Monday, February 28, 2011

Bag 'O Crap

Twice a week I drop Pumpkin off for a visit with her family. Her mom hasn't missed a visit yet. (This is a good thing.) But at (almost) every visit her mom brings a Bag 'O Crap.

I try to not let it get to me. I'm pretty sure her mom has remorse for all that has happened. It is difficult to process these feelings. I'm also guessing "gift giving" must be her Love Language. She tries to ease her guilt by buying Pumpkin gifts.

I just wish she would give appropriate gifts.

Usually it's an outfit. (The witch in me gets ticked because the outfits often don't fit or aren't appropriate...especially since I'm coughing up a lot of my own $$$ for an appropriate wardrobe and a full set of school uniforms.)

Along with the outfit there is usually some candy. This is easy enough to handle. I'll admit it - the candy goes up in MY candy jar. When I'm doling out candy to all the cherubs I make sure she gets some. But somehow the chocolate just never makes it to Pumpkin.

The Bag 'O Crap was lovely tonight. She got a nice sleeveless dress that obviously came out of a Christmas clearance bin. This in and of itself isn't necessarily a bad thing. But it's one of those super phoofy dresses in dark green and red. All Pumpkin has for shoes are some purple tennis shoes and some white Nikes. I love Pumpkin to pieces but I'm quite sure she couldn't walk in "dress" shoes. And I'm just not going to doll her up in a fancy dress with tacky tennis shoes.

There was also a big Mickey Mouse cup with a lid and a straw. Not a practical one that you can really use. But a super tall one with a spinning Mickey on the bottom that can't go in the dishwasher. (My "own" kids were never allowed things like this. When grandma gives them out, they somehow disappear.)

The gift that really got me tonight though was a dozen Easter eggs each filled with change. And by change I do mean money.

????!!!! WHAT ????!!!!

Pumpkin doesn't know what money is. I wouldn't feel right letting Pumpkin spend it. Somehow I see that going poorly for me. Money isn't a toy. The eggs are cheap - like all plastic Easter eggs. They aren't a toy. What on earth did Pumpkin's mom think Pumpkin would do with these?!

Needless to say, I washed the cup out and dried it. It's going up and out of the way with all the other clothes that don't fit and toys that aren't appropriate. The eggs and money were all put in a zip-top bag that joined the cup. The dress is hanging in her closet never to be worn. I did let Pumpkin keep the little stuffed bear with chew toys for each paw. I think it's strange that her mom would buy her a "baby" toy when most of the time I think she's in full denial about Pumpkin's abilities. But at least the little stuffed animal is appropriate.

Pumpkin handles transitions after visits pretty well. Meaning, she doesn't throw fits and she falls back into routine rather quickly at our house. Tonight she was a little upset that I wasn't letting her hang on to all the things from the Bag 'O Crap. Given her lack of language, she does this by rejecting me with dirty looks. I decided to do a better job this evening and avoid the battle all together. Many nights Pumpkin will act like she wants to read stories together. But if it's immediately following a visit, she'll turn her head and say "no" a lot while we're reading. It's not her fault. Pumpkin can't talk so she can't process her feelings. Rejecting me is the only way she can communicate that foster care sucks. As much as I love reading, I decided that it is better for our relationship if we don't read stories at bedtime right after a visit. I sang Pumpkin her "nigh-nigh" song and turned on her lullaby CD. Then, after the lights were out I came back into her room to let her know that I love her and that I know...foster care sucks. It was easier for me to pretend I wasn't being completely rejected when I couldn't see her face. I kissed her goodnight and left the room.

But you're right Pumpkin...foster care sucks.


jendoop said...

One of the hardest things about fostering (and there are a lot!) is that doing what is right for the child usually means sacrificing your heart. Just because she gets grumpy during reading time after visits, doesn't mean it doesn't comfort her. We all want to be loved unconditionally, so does Pumpkin. The wonderful things you are teaching her by your example of loving, even when she isn't very lovable, will serve her well in life.

Allow her to be upset and don't take it personally. Don't get me wrong, let her learn the meaning of "no" by putting away the book when she says it.

(Just so you don't think I'm being harsh, I'm about to take my own advice and do something I've been dreading because Vince needs it, not because I in any way enjoy it.)

jendoop said...

Oh, and the bag o' crap is the lovely parting gift at the end of a visit. If you're feeling adventurous send one of the crap items to the next visit so Mom can see how inappropriate her gifts are.

CherubMamma said...

@Jen - When Pumpkin rejects me, she truly doesn't want me anywhere near her. More and more I'm putting (some of) her behaviors on the autism spectrum. (Both a psychologist and her neurologist seemed to agree with me as well.) That said, Pumpkin rejects social interaction as a whole. I do my best to love her through it. But after a visit, I usually follow Pumpkin's lead.

We are working very hard to help Pumpkin learn what "no" means. Her language skills are so limited. And she obviously has a processing disorder as well so I'm not sure how much progress we're going to get. Even on a "good" day, Pumpkin will tell me no during story time. (She says "no" a lot.)

We'll get through it though. As I like to say, this fostering stuff is a trip!

jendoop said...

You're dealing with something I don't have experience with. Pumpkin is such a complicated child, so difficult for you. You're doing great!