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.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Behavior mod rewards

For earning my seven stickers, I rewarded myself with a margarita earlier this week. It was delicious! When my sister (Bratface) proposed the idea of behavior mod, she said that she was going to send me a reward as well. Quite honestly though, I was happy enough with the margarita so I had forgotten about her promise of a treat as well.

A large box of Luvs came in the mail to me today with Bratface's return address. I giggled when I figured out that it was my reward for good behavior.

To my surprise, I opened the box and inside there were...diapers.

Oh joy. Funny. Ha ha.

So I started digging through the diapers. I figured my "real" prize was tucked in the middle of the box. As I started moving things around, a piece of chocolate fell out of a diaper. I opened up the next diaper to discover another piece of chocolate and small group of stickers.

66 diapers later I had 66 pieces of delicious chocolate and a whole pile of stickers.

My family is a total crackup. (Bratface collaborated with my mother on the reward.)

Adding to the humor, it has been over 90° almost every day this week. Much of the chocolate was soft and melty. Given how I earned said chocolate I had to laugh. Diapers...with melted chocolate in them?! How could I not laugh???

I popped all the chocolate promptly into the fridge and went out to pick up all the cherubs from school. I'm glad to report that even the most melty Lindor Truffles firmed up just fine and taste absolutely delicious. Gotta love behavior mod!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Margarita for lunch

The cherubs all had school today.

Mr. Amazing had the day off.

I work from home so my schedule is always flexible.

We had a date! Without the children. Without having to find a babysitter. Just us. Alone.

I had a margarita.

Today was good!!!

Sing...Sing a Song

The running theme for Trauma Mammas headed to Orlando this spring is You Are Not Alone. It's something that has to be preached to women everywhere - trauma mamma or not.

I think that's one of the reasons I share what I do on my blog. If my experiences can help one other person know that they are not alone in their efforts - it is a good thing!! My triggers might not be the same as yours. But we all get triggered by our kids. This just happens to be what I'm dealing with now.

As of yesterday I had six stickers. At 7:00PM I went to get Pumpkin ready for her bath. I checked the diaper and realized I had an opportunity to get another sticker. I took a deep breath and walked Pumpkin over to the spare bedroom where I change her diaper. She tried to climb up on the bed but I wasn't ready for her yet so I put her back on the floor. This made her mad and she started fussing at me right away. (And by fussing I don't mean "fussing" like a tiny baby does. Pumpkin will act like she's talking to me but everything is complete gibberish. It's obvious that she has thoughts in her head, but nothing that comes out makes any sense. Coming from a five year old child, it is hard to get used to.)

I walked out of the room to collect myself. I took a deep breath and told Mr. Amazing that I was going to get my sticker!!! Dagnabit - behavior mod was going to work for me right then and there! I marched myself back to Pumpkin and started to change the diaper.

Pumpkin decided to whine and fuss during the entire diaper change.

I swear I had the devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other. In one ear I heard, "You can do this. Go outside yourself. It's not even that messy. Just clean her up. You're going to get a sticker. Come on now. Put your big girl panties on and get it over with. It's just a diaper."

In the other ear I heard, "Ewww. That is sooooo gross. How could she do that and just sit in it?! She's got no business being frustrated that you're changing her diaper. She should be grateful. What a nasty little child."

I stood there and fought with myself while trying to get the diaper changed. My heart started racing. My voice was tense. I was the exact opposite of calm, cool and collected. I was turning into a witch!

I got through the diaper change OK enough. But then I had to carry Pumpkin upstairs to the bath. Not because of the diaper - but because she needed a bath in general. My patience was shot. I ran the water and washed Pumpkin's hair. I certainly was not as loving and compassionate as Pumpkin deserves.

I grabbed the phone and called my therapist (my sister). I knew she would help me brainstorm. I had to have something I could do to keep my own emotions and reactions under control. No, I didn't hurt Pumpkin or doing anything "wrong". But there just had to be a way to keep ME from overreacting in such an irrational way!

You know how sometimes you just need the obvious stated?! Bratface (my sister) and I chatted for just a few minutes. She reminded me yet again that I'm not a bad person just because I have these feelings. She then reminded me of a trick I've used millions of times with all my other kids...

Sing.

It's that simple. Just sing a song. Sing when I'm changing the diaper. Make up a silly diaper changing song. Or, if I really want to hold myself accountable, sing something like "Jesus Loves the Little Children".

I earned my seventh sticker last night at 10:00PM. Yes, 10:00PM. Because Pumpkin will go to bed, mess her pants and then just sleep in it. Every night before I turn in for the day, I go in her room and check her diaper. I usually get the opportunity for a sticker at least once or twice a week.

So there I sat at 10:00PM with a sleepy, confused little girl singing "Jesus Loves Me". She doesn't usually fight the middle of the night changes. But she's not usually thrilled with them either. As for me, my blood pressure stayed perfectly regulated. My voice didn't get all tense. I cleaned her up and tucked her back in bed without any problems.

I promptly went downstairs to throw the diaper away and put my seventh sticker on the calendar.

I'm having a margarita for lunch!!!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

anxiety anxiety anxiety

Wanna throw Cherub 2 for a loop?

Offer to do some respite care.

He will become acutely aware of how much care Pumpkin needs. (Which, I must say, is very, very little given all of her delays. She entertains herself most all of the time. And things like bathtime and bedtime are very easy with her -- not near the drawn out drama of MissArguePants and TurtleTurtle.)

Then, after he's gotten himself worked up about the equity of parental time spent in the house, he'll dig out the gloves. (He finds relief from his stress by wearing biking gloves. Thankfully he's got a great teacher that has no problem with this when they show up at school too.)

And conversations about adoption will pop up in the strangest of places.

I'm glad I have learned his triggers. I threw in some extra cuddling at bedtime tonight. I'm not talking about the upcoming respite too much. We'll deal with it head on Saturday afternoon as I clean out the guest room that I allowed Cherub 1 to trash out last weekend. (Rest assured Cherub 1 will be cleaning too!!) Cherub 2 will be fine. He will be just fine.

But I'm betting the gloves stay on from now til the 28th.

More stickers

I had an opportunity yesterday to earn a sticker. (Let's be real. If I had succeeded I should have earned a fistful of stickers!)

But...I blew it.

Not as bad as I've blown it in the past. But my attitude wasn't sticker worthy. It looks like the explosion diapers are what throw me the most. I'm working on it!

On the flip side - I've earned two separate stickers today.

Whoo hooo

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Not all are created alike

This is a post about how information flows in the fostering world. I want to maintain a positive attitude towards things. But if I'm going to be honest about what fostering really looks like - I'm going to have to include nuggets like this.

We're doing respite for another foster family starting this weekend. Their plans seem a little haphazard right now. They didn't know if they were leaving on Friday or Saturday. They weren't even sure when they would be back. They said they needed respite for a week. The foster mom said she had nine kids and homes were found for all of them except this little boy. (I have no idea how many of those nine are foster kids and how many are bio or adopted.)

I checked with Mr. Amazing and we agreed it'd be OK. We're pretty flexible.

That's all well within the realm of normal I guess.

They were kind enough to the little guy to bring him by yesterday to meet us. He got to stay for a whole 5 minutes I think. My kids asked him how old he is. He said four. (Maybe foster mom forgot? Maybe he just had a birthday and is really five? I dunno.)

The foster dad said things might be changing with his family visits. He was going to have to check and let me know. He seemed to think that they'd bring him over after the visit Saturday afternoon. I asked when they planned on picking him back up. That was met with some uncertainty. He decided that they'd pick him up on Monday the 28th. (I did the math. That's longer than a week. Oh well. I'm still flexible enough.)

Foster mom just called me to confirm that if it's OK with me, we'll pick him up from his visit on Saturday at 5:00PM. I said that's not a problem at all. And yes, we'll probably have to bring him to his visit the following Saturday from 1:00 to 5:00PM at a local McDonalds. (Forgive me as I climb on a different soap box... Accckkk?! McDonalds is where this kid gets to go to spend four hours with his mom and four other siblings?! Oh there are some broken things in the system for sure. Forget about Happy Meal toys being a poor influence on children. Let's take an institution that is supposed to help parents become better at parenting and use McDonalds as the meeting place for family reunification. What a crock!)

Through the limited amount of conversation we had up to this point I had found out that this little guy has been with them since September and is one of five kids. This particular foster family has three of the siblings and another foster family has the other two. All they keep telling me is that the boy is very good. He's any easy one. They aren't giving me any of their behavior problem kids.

I asked the foster mom why he had been removed in the first place.

She. didn't. know.

She ended up mumbling something about it being abuse and neglect. But she did say that she didn't know for sure.

I want to believe that this is a terrific foster family. I want to believe that they are looking out for the best interests of all the children in their care. But how could you not know why the child you've been caring for since September lives with you?! This information is so important to me. Am I strange because of that? For me, it helps explain behaviors. Children respond to different settings in different ways based on their life experiences. Will he be scared if he's left in a room to sleep alone because he's been horribly neglected? Or has there been sexual abuse and I need to make sure he doesn't sleep in the same room as one of my children?

I know we'll be OK. I can roll with these kinds of punches. I met the little boy. All I saw was a deep wound of sadness tucked in the back of his gaze as he looked at me. Sadness and confusion mixed with a bit of "hey, this looks like a fun house with lots of toys and two other boys to play with". I'm not worried about this turning into some kind of a psycho mess. Besides, I've got the on-call worker plugged into speed dial and I'm not afraid to call for back-up. I highly doubt the week will be anything out of the ordinary.

It's just a reminder that we are all radically different.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Never a dull moment

Just had another foster parent drop by. We've agreed to do respite care starting this weekend. The foster dad brought by a beautiful four-year-old boy so he could meet us quickly and get a fast tour of the house. They'll be dropping him off this Saturday and he'll stay through Monday morning the 28th.

Yes...
That will be a four year old boy.
A five year old girl.
A six year old boy.
A seven year old boy.
And a thirteen year old boy.
All living in my house for a week plus.

I'm going to have to be a little more protective this time around. Inevitably the neighborhood kids like to come over and hang out to "meet the new kid". Despite my best efforts, I'm sure I will see a backyard completely full of cherubs in my future.

I got a sticker

Nothing like a silly heart sticker on a calendar to change my perspective.

I smelled something.

Instead of throwing myself a crabby pity party - I thought, "Oh boy! I get to get a sticker!"

Twisted. I know.

But now I'm six stickers away from a trip to the liquor store. LOL

A texting conversation

There are things about foster parenting that you get "warned" about during the training. But can I tell you that head knowledge is totally different than experiencing the real thing?!

Join me in a conversation I had via text this afternoon with Pumpkin's mom....

Me: Do I have permission to take Pumpkin for a haircut? I would like to get her a trim and cut off the dry frizzy ends. It is entirely up to you though as I have to have an OK from you before I can do something like that.

Bio Mom: What happen to her on her arm i saw the scrape on her arm?

What scrape?! Hmmm...better check Pumpkin over. Oh, look. Here's a minor scab on her elbow. I never saw her fall and scrape it. Must have happened at school or something. Pumpkin has a hard time walking and falls pretty regularly. Could have happened anywhere I guess. I'll improvise...

Me: She fell down and scraped it. It was really minor. I think it might have happened at school on the playground. I didn't notice it right away.

Bio Mom: You didn't notice it?

Me: Not right away. It wasn't bleeding. The scrape was barely there. She didn't complain. It is healing fine.

In the back of my mind I'm screaming. Oh I'm yelling!
She is the mom that left her daughter completely unattended! Her daughter was found at midnight wearing nothing but a diaper and some socks. She was intoxicated and ended up getting arrested. But I have to answer for a scrape on the elbow that could have happened anywhere?!

Well, Mom changed the subject back to the haircut. I have permission to cut it "a little bit". I confirmed that I want to take about an inch off. She's OK with that. I'm going to make sure that CPS knows I have permission and I think we'll get the haircut done later on this week.

And just to keep things interesting, I sent a text to Pumpkin's mom as we finished up at the dentist. (We had gone back for a followup after the surgery she had a couple weeks ago.)

Me: We just finished at the dentist. Pumpkin is healing great from the surgery.

Bio Mom: Thank god  !  !  and you

----

Navigating the world of parenting is strange enough. This fostering stuff is a trip!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Crappy behavior mod

This will probably be too long and too graphic. But I've been wrestling around with these thoughts for awhile now. Might as well share them with the blogosphere.

Foster parenting is a trip. Full disclosure is a joke! The bottom line is: CPS needs beds for kids. I believe if you've been through the training and had all the background checks done, that's all that matters to the placing worker. Granted, our agency runs buffer for us on this process. But the intake worker from our agency is limited to only the information CPS gives her. Which means that full disclosure is a joke!

When Pumpkin came to stay with us I was told she had a limp and developmental delay. I was told that she used to have a seizure disorder. (Key words there - used to. I found out the hard way that you never outgrow a seizure disorder. If a person has more than 2-3 seizures in their life, they automatically have epilepsy for LIFE.) However, the worker was honest and shared with me that the only thing Pumpkin said was "Mommy" when they found her.

Ever the optimist, I put Pumpkin way higher on the spectrum of developmental delay than I should have. I assumed the limp was minor. (It's not really a limp - it's full muscle development issues that make walking extremely tedious for Pumpkin and very difficult.) I assumed the reason she only said, "Mommy" was because of the trauma and removal. After all, she was found wandering outside her apartment around midnight. I assumed she was tired and upset.

Note all the "I assumed" statements in the above paragraph?!

The kicker with Pumpkin is they didn't bother to tell me that she's not potty trained.

A five year old in diapers?! Ewww.

I'll be honest here. This is where I decided that it would be too embarrassing to stop the placement. There were three social workers sitting in my living room. The hubby wasn't particularly thrilled with this placement. (He wasn't as optimistic as I was when I described what CPS told me on the phone.) The child was asleep on the love seat. It was awkward. And I didn't want to call it all off. Diapers?! I've done 'em. Surely it wouldn't be that bad. Even then though, I was convinced we were dealing with a 42 pound infant. The CPS (investigative) social worker thought I was nuts and didn't understand why I was the least bit uncomfortable. I was scared to death. We had discussed what kinds of placements we could handle and what kind we couldn't. This screamed "couldn't". But I was strong. God called me to do this. Surely this was going to be OK.

And it is OK. It really is.

But this is where it'll get graphic.

The optimist in me was convinced that Pumpkin and I would work on attachment for a couple months and I'd gradually introduce her to the potty. I'd do it just like I did with my neurotypical children. We'd talk about the potty words. I'd sit her up on the toilet. I knew it wouldn't happen overnight. But I was optimistic.

Now for a dose of reality. Pumpkin looked at me like I was a complete idiot the first time I put her up on the potty. And she has resisted it every time afterward. She has no concept of what happens on or near a potty other than there is water in the bowl. She seems intrigued by the water.

Then her mom told me that Pumpkin knows when she pees or poops in her diaper.

This made me laugh. Not ha ha ha - that's a silly joke. But, oh holy batshit! Really?! Your daughter has NO CLUE! (This all happened on the afternoon of the Family Group Conference when biomom gave Pumpkin THREE apple juice boxes and Pumpkin then had THE. MOST. DISGUSTING. BLOWOUT. of my entire diaper changing life!) I thought I'd handle it OK. But now I was getting ticked off. (This is where the post turns all into my issues and the things I have to deal with.)

From there I started researching how to potty train a special needs child. Everything is pretty much the same as training a neurotypical child. They have to be ready.
They need to be able to get themselves to the bathroom reasonably well. (Pumpkin can't.)
They need to be able to maneuver their clothing to be able to go to the bathroom. (Pumpkin can't.)
They need to know when they are wet or soiled. (Pumpkin doesn't.)

Oh crap. (Literally.) I guess I won't be potty training.

This is where the dirty diapers became some kind of a nasty trigger for me. Every time she poops and just sits around in it I get sooooo grossed out. I get mad because of the mess. I get mad because her mom claims Pumpkin knows when she's dirty. I get mad that Pumpkin has been so horribly neglected. I get mad that I have to do all the hard work and her biomom gets to bring her treats and crap at every visit. I get mad that Pumpkin's mom never has to change diapers anymore. (I'm pretty sure the diaper bag I bring to every single visit doesn't even get touched.) Oh oh oh. I just get mad.

And it's not pretty.

Cause about this time as my brain is swirling around all the nastiness...I'm rolling Pumpkin up on her back so I can see how far the poop ran up the diaper - onto her back - all over everything. (Granted, not every diaper is a blowout. But there have been enough.) You know how babies are proportioned to roll in half when you need to clean their bums? Babies are so damn cute when you fold them in half like that. It's hilarious.

Five year olds are not cute when you have to change their bums. And they don't like being folded in half.

But how does one go about getting all the poop off of a five year old unless they roll them backwards and use about a million wipes?

Here we go again. My trigger is getting worse. I have to make Pumpkin uncomfortable in order to get her clean. She looks up at me and whines. That is frustrating. She often likes to say the word "Mommy" while I'm changing her diaper. Does she mean me?! Does she mean her biomom?! Either way it ticks me off. Then, when I go to clean the front side of her ('cause girls need cleaned there too when they poo) she likes to try to close her legs together.

If it's a really nasty poo I get her as clean as I can with wipes and then we go to the bathroom so I can finish cleaning her in the tub. By now I'm frustrated and I want Pumpkin to walk faster and better than she's capable of. (Remember - these are my issues...not Pumpkin's.) She doesn't understand. And now I'm filtering everything through crabbiness. Totally not fair to Pumpkin. Not fair to her at all.


Needless to say, she's had a few baths that weren't as full of compassion as they should have been. She doesn't understand sit down, lay down, roll over, etc. Cleaning the poo off a 42 pound "infant" isn't a fun chore.


So...I know I have a problem. It's MY problem. I've admitted it to Mr. Amazing. He's been filled with wonderful amounts of support and no condemnation. I've called my mom. She talked me off the ledge and reminded me that it's OK if I get mad at Pumpkin's biomom. Being mad isn't a problem. How I handle it could be. But actually being mad is OK. Even Jesus got mad.


Then I called my sister. She made me laugh. She reiterated that it's OK if I get mad. I'm human. This fostering stuff is super hard work. Then she REALLY made me laugh.


I now have some special stickers picked out (lovely pink hearts to be specific). I am going to put a sticker up on the family calendar every time I change a poopy diaper and manage to keep a positive attitude about things. I have to choose to go completely outside of my body and deal with the situation like it is nothing more than a chore that needs to be done. (Not every moment has to be full of swooning adoration for the child.) But, if I can do it without getting all ticked off at Pumpkin, I can have a sticker.


Bratface (my sister) asked me how many stickers I thought I needed before I should get a reward. (Imagine that question being asked in the silliest of mom voices.) I told her seven sounds about right. Pumpkin doesn't necessarily have a poopy diaper every day with me. Sometimes she'll poo at school. Some days I'll get three chances to practice my patience. You never know. But I figure it will take me about a week to earn seven stickers.


I didn't get a sticker today. (I called my sister AFTER a dirty diaper - not before. And let's just say I didn't have one of my most stellar parenting moments changing said diaper.) But I've got to tell you, this sticker thing just might work. I have to hold myself accountable. Pumpkin couldn't tell you if I acted poorly during a diaper change. Pumpkin can't talk. But I'll know if there are stickers on the calendar or not. And you've got to admit, behavior mod on an adult is pretty funny.


Bratface lives far far away so she joked that I'll have to wait a bit for a reward from her. I mentioned to my hubby that margaritas might be a good reward and he seemed to think he could make that happen. Either way, I'm not sure it's about the stickers completely. But I do think the behavior mod might just help me change my perspective. Crappy behavior mod.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Typical week

There isn't a whole lot to report on right now. We've pretty much slid into a half-way decent routine. Of course, it's still crazy busy. At least it feels that way to me. I'm a taxi cab driver.

This week...
Monday:
No school. Yeah!
9:15AM - Pumpkin is being evaluated for occupational therapy. ('cause...the place I took her to before didn't bother to tell me that they don't take foster kid Medicaid - oh crap! The number stays the same but the actual kind of Medicaid changes and not all providers take it! Acckk!! I love learning stuff like this the hard way.) We're starting all over from scratch with a new pediatric rehab center. Hopefully Pumpkin will get into therapies very soon!
5:00PM - take Pumpkin to family visit at the CPS office
6:00PM - take Herman to counseling (he's got some depression issues that go beyond typical teenage stuff)
7:00PM - pick Pumpkin up from family visit then immediately run over to pick up Herman

Tuesday:
7:30AM - take the cherubs to school (The bus comes too early in the morning. I don't need my kids waiting around at the school for over an hour when we only live around 3 miles away.)
12:30PM - Pumpkin has a follow-up dentist appointment to see if she healed OK from the massive dental reconstruction she had done.
Because I'll have Pumpkin with me, the cherubs will ride the bus home from school. The bus drops them off after school just 15 minutes after they get out. Much faster to ride home.

Wednesday:
7:30AM - take the cherubs to school
8:30AM - This one is almost funny. Pumpkin has to go to our agency to have a psychological evaluation done. Hmmmm. Do they do these on babies?! I'll say it again...Pumpkin doesn't communicate! I'm not sure what they think they are going to find out.

Thursday:
7:30AM - take the cherubs to school
9:15AM - Pumpkin has physical therapy and speech therapy evaluations.
11:00AM - Court. Thankfully Pumpkin is excused from having to attend this. (Only because of her epilepsy. Doesn't make sense to me - but I'm not going to complain.) I'm sure we'll end up meeting with at least one of her lawyers that day. Hopefully it will just be a phone call though. Last time her GAL came to the house after court to visit.
3:00PM - Because Pumpkin isn't "officially" staffed special ed yet, she doesn't have access to the bus as it wouldn't be safe to put her on the regular bus with all the able-bodied children. Therefore, any day that Pumpkin finishes out the day at school means I get to wait in the pick-up line. (One of the worst parts of my day bar none!)

Friday:
7:30AM - take the cherubs to school
No appointments today!! Think I'll get any actual work done?!
3:00PM - pick the cherubs up from school
5:00PM - take Pumpkin to a family visit at Burger King (they're fumigating the CPS office)
7:00PM - pick Pumpkin up from the family visit

Thankfully Pumpkin handles the transitions well. Even the ones following a visit. She pretty much gets in the car with me and life goes on like normal. It's almost sad that she doesn't seem to care anymore. It's hard to tell in general if she's asking for her Mommy or not as she's started calling me Mommy. I only refer to myself as Mamma L***. And my kids all call me Mom. But, to her, I'm Mommy. She rarely asks for her siblings either anymore. It's sad. Easier for me. But very sad.

As for life around the house - I'm continuing to work on myself. The poopy diapers tick me off every single time. I've really got to get over it. I know I do. But there is something so gross about a child this age just sitting in their own poo. I swear she should know that she's dirty and at least say something. (Her mom claims she does but I think her mom must be dreaming!) Being slammed in to parenting special needs takes quite an adjustment. But, we're getting there.

I'm counting down the days until the 21st. Mr. Amazing has the day off from work (federal holiday) and the cherubs all have school. We're going to get to have an all day date!!! (Working from home certainly has its advantages!!) Here's to praying that none of the cherubs get sick or have some appointment scheduled 'cause my Franklin Covey is booked that day!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

In the car with Cherub 1 this morning

A contest was being held on Herman's favorite radio station. While dropping his younger siblings off at school, he borrowed my phone and tried to get through. When I got back in the car he said, "I tried to call in but the number they gave on the radio doesn't work."

I said, "Oh Herman, I'm sure it does. You must have typed it in wrong or maybe something isn't working right on my phone."

He replied, "They say the number is triple eight .... (I don't remember the actual number he rattled off) I typed that in exactly and pushed send. But then the phone just goes 'beep, beep, beep'."

I started laughing so hard I nearly cried. He gave me a very funny look. When I composed myself I let him know that the beeping was a busy signal.

He's so used to everything rolling over to voice mail immediately he's not even familiar with a busy signal. I just giggled and giggled and giggled. I even had to let him know that no, you can't just leave it beeping and eventually someone will pick up. You have to hang up the call and dial again.

Kids these days crack me up!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Kisses

Pumpkin is getting more vocal with her dislike for me. She LOVES Mr. Amazing! But me? The tolerance comes and goes.


I can't say that I blame her. My role in her life has got to be the most confusing. I take care of her. I meet all of her needs. I love on her. But I also take her to see her mommy and then take her away from her mommy. I'm the person that takes her to the doctors. (And boy have we been to a lot of doctors!) So, she recognizes that I'm a good guy. But I also make her do the stuff she doesn't like. I'm a constant reminder that she's not living with her mommy. I'm sure she's quite conflicted about it all.

She's got a new habit. She tells me "no" for absolutely no reason. For example, I just walked in to the living room to talk to Mr. Amazing. As I got in the room, she looked over at me and just said, "no!" Hrrrmmmfff. Nothing like a snotty toddler no to tick me off.

I started something this morning though at school when she told me to "get out" as I was talking to her teachers. I'm going to respond to her snottiness with kisses.

This morning at school I ran across the room, got down on my knees and kissed her all over her cheeks. She hated every minute of it. Doesn't even make her smile. But, it keeps me from getting angry. And it's certainly not a horrible response from me.

We've got a snow day tomorrow. She's stuck with me at home. Her visit for tomorrow has been canceled and we have no appointments to go to over the weekend. I have a feeling there will be lots of kissing.

A rabid dog

I subscribe to regular emails from Love and Logic. The quick reminders of parenting truths are great.


Yesterday's email really struck a cord with me. The image of trying to speak reason to a rabid dog was so vivid. I thought I'd pass along this little bit of wisdom. Next time my teenager tries to suck me in to one of his fights, I'm going to picture him with a dog collar around his neck and just a bit of foam at his mouth. Then, I'm going to walk away before I get bit.

FROM LOVE AND LOGIC:

Have you ever had a successful debate with a rabid dog? I tried it once. It didn't go very well:

Fido [biting my leg]: Grrrr

Me: Now Fido, if you keep this up, there will be serious conseq - ow!

Fido [sinking teeth deeper]: Grrrr

Me: Don't you take that tone with me, mister! You are only hurting yourself with these bad choices you're making…

As humans, our miraculous brains can outperform Fido's before our first birthday. Our brains can do things dogs can't - such as complex reasoning and making wise decisions - as long as we are calm.

Unfortunately, when we are very upset, our brains switch to the part that is not much better at thinking than Fido's dog brain.

So, when we try to lecture or reason with an angry kid, we'll probably be as successful as we'd be with a rabid canine. Like Fido, upset kids are unlikely to stop mid-rage and suddenly be swayed by our wise and compelling words.

Wise adults take better care of themselves by waiting for more calm and happy times to talk with kids. They find that when the storm of emotion has passed over, thinking and logic have a better chance. Calm brains may actually be able to hear and understand what the adults are trying to communicate.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

She can't

Pumpkin is pretty easy to take care of. Other than the fact that she's five years old, can barely walk, hardly talks at all and still wears diapers. Given all her delays - she's a really mellow kid. I am incredibly thankful that she doesn't throw a fit every time something doesn't go her way.

However, I guess our honeymoon is over.

For lack of a better way of phrasing it anyway.

Things Pumpkin could do when she got here seem to be too difficult for her now. The biggest thing I've noticed is behavior at mealtime.

When she first came into our home, I was pleasantly surprised at how well Pumpkin could feed herself. She tried new foods. She insisted on using silverware. Mealtime was easier than I thought it would be.

For reasons I'll never know, it's not the same anymore.

Maybe it's because visits have started with her mom. Twice a week her mom feeds her crap out of a bag (ie. a Happy Meal). I'm offering up homemade food. I'm offering up homemade food that probably looks and smells different than anything she's used to. It didn't bother her for the first three weeks. But it seems to be a problem now. (Even Cheerios for breakfast are getting a blank stare from Pumpkin.)

Maybe it's because her teeth hurt. I can't tell. Her gums look swollen. But sometimes she eats. And sometimes she doesn't.

Maybe she wants to manipulate me. Most every time she'll eat if I feed her. But...is she eating because she's hungry and can't or won't do it herself? Or is it more like I'm forcing her to eat when I try to feed her myself?

I go round and round with what I should do. She possesses the ability to feed herself. No kid will starve themselves. But she's also incredibly developmentally delayed. And she's sad. She's suffered trauma.

I'm battling my own demons. I get angry when she just sits there. And really - that's my problem. Not hers. I really need to get over myself.

Tonight I held up the spoon with food on it, put the spoon in her mouth and then let go. She would sit there for a couple seconds with the spoon hanging out of her mouth then she'd grab hold of the spoon and finish eating the bite of what I fed her. By the time everyone else was done eating, she did decide to eat a few bites all by herself.

I have GOT to show more compassion. It's not going to hurt Pumpkin if I feed her. I have to meet her where SHE'S at. The little girl is going through hell right now. Foster care is no picnic for all parties involved. I'm working on myself. I just figured I'd put it out there for all the internet to see too.