend. She told me to come over, "I'M GOOD AT GETTING OTHER PEOPLE'S CONTACTS OUT." I managed not to hurl on myself when she told me this fun fact. (see: squeamish). Lad didn't have to be at work yet, so he stayed with the babies and I drove to Becky's house where I braced myself to have her scrape this rogue lens out of my eye. Except . . . it wasn't in there. I've never lost a contact lens. What the heck? Did it pop out when I was sleeping on the couch? No clue, but after a few attempts, Becky was like: YOU CAN'T GET IT OUT BECAUSE IT ISN'T EVEN IN THERE.
My distance vision isn't the best since I've switched to these new contacts, and since they were so brand-spanking-new I still wasn't adjusted to this new way of seeing. It wasn't clear to me that I only had in my one distance lens and nothing in the other.
BASKETBALL SEASON IS UPON US:
I love basketball season, even though (or maybe because) it's exhausting and crazy busy. Reg and Mini play varsity ball in high school. Curly just wrapped up her junior high school 8th grade season, but she plays travel as well.
Because of travel ball, basketball never really ends here. It just ramps up a bit when all three kids who live at home play and we have three teams to track. I just completed my dry erase board calendar and WHOA MAMA, it's gonna be nutty.
Reggie, our sophomore, is obsessed with basketball. Understatement. The coach, who is new this year, became familiar with Reg when he played for the high school team's summer league. On the first day of tryouts, the coach yelled to all the kids shooting around warming up in the gym:
IF YOU'RE A FRESHMAN OR A SOPHOMORE
AND YOUR LAST NAME ISN'T SHENANIGAN,
GET OUTTA MY TROUTS. YOU CAN TRYOUT FOR THE FRESHMAN OR THE SOPHOMRE TEAM. NOT VARSITY.
Well, if you get that my brothers were athletic and that was a HUGE focus when I was a kid and my attempt at being athletic was laughed at*, then you might appreciate this moment as PURE GOLD.
- Laddie played division 1 water polo. My dad, who loves to travel, never attended one of his college games.
- My brothers' sons are not on track to play high school sports, let alone college sports.
(Of course not playing sports is fine and all and my nieces and nephews are great at a variety of things, don't get me wrong - sports is not everyone's thing, but my brothers, especially Pat, have always been very in-my-face about their athleticism and sporty successes, so my kids doing good at sports feels BIG. I don't rub it in my brothers' faces, and we make lots of effort to keep Reg humble, so he doesn't know that I went in another room and did cartwheels, sloppy ones because unathletic and all, when I heard what his coach said).
* My freshman year in high school, when I tried out for the basketball team, the skies opened and a weird light shone down on me during tryouts and I played like I'd been on the Globetrotters for years. It was a freaky few hours. I made the team and proceeded to suck all season. My folks and my brothers imitated my 'moves' at the dinner table for laughs. I scored one free throw, my only point, towards the end of the season and the entire bench rushed the court to congratulate me. The ref was super confused.
Not intending to brag, but since none of you have kids in Reg's school, I figure I can share this in a non-boasty or in a secluded boasty way and we can all celebrate my glossed-over-childhood-morphing-into-an-underdog-OH-YEAH-mom moment.
Reg did roll his ankle in the very first practice of the season, so he sat out tonight's 1st game, but rest assured we have the best and most invested physical therapist ON IT.
Good friends are hard to find. How many of you have a friend who would agree to use her fingernails to grab at your non-existent contact lens? I for one, because of previously mentioned issues, would never be able to do that for a friend. But I do bake up a storm.
My next installment, may or may not happen tomorrow. I'm cooking Thursday (for our 8 only). The only day I babysit this week is today (Tuesday) so it will depend.
Oh, and Curly dances in Midwest championships on Friday, near home. Good vibes are appreciated. I'm sure she'll do great and I should mention my other thing I am about to embrace/LOVE, if
is true . . .
THIS MIGHT BE OUR LAST IRISH DANCING COMPETITION.
She thinks she's 'bout done (more later, as if you doubted that I would forget to fill you in). That's me you hear, softly sobbing . . . tears of joy.
Speaking of winding down, how did this post get so stinking long? In case no one helps me in the kitchen and I don't get back here to post again this week, Happy Turkey day, or regular Thursday if you aren't from these here parts. I'm thankful for my wonderful, supportive, and willing-to-comment(-or-not) readers (wink, wink).
November 22, 2021
I have SO MANY 'regular' things to tell you. I keep skipping them to share earth shattering stuff. . . but dang it, Thanksgiving is coming so I'm bound and determined to create a post of favorite things/ grateful-for stuff (or things I've been loving, but I'm just now sharing).
|It's by alo yoga. It has the little tabs |
to stick my thumbs in, if I so choose.
Note: before I wore it the first time when Coach and I flew to Dallas (that story STILL needs to be shared. Have I mentioned, way behind?), I summoned my girls.
"THESE LEGGINGS WITH IT? THESE SHOES?", etc.
Mini insisted and Curly sort of agreed: "You don't need leggings with it. I kinda don't think you should do the leggings."
I told them NO WAY WAS I SKIPPING THE LEGGINGS. I trust my girls to guide me, but on this day THEY WERE WRONG. SO WRONG. I'm too old to wear a dress that is really more of a tunic without leggings.
|This is the dress on the hanger. It looks|
better 'on'. Clearly. But note that
cute little gathered bit in the
front -in the future I'm not sure
I can be convinced to wear something
without this kind, forgiving
little bit of wardrobe-wizardry.
At the airport the next day, Coach was like YEAH WHEN YOU JUST BENT OVER TO PICK UP YOUR BAG, I REALIZED THAT THAT DRESS WOULD'VE NOT WORKED IF YOU WORE IT WITHOUT LEGGINGS. WHAT WERE THE GIRLS THINKING?
* This from a man who almost never makes mention of articles of clothing.
The girls' thoughts are evidence that we're either:
A) still the best ones in our home to make final decisions
or B) that our girls think I can pass for a young, hip mom.
Well, this list isn't very long. It's not because I don't have several other favorite things to share but because I need to 'splain EVERYTHING. Am I the only one out there who has a story for everything? I really, REALLY wanted to prove to myself that I'm capable of writing a short post. Another shortie will post tomorrow. Stay tuned. Maybe a short post doesn't really count though, if it's continued the next day.
Favorite shirt or dress or other clothing item that you have forgotten to tell us about? Well, hold out no longer. Have you taken wardrobe advice from a trusted family member only to realize that they did you wrong? Do tell, says the woman who is relieved she wore her leggings against the advice of her offspring.
November 17, 2021
I didn't intend to make this a cliffhanger, but it got too long.
The report states that the reporter witnessed Ernie being verbally abusive to the boys over a zoom chat when she
PUSHED A CHAIR AT HARRY AND TOLD HIM 'SIT HERE.'
The rest of the report was all the stuff I've already shared, but THAT blew me away well, blew me away MORE than dragging babies by their arms, and me grabbing Harry when it was Coach who sat him in a bear-hug, and me holding Larry in a takedown hold when it was necessary to keep him safe.
It took me a few minutes to realize that what she was referencing was the day when I removed the ball from Harry during the zoom.
SINCE WHEN IS REMOVING A DISTRACTION, SCOOTING A CHAIR TOWARDS A KID (NOT THROWING IT OR EVEN PUSHING IT HARD, AS I WAS BARELY TOUCHING IT FROM MY OUTSTRECHED-ARM'S-REACH SPOT IN THE DOORWAY), AND SAYING 'YOU CAN SIT HERE ' . . . ABUSIVE?
The detective in me realized that this. was. Donna's witch hunt. Not Jo's. Jo wouldn't have referenced that moment as problematic. I know this because, once several weeks prior, I had to jump off of a call that I was on with Donna, Jo, and Alice. The school was clicking in. Larry had gotten into a fight at school and they needed to talk to me.
Alice later told me: DONNA IS VERY SYMPATHETIC TO THE BOYS. AFTER YOU HUNG UP SHE EXPRESSED THAT SHE DIDN'T LIKE THAT THEY HAD TO MISS OUT ON SOMETHING IF THEY HAD A FIT.
ON THE OTHER HAND JO WAS LIKE, WELL TOO BAD. THEY HAVE TO LEARN.
(*remember, many schools of thought: had we been able to take the TBRI class, maybe we would've handled the punishment-after-a-fit differently if we'd been trained differently but that was all we had. You won't get in the car or you refuse to go to bed, then you won't go to the park later, etc).
Without a doubt, Donna is 'THE REPORTER.' in the report. And hey, should we point out that if indeed Donna suspected that I was being verbally abusive then why did she wait an entire month to report it? Perhaps someone was upset that I said the boys couldn't zoom with her right before I drove them back to Indiana. Or maybe someone didn't like me pointing out her cluelessness when she didn't say WAIT I CAN'T ZOOM THAT DAY early on.
Regardless, it's all a lot of bull shit. Don't think for a minute that I don't realize that she went on a fishing expedition with the boys when it came time to 'create' a report - you bet she suggested they say stuff about my babysitting, which is nuts because they were in school when I was sitting. They never witnessed any of the babysitting traumas that they claim I was prone to.
Do I sound steamed? You better believe I do. I spoke to Dawn after the lightbulb moment when I realized Donna was responsible for the report, and she was like WELL, LET DONNA LIVE WITH THEM IN HER HOUSE FOR A MONTH, IF SHE THINKS SHE GETS IT.
|I will forever wonder why, after all that we've |
been through, I don't have this bumper sticker on my car.
Saw it when I was out on a run and it took me a minute - but then I was like, OH!
I'm jumping around, but this next bit is a teenie bit funny and by Jove I want to share a laugh here. So here's your reward for reading along to this unfortunate, never-ending saga.
The investigator, Lottie, showed up on a Friday at 3:30. She'd said she wanted to see a kid I babysat. She never asked me how many families I sat for, so I just asked the two families on Friday if they could meet with her.
Fortunately, the families I currently sit for are amazing and are very much in my corner, at this point I count them as friends. They were in disbelief that this was happening. Very supportive of me.
One mom got here a bit before Lottie, so she waited with her 1 and 2.5 year old. Then the twins' mom showed up. Lottie gave each mom her card and took down their contact info, saying she'd call them later.
She also said: YOU'RE ENTITLED TO A COPY OF THIS REPORT.
Twin mom later told me: WHEN SHE SAID THAT TO ME, I ALMOST SAID, OH, I'M NOT INTERESTED IN YOUR REPORT. NOTHING YOU COULD SAY WOULD SWAY ME, WE ARE INCREDIBLY HAPPY WITH ERNIE'S CARE. BUT I DIDN'T WANT TO GET ALL UP IN HER FACE AND MAKE THINGS HARDER FOR YOU.
Anyway, I never bothered to look up and see how many kids I'm allowed to have in my care. Oops. Turns out the state says if I'm unlicensed, I can only have 4 in my care if they come from the same family. I'm not allowed to have multiple kids who aren't in the same family. What on earth? Obviously the state hasn't met me and they don't know my super powers. I can handle a lot more than THAT.
Here I was parading four tots out the door right in front of Lottie in hopes that she'd think she'd met all of my 'families' and stop there. She was the one that said she wanted to only make one trip.
After my interview, she spoke to my kids who were home and under 18. I was still sitting there. She asked them if there had ever been any abuse in the home, etc. These were easy, quick questions and my kids gave nice loud 'NOs'. At one point though, she asked something else - I think about the daycare kids or the boys specifically. It may have been Curly's turn to speak. She was in the family room.
But Mini was in the adjoining kitchen, and she couldn't control herself (um, thus the name Mini - like mother, like daughter),
Mini hollered: NO. THEY WEREN'T HURT. THAT'S LITEARLLY RIDICULOUS. MY MOM HAD TO HOLD LARRY DOWN TO KEEP HIM SAFE. HE WAS THROWING STUFF AND BREAKING THINGS. I WAS HERE. HE BROKE HIS OWN GLASSES. WE TRIED EVERYTHING. AND THE BABIES ARE NEVER HURT. CRAZY TALK. (I'm paraphrasing, because I don't remember, I just know that I took a mental note to elevate Mini in he position in our will, unless she can't figure out how to keep her room somewhat civilized).
Lottie then asked me why my daycare wasn't licensed. I thought: BECAUSE, I DON'T PAY TAXES DUMB ASS . . . but what I really said was I BABYSIT FOR A FEW FRIENDS IN MY HOUSE A FEW DAYS A WEEK, because I was sensing where this was going.
Lottie didn't present as the sharpest tool in the shed - which I'd already gathered after dealing with her in the phone calls leading up to the interview. She started to count the kids I sit for. She said (when referring to the twins): UM, OK. SO THOSE TWO ARE TWINS, SO THEY ARE LIKE ONE THEN.
There it is.
The quote my girls were already repeating seconds after Lottie left the building.
|This is a Friday pic . . . 19 mos old twins in |
wagon with almost 3 yr old and his lil sis in
the buggy. I pull the wagon and push the
'bouncy', as we call it. Four unrelated
kids too much? My foot.
To be clear, the twins are not Siamese.
We can pretend that Lottie was trying to cut me some slack but those of us who were here believe differently. We witnessed her unique counting abilities and will forever chuckle at counting two as one.
November 16, 2021
Wednesday 10/13/21: Reg gave me the business card from Lottie from DCFS, telling me I was supposed to call her. I called Thursday, somewhat late in the day. Lottie said I needed to figure out a date when we would all be there to be interviewed, because she didn't want to come back. "Look at your schedule and call me back."
Friday: I called the next day with my schedule. I left a message.
I think I called again on Tuesday. Left ANOTHER message.
Finally the woman called me back on a Wednesday. Apparently, this was not a pressing matter to DCFS - as it shouldn't have been.
During the waiting-to-be-called-back time, Alice reached out to me with this: THEY SAY THE BOYS HAD BRUISES ON THEM. COULD THAT BE TRUE?
I was at the dinner table. This made it hard to eat. What.On.Earth. OF COURSE IT IS POSSIBLE THAT THEY HAVE BRUISES ON THEM . . . THEY'RE BOYS.
Let me add a tidbit to this timeline: the boys spent the weekend at respite care before we called it quits on that Monday. They essentially stayed on a farm from Friday afternoon till Sunday afternoon. Played outside. Climbed shit. Visited a pumpkin patch where they did more of the same. They gave us a hard time about going to bed that Sunday night, but Larry switched back to agreeable mode after a game of Memory while Harry tore papers up in the study until Coach sat him on his lap in a bear hug. It wasn't their most violent episode. Monday I raced around the house packing their stuff while they played outside. No bruising.
Mini pointed out that the Thursday night before we secured a respite care placement, they physically fought with one another in their room. I was on the phone in the kitchen BEGGING Alice to offer us support. Coach had been summoned home once again, and my kids (Tank was home for fall break from college) were attempting to corral the boys in their room, where they broke into a fight. Could they have bruises from that on Monday when I dropped them off 'under the rainbow' with a temp foster mom? Maybe. I do know this: WE DIDN'T BRUISE THEM.
I explained to Lottie that gathering all of us was going to be tough. What was even tougher was trying to schedule something with her when I HAD NO IDEA WHO SHE WANTED TO SEE. We went round and round.
Me: COACH WORKS UNTIL 6:30 ON FRIDAYS NOW, SO AFTER SCHOOL WON'T WORK.
Lottie: WELLL, THAT'S FINE. I CAN JUST TALK TO HIM OVER THE PHONE. *I was on some kind of delay and didn't immediately realize that this was because they were only investigating ME.
Me: OH. I CAN MEET FRIDAY AFTER SCHOOL. LAD WON'T BE HERE . . .
Lottie: HE'S OVER 18? I CAN JUST CALL HIM, AND COACH. ANYONE OVER 18 I CAN TALK TO OVER THE PHONE.
Me: THIS MIGHT BE A WHOLE LOT EASIER IF YOU TELL ME WHO YOU WANT TO TALK TO.
She asked me if I had a licensed daycare. Nope. I babysit though.
She was so confused because I kept telling her this report was most likely about the boys we'd been trying to adopt but she kept asking me what the name of my daycare was. Huh?
Then she read me the report. I didn't catch the first part, like it didn't register. Then 'the reporter' claimed that I held Larry down in a 'takedown hold' - which I did and the reason Larry knows it was called a takedown hold was because I said THIS IS A TAKEDOWN HOLD AND IT IS TO KEEP YOU SAFE. Harry claimed I'd grabbed him, which is when Coach held him in a bear hug. Not me.
*This bugs the crap out of Mini: part of their disfunction was to become easily upset with me, thus Coach is not mentioned in the report.
The next part caused me to double over in my kitchen. The boys were claiming that we hurt them AND that I mistreated the babies in my care. I allegedly drag babies around by their arms for no reason (as if there'd ever be a reason) and I lock them in the mudroom. WHAT WAS THIS?
Later, I vaguely remembered Tank joked at the dinner table MONTHS ago when the boys were visiting: DID YOU HAVE TO LOCK WILHELM IN THE MUDROOM TODAY?
If my kids were sleeping and Wilhelm or another crier came in crying, I would sometimes say you have to sit in the mudroom until you're ready to play. Never locked him in. It happened a few times because usually they could be easily distracted. Tank, aka funny guy, likes to tease about stuff, but the sit-here-till-you've-calmed down hadn't happened for months and H & L were never here when it did. The parents I sit for also know that this is part of my routine when needed, BTW.
Lottie now said she needed to talk to the mom I sit for and see 'the kid' - as if there was one kid that I usually drag around by his arm. I selected Friday, knowing that she could talk to a few moms at pickup time.
I talked to Alice afterwards. I told her how unreal and RIDICLOUS the daycare thing was and how nothing in that report was really accurate - or at least evidence of a problem. Larry WAS held down when his meds were changed and he reacted badly/violently. There was also a police report that they could look at from the weekend-from-hell-med-change nightmare and the 10 police, paramedics, firemen that came to the house that Monday didn't note the situation as abusive.
A few hours later while Mini and I sat at the computer editing her college essays, BECAUSE TRY AS I MIGHT TO CANCEL THE REST OF EVERYTHING LIFE CONTINUED AT A FAST-ASS-PACE, Alice texted me a screen shot of the actual report. Now I could read it and take it all in. The first part, that had sounded strange and didn't really register with me, now struck me in the face. HARD.
I now knew who was behind this bull shit. I WAS LITERALLY ABOUT READY TO PUNCH A WALL . . . REALLY HARD.
November 15, 2021
Today Coach turns 50. More on that drama later, but I feel you've been waiting for this next part of the saga.
Laying down some background info here. Setting the stage. Getting you squared with the cast of characters, or ass holes, if you will. And if you won't, they're . . . well at least one of the peeps . . . is STILL an ass hole.
My worker Alice needed to check on the boys in person every other week. Then their worker, Jo, needed to zoom with them also every other week. They also had Donna, a CASA, court appointed special advocate . . . in this case CASA stands for court appointed special ass-hole, it works so well with the acronym, right? I mean verbally it might add a bit more of an 'AH' sound at the end, but I'm casting my vote to keep it this way for this particular CASA(H).
* Note: I have a wonderful, dear friend who happens to be a CASA and the change in acronym doesn't apply to her because she's simply amazing. The updated version is on a case by case basis.
Early on, Jo emailed me to let me know something like: I NEED TO SEE THE BOYS IN A ZOOM CALL BY WEDNESDAY OF NEXT WEEK. Or something like that. Keep in mind, they also had therapy on separate days after school. They had soccer practice on Tuesdays. They had homework (mostly Harry, and that was fun - because he literally came unglued when Larry could go play outside and he had to do homework). Sometimes they had to zoom with the psychiatrist. To top it all off, Indiana is an hour ahead of us, so their workday ends at 4:00 our time.
Donna was on the email too. I emailed back 'all' and gave them the date/time that I thought would work best for us. Jo said sure. She's the boss, so I went with that time. I didn't even know if Donna needed to attend the zoom or if she was only on the email because she kept records or something, check and balances to be sure Jo was doing her stuff.
The boys did the zoom. I was surprised that it was just with Jo, no Donna, but whatever. A few hours later, Donna emailed me: SORRY I COULDN'T MAKE THAT ZOOM TIME, I STILL NEED TO SEE THE BOYS BY SUCH AND SUCH A DATE, WHAT WORKS?
Well, CASA(H), what works for me is that you respond to an email and let me know if the selected time doesn't jive with your lame ass SO I CAN OFFER ANOTHER TIME. What even is this? You think I have all kinds of spare time to just gather up the boys and sit them in front of the computer?
I emailed back and said as much, but with about half of the hot sauce as I used above. Not gonna lie, I was beyond busy and this really frustrated me and I said as much in my response. Then we picked ANOTHER time and they chatted with Donna the Dope on zoom. They weren't all that excited, like WHAT? WE JUST DID A ZOOM. They wanted to play. It was a hassle. They weren't particularly nuts about this woman, in other words there was no YES, DONNA. SHE'S SO GREAT. (not that they have to be head over heels about everyone, but this point makes more sense later).
The next zoom with BOTH Jo and Donna landed on a Friday. The boys had a half day. It was early September. Coach was out of town for dad's weekend at Ed's fraternity. I made mac and cheese for lunch. They were thrilled. It was a gorgeous day and they were a tad bummed that they had to zoom.
I got them set up at the desktop. Larry was on a chair and Harry sat on the yoga ball that I used to sit on while at the computer to help my back. Have I mentioned I'm married to a physical therapist? I digress.
I hung in the hallway and a few minutes into the meeting the boys started to argue. OF COURSE. Harry was off the yoga ball. He was bouncing it like a basketball. Larry was hollering PLEASE STOP. PLEASE STOP. I had twins upstairs that had just gone down for a nap. I stepped into the study and took the yoga ball.
Me: THIS IS A DISTRACTION.
Harry: AM I IN TROUBLE?
Me: NO, BUT THIS ISN'T WORKING, SO I'M GOING TO KEEP IT IN THE HALLWAY.
Har (who had CHOSEN to sit on the floor while he bounced the ball): OH SO I DON'T HAVE ANYWHERE TO SIT?
Me (as I slide an empty chair that is literally inches away from him towards him, slowly mind you because I'm just leaning in from the hallway trying not to get in the way of the zoom, plus the chair was RIGHT THERE): YOU CAN SIT HERE.
I go back into the hallway and half listen.
Donna: SO REMEMBER WHAT MY JOB IS? I TELL THE JUDGE WHAT YOU GUYS WANT.
*prior to this part Jo had asked what did they like to eat, what friends had they made, and the vibe had all been upbeat and positive, but now . . .
Harry - was mumbling and pouting . . . remember he'd just had his yoga ball removed.
Donna: DO EITHER OF YOU HAVE ANYTHING YOU NEED TO TELL US. DO YOU WANT TO TALK TO US ALONE?
Harry: I DO. I'LL TALK TO YOU ALONE.
Larry: I'M ALL GOOD. I LIKE IT HERE. CAN I GO PLAY OUTSIDE WITH MY FRIEND JIMMY?
(now alone with Harry)
Jo: WHAT'S GOING ON BUDDY? DO YOU LIKE IT THERE? DO YOU STILL WANT THE SHENANIGANS TO ADOPT YOU?
Harry: NO. I DON'T LIKE IT HERE. I DON'T WANT THEM TO ADOPT ME. I MISS YOU GUYS THOUGH. WHEN CAN I SEE YOU GUYS AGAIN?
Donna (cooing over the fact that he is PRETENDING to miss her, someone he doesn't give 2 shits about): OH BUDDY. WE MISS YOU TOO. ARE YOU OK? IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO TELL US? YOU CAN TELL US ANYTHING, IT'S OK.
Harry: NO, NOTHING ELSE. (more pouting and hem and hawing)
He runs outside to play and I have smoke coming out of my ears. I call Alice.
Alice: ANYONE WORTH THEIR WEIGHT CAN GRASP WHAT JUST HAPPENED. HE DIDN'T LIKE THAT YOU REMOVED THE DISTRACTION THAT HE WAS PLAYING WITH. JO HASN'T REACHED OUT TO ME WITH ANY CONCERNS, BUT I'LL POINT THAT OUT IF SHE DOES. DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT.
Jo emailed me the next day to let me know that they had to re-zoom with Harry again. We set it up for that afternoon, and when he zoomed with them they asked him if he was still not wanting to be adopted by us, etc. He was baffled. Jo told him that he scared them because he was acting so unhappy the day before. He couldn't remember anything that would've made her think that.
I wanted to poke my head into the zoom and say HEY THERE, I MAY NOT HAVE A DEGREE IN SOCIAL WORK BUT I CAN STILL TELL YOU WHAT HAPPENED HERE. HELLO, YOGA BALL TAKEN AWAY? ANYONE? BUELLER?
The following week it was time to meet with the psychiatrist via zoom. She asked Larry: WHAT'S THE BEST THING THAT'S EVER HAPPENED TO YOU?
Larry: (initially said he didn't know, then . . . ) OH, I KNOW. GETTING ADOPTED IS THE BEST THINGS THAT'S EVERY HAPPENED TO ME. I NOW GET TO HAVE A GOOD FAMILY AND THEY TAKE GOOD CARE OF ME AND DO FUN STUFF WITH ME. THEY FEED ME GOOD FOOD TOO.
I stood in the hall and wiped away my tears. My heart burst. Now as I write this my heart breaks in a different way. It's still hard sometimes, because my current self who is afforded clarity and space is like HEY, WTF HAPPENED BACK THERE? WHY'D YOU NOT JUST DO STUFF DIFFERENTLY AND MAKE IT WORK?
I wish it was that simple and I wish to God that we could've made it work, but it just was impossible. For awhile, Larry's words kept me going. They helped me power through. Now they cut through me like a knife.
I swear one day I will re-introduce normal length posts. Now you know the CASA(H), Donna, who needed to be named before the next part. She's a peach - it isn't obvious yet. Hold on to your hats.
I'm posting the next part tomorrow in case you need to set a chunk of time aside to tune in to more of the drama.
November 10, 2021
I thought I'd post something light-hearted today. Felt like it was long overdue. I mean, Elmo's wedgie was humorous, so why not more funny bits. Heck, I even have a post I wrote a while ago that includes some chuckles. Well, I've decided to hold off on that for now.
Tank called me Sunday. I was on a run. I sometimes feel like the president of the multi-task club, but I CANNOT run and talk at the same time. My guy teacher in grammar school used to tease Mom that I was so uncoordinated that I couldn't walk and chew gum at the same time. He wasn't wrong, I mean we weren't allowed to chew gum but it was a safe assumption.
Anyway, I answered the phone and huffed: RUN-NING, TALK LAT-ER. He said OK.
I got home and Coach told me that Tank had called him.
Coach: Remember how I told you about the 8 kids who died at that concert in Houston?
Coach: Tank knew one of the kids that died.
You know how Tank pretends that he's part of our family, but he really sort of 'belongs' more to his best friend's family? Jay is his buddy whose 'family' took him on the ski trip. You remember - the ski trip that ended up being less family and more high school senior buddies chaperoned by Jay's beer-buying grandpa?
One of the boy's who died in that senseless concert accident in Houston was Jay's cousin. A great kid who Tank describes as really goofy but also just a great guy. Bigger than life. His name was Jacob. He was a few years older than Tank and Jay. Like Tank, he spent a lot of time at Jay's family lake house.
Tank says that Jake was posting how excited he was to be heading to Houston to celebrate his birthday by attending the Travis whatever-his-name is concert. When Tank heard that things turned tragic at the concert, he texted Jake: HEY, HEARD IT GOT OUT OF HAND. YOU OK?
Of course, Jake never responded.
I never met this kid, but I'm just sick about it. I wept in my family room this morning as they showed a photo on the news. Jake and his best friend, Franco attended the concert together and died together. The story is that they were trying to help some girls who were about to be trampled. I believe the girls survived.
Tank said there are photos of Franco and Jake on Twitter. They were best buddies embracing as little guys, maybe attended preschool or kindergarten together? Tank texted me late last night that 400 kids attended the vigil for Jake at Southern Illinois University. Everyone knew him, Tank explained.
Every time I talk to Tank he mentions Jacob's dad. He feels so horrible for him. Jake's mom passed away ten years ago. It was just dad and son.
My heart hurts. This is a link to see a photo of Jake and read about him. The lake house is mentioned as one of his favorite places.
Mini and I drove to my alma mater Sunday, and she took a tour Monday. More on that adventure later. When I got home, Reg had just gotten home from school.
Reg: A girl in my chemistry class killed herself over the weekend. I didn't really know her. She was really smart. Her best friend was also in that chemistry class.
Hard to wrap my brain around EVERYTHING.
In the meantime, Alice can't find the notes that she took on what medications the boys were on when they first arrived here. She's working on her report. She emailed me and asked me to try to come up with a list and the milligrams they were taking, etc. I woke up crazy early this morning because I was dreaming about trying to figure this out. I suppose the pharmacy can help. I laid in my bed and tried to mentally list the meds but SERIOUSLY?
I will post next week about the DCFS investigation and the background on that nonsense. I intended to update you, but I don't have the energy because I need to give you some background. It's one of those - I CAN'T MAKE THIS SHIT UP stories. The person responsible for the witch hunt needs an introduction. Well, she needs more than that.
In lieu of comments today (which I've temporarily turned off), please know how much I appreciate in advance if everyone would devote good thoughts, positive vibes, or prayers for Jake, his best friend, Franco, and for their families and the other victims and their families. And for the 15 year old girl from our local high school and for all teenagers, and non-teenagers for that matter, who are contemplating taking their own lives. I spent some time talking to Curly's religious education class when I was teaching Monday night about knowing that no matter how bad things get, there is always someone who will listen. I wish sharing that message that I often see on Facebook was enough. Feeling helpless and sorrowful here.
November 8, 2021
First of all, thanks again for all of the thoughtful and heartfelt comments. I truly felt comforted and understood by your show of empathy for a situation that we never dreamt would end the way it did.
You know how we didn't tell people we were thinking about adopting until the boys practically moved in? I admit to wondering now if that was a mistake. Maybe someone would've said YOU'RE CRAZY.
But Delilah (Hi, Delilah) pointed out to me, I don't think you would've changed your mind.
I think Delilah just called me bull-headed and stubborn. Kidding. But really, I do think she's right. We really thought we 'HAD THIS'.
It was a Monday when I drove the boys back to Indiana. I had Coach race home from work so we could tell them together that this wasn't working. They'd told us the night before that they didn't want to live here anymore, but one never knew if they meant that or how they processed things, etc. I sure don't think they could grasp what might result from their words/ actions.
As soon as Jo called me to say she found them temporary foster placement, I started packing like a wild woman. I ran around the house gathering up their things. I'd made a list of toys the night before, things they'd left in the basement, the garage, and all over the house. Curly was home and Lad came home over lunch to take the dog out, so I gave them both things to grab for me. I had Coach stop at the pharmacy - I'd begged the pharmacy to fill some RX quickly so I could send their pills ready to go and the temporary foster mom wouldn't run out right away.
I'd just spent a few hours organizing their fall clothes into drawers the week before. They'd tried everything on, voted for stuff to keep and toss. I boxed those things up straight from their drawers, labeled the boxes so the next person knew what box they were digging into.
This was a complete departure from how their things arrived at our house - back then I'd spent hours tossing out ripped, torn, outgrown, and stained clothes.
They had the day off of school, so they were mostly playing outside. They came in at one point and saw me closing boxes and writing on the sides in Sharpie. They asked what I was doing.
I told them: WELL, YOU GUYS SAID LAST NIGHT THAT YOU DON'T WANT TO LIVE HERE ANYMORE. WE FEEL LIKE WE'VE TRIED EVERYTHING WE KNOW HOW AND IT ISN'T WORKING. YOU NEED SOMETHING THAT WE AREN'T ABLE TO DO. SO I AM GOING TO DRIVE YOU TO INDIANA TODAY AND JO IS GOING TO FIND YOU ANOTHER PLACE TO LIVE.
Coach walked in JUST as I was explaining this. Again, unscripted.
The boys cried . . . I THOUGHT I WAS HAVING A FRIEND OVER LATER TODAY.
Me: WELL, THE KID'S MOM SAID SHE'D CALL ME WHEN SHE GOT HOME FROM WORK BUT REMEMBER I TOLD YOU THAT SOMETIMES WORK TAKES LONGER AND SHE WASN'T SURE IT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN TODAY.
*totally true, I'd texted this mom the night before - just before we'd surrendered. She ended up texting me later to say sorry work took too long, another time.
Then they stopped crying and looked at the boxes: OH, CAN I HLEP LOAD THE CAR.
Coach and I just stood there. Stunned. He was like UM, SURE. We wonder if this is part of RAD - if we were fulfilling some part of their belief that they couldn't be loved and that this was what their messed up thought processes had expected all along? Or did they just not get it?They were happy as clams carrying boxes. I wrote an inscription, one for each of them, into their favorite books that were Curly's from when she was in kindergarten: Pigeon Rides a Bus and the Pigeon Eats a Hot Dog by Mo Willems. Larry saw me shove the books in one of their boxes and he reminded me that those were ours. I told him we wanted them to have the books to remember us. He was thrilled.
Harry asked Coach if they could still call us. Coach said sure. When we were driving for about 15 minutes, Harry asked me if they were only going for a few days and then they'd come back. Huh? Did my unscripted talk not really register. Why would we have packed everything they owned into the car?
While I was packing, I was getting text messages from Donna, their CASA. Court appointed special (something? - in this case ass hole). She wanted to zoom with the boys. I was like NOPE, THEY DON'T EVEN KNOW THEY ARE LEAVING YET AND WE AREN'T TELLING THEM UNTIL COACH CAN BE HERE FROM WORK AND I HAVE TO BE ON THE ROAD AT A SET TIME BECAUSE I'M MEETING THIS FOSTER MOM HALFWAY AT A GAS STATION. DON'T WANT TO MAKE HER SIT THERE AND WAIT. I'M PACKING.
I was under a time constraint. Dripping in sweat.
It poured rain the whole 1.5 hour drive. When we pulled up to the gas station a double rainbow appeared over the building.
Me: LOOK, IT'S A RAINBOW. THAT'S A SIGN OF HOPE.
Larry: A SIGN OF HOPE FOR US?
Me: YEP, HOPE THAT YOU GUYS FIND THE RIGHT PLACE TO LIVE. A PLACE THAT WILL HELP YOU. WHERE YOU CAN BE HAPPY.
I spoke with this very kind foster mom after we put the boys' stuff in her car. I told her I worried that I'd play the WHAT IF game forever and she shook her head and told me that so many of these kids have m ore going on than most can handle. "Don't beat yourself up. This is why my husband and I only foster."
The boys and I hugged it out as if we were going to see each other the next day and I drove home in a horrible rain storm.
On Wednesday Coach and I went to Curly's first basketball game. Later, when we were halfway through dinner, Reg hopped up and handed me a business card.
Reg: OH I FORGOT, THIS LADY CAME FROM DCFS WHEN YOU WERE AT CURLY'S GAME. SHE SAID SHE HAS TO TALK TO YOU. YOU'RE BEING INVESTIGATED BECAUSE THE BOYS SAY YOU HURT THEM. SHE WANTS YOU TO CALL HER. SHE ASKED ME IF I WAS BEING ABUSED AND IF I FELT SAFE HERE. (this made him chuckle).
Coach was like, HEY, IT'S THEIR JOB TO LOOK INTO ANYTHING THE BOYS SAY. IT'LL BE FINE.
Some things are just so much harder than they look - and then some. The next bit is truly unreal.
November 4, 2021
I had a post ready to go. I'll share it another time. I wasn't sure how to start this post, but I decided I had to share the ending before any more of the leading-up-to-the-ending parts. Then Delilah called last night, a conversation that made my day and gave me a bit of clarity along with a few tears and some laughs, and I knew how to dive in here:
Life has been incredibly heavy lately.
And, to top it off, I'm getting heavier.
|A step past the perfect dessert trifecta. |
Mint Moose Tracks? Where've you been all my life?
* This is very unlike Mini, but she's giving us the silent treatment since we removed the door of her bedroom from the frame on Sunday, as in CLEAN YOUR SHIT UP. More on this later. Oh, barking is the equivalent of silence for teens who find they must utter words, in case you aren't familiar.
Then Coach and I were about to go to the grocery store last night, something that really needed to be done, but BLAH. The fact that Coach offered to help me, well - be still my heart. Proof that it is, in fact, the little things. I grabbed a chocolate covered Greek yogurt bar to cope with the groceries even with a partner.
After the store, I opened the ice cream that I'd just bought. There's something about ice cream that has become the PERFECT softness on the drive home from the grocery store. I must have a bowl, even if it's morning . . . also, even if I've already eaten three dessert type foods. I usually buy cookies and cream or flavors I can't eat because they aren't GF. The gloves were off, though. The feed bag was on.
Delilah called while I was scooping my somewhat-melty ice cream and I learned that she has the SAME ice-cream-must-be-eaten-when-just-home-from-the-store thing too.
The technically heavy part: I like order. I intended to tell this tale in order, or die trying. Well, yesterday I decided that it really isn't worth dying over so I'm done trying.
Friends, and I do consider all of you friends as I so appreciate your interest, joy, support, hope, empathy, excitement, and concern through this entire process, we made the very difficult decision to return the boys to Indiana, Sunday October 10th. I drove them back on Monday the 11th while Curly was home to handle my babysitting.
I thought I needed to describe what went on and what contributed to that decision, but I don't even know what tense to write in: past, present? I'm also not loving how our struggle is coming across. I told Coach yesterday that I feel like we sound controlling and inflexible, and like we were too unwilling to accommodate their issues.
He reminded me that while we did have things we expected of them, we were also bending all over the place. Plus Indiana kept telling us that the boys needed our structure and rules. We tried EVERYTHING. So, if that wasn't coming across here - you'll have to trust me (plus, the worst parts haven't even been shared yet).
Little reminders of some of the
happier moments are EVERYWHERE.
I have a sweet freehand Easter bunny
drawing by Larry that says:
LOVE YOU, MOMMY
that I wanted to post here,
but I can't put my finer on it.
Easter bunny in September, why not?
Things had become so difficult that we were really struggling to function. Coach would feel sick at work as the day went on and he knew the boys were home from school, wondering if I'd have to call him home AGAIN. Something I hadn't ever done in our previous 23 years as parents. The missing pieces to this puzzle, that I might expand on later because I still feel like they need to be explained, include:
* the psychiatrist changed Larry's meds.
I don't blame her. He was diagnosed with ADHD and she felt his meds weren't addressing that. I put her off for a week but when Larry had a few bad days, she urged me again to try Adderall. It was doing wonders for Harry. We now believe that Larry doesn't have ADHD. Symptoms can present the same as those associated with trauma. To say that Lar had a bad time with the new meds is an understatement. It took us 5 hours to get him to bed one night. Coach drenched in sweat and me calling every person on the team. At our doctor and Jo's urging, we called 911 another night. They wanted him assessed while in a fit. Once the 10 public servants talked him down, no assessment could be done, because he was just mad - no longer raging. He was suspended from school. He broke things. I needed to restrain him, something he NEVER got over, no matter how many times I explained that it was the dumb meds that were making him lose control and I had to hold him down to keep him safe. WE STOPPED THE MEDS AFTER LIKE 2 OR 3 DAYS AS SOON AS WE REALIZED . . . SO IT WAS A QUICK SHITSHOW, BUT THE IMPACT LINGERED.
* feeling unsupported:
- Indiana never pointed out the 1.-800 number we could use if we needed something during non-work hours. The weekend of the med change I called Jo's cell number REPEATEDLY. I didn't realize that this was a work only cell and that she and her boss, who I also called, wouldn't answer till Monday. I'm sure the 1-800 number exists somewhere in a pile of paperwork or in some obscure email, but FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS give people the number and make them understand the importance of it before you hand kids over.
- We asked for respite care (foster homes that give families a break so they can regroup or go on vacation- oh, vacation sounds dreamy), but Jo told us our private agency didn't offer respite.
- The therapist emailed all of her patients to say that she'd taken on a strenuous workload, more patients than ever before (she only does adoption related therapy, this trauma informed parenting stuff). She cancelled therapy one day because she needed to take a mental health day. She also pointed out that she wouldn't be responding to emails and text messages outside of work hours or even during work hours maybe - if she was too busy. Fair enough, but can I just point out that I DIDN'T ASK HER TO TAKE ON MORE THAN SHE COULD HANDLE AND WE WERE BANKING ON HER HELP AND I FELT SCOLDED FOR NEEDING MORE HELP THAN SHE COULD OFFER. She even said in her email that some of her patients weren't doing that well . . . me, raising my hand - OH HI, THAT'D BE US.
- The TBRI class that was supposed to help us learn how to deal with them, was bumped back a month from mid September to mid October. It ended up starting the Saturday after we returned the boys. The therapist had a few families who wanted to take it, but they couldn't start as early as September. Ouch. She gave us handouts and tried to give us a tutorial, but this was something we should've been trained in MONTHS before the boys ever showed up here.
* different schools of thought:
The psychiatrist is all about the meds. The therapist is all about parenting kids who have been impacted by trauma differently. My social worker is all about reading into things too much (not wanting to wear a collared shirt because deep down he isn't wanting to be part of a new family because that means he won't be part of his original family) and assuring us that things were going well. Indiana didn't even know what trauma informed parenting was.
* not enough/ inaccurate info:
- Indiana didn't really recognize what behaviors and challenges might result from the trauma the boys faced. They weren't as forthcoming with the info that they had. Debbie had told them stuff, but they sort of brushed it under the rug. They only heard what they wanted to hear.
- Larry's misdiagnosis of ADHD alone really hosed us
- in the 11th hour, I reached out to the boys original therapist. Debbie said this woman, Carly, known the boys longer than anyone in the system. She no longer works for DCS (dept. children services). I called her Sunday night the 10th while Coach was dealing with Harry's meltdown. He was in my study ripping up every piece of paper he could get his hands on. Carly told me about the conditions the boys were living in. Staggering. Indiana never shared the extent of this. She also said that the boys had one of the worst cases of RAD that she'd ever seen. Reactive Attachment Disorder. Another friend, who has adopted kids from Haiti, told me that RAD is, in her opinion, one of the toughest, most challenging diagnoses. We question how the boys could've bonded with Debbie if this diagnosis is accurate, but after awhile we just shrug and go WHO THE HELL KNOWS.
* We relied HEAVILY on what Debbie told us/too trusting:
This could be combined with the heading above, but it is so shocking I felt it needed it's own space. A few weeks before we opted to return them, I reached out to Debbie. Alice had encouraged me to ask her how long I could expect the homework nonsense with Harry to continue. He could cry about homework for 45 minutes when the actual homework only took 10 minutes.
DEBBIE: THESE ARE THE WORST KIDS I EVER FOSTERED IN 10 YEARS OF FOSTERING.
ME (after gasping for air): WHY THEN DID YOU TELL US DURING OUT INITIAL ZOOM IN JANUARY WHEN WE ADMITTED TO BEING CONCERNED ABOUT THE BOYS' ISSUES OH, THESE BOYS WON'T GIVE YOU ANY TROUBLE?
DEBBIE: (with a little nervous? laugh) WELL, YOU DON'T WANT DCS TO SLAP YOUR HAND FOR TELLING THE TRUTH.
ME: (in my head) WHEN IS THE TRUTH WRONG?
We would NOT have moved forward with the boys, if she'd been honest. This tidbit I struggle with more than anything else. Such a disservice to the boys and such a disservice to our family.
* We heard what we wanted to hear:
- When we had our initial meeting, I motioned to Coach across the room NO WAY. After the call, Alice told us I THINK THESE TWO HAVE POTENTIAL. She told us that often, some of the diagnoses could fade away as the boys found stability. We believed her. After trying to find kids that would be a good fit for YEARS, maybe we just heard what we wanted to hear.
- Meanwhile, I spoke to my friend, Bethany. She and her husband have 5 biological kids. They adopted a sibling pair from foster care like a year ago. They worked with Alice, recommended her to us shortly after they'd taken the kids into their home. They started the process years after us, but Alice had this file come across her desk and it was a perfect match for them. Bethany told me that her kids supposedly had all kinds of behaviors, but once they had the influence of older siblings and they felt stability and love, they never saw those behaviors. I called her towards the end and I described what we were dealing with. She said she was speechless. They'd encountered nothing like what we were going through. Her kids didn't take a single medication. Ours had 3 or 4 each.
- When Indiana (and Debbie) assured us that these boys would do great in a big family, we believed them. The boys had lived in a pack and they considered the other kids in the drug den their siblings. They wanted that again. Well, no matter how amazing our kids are they needed MUCH more than a good example.
The above video: The hell with hiding identity. This is Curly. Classic. She swooped in from another room when Larry was starting to slam my desktop speaker in an attempt to break it, saying he wouldn't shower. This is the day after it took us 5 hours to get him to sleep. I didn't give him Adderall that morning but it would take a few days for it to completely work out of his system. It was a crazy low dose and we still were unaware that the meds could make him behave like this. He'd had several bedtime issues, just not violent - so we assumed he was just taking it to the next level. Larry was told that we might need to use respite care the same way that Debbie had. Coach was grilling dinner. He came running and stood between me and Larry at my desktop to prevent Larry from breaking it. Larry took this as a challenge and got more violent- that was all before I started videoing Curly. We didn't ask for her help. Watching her in action makes me cry. She was tight with Larry.
A SIL just told me the other day that I couldn't play the WHAT IF game, what if we tried this, what if those damn meds had never been messed with, what if Debbie was honest, what if Coach's hours had been adjusted earlier (his new 'no-evenings-for-one-school-year' hours started on Oct 11th when I drove the kids back), what if we'd taken or even known about the TBRI class in advance, etc.
Me: OH, BUT I CAN PLAY THAT GAME. TURNS OUT, I'M REALLY GOOD AT IT.
Initially we felt numb. And relief. I felt like I could breathe again. Accomplish something in a day and not just put out fires and attend therapy, zooms with Jo, and check-in appointments with Alice. I have PTSD from the phone ringing and seeing the boys' school on the caller ID. Lad stayed home from work one morning to help me. Larry was having a rough morning and I wasn't sure if he'd throw things while I was watching babies. A mom with her 3 month old was already on her way to the house.
That Sunday night, Oct 10th, I picked Curly up from basketball and I told her that if they could find someone to take the boys the next day that we were going to drive them back. She sobbed the whole way home. Not because she wanted them to stay, but in her words: WHY? WHY, IF THIS WAS GOD'S PLAN WAS THIS SO HARD? WE'VE WORKED SO HARD NOT JUST FOR THESE TWO, BUT THE WHOLE TIME.
At home, Mini burst into tears: THEY JUST DON'T GET IT, THEY DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY ARE GIVING UP. THEY WILL HAVE NO FUTURE NOW. WE WERE READY TO GIVE THEM A GOOD LIFE. THEY JUST DON'T GET IT.
She's right. They don't get it, of course. They can't. They can't control their behavior and as much as I wished someone from Indiana would try to talk some sense into them during their zooms instead of just asking them what they like to play and what their favorite meal is, I doubt that wouldn't have done any good. Desperate times, though.
It was a lonely process and I feel like it shouldn't have been so damn lonely and confusing and hard. We never knew if we were doing the right things or the wrong things. Life was beyond unpredictable. We had to think of our future and that of our family. After the medication issue, I began to wonder: where will we be in our lives when one of them goes off their meds or has some other medication issue?
Mini broke down one night at the end of September while she was eating and Larry was out of control. Coach was at work - this marks the first time that I called him home, after tossing Mini the keys and telling her she had to drive Curly.
Mini: (sobbing) I CAN'T DO THIS ANYMORE, MOMMY. I JUST CAN'T.
Harry came around the corner fresh from the shower, as I was holding Larry so he could stop breaking stuff. (I've since spent $130 to buy Reg new wireless headphones that Larry intentionally broke). I told Mini, I'M CALLING JO TOMORROW. (not because we were done, but because I wanted to ask her for assistance). Harry started screaming DON'T GET RID OF US, DON'T GET RID OF US.
Mini jumped up from the table and ran to Harry while wiping away her tears. NO ONE IS GETTING RID OF YOU, MOMMY JUST NEEDS TO TALK TO JO ABOUT WHAT IS GOING ON WITH LARRY.EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OK.
That's what my kids were like here. Putting their emotions aside and trying to help.
THE LAST NIGHT
In the end, the boys went willingly. They'd spent a weekend at respite care after I called and in my best Sigourney Weaver voice from Ghostbusters when she is possessed, INSISTED that they make arrangements for the boys to go to respite for the weekend. I NEED HELP. THEY NEED TO GO SOMEWHERE ELSE FOR THE WEEKEND. MAKE IT HAPPEN. This phone call seemed to really jar Alice.
compliments: monster nation.gif
Respite had helped Larry with some not-going-to-bed behavior at Debbie's, so we pinned our last hope to it. I drove them to Gary, Indiana the next day. A delightful foster mom took them to her farm for the weekend. I asked them to try to reset. Larry admitted he was able to do that when Debbie arranged for respite care. Knowing they still didn't get it and probably couldn't help it, I told them that to be part of a family they had to follow rules.
Harry: so is this a good visit or a bad visit?
Larry: did you not just hear what she said? We have to figure it out. Duh.
We called Debbie during our drive and she told them BOYS, THIS IS YOUR FUTURE.
They returned on Sunday venomous. Upset that we wouldn't let them play video games. I reminded them that we don't even own any. LAD DOES! I was like, WELL, IF HE DOES THEN THOSE ARE HIS IN A BOX IN HIS ROOM AND AREN'T EVEN HOOKED UP TO A TV. They claimed that I'd told the respite worker that they had to play outside and that they couldn't play video games. She later assured me that she'd told them it was beautiful outside and they could play outside while she mowed her acreage for a few hours. She and her husband had taken them to a pumpkin patch the day before. She told me that she had no problems with them, but she could tell that they were a lot to deal with and they required constant entertaining.
Harry wanted a movie night and promised to have a fit until we gave him one. This was because he'd learned from Larry that we put a movie on during Larry's 5 hour battle with sleep that one night.
boys: WE'VE TALKED ABOUT IT AND WE DON'T WANT TO LIVE HERE. MOMMY HELD ME DOWN, NO VIDEO GAMES, etc. (it's so mind-blowing - they didn't mention any of the things they were crazy about at our house - having friends in the neighborhood, watching our kids play basketball, going to the beach, playing charades, looking forward to Yellowstone, etc.)
After driving back from respite where Coach tried to talk them off the ledge and Larry finally told Harry: LET'S GIVE IT ONE MORE TRY, Coach took the boys and Curly and Reg mini golfing, then played catch in the yard. I made their favorite dinner. Now shower/bed refusal left us all sitting in the front hall. I looked at Coach and he looked at me. We'd spent the weekend discussing how we could adjust and try to implement more of the lessons from the therapist. We'd taken the girls to breakfast while Reg was a b-ball and reviewed the handouts with them, asking them to try a new approach whenever possible. We'd FINALLY gone out to dinner for our 25th anniversary. We breathed.
Me: (boys heckling us in the background) I'M DONE.
Coach: ME TOO.
I went into the kitchen and called the 1-800 number. Now on speed dial. Coach and Curly and Reg played memory with Larry - something that had worked for me a few nights prior. Harry moved to the study where he tore up all my papers. Larry switched back to regular mode and appeared in the kitchen after the game: I'M GONNA GO TAKE MY SHOWER, MOMMY. GOOD NIGHT. LOVE YOU.
The days are long, not out of a shortage of diapers to change. I have today off. I'm still in my jammies. I might skip my workout. Who am I kidding? I'm not completely falling apart.
Grief. Coping. Playing head games. It's hard. I never dreamt it would be THIS hard. Regular life stuff is still happening. Homecoming dresses, daycare kids turnover and interviews, college applications, dinner, silent treatment, etc. Gotta keep up. I broke down crying during one of Curly's school b-ball games the other day. Only Curly and her BFF know how to dribble or pass or shoot, so the games are something to behold, quite the two-woman show. We've still only lost one game, and Curly was totally off her A game the day they lost. Nerves?
Anyway, she rolled her ankle and she kept playing while she was crying. I couldn't control my emotions. Reg was sitting next to me. He'd skipped his workout to attend this, the one game we assumed we 'd lose because we were playing a school twice our size. He whispered I'M NOT SITTING NEXT TO YOU AGAIN when he saw my tears. We won the game. I gathered myself. Temporarily. I choked up again though when cool-Mr.-High-School Reg charged onto the court to congratulate a limping 8th grade Curly after the game. I also cried at he first school game, because the boys were looking forward to attending it.
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Our loss is public. So many people knew. There is shame involved, even if there shouldn't be. Coach and I had so much encouragement from so many people, we can't help but feel that we've let people down. We feel we let the boys down. We never dreamt that we'd return them. We were in it no matter what. We just couldn't have imagined the 'what.' This was a dream we'd worked towards for over 5 years. Together. And it ends here. We feel bamboozled and we moving on. Trying to. How often does a couple BOTH decide to get on this crazy train? Shit. I could go on and on about how I feel, right or wrong, senseless or not, better days, worse days. How it comes in waves.
This has gotten OUT-OF-HAND long and I haven't even told you why I'm mad at a few of my favorite SILs. I have some anger at the moment and God help the people who cross me.
I'll be fine. Eventually. In the meantime, thanks for reading along and sending such warm thoughts, encouraging words, and comforting prayers. I appreciate this group more than I can express.