Monday, July 30, 2012
With 39 kids I've never demanded, much less expected, any uniformity. I did notice these two sibs had chosen similar shirts to wear to church yesterday.
I have 39 extremely unique individuals, even within sibling groups there can be similar tendencies, but each person is absolutely different and very special from one another.
"There a knucklehead in each group," I've been told by one elder from his own group.
Yesterday's post was met with disagreement by my 30 year old, and I agree with his disagreement, plus I value his input.
I was really referring to just one of my sibling groups and their vocal reactions, but I do stand firm in my complete dismay that my family was built because of the unhappiness, to put it mildly, in their former families. That just seems so unfair to my children.
Jesse, my son, 30, married and a father, texted me, "...and the kids taken away got a second chance at life. They just don't want to see it because it's too easy to use that as a crutch. I am very thankful that we were taken away from our birth mom because who knows if the next time she beat me would've been the last. I know she loved us but someone saved our lives. I'm not dismissing the hurt that we all felt when we got removed but I just wish they could see their second chance that not many kids get. That's how I see it, wish my sibs could've seen it too."
I have his permission to use this. It had never dawned on me that this was a crutch. And I'm glad that he knows he was
Is Jesse an anomaly? No, not at all. He had the innate ability to attach to me, he's very sweet natured, very funny, very handsome, very nice, and very easy-going. The oldest sibling always has it the toughest, because they've had to, by default, tend to their siblings which is what he'd always done back in Texas.
He'd also been very seriously injured back then. I've seen the police photos, only once though, I couldn't bear to look again. This is my son. He fortunate to be alive, he's blessed to have found a loving wife and his son is a total mini-me of him. Like Daniel, he's very popular within our family, everyone adores him.
Jesse never gave me that, "You're not my real mom," line, rather he visibly relished having a mom who clearly cared, who was always there. He was nearly 13 when he arrived, he should've been the poster child for teenage adoptions, he was nearly that perfect.
Many of my children, most of them, have re-encountered their birth moms. It's never as pretty as the movies would make it out to be, it just usually ends up with more hurt feelings and unresolved issues, because really, what can be said, or done, to make it up to the kids? I feel for the birth moms, I feel for my children.
That movie, Antwone Fisher, had a grown kid confront his birth mom many years later, and the reality portrayed is heart wrenching, and very gut-punching realistic.
The birth parents are generally generational inept at parenting, they are usually not vicious nor awful, just unprepared to parent anyone, which is NEVER easy, and then there are the self-medication tendencies, or addictions, poverty, unemployment and a whole host of that which also plagues our society, leaving children in very dire straits.
Marcela, 31, and Deysi, 36, brought their children over to swim yesterday and we discussed this too as we lolly gagged about int eh pool.
Their birth mom had just wanted them out of Honduras back in the 1980s, for a chance at an education and a decent life. They had Hollywood images in their minds as to life in the U.S.A and I, of course, didn't live in L.A, but rather down another dirt road in our county. Culture shock was only one of their many challenges to overcome.
Those three girls are who made me a minority in my own family, and they're why I then only adopted Hispanic sibling groups, heck those girls, which also included Saray, now 34, didn't even speak English back then, I'd gone to court in Honduras with their birth mom to finalize the adoption, my Spanish very rudimentary then, but we got the job done. Two trips to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, six weeks spent there, financed by my parents who were so supportive of my calling.
The girls wrote letters to their mom, I'd even sent them back to visit her once they were nearly grown, they still had 8 other siblings in Honduras. Sadly, Mama Daisy and two of her kids, Lavinia and Melvin, have since passed away. My Saray successfully took Tuberculosis drugs for a year when we discovered she'd been exposed to it, testing positive back then. I didn't know that I'd later have a son do the same.
I'd found a need - the adoption of school-age sibling groups - and filled it, and that had been my focus, although I did later end up with some toddlers in the sib groups.
With the exception now of Sabrina, living here at home, the rest of my children have little, if any, memories of their original families, and thus overall we don't have the specter of the birth mom lingering in our lives at the moment, other than their own curiosity and many unanswered questions.
Sabrina, 17, had gotten wind of a movie being filmed in Athens this morning and has gone with a friend of hers to be an extra in a lunchroom scene. They'd asked for parents at a later date to be extras in a graduation scene. No, thank you. I'd rather weed my gardens, thus giving even more credence that I'm a stick-in-the-mud, homebody.
Allen, now almost 17, had invited his girlfriend, her parents, and their five kids over to swim yesterday without checking with me first. "Are they white?" Deysi'd asked in surprise, as most white families in our county have only two children.
This family had two parents, both veterinarians, and five very delightful, strong personality kids. I liked them all immediately. Their oldest son is successfully fighting a cancer battle, again putting my worries here into perspective. I know I get so wrapped up in our own dramas and issues that I fail to comprehend how so many other families struggle with different issues too.
I wrongly think everyone else has an easy perfect life while I seemingly battle up hill against all odds. I'm daily reminded by God that don't have a monopoly on tough stuff.
But I do have JoJo who cracks me up all the time. All. The. Time.
Yolie also took issue with my Sunday post. "Mom, more'n 75% of foster kids are returned to their family, many others go to other various family members, it's only a very small percentage that end up with birth parents who are completely unable to parent, and it is out of that small minority that come the ones that you adopted, having come from such seriously dangerous situations that reunification was absolutely impossible." Spoken like the adoption worker that she is today.
I stand corrected.
I also may have inadvertently implied that I'd rather my kids have lived with their birth parents rather than with me.
I didn't mean to imply that.
I'm very glad that they are my kids, but I'm grief-stricken over what all they endured in order to become my children.
The kids I'd been referring to in that post, at least in my mind, had come from a foster mother who'd even very generously allowed the birth mom to live in that same home all together with her own family and the foster kids.
So when that particular sibling group moved in with me, they lost their birth mom, plus a set of good foster parents who promised to adopt them but had backed out, scarring them very deeply. They were bewildered and stunned to find themselves here with us, totally uprooted and disconnected.
Those foster parents divorced within the next few months, so I'm glad my kids didn't have to endure that situation, but truthfully it didn't lessen their inner pain.
Jesse's foster parents, that were excellent and cared very much about him, also divorced right after he left to come here.
Daniel, too, had called yesterday, telling me about 'pulling a Grandma,' knowing Grandma would be proud, as was I, that he'd stood up for his rights as a paying customer trying to get decent service. Deysi echoed his story, as she'd 'pulled a Grandma' just the other day with AT & T.
I was verbally thanking Daniel for all the work he'd done over the last decade getting and keeping my pool going, and he'd countered with his appreciation that I'd flown to Texas some 20 plus years ago to adopt three kids I'd never even seen a picture of. Well it was a small blurred Xerox photo and their faces were blacked out, I could only see their sizes in relation to each other, but their caseworker adored them, and had certainly talked them up to me.
So let me reiterate. I love and adore my children, I'm deeply glad I'm their parent. I just hate that they had to suffer so much to get here, that they were nearly annihilated emotionally, physically, socially and spiritually.
Again, the primal wound of losing birth parents takes decades to overcome, it might be one of the worst wounds possible.
Maybe more efforts should be made for reunification initially, but when, and if, it all fails, then us adoptive parents best be ready to comprehend the depths of our new children's utter grief.
My family's prayer is for our next generation to do better, and that's the prayer of all generations I'm certain.
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Some 35 years ago I sat with another of my dear friends, another BFF, I deeply treasure my longtime girlfriends, they've made me who I am today, but this one time I was vehemently arguing with Janet, a foster care caseworker, who stated, "Kids need to be in their birth families."
I then had the super naive notion that if children were being beaten up by their birth parents, they should be removed.
This was long before I began to comprehend, to even begin to understand how severely deep the traumatic wound would be for the children for the rest of their lives if they were forcibly removed from their birth parents. They absolutely loved their birth parents, loved and adored them, in spite of everything.
This is an unchangeable fact in the adoption of older children, and we adoptive parents must accept it.
"When they weren't hitting us, our life was fun," a 20 something year old daughter told me on the phone last night. "We weren't angry with you, we just took it out on you. Our parents didn't love us and that made us mad."
I'd argue that their birth parents did love them, they just didn't know how to parent, or to hold down jobs, or to beat their addictions. But I believe the love was there.
"Well, whatever," she dismissed me, "But that is why we all wanted to return to nasty trailer parks, we remember the fun we once had there with our birth parents. We missed our parents, Mom. We loved them."
Yolie'd recently used the example of me finding great comfort in gardening, not in small part because my parents and grandparents gardened. This is, and was, our comfort zone.
Same with trailer parks for my children. Or with huge chaos, it energizes them, whereas it repels me.
Hard for me to grasp, but my other daughter last night totally agreed with Yolie's idea. Totally.
I still can't wrap my mind around them preferring an empty pantry, or moving in the middle of the night leaving all their stuff behind, ripping off the landlord, and witnessing drunken bouts of craziness.
"We were kids, Mom," she patiently explained to me, "We didn't know any better."
Then they lost their birth parents and had several other placements before arriving in my house, angry, emotionally damaged, and sad.
I brought up the thought that maybe we did it all wrong, maybe I should've allowed them to retain their original names, maybe I should've backed off with my minimal parental expectations - just the little stuff like 'don't be so mean to everyone,' or maybe just call me Cindy.
"No, Mom," she countered. "I liked being made officially a Bodie, but that didn't take away my mad feelings."
She'd been a furious kid, kicked out of school most of her tenth grade year for fighting with people, arrested a couple of times, she's still mixed up in many ways, still angry, but she put herself in an anger management class which makes me proud, she's been re-negotiating life with her birth mom, it's been up and down for them both, and I'm OK with that. I want my daughter to work out her mixed up feelings, I want her to not feel rejected or abandoned by her birth mom. This can only help her.
If that means she puts her birth mom up over her relationship with me, then that's OK too. It doesn't change who I am. The alternative would be her still raging at the world, which would only hurt herself and our relationship as well.
It's best for us all if she can work out this primary relationship, the breach of it has nearly destroyed her.
So do I not believe in what I do and have done for children?
I truly don't know the answers anymore.
I don't know that all my efforts made much of a difference.
"I'd have been pregnant in middle school without your influence," my daughter told, the thought of which floored me. "I'm homesick, I admit it, I miss y'all a lot." She now lives in another state
She, my very pretty daughter, the daughter of a public school employee, had dropped out of school at 17.
She just took her GED, of which I'm extremely proud. "That's your influence at work," she reminded me.
All the lies, the destruction, the stealing, the danger and the violence, the aggression, the attacks, and everything else negative that I've experienced from so many children...was it just so we could take itsy-bitsy, teeny tiny steps forward? My big goals and plans dashed?
I just don't know.
All I do know is that the damage done via child protection services, that is just doing its job, results in so much deeply primal and profound damage to children who've spent years with their birth parents.
What's the answer? What's the alternative?
It just seems barbarically inhumane to remove children from their parents. The cost is too great. Look at how badly foster children fare when they age out of the system. 90% either dead, jailed or homeless, children who are adopted as older children have a unique set of challenges that almost rival those of foster children. It isn't very pretty. They are mad at the world. Ragingly so. And understandably so.
It's an automatic rite of passage to hatefully reject the adoptive parents. I get it, I truly do. I'd reject me too if I were you, if I'd been taken from my parents, I'd hate the next set that tried to take their place.
I wish I knew some answers. I don't have any, I'm just afraid this model is not working very well. It's too detrimental to the children, it then takes them a lifetime to overcome the deep and lasting after effects. It's sooooooo unfair to them. Everything is, and was, unfair, they are so hurt by it all.
Yet some kids are more resilient, or more knowledgeable, or more understanding of what has happened. Should it be a choice for the kids to make? I just don't know.
So I've been humiliated, embarrassed by the actions of my children, I've been let down often, lied to so dang much that I hardly believe anything anymore, and I have to keep reminding my ownself, "It's NOT about me." Not At All. It's about them. They have free will. I can only guide, parent, and make suggestions usually for them to routinely dismiss or rebel against.
Then they have to choose. Not between me or the birth parents, but about their own footsteps, paths, choices and consequences.
As adults it's then on them, but is that fair when their childhoods were so abnormally fractured?
I do like it now that the majority of my children are adults, and the huge majority of them have a good relationship with me now...now that it is their choice.
Dear Jada (as I address Marissa's dog), Your expression rivals my own.
Saturday, July 28, 2012
In her ongoing, massively frustrating 58 year attempt to get me to wear something else, besides my usual favorites that are certainly comfortable above all else, Grandma drug me to a department store yesterday, and I hated every single outfit there.
I wouldn't wanna wear anything I saw. If that's fashion, you can have it. Blindingly nauseating bright colors and weird designs, all fluffy crap.
"Well you just can't wear your black suit to Daniel's wedding," she kept pressing, "You're the mother of the groom.
I respectfully disagree. Everyone's gonna be looking at the bride, I'm off scot free, I believe.
Today at a yard sale I found an A-line plain dress, no stupid flounces, ruffles, patterns, bows, stripes, or girly girl frou frou anywhere on it. An unworn, simply designed Ann Klein with a long matching jacket, with the $320 price tag still affixed to it.
I paid $2.
Mission accomplished, done deal.
It'll be the first dress I think I've worn since Yolie's wedding in '04.
My exhausted teenagers returned from their Tennessee rafting trip last night, camp accommodations pictured here, right before I took Tabby and Nando to the church for their back-to-school lock-in, which included midnight bowling, up this morning at 7 immediately realizing I needed to slap on some lipstick and trot my happy butt out onto the high school football field to have my picture made with my senior cheer leader for some unknown reason at 7:45 a.m.. Just tell me where to show up and I'll be there.
CW, Martin, and Allen obediently trotting after Daniel early this morning, getting Megan moved back to Atlanta this week before her UGA graduation in which she's earned her Master's Degree. Scotty's gone with Boss to help a preacher down in the next county over, I have no clue what that's all about, and Sabrina's finishing up yet another Kiddie CheerLeading Camp event at noon, changing into her Captain D's uniform to work all afternoon there.
As if shopping in a store that makes me sneeze and my eyeballs swell from all the chemical dyes in the air, as if that's not enough, I was also trying not to snap at Grandma, bored outta my ever-loving skull, and I then received some yucky news.
An extended family member has a malignant cyst on their liver, surgery options being discussed, praying that it's contained in that one area, and now I'm asking y'all for a prayer covering. Don't really wanna talk about it much until we have more information, right now there's too many questions, not enough answers.
But it again kinda put everything in perspective for me.
Friday, July 27, 2012
Sarah's an accountant for an indie music PR firm, she had a social event to attend with her husband.
Silence? I haven't realized how deeply I crave it.
With Oppositional Defiant Disorder there is always noise. Always. The ODD person must have the last word, must always respond negatively, is unbelievably argumentative, super contentious, often overly aggressive, and it's just the way it is, there's no remedy. They can't help it. I can choose how I'll respond to it.
For the first time in the last 12 summers, since my late sister Ellen left me money to build our pool, I was in the pool alone.
What luxury. I floated around, listening to the birds singing, my rooster crowing and my hens clucking, wishing the faint sound of the ACs didn't dilute the beauty of the moment. Grandma was in the house with Tabby, Nando, Jack, and Scotty. I stared up at the tops of the pine trees and into the soft clouds that later gave a spectacular lightening show and zero rain.
I dove underwater and relished, no I cherished, the complete and utter silence.
I noticed that my bathing suit is tighter since I bragged about keeping my weight under 130 pounds. For my birthday last week, I ate a ton of Creme De Menthe Brownies made from scratch by Sarah, loaded with real butter.
Big Whoop. I'll get fat if I wanna. I'm almost 60, I've clearly earned the right to do so.
Then my always racing thoughts overtook me, ruining my quiet time.
I'd clicked over to a news video of a mean nine year old boy punching toddlers in a day care. That the world doesn't comprehend such vicious acts in children is allowing these acts to continue unabated. I can not imagine what this nine year old must have witnessed in his life to make him act this way, or...is this simply a form of mental illness manifested in his acts? I have no background info on him.
Chalk it up also to my intense dislike of daycare centers, no one loves your kids as much as you do.
I'm obsessed with reports and speculations from this Colorado shooting rampage, maybe because I've lived with such a crazy level of violence here for so long. I don't think it's likely that one of my kids would suddenly become violent after a quiet life, because they're already violent on so many levels.
So if we want to reduce the risk of mass murder, a good way to start would be to pay more attention to people who show evidence that they are developing a psychotic disorder and intervene before delusions turn to destruction.
How sadly comical. Intervene? Are you kidding me.? You can't just call 1-800-We Have A Problem Here.
There's hoops to jump through, MATCH applications to fill out, ridiculously inane wraparound services that aren't there when you have to call 911 because you've been slammed into a wall by a rager. I've tried to intervene since 1995 when I was first exposed to emotional and mental illnesses. It kinda can't be done. A person can't be locked up for what they might do. They generally don't even get properly consequenced for what they have done.
It's scary and it doesn't bode well for the future of our faltering society.
I've taken Hell from folks, as I've had to take some very drastic steps to protect my family. My persistence, my insistence, my perceived 'abandonment' doesn't paint a true picture of what I've endured.
But now we feel safe. Priceless.
The kids still all lock their bedroom doors at night, they keep a dog in their room, we are literally still nervous as cats.
Sometimes it is obvious that someone has become psychotic because he or she says and does things that are indisputably bizarre, such as talking to themselves, espousing clearly strange and untrue beliefs, or not making any sense at all when talking.
This again goes into the realm of their reality, where perceptions are both warped and skewed, where triggering behaviors are unavoidable, where logic dissipates, and where professionals as well are completely stumped. "Let's try a lateral move," an RTC once told me.
"Let's NOT!" I hollered, with a bold exclamation mark.
They did, and another cop was punched in the face, and another child of mine was in the big folks jail before age 18.
Anyone wanna believe the cop triggered his bloody nose? Puh-leeze.
It is staggeringly difficult to live this way. I know because I've done it. I am still emotionally recovering. Almost 20 non-stop, heavy-duty, scarring years of the intensively destructive behaviors.
I know another mom on the Internet, in our big families group that I've been in now for some 15 or so years, no more than that, it was even before CW, now 16, was born. But this other mom had a massive heart attack this week, she's had some very tough kids and similar situations, she's also quite a bit younger than I, I'm praying for her recovery.
Having lived with teenagers who have very violently manifested some very severe psychotic symptoms, my own psyche is now on hyper vigilant sky-high alert, my senses twitching every whichaway, my own PTSD is crappily severe. This is why the silence of yesterday was so amazingly therapeutic for me.
In order for me to begin to heal, to recover from what we've witnessed and endured here, I've had to remove myself from The Adoption World, to not participate as I once did with Adopt America Network, or even loosely such as in referrals. I don't want to be responsible for helping a family potentially self-destruct when these super severe, violent, aggressive and dangerous issues move into their once idyllic home.
That said, I also feel terribly bad that I am not helping the good kids out there find families, and I'd easily wager that the good ones far outweigh the troubled ones tenfold or so. The good ones are the vast majority, and no, I'm not saying the others are then conversely 'bad,' they are just troubled. Severely so.
My PTSD is just that bad that I don't feel called to help risk any other family.
I force my mind to seek happy thoughts of my gardens or my upcoming retirement from parenting, when I can come and go as I please, when I don't have mountains of laundry, or devastating ordeals that are flat out shocking in their intensity. I have plenty of grandchildren who need me to remain emotionally intact.
I read happy articles. One that backs me up and is very soothing regarding the minimalistic ideas I prefer, and another that makes me think deeply as a single woman retiree where it all falls on me, but then it has always fallen on me to do what I need to do. What Does Your Life Cost? A question most of us don't think about enough.
I putter around watering my thousands of house plants, petting my sweet dogs, yapping with the really wonderful kids who still live with me. ODD is a piece of cream cheese cake in comparison to what we've survived.
Thursday, July 26, 2012
Tony, Sabrina, CW, Martin, Chuy, JoJo and Allen all leave today for a quick trip into the Tennessee mountains to go white water rafting with the church youth group. Oh Dear Lord, please protect them and give their youth leaders the infinite patience to deal with them. Thank God that Michael, Brian, my longtime mentor Tracy, and the very adorable Elizabeth are going. They can do this.
They, my rambunctious teenagers, are more than a little bit excited, an end of summer vacation event, and our new youth pastor, Adam, will step into his new probably initially difficult position early next week. Yesterday I'd run into a 42 year old man who'd been in youth group with Sarah way back when. How is that even possible? Those kids are all so old now.
Perusing the news every morning, I'm always highly and overly curious about human behavior, having witnessed it bizarrely unfold for the last 25 years from a unique and extreme vantage point, as child after child has joined our family, bringing their baggage, their charm, and their input, leaving a mark, to say the least.
This latest tragedy, this movie shooter, has offered himself up as an accidental case study, and I certainly liked this article exonerating the parents as a sole source of blame. From the minute I'd heard of this, like Claudia, my heart went out painfully for the parents.
When young people turn violent, we naturally turn to parenting to explain what went wrong, even though research suggests that hidden, often undiagnosed mental health problems — as well as perpetrators' relationships with peers, teachers and others — can play a much bigger role.
Fox, whose research has included interviews with family members of spree killers, said young people turn violent despite the best efforts of the parents.
A U.S. Secret Service report on school shooters found that nearly two-thirds came from two-parent families. Johns Hopkins University sociologist Katherine Newman, who has studied school shooters and their families, said parents are usually "quite blind to what is happening — or they are not being shown the side of their child that turns out to be a killer."
Like Fox, she cautions against judging parents too harshly, saying the high school-aged shooters she studied were "very adept at showing one side of their character to adults and another side to their peers — and so their peers are usually not that surprised and the adults are all shocked."
Maybe that's my bottom line? The irrationality of what I've endured? That I've tried supremely hard and sacrificially 24-7 for 25 majorly challenging years, that I've sincerely busted my elderly butt, and subsequently taken unadulterated Hell for it, I'm nowadays rather twitchy on the subject. Ya think?
When even some of the professionals act irrationally wondering what I did to trigger a temper dysregulation event in my severely emotionally disturbed children?
Seriously y'all? Bite my ankle.
And I've been extraordinarily blessed with wonderful professionals overall, certainly here on the local level, in the form of Dr. C, Dr. G, Dr. Mandy, and Emily's brilliance, as well as many of the caseworkers, such as Tom or Paige, under her direct supervision.
When my kids rage at me, listing all the imaginary things I've done that contributed to them entering foster care? Huh? I wasn't even there.
Apparently they just need to vent. As do I nowadays. Clearly my verbal diarrhea overflows. You're welcome for this visual.
I spoke with an adoptive mom last night, telling her my blog had swayed a bit into bitterness. I'm not necessarily proud of that aspect, but it is what it is, this hasn't been easy. I, too, need to work through my own resentment, bitterness, shock, hurt feelings, and inner pain.
She'd adopted two siblings, she's about my age I'd guess, maybe younger, and the birth mom had gone on to birth five more children. Another new mom adopted three of them as they were born, the birth mother is supposedly parenting the last born, and one is now needing to be adopted. She, this first adoptive mom, is kinda tired of issues, resistant even to the idea of another adoption, and I totally understand.
There was a time when I'd have encouraged her to move forward in another adoption. Nowadays I'm super aware of the toll it'd take on her, and her two children are only 10 and 11 now, she hasn't even hit the raging adolescent stage with them.
My lovely 15 year old daughter has been 10-13'd some six times while in the care of professionals. Was this their fault?
Her older brother had attacked a kid at another facility several years ago, sending that victim to the hospital. Should the caregivers there have been blamed?
No, of course not.
We all just want reasons and answers, an understanding of all the 'whys.'
The theater and the movie production team is being sued for failing to protect the movie goers.
Why do we have to blame someone? The theater couldn't ever have predicted this event, nor taken enough precautions. This could've happened in the parking lot, it could've happened anywhere.
Should I sue Texas DFACS for sending me criminals? For failing to protect the kids and I? Heck no, they sent me kids who later chose, or couldn't help themselves, from acting out violently. Texas did not lie to me, did not mislead me. I take full responsibility for choosing these children, because that is the fact.
Now I'm gonna sink into the realm of admitting to y'all that I watched Dallas last night. Who doesn't have a crush on Bobby Ewing? An aside: sometimes I need to sink into escapism, to step out of my thorny existence into someone else's ridiculous drama, to let my mind rest for a minute while I stuffed my face. The Ewing grown sons motivation for everything involved wanting their respective parental approval.
Sarah'd mentioned something along the same lines this morning, wanting my approval, which she's had since birth, we're just very inwardly driven people, we certainly got it from my mom who's an 82 year old very smart work horse. I want Grandma's approval too. This photo above is of her on Sunday at Yolie's house. Yolie, Sarah and I'd deemed her the Belle of the Ball, so lovely there in her 80s. She's my role model, duh.
I want my 39 children to know that they have my approval automatically, although when they act out negatively I withhold it of course. But I also have very minimal expectations, and I am equally as quick to voice my approval over even the tiniest accomplishments, even an infinitesimal step forward is a step in the right direction.
A shout-out here to my handsome Fabian who has been maintaining steady employment for months now. Third shift in a poultry processing plant. Dude, I couldn't do what you are doing, and I greatly admire your physical capabilities in doing this harrowing and tough, tough job. This makes You The Man in my eyes.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
The wall mount TV set was generously given to us by Travis and Kimberly years ago. Safe now on the wall, I've watched many a Braves games between my children's other shows.
JoJo's G.I. haircut is of his own choosing. He gets Martin to cut it for him. Hair styles are not a battle I have any interest in fighting. I just label it as self expression.
Salsa. Do we ever have salsa, we're rolling in it, there'll be so much this winter it won't be possible to run out of it. As I worked amongst the tomatoes last night, tossing the ones the birds, the rabbits, the deer, the mice, and squirrels had chewed through to my hens, putting the good ones in buckets so I could make salsa before bed, I found my silly self so very thrilled at this year's harvest so far. I was giddy.
I don't think I have ever, in 42 summer garden seasons, ever gotten it right, either too much or too little.
Allen voluntarily brought me wheelbarrow loads of wood chips faster than I could get 'em spread. "Are you angling for something?" I asked him suspiciously.
"No, this is your late birthday present," he replied, only to immediately ask if his girlfriend could come swimming with us.
Dude, that's angling.
"Sure," I responded, "If you don't mind your emotional twin's uncontrollable shenanigans, because you're sure gonna get 'em if he has a new audience."
"I know," he sighed deeply. JoJo is just so dang funny that it outweighs the embarrassment. He's also highly annoying, but so very lovable that you just can't help busting out laughing. Well, at least I can't help it.
I got our resident clown, JoJo, to his orthodontist appointment, and Lily and Sabrina, who love the Tuesday Senior Citizen discount at Goodwill, to their favorite haunt. Lily, who rarely finds anything in any store that she likes, always finds a pile of shirts at Goodwill. Always.
I found two neutral hued sofas that'd look way better than the ugly plaid one I now have in the living room, but I'm way too broke. Seriously a $22.64 sofa minus 25%... and I don't have it to spare.
Oh well, there'll be more sofas.
To mess up a phrase, I'm three gallons of broke in a two gallon bucket.
But speaking of buckets, Jack picked me a bucket of fresh figs, and I ate the whole thing before bed.
Folks wouldn't bat an eye if I ate a whole sack of potato chips, but fresh figs seem weird? Go figure.
I just discovered via the U.S.P.O. that I'm eligible to cash in some reward points I didn't know I had on my debit card. I looked it up and now I'm gonna get $205 in Wal-Mart gift cards within 7-10 days just in time for the back-to-school buggies of supplies that my kids will need.
It's these lagniappe moments that get me through, I always attribute it to God, and thank Him for His blessings. That's how I involuntarily think.
It's very, very hot here. I'm soaking wet with sweat at nine o'clock in the evening, coming inside at dark, the AC a shock to my system. I've kept it on, even though my kids don't really care if I do, or if I don't, use the AC.
My bedroom upstairs is a complete Southern exposure and a constant 100+ at all times. There's no way I could afford the AC running all the time to even get it down to 90 degrees and, truthfully, I seriously don't give a good cahoot. I turn on the window fan at dark and the cooler night air, still 91 degrees at nine p.m. comes blowing in, wildly fragrant and natural, allowing the tropical night sounds of bullfrogs and birds, and I always find myself under the covers by morning, having slept fine.
I plowed through paperwork during the heat of the day, bo-ring but necessary. The kids swam, the grandkids did as well, and all is calm here. A sit down supper with zero incidents, which is what we usually experience nowadays, and I'm very grateful for the upswing in living conditions.
Yolie'd read this article, "Kids who are neglected, growing up without normal emotional and social interaction, have measurably different brain structure from other kids, according to a new study from researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital.
I, of course, wanna yell, "Well, no kidding!" I think of all the children with helicopter parents and then of my own kids who struggle with all the little things like remaining in their seat during classes while heavily saddled with zero impulse control issues.
Through the years since BEIP has started, its researchers have shown that neglected kids fall short on IQ and language skills; that they are more prone to behavior disorders and repetitive motions like rocking, flapping and banging their heads against things; and that they even show signs of accelerated cell aging.
Anyone mind if I scream, "DUH!"
It did go on to encourage me, in that there is a bit of catch-up that is possible, but the numbers are staggering regarding the amount of children being affected.
That this is now being, at least, recognized and studied, gives me some hope that eventually newer research will help with some answers, right? Puh-leeze.
Somehow JoJo remembered on his own and immediately yelled at me in his normal loud volume, "Hey! It's almost my anniversary," finally remembering that August First marks the date of his arrival into the Bodie Family. "Wanna take Allen and I out for ice cream?"
I do like to celebrate in some way, they are the two remaining babies, at 15 and 16, of the original sibling group of seven, who are now almost all in their 20s, still fighting uphill against all I'd advised as I parented them back then. They are all 100% convinced I'm too conservative, church-going, out-of-the-loop, prudish and no fun.
They'd arrived 12 years ago, quietly then, sad and frightened, uneasy and unstable, with some seething inner fury that bubbled up violently over the years. Very good-looking, very aggressive, emotionally demanding, tempestuous, and super adorable, I had no clue what was ahead for us all.
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Apparently unpredictable bouts of collusion are involved as I'm discovering tasks completed before I'd ever even asked for help. Predictably CW had spread wood chips around the stepping stones leading up to the pool, his conscience and empathy both highly developed by continuous stability and loving nurturing, but my Emotional Twins stunned me by doing the same, in the sweltering heat of the day, unbidden, up by the banana shrubs near the pool without asking for anything in return.
Who are those boys?
I'd long since quit expecting any help around here. It didn't take me but a couple of decades to learn I'd never win a control battle because the stakes were too high in their imagination. For me it would be all about teaching someone how the real world functions, but to them it involved absolutely everything they thought they stood for, usually irrationally so.
One sibling group in particular, no make that two of mine, presented extremely challenging behaviors that did not respond very well to therapy, logic or any other possible technique available.
I would be wanting to stand my ground, even in therapy sessions, until I finally learned with children like mine, that my inner flexibility would be more than necessary, that I was getting nowhere otherwise.
The Big Picture involved far more than winning any silly control battles. Claudia has often mentioned that it's more about the relationship and she's correct. It took me awhile to totally comprehend it because on the surface it just didn't make sense.
But with traumatized or emotionally damaged children the old models just didn't work at all. Everyone would end up angry and upset and still no one won. It isn't about winning and it's important for the parents of traumatized children to understand that concept.
Eventually, if a decent relationship is established and not just destroyed via all the control battles, well then, and only then, will the children begin to listen to us...and to hear us, but I repeat, it takes many years for this to come about even incrementally.
I believe I'm fairly rational, logical if you will, yet no amount of explanations ever sufficed in these battles. Teachers would later tell me every word they'd said leading up to an explosion in their classroom by one of my behaviorally challenged children, showing me that they'd used all the proper methods, not knowing that I already understood their impossibly uphill battle with these kids.
I had no answers either, no options to present to them.
"Just let it go," seems to go against everything any of us learned in grad school, right? Yet, with traumatized children, this is exactly what we need to do if no one is in imminent danger by our letting it go.
What I have learned though is that with maturity, which may take many many years, we parents do see improvement incrementally.
One of my sons, now out of prison, has spouted off appropriate phrases that he knows I want to hear, "using our language," as a case manager coined it yesterday regarding another of my children. She's right on the money, the kids do pick up on the jargon, usually in a very self-serving way, and that has taught me nowadays to be wary in my trusting abilities.
I was asked if I thought The One Who Must Control Everything is college material. I was taken aback by the question and thought for a minute. I never want to blurt out negative feelings like this, knowing the power of words, this beautiful child is fairly smart, yet her combative behaviors hinder everything.
I have had kids later attend college, much to my surprise, kids whose behaviors once frightened the turkey outta me, so I would not, nor will not, be surprised if it occurs again, indeed I'd be very happy.
TOWMCE once would've raged here over everything, knowing it would control our behaviors in that my kids would have to kowtow to her to avoid the explosions in which she'd hurt someone for some perceived slight, then would be angry at me for verbally correcting her behaviors and would scream and rage because I wouldn't punish whoever she then ordered me to consequence.
I never obeyed these directive because they never made sense, that person she was antagonizing or attacking had not done anything to be consequenced about, leaving us all bewildered, sometimes injured, and always wondering how to redeem situations and restore any sense of being normal.
It was a terrible time in our lives and I still feel very bad that my other children all became so miserable as a direct response to the reign of terror under which we then lived. Am I being a Drama Queen? No, I'm not. It was a depressingly difficult time in our lives. If I remain this traumatized by it all, how much so for my children? Especially the younger ones.
We picked our usual buckets of tomatoes and peppers last night, making more quarts of salsa to freeze for later, downing an entire quart before bed, JoJo outdoing everyone, as he's often prone to do, by chomping on several fresh jalapenos, his eyes watering, his mouth burning, his entire shirtless torso turning a bright red in response, but his laughter was so contagious, reminding me again how nice it is around here, even with my severely oppositional kids, but safety is prevalent, paramount and, of course, priceless.
"You spit yours out!" JoJo hollered at Chuy, "I see the evidence," as they were competing for the most macho imaginary prize medal in relation to the amount of capain one could ingest. I believe I might could've topped 'em both, but had I chosen to participate, they'd both have upped the ante into the stratosphere until I begged for relief.
I do know better.
The picture here is of my daughter, Saray, now 34, a amrried mom of three children, Heidi, Isaac and Gianni. I'm loving the fact that I now have so many kids in their thirties. Saray will be 39 in three months, Deysi, 36, Cristy is 35, Saray and Gina, both 34, Yolie, is 32, Carolina's almost 32, Marcela is 31, Sergi almost 31, and Jesse too hit 30 this year.
Oh my goodness. I have TEN kids in their 30s now? Big Joe's already 29.
My experience has taight me that those crazy years, mainly let's say 17-27, are fraught with complications for my children. And for birth children too. I actually have friends with birth children and I've listened to their complaints over the years regarding poor decisions and bone-headede choices.
I have 16 kids in that age bracket. Some are excelling, some are so-so, some are stumbling.
Only two left in elementary school nowadays, a fourth and a fith grader, Tabby and Nando, two sweeties lemme tell ya.
Monday, July 23, 2012
The usual mind boggling adjectives, such as horrific and terrifying, are being used to describe the awful massacre at the theater in Colorado. Like the rest of the nation, I'm struck nearly wordless by it all, shock doesn't begin to cover it.
Halfway down, reading the headlines in the Huffington Post, I see the words 11 dead in a pick-up crash in South Texas barely getting a mention.
Eleven human beings. A staggering number. Loved family members I'm certain, someone's father, brother, a relative in some capacity.
"Not known yet if they're illegals," mentioned at the bottom as if we can treat these Mexicans dismissively? Ethnocentrism seems rather unacceptable to me. White folks being rude is what I see.
Is it just me, or isn't this kind of offensive?
This very liberal news outlet being clearly racist? This very liberal organization, that would deem a religious conservative like me as close-minded, is obviously overlooking some big fat head irony here.
Sometimes I just don't understand this world.
Both Lily and CW told me they were overly distracted during the movie yesterday, checking exit doors, whispering to each other what they'd do if the unthinkable happened. Tall skinny CW having to wonder how he'd protect Lily and Gina. Oh my. I'm terribly bothered that they even have to think that way, I can't begin to fathom how the parents of the Aurora victims now feel.
I was with the mothers of two of Daniel's closest friends yesterday, the moms of Brent and Mitchell at the bridal shower. This easily could've been our three sons at a midnight movie. We can't help but feel deep compassion for the moms in Aurora, Colorado.
I wanna generalize and tell everyone that gardening will solve all that ails the world, but I know that isn't specifically true.
I am bothered by the societal expectation we all seem to have, which is we think we are entitled to be passively entertained, be it by video games, shopping, movies, TVs, rock concerts, or what have you.
That we, as a society, consume rather than produce anything, as if we're all now incapable of doing so.
Has creativity been bred out of our genes? What about self-sufficiency?
The lost arts of taking care of ourselves?
We want the state, the government, to educate us, to feed us, to pay our bills, or whatever. Me included y'all, many of my kids have Medicaid.
The dearth of anyone taking any iota of personal responsibility is astonishing.
For me, my energies spent on producing and preserving our food is inwardly very, very rewarding. Maybe I'm just a dinosaur, an old fashioned throwback to a previous pioneer generation, but it keeps me off anti-depressants.
The same case is Sarah's high-intensity homeschooling of her own children. She could be accused of over-reaching, not of pushing them at all, but of pushing herself to develop specific and detailed curriculums geared individually to each of her children, as if that's a bad thing? I don't think so. I'm proud of her devotion to them.
Or what about women who sew or knit, or bake bread and feed their children nutritiously each night versus slapping fast food via a drive-through on the table. Aren't we supposed to do this? That's how my smart mom raised me.
Or how about HOA fees when folks can't, or simply don't wanna mow their postage stamp sized grass and pay others to do it for them. I'm not against that, I'm just pointing out how little we all do for our own selves anymore as a whole. Then we women get bored and might have affairs because that's what we see on TV as rewarding?
Then we need to leave our children and go to a gym, because we don't do anything that requires movement at all. Or we think we need to be pampered? We don't even paint our own nails? Salons springing up everywhere so we barely have to lift a finger at all?
For the record - my nails are bare. I find nail polish to be environmentally unacceptable, yet I allow my daughters their own personal choice here.
Kids, including my own, don't reach for books, they reach for joysticks and game controllers, I have to beg for some help around here and rarely get it properly, but my darling kids have some miswiring situations going on.
Sarah would've never balked at doing the dishes nor carrying out the compost container to our makeshift bin when she was a teen, because she'd been properly nurtured. CW, Lily and Jack too have been here since birth - daily reminding me by their actions what bonding and nurturing can do for a soul.
I grieve that my other children were denied this basic opportunity, it's just not fair at all.
I'm trying, I'm fighting a very uphill battle to teach them all to cook, to put together a meal, to think, to be reflective, or mindful about their lives, to make plans, to set goals, to be producers versus consumers.
This has been the first summer in more'n ten years that there has not been someone with significantly over-wrought, anti-social issues living here putting others in danger to some degree or another.
We've had emotional issues going on around here certainly, but we've not had any dangerous situations, thank you Lord for opening the doors that got us to this point. My 12 kids still at home deserve this common courtesy of safety.
It'll be me doing the paperwork for Sabrina's scholarships, I believe that is my job, she needs to focus on school, and she needs to learn that this is what a parent does. She's only on her 8th year of living with me, no stability for her until she was ten years old, branded, "Memaw," by her three younger siblings.
She's 17 and 1/2, on that emotionally rocky cusp of being a grownup, struggling with her own inner conflicts, but very responsive to Dr. Mandy's guidance, as well as receptive to me as a parent. She's very smart and she's willing to learn, and I pray that this, her senior year, will be a time of firmly cementing her place in our family, where we embark upon a lifetime friendship, as well as a familial relationship driven mindset between the two of us.
I pray that she doesn't fall for the bizarre lies this inane world will often tell women, I pray her inner strength will remain as formidable as it is now. I pray that she'll find her inner joy, be it in nursing or whatever vocation she so chooses, that she'll not falter and cost herself so much.
I pray that she will know she is beautiful and intelligent, that she can o what she sets her mind to do, that she won't have the unrealistic insecurities that our media has inflicted upon women.