Monday, July 31, 2006
Vanessa had jumped on Fabian as well, and I was quickly calling 911 from my cell phone.
Miriam kept the kids up at the pool while Joey followed me into the house. Fabian had stormed off, come back, broken the back door, slung some kitchen chairs, repeated several ugly threats, and headed for the kitchen where we are out of knives anyway.
Joey was beside himself, all 200 pounds quivering with anger, "Boy you're gonna have to stab me before you go after Mom!"
911 had called me back, had me stay on the line, and had gotten help to us within 5 LONG minutes. Two squad cars came bumping up the dirt driveway and a deputy that I knew, he's adopted as well, slung himself out of his car, and intimidated big bad Fabian to within an inch of his life. This time you could actually see my heart pounding, I was scared for once. I told the deputy that we weren't safe. PERIOD. Fabian'd calmed down very quickly, but hey buddy he'd crossed a line.
They handcuffed him and took him, charging him with terroristic threats and unruly behavior.
The deputy asking me, "where's your grown boys?" like you need more back-up girl.
Joe and Sergi pulled up right then, tired and dirty from working a 12 hour day, shaking their heads, "Boy don't mess with mama."
I dreaded having to tell all this to Edgar, their sixth adoption anniversary is tomorrow, Fabian is locked up, guess we'll postpone this party.
Edgar looked at me when he got home, heard the story, and surprisingly replied, "You should have had him locked up the first time he ever threatened you. That boy needs help. "
The kids stayed up at the pool, thinking Fabian had just had another rage, let Mama handle it, kept splashing and playing while Miriam and Grandma supervised. I let them swim until 9:30, they came in and went to bed, oblivious to the drama, they don't even know Fabian's not here tonight.
There's an emergency court hearing tomorrow at 9.
Fabian called from the Youth Detention Center at midnight, sort of apologized, and asked questions I couldn't answer. He simply cannot continue living like this, full of unrestrained anger and uncontrollable fury, he has cost himself so much, we've had to have the police here too many times this summer. I don't call the police until it has become really bad here, I can take a lot, but Fabian has crossed way too many lines.
I told him I loved him, and I'd see him through this, that somehow he'd come out on the other side a better man. He'd replied that he hated me, but I don't buy that.
"Mom," I heard and glancing at the clock, noticing it was 4:45 in the morning, I had to wonder what on earth deserved my undivided, wakeful attention that dadgum early.
Duh, it was Edgar, who I've not mentioned in two weeks as I was royally tired of the dramas between the two of us. Miriam and Vanessa, put together, only equaled 10% of Edgar's emotional neediness, it has seemed.
We'd had our regularly scheduled blowup, over nothing, quite awhile back, and I'd chosen to simply enjoy the elbow room, glad he had a 60 hour a week job, came home too tired to squabble, and had isolated himself by retreating to his end of the house.
I had literally screeched at him, weeks ago, "Boy, I am your mother, not your lover, back off!" I just couldn't take all the ya-yas and the pushpull routine. He'd yelled at me and I'd slammed and broken a cabinet door, who needs all that crapola? He'd seriously and steadfastly maintained his anger at me, I'd blown it off and was having a good ole time which just irked him more. Give me the silent treatment some more please had been my goal.
With Sonny being fired, Lauren and Natalie here, and a self-imposed scarcity of Mama Time, he'd come back around full swing and in high gear...most likely it has been the copious amounts of flammable salsa available to us all courtesy of Vanessa and the big back garden of ours. Apparently wanting to make up for lost time, all smiles and charm, cuddling, clinging like melted Saran wrap, he'd needed me to notice him leaving this morning before dawn to get to work on time without me waking him up. Good boy son, I'd nearly patted him on the head with my approval but fotunately thought the better of it just in time to simply reply, "I love you too, see ya," as he left right before 5. Ahhhh........
Oh well son, that's what coffee's for. Both Miriam and Joey need to leave here at 6:30 for their jobs and I've got to leave by 8 to get to Atlanta on time, I think both Fabian and Lauren wanted to go with me as we'll see Alex. She's being moved to another psychiatric facility, an hour closer to home, if they'll accept her severe levels of emotional problems. Grandma, Sarah, Vanessa and Natalie will be in charge of the kids while we're gone.
Sunday, July 30, 2006
Besides being annoyingly hard-headed, I have an iron will, non-stop drive and determination combined with strength, flexibility and a tough shell. The only time I let any of my guard down in public is at church where I often find myself emotionally defenseless during praise and worship. Today was no exception.
A lady in Sunday School had illustrated how she felt during life's many storms, and I had the same feeling...sort of like being above the storm clouds looking down at them swirling. Just as I can usually emotionally remove my own personal feelings during the many dramatic squalls here, knowing it's not really me that they are mad at, during the storms I know that they will soon blow past, the sun will reappear, and I just do not let myself get sucked down the drain constantly.
I'd told Fabian earlier this week that it was the heart knowledge that I had deep within me that these are the 39 children that I am supposed to be parenting, that keeps me going no matter how often I momentarily become discouraged or slightly overwhelmed.
A grown kid is going through stuff right now, but he knows I'm right there beside him, this'll pass also, and we will all learn something from it. Or he's, at least, starting to trust me. He so wants to trust me, he has no other option but to do so.
This kids swam all afternoon peacefully, Big Joe and Alyssa came over to join us in the pool. Lauren and Natalie even started wrestling with each other. I hope they can get the Georgia/Mexican out of them before they return to school up north or people are gonna think they are touched in the head and peculiar.
My friend, Barbara, had sent us the coolest pool system consisting of volleyball, basketball and paddleball. The kids have been playing for a month, it's holding up well in our overly active, destructive household, and there's still a game going on right now amongst the older kids with Grandma as their audience. Natalie is athletic and my macho boys are playing hard against her, but she was outscoring them minutes ago.
An argument had ensued over the proper washing of my 1994 Honda which has been sulking in the garage as the man from the junkyard didn't call me back about parts. Heck with it, I'll drive it as is, what with gas prices being what they are, and me needing to drive kids to work.
Nando, running around in his Superman underwear, is not nearly as frightful of a sight as Jose doing so, Vanessa took a picture the other night of 50 or so of us watching fireworks in our driveway, but Jose's big underwear clad butt is too prominent to post here. His oblivious attitude, his nonchalance, also is rudely evident, and somehow I need to now emotionally prepare him for the high-maintenance world of middle school within the next week.
Tyler, his former teacher, swam with us yesterday, and Jose was happy as a clam. Tyler wrestled Joey down, tossed several other kids across the pool and spent one-on-one with Jose in a much needed reassuring fashion, Jose has no idea how much of a blessing he has received from many teachers.
Carolina's children, normal and well-adjusted, came over to show me their new back-to-school haircuts. Baby Yolie, starting middle school with Jose, Sabrina and Martin, is excited...none of the trepidation that is obvious here; Blanca smiling and counting the days, while my children are glowering, pouting, and demonstrating poor attitude control abilities in stark contrast.
Joey, holding my grandbabies Tommy and Ray, is up and down; one minute breaking stuff, the next minute helping me...no rhyme nor reason, a toddler in a man's body, getting on everyone's nerves except the babies who share his emotional age. Actually Ray often assumes leadership roles over Joey, and Joey willingly complies.
Saturday, July 29, 2006
It was just the right moment since my teenagers often spend all day attempting to force me to regret these adoptions. There are no words to describe how awful, how hateful they can be to the one person who has yet to fail them. Adopting a felonious teenager, like Joey, in no way convinces him of my commitment, nor the number of my teens who've been physically, emotionally, or academically incapable of attending public schools, thus forcing me to ferret out other arrangements.
Today at the pool I found that Fabian had pierced his ear last night. Oh no, I don't think so son.
"You're not the boss of me, it's my ear."
"It's my house, my son, my rules," I sniped, as he stormed down the hill to the house, a blatant transgression since we all swim together each day. I make the rules, not a half-wrapped punk.
I prayed for patience...I pray with my eyes open as kids were in the pool...I prayed for love for the unloveable, for hard hearts to melt, and for trust to finally develop between us after 2200 tough days of being mother and son.
Knowing Natalie and Lauren, plus Jose's teacher, Tyler, would all be joining us, I thought the better of having a face-off with Fabian. Within minutes of my praying, Tyler appeared with a contrite Fabian in tow, and Fabian commenced to showing off, for Natalie, with his repetoire of flips, acrobatic movement, stunts and impressive gymnastic endeavors.
Dodged that bullet, but I sat there thinking about this man's words. I urge all parents like me to read, and take to heart, his thoughts as what we've chosen to do is daunting, often dangerous, eventually rewarding, but far more frustrating than one would think one could survive.
Yesterday I was so angry at Joey that when Fabian hugged me he could hear, and feel, my heart pounding against him. It scared him. "Whoa, Mom, it feels like you're gonna explode."
Ya think so?
I potted plants to calm down, but today I keep hearing these words from this article:
" I have had the privilege to orientate about 2,000 prospective foster and adoptive parents over the past three years. I always ask prospective parents why do they want to be parents to children not born to them. Generally, in a first session orientation all the answers take the form of they either love children and/or they want to help children. My second question to them is “who is coming forward to be a foster or adoptive parent to hurt hurt children?” Usually one person who wasn’t paying much attention to my question raises his or her hand. All the other participants are usually baffled by the oddity of the question. Then I go up to the person who raised her hand and ask again “you really want to hurt hurt children?” At which point she immediately withdraws her raised hand. Then I asked six more similar questions to the rest of the group changing just one word. The words I substitute are as follows:
Hurt Who wants to hurt hurt children?
Abandon Who wants to abandon abandoned children?
Reject Who wants to reject rejected children?
Traumatize Who wants to traumatize traumatized children?
Victimize Victimize victimized children?
Abuse Abuse abused children?
Neglect Neglect neglected children?"
Friday, July 28, 2006
NO rages, not a one, and we even had another psychological evaluation done here today, this time on Scotty.
Reading the results of Martin's evaluation I was not surprised by his higher than normal level of anxiety regarding family; his constant fears of losing the best thing he thinks he has ever had. When asked what does he do when he has nightmares he answered he wakes CW up to talk him through his fears.
The surprise was in his revelation that he didn't like for me to get worried by phone calls from, or about, the older kids. I always take these sort of calls either in the pantry ,or I walk away from the house, so as not to further alarm a younger kid, but even Sarah shared that she hates to see me answer and then shut the pantry door as that is a sign of impending problems.
I'll take it a step farther to where I wish the grown kids wouldn't have problems, like Sonny's job situation today.
Sweet Daniel came by to see everyone, and offered to take Lauren and Natalie on a tour of the University of Georgia campus. He, Miriam, Vanessa and the two totally cute tourists are then headed to the dollar theater. Natalie had already told me of the Virginia college tours she'd taken which interested me as my undergraduate work was done there at a Virginia college.
The four girls went sashaying outta here, the layered tank top-T-shirts combo, perfect makeup, painted toenails, etc like they didn't, any one of them, have a care in the world. I envy them all this afternoon.
An Update - Kevin and I got to go see a late movie last night, coming in at midnight all the older kids were, of course, still up...making sure I came home...where on earth would I go? I live here and I spend hours reassuring everyone of that fact.
Ms.Carr had given me a good example of traumatization. She'd been fussed at, there at school, about not shutting a computer down properly. The admonition had stuck with her, and she never made that particular mistake again. She used that example to explain to me how she got it about my kids. That one incident had affected her, of course on a much less intense but unforgetable level....imagine the depths of trauma on children. Repeated moves, attachment breaks, neglect and abuse being heaped upon their still-forming psyches, scarring them, and breaking them down time after time. Emotionally bruised and battered, physical scars on most of them, zero trust and quite a healthy dose of unmitigated anger explains why I spend 90% of my time reassuring, hugging, and cuddling plus 10% restraining and protecting them from their ownselves.
Another dear teacher is coming by today to swim with the kids. Jose's special ed teacher, that Jose thinks hung the moon, is also a wrestling coach, and knows Jose is antsy about beginning middle school, knows Jose can't tolerate goodbyes and needs reassurance. Deputies, teachers, mental health professionals, and social workers have all contributed a great deal to the deeply desired layers of security and stability that my children crave as physically I need water to survive.
Normally, every year (sometimes several times a year) for the last decade, Kevin and I go to Braves games, but I'm too uneasy about being two hours away. They are playing the Mets, that I love to hate, tonight and I'd dearly love to go, but I have to get through this next week before any of us can begin to breathe again.
I'm only letting 3 out of 10 elementary kids go to a church activity tonight as I can probably trust CW, Allen and Chuy to maintain themselves in public.
Lauren's first words yesterday to me were, "Man, you've lost weight, Cindy." I swear I'm eating again, just digesting it very fast, I chowed down again late last night after a large supper.
I wish I could allow Miriam and Vanessa to go with Grandma, Lauren, and Natalie to Myrtle Beach next week, but Fabian would have a cow if they left, and he's on pins and needles as it is.
Sonny and Joey are loose cannons. The psychiatric hospital is moving Alex to a step-down facility and insist that I meet them in Atlanta at 10 a.m. on Monday of Hell Week. By then, I'll need a bed there, I tried to explain that next week after that might be a better option for my 24 other emotionally needy kids but they didn't care what worked for us.
Sergi was overjoyed to be with Kevin and Lauren last night after four years of not seeing them. Kevin remembers Sergi since he was an 8 year old boy at the beach, not a 24 year old Navy veteran who has been to war.
Kevin, my brother-in-law, has a reputation here for being the man with a plan, fireworks every trip, and last night he put on a huge show. His sister, Adele, had already mentioned to him that I'd had a fairly rough year, fireworks everyday essentially.
Vanessa and Fabian had been reading my blog and hit the link for that short adoption video yesterday. It upset Vanessa tremendously to where her witchy behavior returned but, for Fabian, it oddly enough provoked an opposite effect, that of making him pensive.
It took Vanessa about two hours to get back on track and, in the meantime, I'd had to call Joey's Probation Officer as Joey was physically, and verbally, being threatening. She said, if we had witnesses (yeah about thirty or so) that he could be charged with either simple assault or terroristic threats. I did neither, I'm giving him every last chance to succeed, but he's close to being past manageable.
By 6:30 a.m. this morning I'd gotten a phone call from Sonny's boss, Sonny'd been fired from the best job he ever had. Same story, different chapter...Sonny is a hard worker yet Sonny is extremely immature and doesn't take the rules seriously. Oh well, natural consequences son. Not knowing I'd been called already, Sonny came home with a song and a dance routine about being injured and being sent home.
"You've got one chance to tell me the truth," I suggested, and that dingdong went the other way into a bald-faced lie.
Long story short, he's mad at me now for holding him accountable for the truth. Too bad, too sad, I'm not backing down, go find another job right now.
At age 20, he's been fired four or five times now, inexcusable for such a hard worker, he's not lazy at all, he just doesn't have good sense, or all that much of a high IQ.
The majority of my kids have IQs in the 90s, this I know from psych evals and many, many tests. Therefore my expectations are not that everyone goes to Yale, but rather, that everyone eventually become self-supporting. With all the emotional immaturity and developmental delays, this becomes a battle of epic proportions, some of my problems with the kids do not even begin to fester until after high school graduation.
While we have company this weekend I am vainly attempting to keep our explosions to a minimum, snuffing out small fires and redirecting spitstorms, but Hell Week is coming up, the kids are restless, dreading school and the Big C word...CHANGE.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Nearly the best thing I can say about our life, right now, is the fact that we don't have cockroaches, despite the spilled food and other messes made by 25 kids in a house. Maybe cockroaches are a city thing? We have a large field mouse/rat thing that's made me crazy for years, or maybe it wasn't even the rodents that did it to me. At any rate, finally with the help of many, many traps...us humans are winning that particular war. I use the term 'humans' loosely, of course.
Tabby claimed she didn't touch Lily's green paint, wasn't even near it.
No one is denying the fact that I have some fairly weird children, Paloma illustrating the point by bounding across a room once in front of my astonished father, and catching a mouse by it's tail, that didn't succeed in dodging just three kids in one room. Even an old pooter like me can do that...dodge three kids, not catch a mouse by its tail.
Today my 17 year old, high-achieving, normal niece, Lauren, and her friend, Natalie are coming for a visit, and I'm bitterly on edge after the over the top year we seem to have had. Three kids here on probation with the court system, one more waiting on his plea agreement. The rest of the kids seem to have varying degrees of visible emotional disabilities that prevent them from nearly normal behavior, and I will feel like a circus performer for the next few days attempting to prevent public explosions. Factor in the week before school starts trepidation, the older teens who are barely hanging on to their childhood losses-letting go-don't wanna do this issues, and the ingredients are in full swing for a stormy, give mama grief, no holds barred week.
Not only does no one wear shoes, except for church, but Jose has not put on pants all summer, swimming in his tighty whiteys, protesting he's only 11 years old, this is his house, leave him alone about his Captain Underpants lifestyle. I don't even notice it anymore, but Sarah was protesting yesterday that he needed to start hunting up his shorts at least.
To Lauren and Natalie we may look like a fun bunch, to me the dread level is high; the consternation, concern and chaos is inevitable, and not at all pretty. Fabian and Joey are neck in neck, vying for the citizens of Hell contest apparently. Neither of them caring if I call the police, too immersed in their meantime problems to fully comprehend a future behind bars.
Yesterday Fabian would not mind one simple directive. He didn't want to do so. I don't care, life isn't about what you want. If he doesn't learn the concept of my authority over a 14 year old wannabe punk, then how can he possibly maintain in school? Or anywhere else in the free world?
I made him verbalize, repeat, and understand what the issue was, in reality, and I made him return to the scene of his crime, and repeat the proper behavior, but with compliance. Finally he did so, but Sarah had to watch the other kids in the pool while I spent 30 minutes with this attitude readjustment.
Joey had already demonstrated stupid actions, a reverse of any kind of model behavior for a younger child. Joey will be 18 in a month or so, and may have to look for other living arrangements if he continues to be disruptive here. Emotionally he may be three years old, but I can't have him disrupting the family constantly, and taking away from the kids who need me. Hopefully he will again regain control of his asinine attitude, possibly this is all in response to the major frightening step of getting a job. Miriam reported to me that Joey'd done well in his, "do you want fries with that?" position, but I've seen Joey turn on a dime and fly off the handle over a glance. Living with so many loose cannons is taking its toll on me, and to think about having company during some of our legendary explosions stresses me out.
I wear my seat belt in the van, I don't smoke, drink alcohol, or eat dead animals. I don't do drugs, not even prescription drugs, nothing, I'm as clean living as anyone can be, yet the stress is what's gonna get me. Carolina made tamales yesterday for me, I'd pigged out all day on them along with, of course, my daily large buckets of blueberries, sliced tomatoes and peppers yet, my weight went under the 120 marker. That's the difference between a hog and a pig, now I'm merely a pig.
And piglet that I may be, I am so thankful that Vanessa, formerly known as Viper Girl, is firmly in my camp, glued to my side, concerned and happy about life as is Miriam right now. At least there is no PMS in the girls this week...however my boys can outdo my girls in any raging hormonal, prissy, pissy, mood-swinging hissy fit, but add in their testosterone, and utter inability to verbalize feelings, and the boiling cauldron of spewing out emotions, swinging fists, and punched out walls simply sucks.
While school starting will give me a bit of a relief, adding the stress of school to kids like mine can also spark way too many disagreements and melt-downs.
Lauren and I are the physical links to my late sister, Ellen, and we both need this time together. I've given up beach vacations with my family, and any other semblance of a normal life, but I need, and I want, to spend time with Lauren and her dad, Kevin. My kids escalate at times like these though in response to my needs, so I have to downplay the significance of anything at anytime, like my birthday...that's just the way it is.
I hear adoptive moms everywhere hollering, "Amen Sister!" to that, and collectively allowing me to use an exclamation mark.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Because all children are so vastly different, the one single thing I can even possibly claim to have finally learned would be the use of the phrase, "in my experience..." rather than "here's what this means," or "I know..." I don't know squat.
But in my experience...
A mom wrote to me and asked about grown kid's estrangement, those who leave home angry, not speaking, and making no further contact...has that happened to me and what have I done?
With nearly every child who leaves, they leave angry. Angry at me that they had a short childhood, that they had to grow up and move on. And I do not have a 'grow up' rule. No one has to leave at age 18, Deysi was 23 before she took her first steps into independence, Sergi is here again now at age 24 after the Navy. Jesse and Sergi didn't leave angry to go to the Navy, but they'd left earlier several times, and it wasn't always pretty. Joe and Jesse had both stormed out one night, pissed beyond measure, and showed up in my parking place at school the next morning, unshaven, red-eyed and asking to come home. "OK, but get a dadgum job," I'd then replied, eventually calling the Navy recruiter to come get Jesse before my head shot off in exasperation.
That dumb ole nursery rhyme, "leave them alone, and they'll come home, wagging their tails behind them," doesn't exactly hold a candle to Proverbs admonition to 'raise them up in the way they should go and they will not depart from it.'
My kids have moved out to live with girlfriends, boyfriends, to run the streets, to serve in the military, go to college, to simply have an apartment or whatever but that move is significantly perilous for them emotionally. And, of course, the move out must be paved in recycled rubber as most have bounced in and out of our home for years.
I rarely call them up then, as often they are so full of their own fury that they are unreachable. Some come, visit and call me, some maintain silence and animosity but, so far, they've all returned "home" emotionally at some point, months, even years later; often full of regret for some bone-headed choices that they'd made while gone, and always full of apologies for their mistreatment of me, glad to know that I'm still the mama.
They intuitively know that I'll always be there, I'll welcome them home, forgive them their ugliness toward me, forget about it even, and move on. Watching me do this with the other kids doesn't even necessarily help them, so deep are they in their own personal misery bubble.
Me, the mama, the family and security is what they've always craved so deeply and what they truly never want to lose connection with. But it's also what they reject, what they push away with all their might initially.
Daniel left for college just as a birth child would have done, no anger, just excitement for the future, a very normal departure. Sonny is just across the driveway from me in the doublewide trailer...each child is, and was, unique in their departure. I talk to Yolie 4 or 5 times a day on the phone, see her nearly every day, I touch base with most kids most days.
Cooking supper last night, I heard a kid holler, "Daniel's here!" which always makes us happy.
Daniel walked in the kitchen remarking that he could never surprise me...not with all my hyper attentive guard dog kids. Everyone is always glad to see him. We all have to stop ourselves from begging him to fix this and that, to just enjoy the visit. He'd hung around awhile, and then I went outside to work.
Sitting outside, pigging out on buckets of blueberries, after dark with Miriam, Vanessa and Fabian, we were talking about the Dave Pelzer books. Miriam, who rarely talks about her past, mentioned it was hard to imagine that other people went through what they'd been through.
I'd had yet another battle with Fabian that afternoon, and I suggested now that he try life MY way as HIS way had only caused him to fail at school and in his interpersonal relationships, HIS way had put him on probation, increased his anger level and caused others to not want to be with him.
Miriam, his older birth sister, backed me up, "Mama's right Fabian, it's time to get a grip."
Tuesday marks our sixth anniversary of that particular sibling group of seven. The caseworker, back then, told me they were all great kids with few issues but they've turned out to be extremely high maintainance, catastrophically emotionally needy, academically challenged, and prone to police involvement. It's been a rocky six years to say the least.
I'd told Fabian, in a very heated argument, that no matter how discouraged, depressed, upset and aggravated that I'd gotten, he knew I'd never quit. I won't quit because I deeply and truly believe with all my heart, that each child was given to me from God. That God did not give me a single child who could not become a success somehow, someway. That fact was non-negotiable, that promise is in my gut, quit fighting it Fabian, you won't win this battle.
Although I'd started this blog entry several hours ago, I've had to stop and drive Joey and Miriam to McDonalds, stop and talk with Big Joe and Sergi, tend to breakfast and deal with four other projects, field two phone calls from grown kids asking if all is well since I haven't blogged yet, go over today's plans with Grandma and put three kids in time-out for their wayward choices this morning...if all goes well for the next 60 seconds or so I can hit the publish now button before 9 a.m. and then hit the ground running.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Worth the oxygen? I think so. I'm referring to having chronologically older children out in the work force. Earlier this summer I felt a great deal of dismay at the number of kids, age 17 and up, that were not gainfully employed. Emotionally immature, with time on their hands to suck me dry constantly, is not my idea of entertainment.
Now, everyone over the age of 16 has a job with a good many hours. Nagging works apparently. Id feared answering the phone yesterday, as I was afraid the entire McDonalds corporation would be unable to stomach Joeys aggravating tendencies, but he successfully made it through an entire training shift without being fired.
It falls on me to drive them each way, each day but that's a small price to pay even with the cost of gasoline being what it is now. You just can't put a price on oxygen.
Vanessa will start there when she turns 16 in three weeks, shes excited, Im relieved, and the self-esteem around here is rising. Even 15 year old Gito has worked for various people when called, and he has put a couple of hundred dollars into his savings account. Buying a car around here falls on the driver not the mama so saving up is a highly advisable concept.
Tina called to tell me that wed shared a deputy, and a common situation yesterday; a teenage runaway. We also share Dr. G, a dentist, and the same Mcdonalds restaurant for teenage employment. Pity that manager if you will.
Miriam was telling me, that after just a week of working at McDs, that she knew some customers requests by heart. How can that be, Id asked, and was shocked by the reply.
They come in three times a day every day, Mom.
That makes my gut recoil, eeuuww gross, there is so much good food in the world, why would you limit yourself to that? Thats akin to a self-imposed prison sentence.
Miriam sat on the sofa all evening recounting her work experiences from the previous week, the kids were enthralled since we actually go so few places. Vanessa had shared a story that shed dreamed the world had ended, but our family was unaware of that as we never go anywhere.
Logical yo-yo that I am, Id pointed it that it must not have been a nuclear holocaust or wed all have been goners as well.
I am unapologetic about our hanging around the house so much, as I know from experience that it's building a strong family, with deep roots, and much inner emotional security. It takes years and years, but thats what I have to give to the children. Time, love, and constant 24-7, unrelenting reassurance is what they crave.
Fabian had slunk around all day yesterday, unsure as to how Id react after Sundays explosion. Overly anxious for reassurance, yet knowing I was angry and needed to cool off, he also watched Vanessa and Miriam guardedly. Pent up emotions overflowed in the evening as he wrestled Sonny and Joey down into a sweat soaked mass of smelly boys.
Our back-to-school meltdowns are in full swing, almost to the point that the recalcitrant kids are putting their ownselves in time-out. Even Tabby had sassed off to Sarah with her tiny hands on her hips, “that’s not my job,” when she was asked to simply reason with Ray Ray.
Monday, July 24, 2006
No time to fuss and moan, nor can I just clock out of here. May as well get a grip, get back on that dumb horse that kicked me off and handle everything.
Sarah brought me three Perrier waters which restored my brain cells, I chugged them all down, belched wonderfully, ate a huge bucket of blueberries and I'm good to go now.
The manager at McDonald's needs Joey this afternoon...Praise God...I'd type Halluejuah if I knew how to spell it correctly, but I've already been laughed at today for saying sliding board instead of just slide. When did that terminology change?
Looking at these pictures of my grandbaby, Isaac, put a big ole smile on my face although I told Sarah sometimes I'm afraid that a grin is just a challenge for someone to figuratively attempt to 'slap that silly smile off my face.'
Need to go put on my positive pantaloons once again.
Yolie's taking Vanessa to Wal-mart with her to get milk, bread, cheese, beans...the usual, so I can continue to referee around here.
My Southern, Born Again, Church of God, fundamentalist, choose-your-label background might seem way too over bearing to other people, but I make no apologies. I am who I am, and this is my source of strength. My kids find it comforting that I am not blown by every wind that comes through, and that I clearly stand for something.
Forgiveness may be the most obvious indicator of my Christianity. Yes, of course, I'll forgive, and continue to love Fabian, even after his ugliness of yesterday. He's watched me do so for the last six years of his life.
I'm not going to be walked on, I make the rules, not an out-of-control 14 year old who is unable to make good choices right now.
The adrenaline that courses through my body during escapades like yesterday, totally drains me. I hate it, I'm not wired like that. After supper I retreated to the back garden for solace and a proper place to vent my anger.
When a child's developmental years were spent in a chaotic situation, that familiar rush of adrenaline can become almost like a needed drug, necessary in order to feel alive. Fabian has responded in psych evals and in counseling that he 'likes' being bad. I would disagree with the word "like" and replace it with that is what he's "comfortable" with doing. Self-hatred that evolves from abandonment makes one lose hope in the future, makes one visibly suffer from low self-esteem, and I need to help him replace those negative feelings with hope and anticipation for an exciting, positive future.
I cannot begin to say how difficult this is, what an uphill battle.
I was up by 4:15 this morning fretting over it, I came downstairs to blog it out, but spent awhile reading on-line newspapers instead.
Cooking 10 pounds of pasta last night, yet another thunderstorm blew through, and our power shut off once again. "Oh, that's just about the last straw," I bellowed at the stove, as the electricity miraculously came back on within a minute. Wish I could say I prayed for it but obviously I'd just hollered at the burners on the stove.
I served everyone, stared at my plate, and fought tears, so overwhelming sometimes are the emotions in this house, the oddball alliances formed during outbursts, and the resulting stormy aftermath of unresolved fears and feelings. My stomach slammed shut, so I got up to wash out the big pot, colander and clean the counters in order to emotionally get a grip.
I do not want the little kids to see me down, I drank a long, tall Ball jar of water and felt somewhat better, washed the tears back down my throat. Miriam and Vanessa are both seriously concerned about Fabian's inability to cope with life, I needed to reassure them that I'm still on the job.
Finally it was nighttime so I could go to my room and let my feeble mind wander. I watched a National Geographic special on prisons, and contemplated Fabian's options. The odd thing is that he'd love to go into law enforcement, yet the laws of our land confound him.
But if everyone would just practice the Golden Rule, how much better, easier, calmer and happier would we all live?
Sunday, July 23, 2006
I was in the middle of one of the articles, eating a large plate of mega nachos that Joey had charmingly fixed for me after church, when all hell broke loose. CW came into the living room from the family room, crying that Fabian had shoved him into the computer. CW does not cry easily, so I addressed Fabian's behavior, and much to everyone's surprise Fabian came after me with a swinging fist. I'm fast and he missed but he threatened CW, me, and everyone else in the room. I tried to calm him down but he called 911 and ran away.
Joey was so surprised, and frightened, that instead of helping me, this brittle old woman who was outweighed by 30 pounds and nearly 40 years, he wasted valuable time running upstairs to get help.
The dispatcher called us, I explained what had happened, and they sent two squad cars out here. The deputies went looking for him, I calmed down the rest of the kids.
To make a long story short, when the deputy lady got here I blurted, "Oh great, this child has mama issues, he's sure not going to respond to either one of us women."
She busted out laughing, and the male deputy pulled up behind her, he found Fabian within 30 minutes, brought him home and Fabian acted so stupid in front of the deputy that he got the officer firmly suggesting that Fabian "man up." The deputy was not about to drive off when this punk was still threatening us all.
An hour later...do we have wonderful county deputies or what, he had Fabian calmed down and apologizing. Sonny and Miriam walked in from the barber shop to show me Sonny's hair while we're in the middle of this obvious pow-wow.
"Do y'all not see the man in brown here wearing a badge?" I'd asked incredulously.
Sonny holds out his hand, "Hi, I'm Sonny," like this is getting awfully routine to see law enforcement sitting on the sofas. It's getting old is what it is.
Saturday, July 22, 2006
My Honduran daughters, Saray (28), Marcela (25), and Deysi (30).
In a stroke of brilliance today I had an un-birthday.
I didn't tell anyone here that I was turning 52, kind of difficult to hide it from my older kids, but I swore them all to secrecy, and we pulled it off beautifully. Daniel had argued with me, "how will the kids ever learn that anyone gets a year older?" Who cares? Let's just make it through a day that does not provoke any resemblance to Holiday Hell.
Jesse called me from his ship this morning, I kept my cell in my pocket and stepped outside to answer it each time. I'd already told my older kids my no gifts policy. No one neither wants, nor needs, anything less than I do. I believe in voluntary simplicity which is a nice way of saying who needs all that crap?
I'd headed out to work in the garden when Marcela and Deysi started hollering for me as they had a no-gifts surprise for me...my daughter, Saray, who lives south of Atlanta, and her three darling children pulled up for a surprise visit. We pooted around outside all afternoon, just cutting up, Gina came by, as did Sarah with delicious some Key Lime Pie Bars. These are my kinds of no gifts.
I had a great day, no one raged to punish me for ever being born, which they would have done had they known what day this was. No one collapsed from the overwhelming effort of trying to keep their emotions under control. Other years I've just asked to be allowed to spend the entire day in the garden which has never worked out for me, this day did, and very beautifully so.
The kids just don't need the anxiety of worrying about me, feeling pressured to make it a good day. This was a great day. They remain clueless.
I'd saved the above paragraphs as a draft fortunately, and had walked away right when a tremendous storm came which slammed off all our power for the evening. The kids and I sat on the front porch, and had just about the most relaxing evening ever, found our way to our beds in the dark as the power never came back on until nearly midnight.
When I was 18 years old and pregnant with Sarah, I went to a Rolling Stones Concert in which Stevie Wonder was the opening act. I would never say this out loud around here, as the rest of my children can not even begin to imagine me doing something so cool at any point in my life. If they only knew...and I'll never tell...ever.
The other morning my grandson, Ray, the spitting image of Sarah, pranced in wearing his Rolling Stones T shirt. Sarah'd said that Ray had a choice between a Beatles T shirt and the Rolling Stones. OK, the Beatles broke up before Sarah was even born...her much older husband, a musician himself, is nearly old enough to remember.
I'd received an email from a Maryland lady, who'd adopted from Bulgaria, and was curious about my adoption beginnings.
It's simple, I loved being Sarah's mom, I wanted to be a mother to more, never dreaming on having this many children. I was so young then, I earned several college degrees, bought a house, did a lot of research, and proceeded forward in my early 30's.
My first adoption was a sibling group of 3 school age sisters from Honduras that my parents financed, as international adoptions are expensive. The rest of my adoptions were from the foster care system, usually Texas. Short story.
The first email I received this morning was from Dr. G because his beloved Phillies beat the Braves. Like that's an accomplishment this year? Nice try.
A real accomplishment was today when I caught both Fabian and Joey reading books. I have all three of Dave Pelzer's books and they'd each grabbed one and were reading.
I woke up feeling refreshed as I'd slept well having spent all evening mowing the first meadow. I hadn't even been on the mower for 5 minutes before Joey came running up to me, "Mom you better stop me before I get into a fight with Sonny!"
I cut off the engine and suggested that he control himself or he'd have more to worry about than Sonny. The fire in my eyes was pretty convincing ,because he started raking up the grass clippings for my garden, and let me have a couple hours of peaceful mowing. Who doesn't pray better on a tractor? I'd gotten through praying for about half my kids by the time he'd built me up a large pile of shredded nitrogen.
Sarah claims I've eaten close to 50 half-gallons of that Publix Premium Black Jack Cherry Low-Fat Frozen Yogurt in the last couple of months, and she'd read aloud the ingredients for home made ice cream knowing that the total lack of chemicals and additives would appeal to me...to say nothing of all those emergency trips to Publix. At a yard sale this morning I, of course, came across a still in the box Krups never been used, ice cream maker for $10. According to Sarah, this brand runs about $80.
I've already delivered it to a delighted, not at all, surprised Sarah. This stuff happens to us all the time, I also had found another dozen cookbooks for her and plant pots for me and I hardly spent $20 for everything.
I went to see Big Joe's new apartment early this morning surprising Alyssa who never wakes up to find her Abuelita at her house. I am almost never not at my house. I'd had to get Miriam to work, and hit some yard sales, drive Sergi to get his Driver's License as his had expired in Japan, and gotten Joey a picture ID with our last name on it finally. McDonald's here he comes.
At our local hardware store as I loaded up on barn rat traps, it seemed as if every man there offered up his opinion on how to get rid of these rodents. One man's proclamation, "What you need is to get you a big ole king snake and let it loose in the house."
Actually we'd already accidently tried that and, to the best of my knowledge, it only ate one large field mouse, and disappeared. I have 6 outside cats and 6 set traps, this is getting on my last frazzled nerve.
Friday, July 21, 2006
Yolie called me, after having watched a rented movie about a mom who'd, accidently on purpose, fatally gotten rid of her kid. The mom was whining about her own needs not being met when she was so busy parenting that aforementioned child, and Yolie claimed the actress had perfectly captured the 'essence of a birthmother,' but Yolie was sneeringly referring to those birthmothers who abuse and neglect their children. Yolie was livid.
I pointed out that I was a birthmother, indeed, "Yolie, you are now a birthmother."
"That's nearly like a cuss word," she'd responded.
"There's your blog, Yolie..." I'd suggested, and we moved on to other discussions what with having such a large family we don't spend too much time dwelling on any particular outrage. Yet while she was already on a roll I mentioned a disturbing article I'd read that day in the Drudge Report detailing a study that showed working moms spending an average of only 19 minutes a day interacting with their kids.
Seventeen year old Miriam, who is capable of varsity soccer and volleyball, athletic and fit, was exhausted yesterday from her four hour shift at McDonald. I remembered all my 25 years in the school system, coming home and facing kid's homework, sports schedules, mommy time needs, dinner, laundry, church activities, and supper time. It is tough to be a working mom.
This is a poor segue into my next thought, but my typing time is limited and hindered by the needs of my family, so pardon me as I randomly pour out my disjointed thoughts.
It is tougher to be a child in an orphanage in China, duh. I'd received this email and am reprinting parts with permission. "Yes, I was in China in March. Brought her home on the 24th. She is wonderful and a true delight. She's really pretty close to a non special needs child, although they kind of forgot to mention the fact that she has Thalassemia and a whale of a case of plagiocephaly. They also forgot to tell my sister that her little girl has two heart murmurs, or tell the couple from California about 6 little conditions that their baby had. I was a bit concerned too as in China everytime we removed her clothes, she got totally hysterical. Even removing a coat was two person job - no kidding.
Cindy, this orphanage was unbelievable. "L" had turned two 10 days before we got her. She wasn't walking, talking or eating solid foods at all. By the time we left China she was walking pretty well and is running now. And she absolutely ate everything in sight.
The orphanage was terrible. There was no heat. Their idea of bathing the babies was to strip them down, hold them over a basin and water hose them. No wonder she got hysterical when her clothes came off. There were of course two babies per crib and only one "caretaker" and I use that term VERY loosely per room. "L" was tied. She was tied tightly too. They told us that they tie the kickers so that they don't kick the cribs and disturb the other babies. They didn't seem to think it was any big deal. "L's" orthopedist disagrees. She has already had surgery on her right foot and may have to have surgery on her hip as well.
The room she was in was dark, dingy, dirty, peeling paint, crumbling floor tiles, no toys at all, no exposure to the outside at all. It was so bad that my husband couldn't stay in the room, he had to leave. There is as you said, a staggering need for homes for children here in the US. But I have to say that at least MOST of the time, they don't have to live tied up in squalid conditions. We forget how blessed we are here. The up side of this though is that we hadn't even made it back on US soil when my husband said, "You know you just can't see something like that and not respond. Do you think we can go back one more time?" I of course said yes. So we will look at waiting child lists and consider our options."
I have thought about this all week, worried that there is nothing I can personally do other than use this blog to make others aware of the need in China...and everywhere else. I sure don't intend to guilt anyone into anything, I'm just stating the facts.
Another lady emailed me about a pending Liberian adoption which elevated my mood tremendously, and then, from Canada, a lady mentioned to me, "he had been through 5 homes, a very angry little toddler, and, rightfully so. This past December I received placement of an infant, (we have been fostering infants and moving them on to adoption), she was soon discovered to have major brain damage, we are now probably adopting her as well.
Having had all the previous placements as foster placements, I am so thrilled to read about your experiences of adopting the kidlets you have, I always have said that foster care is no place to raise a kid, they need adoptive families, no matter what their issues are, every kid needs their own family, I have had a couple of kids for more than 11 years, and, they hit 16 or 17 and they crash, they blew out of our home, if we were their OWN family, they would have come back at some point, but, they are gone."
I could hardly sleep last night for thinking about that one line, and those couple of kids. This was from a very experienced foster mom, astute and loving...yet those kids didn't "get it." They're gone for good, and we all know the statistics for their future hope.
As my friend's husband said, "how can we not do something?" My friend, Jan, once told me, "That's how you know you should adopt...when you can't not do it."
I couldn't not adopt my 38 adopted kids. I was driven and determined to do so, led by God, emboldened by God, and assured in my heart to go forward on each adoption. Now that "adoption" feeling is gone, it is replaced by a firm desire to work hard on my mothering abilities for all my 39 kids, for my grandmothering on the grandbabies, and to somehow encourage others to foster, to adopt and to keep on keeping on.
Foster care and adoption are not for everyone, but everyone can do something somehow for someone someway...through their churches, charities, jobs and hobbies. That's for everyone to search their hearts and think about what they should do to help someone. If I remember correctly, that was the main point of a human being's search for significance in this over populated world. Who doesn't need a purpose? A reason to get up each day?
Who doesn't want to make a difference? Teachers, police, social workers and others make a difference daily. Parents may not feel like they're even making a dent but they are, most definitely, doing so each day.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Twelve years ago I was on the phone to a Texas caseworker and we were discussing a sib group that included my now 24 year old son, Jesse. It took until January of that year to actually get the paperwork done, and to have them move in to our home.
Today Jesse is celebrating his birthday with his darling wife, Lena, in their home in Virginia where they are stationed in the Navy. I hate having them 10 hours away, but it beats Iraq and some of the other places where Jesse has been in the last four years.
Joe and Sergi are not Jesse's birth brothers, but they are the brothers he grew up very close to in our family. At the time I thought they'd put me in an early grave, but looking back now, and realizing some of the other calamities I'd have to go through, I understand that JesseJoeandSergi, one word, merely were preparing me, strengthening me, for what was to come. Gee, thanks guys.
I see Sergi and Joe everyday and still, years later, they look funny without Jesse. I miss the sound of Jesse arguing with them.
Gito, Jesse's baby brother, still dearly misses Jesse. Gito is studying the booklet to get his learner's driving permit, he came here as a four year old and I'm, as usual, blown away by how fast the years have zipped past us.
People have actually asked me, "do you still ever see your grown kids?" What? They grew up and dissipated like vapors? Do birth kids do that? I am passionately attached to my children, thankfully so, parenting does not end at a certain age. It changes and evolves, the attachment grows stronger, longer and more elastic, I suppose, but I am not a way station for children to land in and then dessert, I am the Mama.
Joe, now 23, is the baby but the ringleader of the group. A decade ago when he was 13 and full of his angry self, sucking in Jesse and Sergi, provoking them into fistfights and troublemaking ventures, I was bewildered and concerned that I'd be unable to swing at all these curve balls without striking out or getting hit in the head. I did strike out often, but there's a lot of innings in each games, and I hung in there wishing I had Joe Torre or Bobby Cox, pictured below, for my manager.
I call Sergi (pictured with Miriam), my first born son, I had enough stretch marks from my first, and only, pregnancy to last for the next 38 births which happened via telephone calls, but let's not quibble over the dumb details.
I am blessed by God to be their mom, thankful that He chose to put each child in my family.
I'll battle through each day trying to remember that sappy thought.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
In the pool, with water to cushion oneself, Fabian and Joey both turned suddenly, and simultaneously, towards each other. Fabian cracked his front tooth on Joey's front tooth. Joey's tooth was stronger.
Our dentist office is closed until tomorrow.
But, Sarah has updated a couple of times recently.
I could just post pictures of happy, smiling children and thereby portray adoption in that artificial light, maybe recruit or encourage others to adopt from the foster care system as well. But honey, I'd be lying through my teeth.
That said, the kids pictured here rarely give me much trouble. One was adopted at birth, as I'd already adopted his mama as a teenager. Tabby and Nando were playing dress up for Paloma and Sabrina's theatrical presentation. Ray's first big show and he performed a somersault to tremendous applause.
Vanessa had taken all these pictures yesterday while I spent most of the day wondering how to get correct ID for Joey as his adoption is finalized, but I've not received the certified court papers yet. I'd emailed the attorney in Texas to hear that the papers were mailed to us on the 14th, and may arrive today, but if I get Joey the ID this morning, he can start training at McDonalds at 1 pm today.
Which only provokes him to act out, to prove to me that he isn't yet ready to grow up, like I didn't already get that part. Screamed at me last night that he was leaving, and no one in our house was big enough to stop him. OK son, I'd just stopped you from going upstairs after Gito, bet I could stop you from leaving if I wanted to do so. He slammed out the door, that he'd already broken in another previous rage, and a literal light bulb went off over his underworked brain, and he returned home within 20 seconds, grinned his goofiest grin and said, "OK I have a grip now."
"Well how are you ever gonna maintain your grip in a high falutin establishment like McDonalds?" I'd asked him.
"That's different, Mom, that's not home."
"Joey, that's my point," oh heck, I'll just bay at the moon.
Fabian, standing next to me, in case I needed his muscular help, pointed out that I should take notice that he was not involved in tonight's stupidity.
I'd spent the afternoon, as well, working on Fabian's schooling for next year. Due to his size, his age and the fact that I'd already held him back a grade, he was being administratively placed into 8th grade for next year. This is where, and how, I can facilitate Teresa's skills in a positive manner. She is smart, she likes to tutor and she's more patient that I am. She and Fabian were once in the same grade but she's excelled, if one overlooks all the theft charges, while he's regressed.
Both are now on probation with the juvenile justice system, both are grounded for life pretty much, might as well use all their free time to improve themselves is my philosophy.
Ms. Carr brought home Mayra, Jojo, Jonathan Scotty last night from the Georgia Aquarium while we were at the pool, roughhousing in their very usual way, yet after she left, Gito stole an empty wallet from Sonny who'd apparently stolen it from Joey, who'd traded something for it from someone who'd probably originally stolen it, and I confronted everyone about the obvious ignorance of this big finger pointing battle over an empty thrice stolen wallet that no one even had anything to put in it anyway. Sonny and Joey, furious with Gito, were equally as guilty, and could not comprehend why I perceived this entire episode to be beyond my willingness to reason with anyone.
Sonny is 20 and doesn't even live here, he lives across the yard in a doublewide, Gito was calling him trailer trash (birth brothers they certainly are) and Joey was dancing around provoking everyone. It took me until after 10 p.m. to get them all separated into their respective corners. Gito had tried to suck Martin in, which perturbed me, Martin ended up crying and confessing early on, which eliminated him as a potential suspect. Like I didn't already know who'd done it?
I came down from the boy's upstairs muttering that I'd be free of this malarky in ten years or so, all the Bubbas would be grown, and Vanessa helpfully pointed out that Tabby would be my hormonal resident teenager then and, worse yet, I'd be in my 60s.
Today it is predicted to be 100 degrees. I love summertime with all my heart.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
My friend in NC, Cindy A, just gave me the artillery that will make my children crazy. The last word in the dictionary is zymurgy. I will shout it from the rooftops everyday, just to have the last word, I'll claim it as my own and not allow the kids to use it, they'll have to discover the second to the last word.
Vanessa both grew and photographed these sunflowers, posing Sabrina like Vanna White. This is a 1 pound bowl of blueberries that Mayra decorated for me with morning glories. I probably ate those as well. Here CW and Allen are picking the blueberries.
Right now Sabrina is doing a theater production with Ray, Tabby, Nando, Alyssa and Paloma...on the trampoline, they keep coming inside to present shows to us.
I'd like to ask for prayer again. A friend of mine, a mom with a lot of children with heavy duty issues, is undergoing chemo treatments and needs her strength more than ever before. Please pray for her endurance and her strength, and the health of one of her daughters as well.
Big Joe comes by each morning to get Sergi as they are working together now. Drinking coffee yesterday, and cutting up with them both, was the highlight of my day. Sarah and Ray come by also which is the highlight of Tabby's day certainly, Ray's uncomplicated moods help me realize, and remember, a more normal world that I imagine others live in, though not me. I talk on the phone several times each day to Yolie which is calming, but the rest of the time often seems to be spent in emotional battles, if I'm not in one, then one's headed my way. An hourly skirmish is guaranteed.
I often feel guilty complaining about it as I'm healthy as a horse, the kids are healthy and headed for success...what more do I want? Why can't I be more satisfied with our gains instead of fretting over lost ground?
I get comments and emails about my continued positive attitude and, overall that's true, but I have moments of fury, discouragement and near hatred. Moments of why do I even try? Minutes where I have to fight off the feelings of pure dislike, times when I want to leave my own house forever, but then I remember my gardens and my grandkids, and the kids I'm not mad at, but there's no way on earth to maintain a positive outlook here 100% of the time. Get real. It takes a minute by minute monumental effort, but I'd rather chose to be happy than to sulk and bore myself.
Because I'd spent all afternoon helping three kids attempt to become gainfully employed, I should have realized I'd have to pay for it. Joey went nutso on me three times during our two hour pool time, Fabian flipped on his oppositional switch, and the rest of them morphed into brats as a whole, all at one time, while I fixed supper and thought about the anchor lady on the news suggesting ways to keep cool such as wear cotton and don't cook. Yeah, now there's a plan...
A lady in West Virginia, Kerri, with six teenagers in her home, had emailed me about how I handle different issues. I sat here trying to think of appropriate, knowledgeable sounding responses but I came up blank. I'm from the 'think on my feet fast' school of positive discipline. I handle each infraction immediately (unless I'm way too angry, then I go cool off first...weed the snot out of the gardens or jump on the trampoline, and I try and be fair and consistent, usually I am unbudgeable and predictable. She'd asked about when I have to leave the house, usually the other kids are all in school, this summer I've rarely left the house, but more than not, I leave a team in charge. Sarah and Yolie plus Miriam and Vanessa while leaving Lily in charge of Jack, Sabrina in charge of Tabitha, etc, buddy up y'all.
"how does your day run? chores divided up? who does what? do all the kids get up at the same time and eat together or do they just kinda get up whenever-- if so, so you have like an open kitchen--where they just make their own thing?" I wish I could say that we have a chore chart, we've tried to do so, but that hasn't worked for us, enforcing the chart seems more difficult than getting the work done, we do have assigned regular chores and I ask different kids during the day to do what is needed. Everyone gets up between 6 and 9 a.m. during the summer, sleeping late just makes them want to stay up late unattended, and I don't like that. Breakfast and lunch is loosely supervised by me, the kids have to check with me before they eat something and I always cook dinner.
I really get sick of negative, nasty attitudes and I address them immediately, often sending kids back to their rooms, isolation almost in our house as everyone congregates in the main areas. I am a big proponent of team think, team attitudes, all for one and one for all, helping each other, depending on each other, and Big Mama is the coach/boss/matriarch/final answer/your everything. I'm large and in charge, loud and decisive, and I do not back down. Rarely at a loss for words, I make up for my ignorance at times with my big overly opinionated mouth, barking orders and issuing commands.
My kids need someone to be in charge after their years of chaos and instability. They need me to be who I am, consistent and dependable. They need me to take the side of authority in their lives, to not enable them, nor allow them to be victims, excuse makers nor losers. They fight me on all of the above, that's for certain, but they will not win. I think they know that.
I could not be where I am now emotionally without the cumulative experiences that I have had for the last 30 something years of parenting. My older kids have given back way more than I ever gave them in terms of my pride now in their accomplishments, and my adoration at the wonderful human beings that they have become. They are my confidants, my best friends, my family, my support system, my resources, my source of encouragement and the darlings that I enjoy being with the most. They've all turned into interesting adults that I am emotionally connected to for life, don't even get me started on my grandbabies...
So Kerri to answer you, girlfriend I just don't know. I have the wierdest kids on earth, often the most ungrateful, agitated, oppositional creatures God ever created. Speaking of brats, I'd slammed a kitchen cabinet shut last night in my frustration, thrown a spoon across the kitchen for a perfect unintentional three point landing in the sink, and then maturely stomped upstairs to have a solitary pity party bemoaning my fate at living with such hatefulness, such ugly attitudes. "What's wrong with you all?" I'll screech at times, impatient and short tempered. In my room, late last night I watched perfect homes on HGTV and felt sorry for myself.
This morning I feel better after sleeping undisturbed for over seven hours, my belly full of my beloved blueberries...CW weighed the bucket, five pounds, I'm a pig but a happy pig. I'll pull one of my coaching books off the shelf and re-read pages I've highlighted to reignite my fire.
Ms Carr is taking four kids to the Georgia Aquarium today, Scotty is sporting a black eye, not from wrestling, but from running, falling and skidding on the wet cement around the pool area last night. He'd jumped out of bed this morning, got dressed, and now has to wait several hours for her to get here, she's also taking JoJo and Jonathan, she'll need medication after spending the day with three emotionally high maintenance sweethearts like these guys, taking Mayra also for good measure. Are we not blessed? I tend to dwell on the good things rather than obsess over the problems I'll face today...which I don't know how I'll handle until I'm neck deep in the turmoil.
Monday, July 17, 2006
That was a junk ad in my hotmail inbox, and I hurled an opinion over my shoulder at Sarah, something to the effect of, "I'm lucky if I can even find a bra, much less the right one."
I was informed by Sarah that the right bra does make all the diference in the world, and obviously, anyone could tell, I was wearing the wrong one.
Nah, I gotta think more on the lines of right pot of coffee, right attitude.
I'd told Miriam, Vanessa and Butthead, I mean Joey, that I was taking them on a field trip to McDonalds today, and we'd learn how to apply for jobs. Joey pulled a whopper of an attitude, and I left him in a cloud of dust, all dressed up, nowhere to go, standing by the garage wishing he'd simply kept his mouth shut.
Miriam was hired on the spot, Vanessa needs to wait one more month until age 16. The lady told my girls, "because of your orientation, you'll need proof of a U.S. birth or a green card." She must have meant ethnic background, and both my girls speak English like everyone else here in the deep south, all butchered up and ungrammatical at best, they've obviously not just crossed over the border, so we jumped through the hoops, got the right documentation, and I did not bother to mention which one I'd adopted before she was legal. Ain't that a bear?
Joe'd been asked at a bank once for his green card and he'd sweetly smarted back in his best Southern accent that he was from the next county over, you need a green card to cross county lines now? I don't know where that boy of mine learned such sassiness.
We'd gone home where Joey had a change of heart, knowing I will not put up with his poopy attitude, and he followed us back along with all his documentation, he too was hired at $6.00 an hour.
Guess I did have on the right bra...two more kids in the work world, they start tomorrow.
Jojo and Jonathan, here at the pool, are bra-less with good attitudes.
Police responded to the woman's apartment in the 5300 block of Blanco Road around 5:30 a.m. Sunday for reports that four children had been left home alone. Officers found the children living in squalor among beer bottles and dangerous household chemicals, Rios said. The oldest child was 9."
Several of my own children came directly to me, after bouncing around the Texas Foster Care System, from situations like the one described in this article. Plunked down like Martians in my rambunctious home, way down a dirt road, with a silly Mama like me...and I expect decent behavior? It's just not gonna happen.
I'm very encouraged though at the moment as Fabian, Teresa and Vanessa have shown a staggering amount of personal improvement. Vanessa has decided against returning to any form of formal schooling in August and I'll back her up on that. We'll either homeschool, or GED her, but I'm not going to push her back into school, where she has no motivation and she's swamped by her own internal issues, why seemingly pit her up against hundreds of normal, fairly high achievers where I know she'll struggle and, quite likely, choose to fail, and that would seem easier to her on some dumb level?
I want to talk with Teresa's IFI team regarding her options. Hard-headed as I am, I still often go to others for advice and counsel as I've had to make very difficult decisions.
Today is the day that Fabian and I will go over the results of his neuro psych eval that was just emailed to me, we'll make the phone calls we need to make, and make our final decision about him, and his school situation, today even though my brain resembles a wad of cotton candy due to a sleepless night.
At 2:30 this morning the sudden silence awoke me, our attic fans, large and noisy, our window fans, and my beloved white noise machine all shut off leaving nothing but the sound of five barking dogs. I sat up, saw my clock blinking and thought, well this sucks for us, no power=no water.
Within a minute or so, Edgar and Fabian, exhausted from being model sons yesterday, had trekked up to my room, "Mom, the power just went out."
"Duh, why do you think I'm standing here in the dark, scratching my head and thinking out loud?"
They filed back downstairs, Edgar muttering something about that mouth of mine is gonna, sure enough, get me into trouble.
Vanessa was next, followed by Sabrina and Jack. What's up with all this pedestrian traffic in my bedroom? It's dark anyway, stay asleep.
By the light of my cell phone I found the power bill and the phone number to report the outage. I'd have used a flashlight if everyone in the house hadn't run off with every one I'd ever bought. Why can't I own just one piece of functional emergency equipment? Matches and candles are out of the question. They just don't belong in a house with troubled children, why supply the ammo?
Tabby was up next, calling for me, Jose put in his two cent's worth to which I retorted he'd lost his right to an opinion due to his disobedience yesterday. He could earn an opinion back later this week...maybe.
My house is long and rambling, and with Jack holding on to my night shirt, and telling me an unrelated space shuttle story, I went to wake up the darlings that I long suspected had swiped my flashlight, all sleepily denied it, and Gito wasn't even in his bed. What the heck?
I shook Edgar back awake, how can you immediately fall asleep again that fast? Oh. I get it, dump the problem on Mama and walk away? "Where's Gito?" I demanded.
Thirty minutes of fruitless flashlight searching, and dumb space station stories, had passed since the power had first gone out. Why am I even looking for a light? Why not just go back to sleep?
I'm not wired that way. There's a problem and I gotta do something, or at least act like I'm doing something.
At three a.m. the power comes back on with the roar of all the fans cutting on, a hall light flickers and I see Gito brush past me. "Boy, where've you been?"
True story, verified by the scaredy cat. While Edgar and Fabian had gone to get me, Sergio, Mr Navy War Veteran, had gone to get Gito because he, our war hero, was scared of the dark.
"Sergi, you sleep in a basement," I pointed out. "It's dark anyway."
"Mom, my fan cut off and scared me," he protested.
This could have gone one for another hour but I unsucked myself out of that ridiculous discussion, and knew I'd need to reset Edgar's alarm clock but he was awake enough to argue it would automatically reset itself. No it won't, yes it will for a couple of minutes until I, again, extricated myself and rejoined Jack's next discussion of long range missile systems that neither of us know anything about.
Sure enough, at 5 a.m., after me not calming down enough to sleep, I come back downstairs to find Sonny watching the news.
I go up Edgar's stairs to loudly prove I was right, he was wrong, his clock was still blinking and alarm not working.
"Get up Peter Pan and go to work. Where's Fabian?"
I found him across the hall sleeping between Jojo and Allen.
Sunday, July 16, 2006
Can this day crap up anymore on me?
I called Sonny who came and got me, put more gas in my bus in case the fuel guage was incorrect, and he and I got it at least to the church parking lot. Going inside, late, Big Joe and Edgar had the rest of my kids calmed down and behaving right. Joe offered to run back to the house, find Jose and make sure the pool looked right. He, Sergi, and Edgar, in record time, mopped the kitchen floor, swept the other floors, cleaned the guest bathroom, and found Jose and made him work also. They also moved a dead truck out of the way so people could park and helped me get the kids ready while steeping around Jose in my agitated state.
"I was asleep in the meadow," he bellowed in protest, "Not running away."
Well, son," I hissed, "we don't sleep in the meadow on Sunday mornings." Not that we do it other days either, but Sunday mornings are way too busy for rage recoveries.
My bus cut out on me twice coming home from church, I'll worry about that on Monday as I had a bunch of people coming to my house for the party, that went into overtime, which was fun.
I was so thrilled with my big boys unsolicited help, they sure know how to come through for me when I need it.
I am never going to just sit around and tweeze my bushy black eyebrows or paint my uncared for toenails, everyone's gotta do something.
I really adsmire the family in this story, they are my heroes today.
But DUH that so wasn't the issue, I didn't even realize that Houston had a problem, I was so busy finding shoes for everyone to wear to church. We'd loaded up the bus and no Jose. "Wasn't he mad about something?" questioned Chuy.
I'd screeched, "Are you kidding me?"
Sonny and Edgar went to search all the obvious hiding places, while I drove the rest of the kids to church, dropped them off, gazed longingly over my bony shoulder to the trailer unit in which my own Sunday School Class meets...this is the South after all, we can use trailers if we want...and returned home to relieve Edgar and Sonny.
I'm going to wait this out for just a few more minutes then return to church and leave Sergi in charge. When an almost 12 year old decides to hide, he can be right hard to find in a couple hundred wooded acres surrounding us, he's probably sitting by the front creek catching crayfish or off picking blueberries, knowing he's going to lose his Nintendo and computer privileges.
Tony had come back home with me wanting another dose of Benadryl to relieve the itching from his bee stings and I'll finish sweeping the pool area, thus soaking my church clothes with sweat but it's gotta be done, my hair and face are way beyond the damage that sweat could do...at this point the dewy look could only help an ole fart like me.
Sometimes I think the stress pressure on my arteries is the only thing holding me together. Without this constant baseline level of stress I'd probably decompress into a rapid stinky burst of hot wispy air. There's a visual to start one's day with a cuppa coffee.
I'd heard this book read to a class when CW was in Pre-K, and the teacher boo-hooed. It's a sweet book about the mom loving the kid so much. Jack tears up and cries everytime I read it to him because the mom is so old in the end of the book, and she still drives over to check on her son, later he has to check on her. Jack finds it emotionally threatening and he's lived with me since birth.
Now six, he still doesn't understand why some kids don't have moms and they need me to help find families for them. "What happened to their mom?" is constant, and my, "I don't really know," is inadequate."
I think about jack's deep ability to love and to be sensitive to the feelings of others, to have empathy and caring compared to the other very hard hearts that I deal with here at home.
Sometimes it appears insurmountable, to take down the wall that the kids have built up so solidly, and replace it with trust. Those children that appear to lack a conscience, or those that are so walled up as to be visibly fortressed against the world, are tough, tough cases.
Sometimes I truly feel like I have been given gorgeous, normal looking children who are feral spitfires, internally raging, and ignorant of so many basic human emotions that would be proper in any situation. So little time with them, so much to undo and redo. So much that they need to learn, some of the questions I get asked by them make me force myself not to blurt, "How can you not know the answer?"
Then I think of all the books I've read with the answers, all the parenting I received growing up, and my often insatiable quest for more answers compared to my children's low-rent survival skills involving such things as food, shelter and safety that were never guaranteed to them...until now but why trust me? I'm just some other lady in a long line of well-meaning ladies who moved the kids, separated the siblings, over medicated them, or found them other nice ladies to temporarily live with, along with their tightly clutched Glad garbage bag of personal belongings.
They dearly desire to trust me, that need is shining brightly in their eyes, yet those same eyes can slam shut and be replaced by the coldest, hardest eyes on earth that glare, "I got over everyone else, I can get over you too." Then they crumble, they wail and cry at the thought of losing what now seems to be so safe and happy.
I can often see it coming, the conflict. I can sometimes deflect it, head it off at the pass but, all to common is the time I must spend in the middle of it, waist deep in smokescreens and clouds of unidentifiable pain. It is heartbreaking to see.
My phone rang at midnight, "Mama can you come get us at the church?" as the youth revival was over. The four kids, Miriam, Fabian, Joey and Vanessa were happy and high as kites can be from a spiritual recommitment, today will be tough for them as they are tired from three days of fun, they won't trust their own ability to hang on to the teachings of such notables as T.D. Jakes, and the outside world will seem to conspire against them.
It's the first time in 6 days that all 25 kids have been home together...so unusual for a family like ours that is rarely apart even for a night. The Children's Church Pool Party is happening this afternoon here, and I'll be somewhat stressed over getting everything done in time.
Somehow Tony, who annoys the tar out of everyone, aggravated a retaliatory bee hive yesterday afternoon and swole up like the dickens, an unsightly, unbearable rash blossommed across his oddly protruding chest, stung at least a dozen times. Benadryl helped him sleep last night, he's better this morning, but now I have two tiny brown thrashers, the Georgia state bird, flying through my bedroom since I'd slept with the torn screen door open all night. It's on the second floor, and my bedroom has more plants than the big garden it seems.
Gito had drug home the largest turtle we'd ever found before, but I made him return it to the creek as I seem to have way enough creatures roaming our house. Factor in all the demons that seem to randomly attack my kids, and I spend all my time figuratively swatting the broom all around. Aerobic exercise for an imaginary activity, I spend more time on my knees in prayer, today if I weren't overly concerned about the pool party, I'd hightail it to the altar at church this morning for prayer covering over me, that'll have to wait until I am less wound up. Good know that I have the ability to find God wherever I am though when I need Him.
My PMSer had grabbed me around the waist late last night, "Mama, I haven't hugged you in three days, I love you."
That's enough to fuel my fire, keep me stoked up.
And, for once, I kept my big mouth shut, and didn't ask out loud if her PMS was over. Being nice is telling enough from a Viper Girl, often she'll bend over double with cramps as if to let us all know the pre-menstrual tension storm is over, and she is fit for human company once again.