Thursday, August 12, 2010
1000 Words Or Less
I remember nearly every single sibling group I’d once called caseworkers about, interviewing each worker, doing my level best to ensure I could meet the needs of the children, and that these potential children would be a good fit, very carefully considering all the other needs, and the daily, complicated activities of children already in our home.
Gone are the days of accessible caseworkers, most of my adoptions were even before email and cell phones were so widely used, and it’d be a complete faux pas to ring up the cw nowadays.
One caseworker though, regarding a recently disrupted sibling group of seven children in Texas, told me that the then hapless adoptive parents were fairly unprepared for the level of rages, and that they’d finally surrendered over the loss of brand new living room furniture that they’d initially bought in an attempt to prove they had a nice home, a home that they naively assumed the new children would appreciate after living in the squalor of their birth family’s ramshackle single wide from which they’d been removed, as there’d not been electricity nor running water for months on end, torn up furnishings and rampant police visits due to the alcoholic mother’s tendency to fight with her drug-abusing unemployed customers, er, boyfriends.
I, too, once illogically assumed that my darling new children would appreciate clean sheets, made up beds, and nice furniture where the inner springs wouldn’t snake out and cut one’s thigh in half.
I’d dumbly scoffed, along with that caseworker, at the time, that the parents would be more concerned with furniture than with the lives of the children, as if I were above such mundane concerns.
Back then my 11 children didn’t tear up furniture, but this was before one of them ran away numerous times, lied about me to folks in this county who knew better, before experimenting with drugs, a polite euphemism for a user, right?
49 sofas later, I’ve learned that furniture really is less important, but nevertheless, disrespect for either authority or possessions still irks the buggers outta me.
If ever the price of my many used, but pretty, items of furniture were ever totaled, I believe that I too would be shocked, I know the dollars stolen, or the electronic devices pilfered, would add up to several felonies per child.
I’ve never learned to not be upset, not to be insulted and offended, after all I’ve done for everyone, but I also know how deeply these survival mechanisms have been entrenched, and when one adopts older children from the system, it’s very difficult to turn the ship around…and I think our family has been very blessed with exemplary amounts of therapy and resources.
I’m still frustrated, as I’m more than positive these larcenous behaviors will cause immense grief in grown ups.
One of my most sneaky and prolific thieves is in jail now, has been for nearly a month. I’ve not allowed him on our property for several years now, knowing we will all be victims, he’s in his mid-20s, and it is what it is, that he’d even steal from a church is a frightening indicator of the depths of this compulsion, that even after 15 years in a good home, has only gotten worse.
There’s so much less stealing nowadays, here within our home, and for that I’m very grateful. Again, not having newly adopted children upsetting our finely righted applecart has been the key.
I also used to fear other’s opinions about me - such as, “Why is this house so clean? Are you too rigid to parent? Where are all the toys? Why don’t they have more clothes?” And so on.
As a result, I’ve filled the house to the brim with toys, games, and clothes, and literally everything has been destroyed and the house has felt decrepit. I’m not exaggerating. That too has eased up over the years though.
Nowadays I prefer large, even cavernous, empty spaces, eschewing clutter, purging stuff, craving a more Zen-like existence. Last night before bed I’d taken a picture of the view from the front door that we rarely use as most folks enter through the garage into the family room.
I want streamlined empty counters. It reassures me that all is right in our world. I eliminated decorative items, they only get broken by the kids, each bedroom still has full closets, but less dressers, as they’ve all been stood on, knocked over, and broken down over the years, much to my dismay.
I’m slowly replacing carpet that seems to absorb smells. Remember I’ve had severely troubled children actually poop on the carpets. Yes, it is shocking. No one has been more stunned than I. Mental illnesses are staggeringly difficult and challenging, and ultimately so very, very sad.
I want long empty expanses of wood floors. I love being barefeet on wood.
I’ve learned to hang up everyone’s clothes, if I want them off the floor. Otherwise we have a control issue that cannot, nor will not, be resolved, even with therapy. Progress is very, very infinitely slow, but I’ve finally seen evidence of it in the majority of my grown children.
I’ve learned if I want the kitchen cleaned correctly, then I have to do it. Otherwise it too becomes an irrational rationale for a meltdown in someone.
OK y’all, I’ll demonstrate a proper house, expecting participation is apparently asking too much at this point in your lives.
Honestly, I picked up a broken hammer this morning, our internet is messing up, but I got every dish done, every dirty outfit washed and hung up, and tomorrow I’ll do the same.
That said, Sabrina, CW, Chuy, Martin, Lily and sometimes, Mayra, do help me. Mayra’s in a snit right now, refusing to participate in family activities, but that too will blow over.
Today I finally get JoJo and Allen’s new floor laid down, then I can rearrange and perfect their rooms before they return home from school and toss their stinky socks, sling their book bags and strow dirty clothes in defiant response to my hard work.
It’s just the way it is, yet last night JoJo raved over supper, in contrast to his screaming fit the previous evening.
There is no logic in traumatized children, there can only be patience, redirection, more patience, gentle correction, demonstration, extreme patience and endurance and eventually, many years from now, a little bit of progress.