Wednesday, November 28, 2012
I'm not sure how to even start this other than saying that we are learning so much. So so so much. We are currently a family of seven. Seven. Foster care is an incredibly unique place to be. For the children. for the parents, for the families all around. You instantly have this new personality in the mix who you had nothing to do with raising, teaching, guiding, loving. And then BAM. It's all you. I am going to be brutally honest here. It has not been fun. It has been harder than hard. I never thought I would dread getting up in the morning for so many mornings in a row. I never dreamed that a two year old could make me feel this way. Not to mention I cannot even begin to fathom how hard it has been for him to have everything, everything he has ever known gone in a matter of minutes. So we have been at it for nearly seven weeks, and now things are changing. We are all learning. We have been intensely therapeutic. Intentional in every single action and expression. Unwavering in showing love, even if we were faking it. And in the beginning, oh, we were faking it. It is hard to have loving feelings for a child who does nothing but scream and spit. It is hard to show love to a child who just cries and whines and throws things for hours on end. Who grunts instead of using words. Who dumps full bowl of cereal on the floor because it isn't the thing he wants for breakfast. Who hits and bites and headbutts the children who already live here and makes them feel unhappy. Oh, it is hard. But after a few weeks of non stop work, modeling every second, showing much kindness, and making expectations crystal clear, things started to change. More smiles, less screaming. More acceptance of hugs and cuddles, less things thrown across the room. More following direction, less trying to get a reaction for things that he knows are unacceptable. Less testing, more playing. And something else has changed. My girls have all gone from frustrated, shocked girls and have made this incredible leap to involved, caring, tiny little therapists. It is the most awe inspiring thing I have ever seen. They have gone from telling me they just want to make him go to bed, to showing him the way to act. Modeling for him. They still get frustrated, we all do, but I keep hearing them say over and over again, "he is like this because no one taught him how he is supposed to be." and "We have to teach him that he is safe" and even, "I'll be sad when he leaves". I watched Lilly this morning peel a Clementine and feed him each section one at a time, and with each piece she would say, "orange, please" and wait for him to say the words before popping the segment into his mouth, and telling him good job using his words. She is amazing. My children have surprised me. We have all gone from thinking this was super crazy hard and questioning whether or not to do this again, to looking forward to seeing who comes along next. We are all working hard together to fill in all the holes this guy brought with him and to fill him up with enough love, language and skill to help him along when he goes. We don't dread the day starting over anymore, and we marvel at the amazing progress he has made. And it is quite remarkable how far he has come in seven short weeks. It's kind of remarkable how much we have all changed too. This is hard, incredibly so, and at times completely draining and unrewarding, but oh when the changes come, they make all the hard times seem not so bad, all the frustration becomes a little less. I've gone from questioning this path, to realizing that it is exactly the one I want to be on. And the whole family is right there with me, which may be the best part of all.
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Today I took three boys, all between 19 mos and newly two to a Well child check for one of the said boys. Last time I did this, I had to wait 51 minutes past our scheduled appointment time before the doctor came in. Thankfully this isn't usual practice, but it was not fun. So today I over prepared. Snacks, toys, puppets, and smarties in case things got dire, therefore ensuring they would be running right on time and I would need none of the things I had packed. We got in and out quickly. One shot for Neddie, and holy cow he is actually in the 55th percentile for both height and WEIGHT!! you guys, this has been our biggest challenge and he is now doing so so well. Thank you heavy cream. So we checked out and I drove to the nearest McDonalds for burgers for the boys as a treat. I decided to pay for the person behind me. When I got to the window and told the cashier I wanted to pay for the next person she told me they had just ordered a coffee. A measly 1.07. I told her I'd like to pay for the person after that as well. 2.66. of course. So I paid for all three orders, not breaking ten bucks, and drove through. We picked up our food and I drove to a parking lot adjacent to the McDonalds to hand out the burgers. Now we drive a giant red Suburban, so its not like we are inconspicuous, but I parked next to a big van anyway. I hate for people to feel like they have to say thank you if they see me. I got out of the car to hand a burger back to the third row, and as I am walking back around, the car from behind me in the drive thru line pulls up next to me. The lady gets out and approaches me and asks me if I was just in line in at McDonalds and did I pay for her. I told her yes and she starts bawling. You guys, she was crying so hard and asked me if she could hug me. Now honestly two things went through my mind. 1. She's going to take my car and my kids, and 2. Holy crap this lady needs some help. I decided it was probably number two and let her hug me. She was sobbing that uncontrollable no breathing cry. My heart was hurting for her but I didn't know what was wrong. I asked her what I could do to help her. She told me there was nothing that I could help her with, but that she had just gone through Cancer surgery, her Mother had just passed away, and that her Dad had died in April. She said that she was having such a hard time with all of it, that it was all too much, and that last night she prayed to God that He would show her that she should still have faith. Now, I am not revealing my own religious views, but this lady needed a sign, and for her, having a stranger buy her a coffee anonymously was that sign. She thanked me profusely, hugged me again and walked back to her car. You guys, this coffee that I was so bummed wasn't "more" changed a woman's whole day around. Made her weep right there with a stranger in a parking lot. She gave me a lot to think about today. I am so glad I stopped, so glad I thought to pay for a stranger, so glad I had a kid in the way back today, so glad I could do something that moved someone today. Today is a good day.