Saturday, December 31, 2011

Some Of It



Nothing like a little grandbaby time to start my day, first thing this morning I got to be with Evelyn who's a wiggle wormish, happy baby. I wasn't for sure that Vanessa would make the long trip, but she did so. I was happy to see her.

Vanessa, now 21, and Mayra, 18, have taken JoJo, 14, and Allen, 16, off for the day, so Grandma babysat and allowed me to attend a super beautiful wedding this New Year's Eve afternoon at my church. One of my oldest friends was there, a woman also named Vanessa, and you best believe I tarried at the table with her eating some delicious cake. Both of us marveling that 30 years had sped by, leaving a lot of stuff in its wake, both good and bad, lemme tell ya.

I'm grateful to God that I've spent 35 years right here, knowing generations of families, growing deep roots, and seeing The Big Picture.

The bride was too pretty for words, the wedding was simple and elegant. The groom's family owns the Roll-Off Systems and they left for their honeymoon in this truck.


I flat out cracked up.

I'd nearly teared up when the bride's mom, my friend Beth, entered with the bride, knowing they'd lost their beloved Dodie this fall. I'm too tough and ornery to cry at weddings, so I held it in, thinking I've never been miserable alone, but I've been so in marriages and in some relationships. Hmm, that's eye-opening for me.

This wedding I attended today? This is gonna be a great marriage of two wonderful adults.

I did not know that Moneyball was a book, nor was I very aware that this mathematical theory had really been put into play back after the Oakland A's got knocked out of the ALDS in 2001 by, of course, the Yankees, best team money can buy, and my favorite brother-in-law, Kevin's, all time number one team. I still love him in spite of that bent. I didn't know all this because I'm National League, duh, not American League, plus I've been kinda bogged down in kid details around here for decades.

I'd enviously eyed the George Steinbrenner Field while in Tampa, home of the Yankees. Their spring training camp, an hour away from the Brave's camp in Orlando, top of my bucket list certainly, unless Kevin gets married and his wife won't let him go with me. That'd suck.

I think I might've only seen one Brad Pitt movie in my whole life, and I didn't know much about his work, but oh my goodness gracious, he nailed this part. Nailed it. Reminded me totally of my own brother's coaching mannerisms and clipped ability to get the job done. He favored my brother, Gary, immensely in this film, even Kevin noticed it. An intense, brooding focus on the job, tunnel vision, a dry wit, and an attitude.

I could go see it again just to make sure I absorbed all the statistics and theories. It was that good. My kids would've hated it. I ran into one of my favorite deputies, Kandy, today, she' a Braves fan bigtime, telling her about it. Daniel and Gary would love this movie, love it. Jimbo, too.

Lauren and Grandma babysat while we went to the movies, playing Rummicubes. Lauren's now almost 23 years old, which blows me away, taking a youth pastor job this upcoming week in Virginia, I'm so dadgum proud of her. I'm always blue when she leaves.

CW's on a date this afternoon with an older woman, she's 17, and the granddaughter of friends of mine, another family I've known for so long. Heck, I went to this young lady's parent's wedding some 20 years ago, but didn't go to the aunt's wedding because that was The Day that Turner Field opened for the very first time with an exhibition game of the Yankees and the Braves, and Kevin was here. Duh. Easy choice, right? Plus we'd gone to the very last game in Fulton County Stadium before they tore it down, again a Braves and Yankees game, that prevous fall.

Brad Pitt's character remarked, "How can you not be romantic about baseball?"

The guy the aunt married, besides being Sarah's dear friends, eventually became Jesse, Joe, Daniel and Sergi's youth pastor, and now is gonna officiate at Daniel's wedding next fall.

Yep, it's all intertwined around here. Very much so.

And that Daniel? His mother's son certainly. Nerding up like Grandma. His text read, "So you would proud of me. I called Charter to tell them to come get ALL my boxes. Thus saving myself $23/month. I had prepared myself for a non-DVR life by bumming. After speaking to several different reps until I got a nice military friendly guy I'm now upgrading to whole room DVR, free DVR 12 months. And the 2nd whole room box is $3 cheaper. So I'm now getting upgraded to better system AND saving $18/month."

That's what I've always taught here, those little expenses add up. Vanessa was even trying to explain to her baby birth brother, JoJo that he had no clue how much all those gallons of milk that he drinks around here cost. "No clue, JoJo," she stressed. "You really have no idea about real life. Mom spoils you."

And how many of y'all remember how hard I worked trying to explain all this to her back when she wore her Viper Girl cloak? And one of my friend/readers, Nancy, freezing in the Midwest, has so dilligently prayed over Vanessa. Get this Nancy, Vanessa is attending church on her own nowadays, illustrating the power of prayer.

So glad to know that some of it sunk in. Some of it.

And so many folks ask me how they can help us. I always ask for prayer. Always. That's all we need.

The other line from the movie that resonated with me? "The first guy through the wall gets all bloody." Exactly how I've felt in the adoption of older children that's nearly been warfare what with so many skirmishes and battles. Eventually we all win, right? The kids and I?

"The first one through the wall always gets bloody" - this idiom uttered by Boston Red Sox Owner John Henry perfectly encapsulates what this movie is all about. Being a trailblazer sometimes comes at the expense of criticism.

And good golly, have I been criticized, or what? If nothing else, at least I had the cojones to keep on trying day after day with my kids, not always in the direction I'd hoped for them, it's looked different from what my rosey imagination first dreamed, but 2012 tomorrow will find me doing exactly, and predictably, what I've been doing for all the previous years...trying to get the job done in spite of some pretty scary, impressive odds.

Evelyn's Visit




Nothing I hate more than saying goodbye to my favorite handsome brother-in-law and my gorgeous with a capital G, and an exclamation mark (!) niece.

Vanessa and Evelyn came from Alabama, so that's a welcome distraction, and the kids are hounding me for more groceries right this minute, so I'm taking a buncha them with me while four are at Driver's ED, planning to blog later. Sarah's posted twice again while I've been lax at it.

Gina farted around with us yesterday, it's been a nice holiday time. Kevin and I went to see Moneyball, and, Oh. My. Goodness. Best baseball movie ever.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Amelia's Quiet Time


A couple of beautiful warm days ahead, preceding a cold front that'll find me inside the house, activating Plan B which is repainting walls, choosing my chores by the weather forecast.

Four teenagers have two more days of Driver's Ed, a couple of them and Lauren, my beautiful niece, traipsed down to Yolie's to watch The Help last night.

I'd driven to Florida and back, down to Macon and back twice within a week, plus out to where Jonathan stays only to find myself emotionally exhausted last night. Driving is such a tense non-relaxing activity. I could work outside all day long and not be half as tired as I am after driving.

A lady I've known since high school posted this article, The Joy of Quiet, on Facebook and I so agree. Ironically published in The New York Times. New York City being one of the loudest and most wired places on earth. I crave peace and quiet.

Our woods, the tree filled oasis that surround our land is awash in no color. I don't relish a thousand shades of greys and browns, the only green being in the pines, cedars and bamboo plants, that's so not enough for me.

Having spent the last 17 years unable to have cash, not even a quarter on hand, nor able to leave my pocketbook unattended, even groceries and all drugstore items were in a constant state of peril, nowadays with my last dozen kids at home, it's startlingly different in a very good way.

Few clashes, if anything there's an almost palpable sense of 'uh-oh almost grown, better think seriously about options' kind of mindset.

I'm enjoying our life so much at the moment although I'm very emotionally exhausted, laid low, slaughtered, wiped out from the unrelenting stress of the previous two decades. Lord Have Mercy, has it taken a toll on me, or what?

I'm slap worn out.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Macon And Back


If one gets up around five in the morning, one can get to Macon and back, 200 miles round trip, in order to take Paloma's birthday presents to her, plus two dozen doughnuts for her to share there with friends and staff. Now 15, up and down emotionally, still struggling, I was glad I'd made the superhuman effort to go see her.

My 12 kids at home were irked, thinking about the many birthdays they've tried to enjoy that she tried equally hard to ruin back then, to have Mom leaving them on a holiday break seemed cruel. Grandma babysat, and I was home before lunch.

My favorite brother-in-law, and his lovely daughter, have arrived for a couple of days, making my world seem right.

And that Preston? What a score.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Southern Exposure


And as grouchy as I was today when I blogged this morning, it's been an equally good turn around day.

Nothing like reading every single word in my Southern Exposure Seed Exchange Catalog.

Winter Solstice


Sarah blogged yet again, maybe tomorrow she'll share about the incredible new cookbook she was blessed with unexpectedly today.

That Alone Has Been Exhausting


I keep finding pithy statements on Facebook that leave me pondering.

Jeepers, if that was a migraine, I need to be more empathetic to those who routinely suffer like that. It was about a 48 hour bout that made me wanna hurl, however by nightfall, after Tabby'd been hollering, "I sure do miss Bodie food," after nearly a week of restaurants and crappy fast food, I made black beans and brown rice, spread on fried corn tortillas in my big black skillet, with pepper jack cheese, tomatoes, sour cream and...drum roll...The Cure which came in the form of my Fire Hot Pepper Sauce.

Like a blanket-covered rocket ship to my brain, it literally and immediately sand-blasted the pain slap outta there.

"Wow," Martin noticed, "You already look like you feel better," as they'd been tiptoeing round my very grumpy, cross-eyed, whiny self all day long.

Or maybe it was the mail. The Two Gardeners? Thank you, dear Pat. I love it. I read your Christmas Card news aloud to Grandma as your two daughters are doing exactly what had thoroughly aggravated me here just a few years ago. I told my mom that I'd had a very hard time forgiving that major slight.

Forgiveness?

Good darn thing I'm a Christian, or I'd have an overly tough time getting past some of the awfully stinging hatefulness. As it is, I'm barely recovering. Maybe that was one thing I didn't take into consideration within a large family. Where I once thought it meant more love, what I found was that it only meant more resentful hate, as traumatized children can't/don't/won't show love to the woman who they think stole them from their birth parents.

It's been brutal.

Thank God for therapy that has allowed me to step back and comprehend that it isn't about me at all, it's deep within them.

It's why I don't really reach out to many grown kids, knowing how often I've been slapped in the head and kicked in the teeth, why would I risk that?

I accept phone calls, but initiating them has become too hazardous to my health. I'd like to live longer for those that truly do love me. I thank God for them.

Watching some National Geographic (I think) show on women who work in the prison system, one deputy remarked, "Nearly a third of our inmates are mentally ill. They're particularly difficult to deal with every day."

Duh? Try living with them, and you have no taser, no gun, no self defense.

Try keeping everyone else safe at the same time.

"If you don't respect me, I won't respect you," an inmate wearing the color that designates 'mentally ill' yelled at a guard wearing a uniform, the irony totally escaping her.

How does one respect an orange-wearing, law-breaking, assault-mongering, profane crackhead thief?

Why do young people nowadays not comprehend that respect is something that must be earned first?

I've had that issue here also as a screaming, spitting, window breaking rager starts yelling about everyone in the house ignoring them. No, Honey, that's disengaging, as engaging would only increase the violent behaviors by giving you an irrational rationale in your muddled mind.

There's no logic present at all. Nowhere, no how. Nothing. Nada.

It is seriously scary to behold.

It's how Mayra and Sabrina ended up looking in a closet that an offender had attacked, cutting up their clothes because she resented them simply for being pretty and normal.

The term 'repeat offender' itself illustrates a lack of an ability to learn from a consequence.

Nowadays, looking back in astonishment, how did I survive? How did I muster up enough strength to try and deal with the constant rage, larceny, destruction, fury, and completely irrational behaviors?

"We spend more time talking prospective parents out of specific kids than in encouraging them to adopt," two different workers have told me lately, knowing what would be up ahead for the clueless parents. Knowing there'd be a disruption, danger, violence and aggression.

Am I just too bitter for words nowadays? Too emotionally damaged? Being on the receiving end of so much animosity for a situation I didn't create, but rather I feel as if I just stupidly tried to help...

John Maxwell tweeted a Robert Louis Stevenson quote, "Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.

Well, I dunno, to have seen those sensible, old-school seeds so totally rejected doesn't give me a great deal of hope.

To see those kids entering their 20s unemployed, thuggish, aimless, unambitious, skanky, drunk, pregnant and unmarried, or shacked-up to an equally unfit partner?

Hello?

Logic available anywhere? Can you not look at those who've gone before you and made terrible mistakes that cost them so much?

How is it even possible to be able to teach logic and good choices to folks who resent the parental figure so much? Who want to rebel just to rebel? Who feel as if 'minding someone' is just stupid?

Then later, they want me to fix their mistakes? The very mistakes I'd warned them about. The ones they screamed, "I don't care!" to me about?

How is it even fixable? These are natural consequences.

What would then be learned from me enabling someone?

And if I'm your problem, as you screamed at me for years, then shouldn't your life then be better without me? For your sake I sure hope so, but logic and experience tells me otherwise.

Are there any answers anywhere? Any remedies for my own frustration? Cures for my own resentment? How can I be pleasant to those who've been so awful to the only woman who ever tried to help? Who tried for years and years and years...for nothing?

The best I can do is to forgive, and that alone has been exhausting.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I Saw Normal People


In the grand scheme of things, in the big picture of adoption, I so often hear, "I bet those children of yours are so happy to have you!"

Are you freaking kidding me?

I represent the grievous loss of their birth mother.

If not for me, in their minds, they could be with her.

I'm the problem.

It took me years to comprehend that one consideration.

And, to some degree, I totally agree with them in that if I'd lost my own mother, I'd likely despise the next one. She'd have been nothing but an impostor.

"But your mother took good care of you. Their mother(s) were druggies, drunks, neglectful, abusive, blah, blah, blah."

Doesn't matter. Good or bad, they loved their mothers.

So to like me, to ever express gratitude that, at least now they can live with their siblings and have food on the table, would be to acknowledge the depths of what they think they have lost.

I get it.

I really, really do.

And here comes the big but....

Goodness gracious, if not gratitude or appreciation, can we just shut up?

The continuous attempts of making me pay for all good deeds gets very, very old.

Three of them nearly made me lose my mind. One had a major PMS case going on, nasty, mean behavior bubbling, another was just fussy to the nth degree, and the third was stuck on snarling aggravation with a capital A.

I'd check my rear view mirror, seeing glares from eyes that should've been thankful.

I was trying to drive the ten hours home in terrible traffic with an unusual for me headache. Ten hours of the incessant ugly bickering felt like a knife in my brain being twisted. I nearly barfed from the pain.

I was simmering with resentment.

All the money I spent making sure everyone had a great time?

I dreamed instead... I shoulda taken a cruise all by myself.

I saw normal people in Florida. Happy families with unsnarling children. Children who wake up smiling at their moms, who have it made, but don't know it at all. Children who don't break windows nor smash in walls.

My dogs were happy to see me. Shatter was so beside herself with ecstasy that she cried. She never cries, she was doing her best to be a lap dog, which also isn't her usual M.O.

Martin thanked me a lot, CW was sweet all week long as was Lily and Jack, but then they usually are, having been nurtured since birth. Allen and JoJo were unusually good also. Scotty was very helpful to Grandma. Most of the kids now living with me are usually very good, but holidays are still iffy.

Yesterday morning before we left, I walked the beach, looking at all the people who don't have to deal with what I chose to deal with, nobody forced me to do this, it was my own 100% freewill choice..

Re-entry sucks.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Through Nando's Eyes






Somehow the early childhood trauma did not damage Nando's ability to enjoy himself, nor his innate curiosity at the world.

Sometimes the younger children are spared, or at least, less damaged, as the older children absorb the emotional or physical blows back in their birth families and through foster care.

Nando loves life, he's very popular amongst his peers, very curious, a really good kid overall, and this trip has been amazing for him. Born down here in Manatee County, we found a Manatee viewing station near Apollo Beach, where Nando literally was glued to all the information, especially in the education center there. He's this way at home also, often exploring outside, questioning me about everything, and just loving life.

It's very refreshing especially after so many years of dealing with children with severe mental and emotional issues - or even from oppositional behaviors that can be so trying, or the level of anxiety that is exacerbated by children who won't even allow their own selves to enjoy life.

This trip has been particularly easy, no squabbling, contained excitement and very appropriate behavior. I'd met a nice lady from Maryland who complimented my children at breakfast one day.

I don't get a lot of that, certainly never got it when kids would be raging in public, heck we're rarely out in public except for the soccer fields and church, but it felt nice this week to appear so normal and to have so much fun.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

My Least Stressful Christmas Ever


Sarah blogged, Tony took this photo of me, and Lisa's daughter J just about made me cry too.

The Way Christmas Should Be






Well this is getting right predictable of us, isn't it?

82 degrees the other day at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida. I wandered around absolutely crazy in love with the tropical lushness of the plants, even a display of Swiss Chard used as decorations. One of the best amusement parks I've ever seen. My kids were thrilled, had a blast, behaved, and were grateful.

Nando was so excited over all the animals, we petted kangaroos, he's obsessed with reptiles and amphibians, this park was hugely interesting for us all, plus there was some seven or so roller coasters for my older boys to get their adrenaline rush.

We've buzzed a few beaches, and cleared out our winter doldrums, even though it's not really gotten cold yet in Georgia. Florida is a magical place for me, when they're grown I plan to spend 6 weeks straight here, maybe mid December until late January, hopefully returning in time to get my seeds planted indoors, albeit a bit late.

Hotels.com got us amazingly cheap rates, plus the economy sucks so prices are slashed. I budgeted accordingly, we're eating a lot of sandwiches. Our amazing Christmas Angels sent gift cards to each kid still living at home, we'll (they'll) shop the after-Christmas sales, more bang for their buck. I'll tend to the grandchildren, how cool is this? I am past grateful.

We went to the town in which two of my children were born, facing down their past, empowering them to some degree, it takes away their fear of the unknown, the forgotten, the repressed memories. "Hey," they'll usually exclaim, "I remembered this to be bigger/badder/more threatening."

A trip eliminates the post-Holiday letdown quite a bit, memories last for a lifetime. I have a bunch of kids grinning and happy this morning.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Cut Costs



From Len Penzo Dot Com - $40,000 - Money American Airlines saved in 1987 by eliminating an olive from its salad garnish. (That’s almost $76,000 in current-year dollars.)

Stuff like that, random, but a very fascinating statistic illustrates to me how easy it is to cut costs. What if everyone did that? If American Airlines had done more of that, they wouldn't be in dire straits now.

I saw some dumb add about a car lot or a store, or something else, trying to entice buyers with the word 'prestige'.

Yeah?

That'll denote prestige?

Owing money?

I don't think so.

I'm not impressed by stuff, I'm impressed by the many people I see around me who are slogging through life, trying to keep their heads above water, but doing so with inner strength, firm resolve, and immense integrity.

This is a concept I'm having a tough time getting through to many of my kids.

"That's old school," they'll sneer.

They're more impressed by someone's rims, even though I explain to them that likely those young folks with expensive car accessories either owe money, are paid for by wealthy or deeply indebted parents, or maybe are drug dealers.

In today's economy, discretionary income is depleted, it's nearly nonexistent.

My severely oppositional 14 year old is so dang clueless as to be comical. Even though some days when I'm dumb enough to get sucked in to someone who thinks arguing is fun...then I present an excellent case for logic. only to again realize he argues with, and about, everything. What's wrong with me? A failing memory?

Life's hard enough when one strives to do right all the time, even if only in the hope that the old adage is true regarding hard work paying off, but to constantly struggle with teenagers and their media influenced skewed logic is laughable.

A reader commented yesterday that they'd just spent six months reading through my archives. To me it demonstrates someone on a quest for information. Was she an adoptive parent? Looking for commiseration, or a prospective one that I hopefully didn't scare off?

My own personal quests involve anything horticulturish, an interest I've been consumed with for some 40 years now. How come I'd never before read Ten Acres Enough? Published in the late 1800s, it's intriguing.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Wonderous Gingerbread House


Is this not the coolest gingerbread house? Sarah'd picked it up for us since her own library book on hold had come in, she's such a librarian's daughter.

The house is so big, sharing with as many grandbabies as is possible, but Mae's fighting a stomach bug, Tabby's blown away by the whole thing. Usually at school they've made houses out of milk cartons and graham crackers, nothing this elaborate has ever been imagined. Thank you, Ms Carr, with an unillustrated exclamation mark, the emphasis is obvious.

When I'd taken Jonathan shopping, he was required by his facility to show receipts for everything. "Dern, Mom," he told me, "The sheriff has to come out here just about every day for some kid nutting up. Stealing's the least of the issues here."

He'd tried to generously give his own facility gift card to Chuy, he'd been told it wasn't allowed, then I got home and was looking in my pocketbook for something like a chap stick only to discover Jonathan'd stuck it inside there. Uh-oh. Chuy, his own birth brother, hadn't even gone on the expedition with us, fussing that it'd take all day and if Jonathan wanted to see him, then Jonathan shoulda acted better when he lived with us.

"Wow, that's very understanding of you," I sarcastically remarked, which reminded me after I'd recently told Scotty, "Thank you Captain Obvious," when he'd butted in some adult conversation between Grandma and I, to point out that which we were already looking at right then.

"Ouch, Sargent Sarcastic," Cw put in his own two cents worth.

This is so much better than me typing about rages, or explosions at Christmas, like the time several years ago when I'd gotten a busted lip, standing there with blood dripping on the rug, both my worried parents in tears, shocked to see me like that, Chuck barrelling through my house to take the offenders out on the back deck for a loud lecture. I don't even remember who'd called him, I just know someone else, another kid, had run to get Grandma and Grandpa to help, because they were so worried to have seen me banged up on the floor.

The combatants not meant to hit me, I just got hit trying to separate them. I was collateral damage. Some melee had sprung up between the two of them, something unimportant, but that wasn't their point. They're overly aggressive on good days, destructive as crap on holidays. That culmination of Holiday Hell nearly sent me over the ledge.

Anyone really wonder why I don't send out cheery Christmas cards? Seriously?

I just grit my teeth and get us through it all.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Winter Solstice



The first day of winter, a high of 70 degrees, a 300 mile round trip yesterday to see both Jonathan and Paloma at separate facilities, take 'em both shopping for Christmas, 7 other kids with me, plus the three Yorkies.

We're 12.3 inches short of rainfall this year. That sucks.

Ms Carr bought 24 Gingerbread House Raffle Tickets, putting Tabby's name on every single one of them at the county library, yeahboy, Tabby won. Ms. Carr's sister called to tell me when I was standing in front of the lock down psychiatric facility after reassuring the staff member who'd accidentally left a red mark on Paloma, while trying to stop her from hurting herself.

"I appreciate your help in maintaining her behaviors," I reassured the staff member, no doubt used to mothers who scream, "You hurt my kid," when that same kid had been dangerously raging. Paloma admitted throwing the first punch at a staffer.

Who hits people?

She had a bruise on her arm also. She's blessed that they stopped her from cutting herself with the broken mirror.

I'm so grateful for the help I could've hugged this lady.

I can't do it anymore, I just can't. I can't face down a violent rager, there's been too many years of this, too much damage, and I'm sweating bullets to provide a safe haven for my last dozen children at home.

"You're one fistfight away from a broken hip," my osteopathic physician has warned me, raggedy ole white ladies get osteo-arthritis, brittle bones, aching joints. "Don't try and stop a fight anymore," she'd warned me. "You'll end up in a cast, or worse."

I can't let 'em just fight. I can't. That's neglect.

That said, I am now living with a pretty calm bunch of teenagers and I'm so grateful that I'm practically drooling on myself with relief. I mean I really have a great bunch of teens right now, loud, fun, opinionated and very loving.

When oppositional kids grow up and move out, taking their anger and constant arguments with them, I'm just not sad at all.

I'm tired.

Tired of being their kicking post, tired of them oppositionally arguing with me about every point of logic possible. I'm tired of being treated so rudely and disrespectfully. Bye-bye now.

I breathe deep sighs of relief, certain I've done all I could for so many years to impart wisdom, to have given them structure and stability, nurturing, nutrition, love and concern, only to usually have it flung back in my face.

Ok, I'm done, I'm out, hope everything works out beautifully for you. I'll continue to pray for blessing and safety for you.

I'll quietly shuffle around here realizing with surprise that I like the sound of folks not screaming at me.

"I didn't think you, or DJJ, meant it," Jonathan told me. "I didn't believe you guys at all. I didn't believe Pathways, Dr. Mandy, the deputies, the teachers, Dr. Williams, I didn't believe anyone."

"You didn't see this happening to Paloma or Pepe?" I asked in disbelief. He'd been hanging onto my shadow for years, watching my every move, practically stalking me all day every day.

"Yeah, I did," he told me. "I just really didn't think it'd happen to me."

"You thought you could skip school for months, attack and assault people, defy your probation officer, thumb your nose at the judge, and there'd be no consequence?"

"Nope."

"Then how will authority figures ever get through to you?"

"I dunno," he said. "I dunno."

I believe him too.

A windshield wiper flew off the van that'd just cost me $468 in repairs, it was raining to beat the band, I turned into a Walmart Auto Center that fortunately had no line, allowing me to get two new wipers slapped on, while I tried to manage Jonathan's behaviors out in public. He was absolutely perfect. I was grateful.

"I've been awful to you, Nando," he told my very suspicious, nearly paranoid ten year old Nando. "I'm sorry, and here's a teddy bear."

Nando handled it as gingerly as if he'd been handed a python, figuring this was a trap.

Honey, I know the feeling. I really do.

This story isn't just going away, This could've been my house. We don't have machetes, but we have an axe, this is a farm, we have tools, Duh.

I've had the deputies here many times for our safety.

Williams' story highlights a lack of resources for those with mental illnessess, Bill Kissel, president of Georgia's branch of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, told Channel 2 Action News.

Harris said she has been trying to get more help for Dawntrae, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and ADHD.

Monday was the second time in less than a week that officers arrived at the Windward Gate Lane home, which borders Hall County. In the two months since Williams has lived in Georgia, officers in both Gwinnett and Hall counties have been called to the home to handle the teen's outbursts, police said.

On Dec. 13, Hall County deputies and firefighters were sent to the home after Williams allegedly took prescription medication belonging to a sibling and hit his grandmother with a pool cue. Williams was taken to the hospital that night in a patrol car, Sgt. Stephen Wilbanks with the Hall County Sheriff's Office told the AJC.

Monday afternoon, Williams' therapist came to the home to counsel the teen, who became enraged over a disagreement with the woman.


This is such a familiar story to me, a pattern, a truth in parenting mentally ill teenagers that most folks don't believe is even possible.

There is NOTHING scarier.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

They Were So Worth It ALL


...obtained a chilling 911 tape from police that gives insight into the 20 minutes before Williams was shot by police. Harris said a therapist was in the home for a session with her grandson when he became violent. They called 911 hoping to get the teen admitted to a psychiatric hospital.

“Dawntree put the machete down, Dawntree stop, Dawntree!” the teen’s therapist yelled into the phone.

“He has a machete in his hand and he’s trying to hit us with the machete,” the caller told the operator.


This is from our local news and I can't get this scenario off my mind. Another article claims he'd just recently moved in with his Grandma. I'd sure like to know the rest of the story.

I'm guessing the therapists might either be Pathways or Advantage, both local or metro agencies we've used here in our home, wonderful therapists who know their stuff, and by coming into the home, have a bird's eye view of the family dynamics that might not get scrutinized, nor understood as carefully, as in an office setting.

This had a tragic outcome, the grandmother is disputing the police officer's accounts, but I'm sure her mind is muddied by grief.

I've been deathly afraid of such an occurrence here, this is one of the reasons I'm not so pro-adoption as I once was, when children have been identified as severely mentally ill, I find it shocking that there is not more immediate help for the very desperate, frightened families.

I got a call last night that my almost 15 year old had raged violently in her psychiatric lockdown facility. They let me know that restraints were used, as well as a cocktail of atavan and benadryll, they needed my permission to add Depakote to her already impressively mongo psychotropic regimen.

She'd ripped a security mirror off the wall, shattered it, threatened herself and others, and my mind reeled as the nurse described the fracas that had ensued. Apparently she and another girl had been building up to detonate. I've been there, I know the shock and the fright, the immense rage fueled by her super-human adrenaline when she is so irrationally furious, and the murderous actions. It is awful to behold, worse still if younger children witness it, or fear for their mom's safety.

As I write these words, my heart is pounding within my chest from the remembered PTSD.

I know I've made a good call by humbling, or humiliating, myself and asking, literally begging, CPS for help. i know I can NOT keep her safe, nor protect the rest of us. A staff is having a tough go of it, and they are professionally trained to deal with such explosions. She's been kicked out of two facilities that are well-trained, but unable to also keep her and others safe. Oh Honey, I understand.

I spent nine and a half years trying to cope. All those years seeking all sorts of help. Any single one of those nine and a half years was too much, cumulatively I'm shattered on the inside from the utter, unrelenting stress of it all.

There's no way on this earth do I feel, after years of experience, that she could safely be maintained within our home. Are you freaking kidding me?

I deeply grieve for her future. When I watch Cops, or America's Most Wanted, or any crime show, particularly those where the camera is capturing the psychotic rages of a criminal, I cringe within, having witnessed those behaviors first hand.

I feel so sad and helpless about it all. It's not an "I told you so,' moment. I look deep in her her very beautiful eyes, she's a very lovely girl, and I see her own fright at her own actions, her lack of self-control, and I grieve hard for her. I've also seen the violent, nearly murderous rages, and the abject fear in my other children during those times.

It's nothing, but deeply heartbreaking, overall.

Her brother, also in a facility, is doing very well, not showing the behaviors he demonstrated here for so long, but I'm not that surprised, as his RAD makes him more comfortable in a less family-like setting, Even our minimal family expectations grated on him, causing him to hurt others, destroy property, refuse to attend school, and to rage. The external controls where he now is, was what he needed.

I want him to do well, even without me. I don't care if others think I'm to blame. "See how well he does without you?" I might be pointedly asked...as if me, not the RAD, drove his negative actions? Blame me if you want, just get him the help he needs.

This will be our first Christmas without a severely emotionally ill child here, hellbent on ruining everything. There'll be no screaming at me for buying all the stuff, there'll be no meltdowns, well no terribly violent ones, still I have some righteously angry kids. By righteously I mean justifiably. I'd be angry also had my birth parents not raised me. I understand that, I truly do.

On a lighter note, Daniel's walking me through improving the blog's readability on smartphones. I was stoopidly thicker'n a phone book yesterday as he tried to explain, then later distracted by the demands here at home, with Christmas it might take me a few days to do as he carefully and slowly explained to this fake blonde. That's why I adore this man so much. He's so dang cool, so smart and sooooooo patient with me, his techno-stunted mama. My future daughter-in-law, Megan, is more blessed than she can possibly imagine.

I was just thinking 'bout how he singlehandedly, with no help from me, back when he was probably still in middle school or early high school, he'd had me buy what he needed to make the tail lights on my then ole 1983 truck work when pulling a utility trailer. How'd he know how to do that? Who's born knowing all that stuff? I'm telling you, he's amazing, he's innately gifted, and he makes me very pro-adoption, thinking 'bout what I'd have missed out on with him, had I not adopted.

Wait a minute, I ran a bunch of my very darling grown kids through my mind just now. The huge majority of them, almost all of them, were, and are, so very worth it. Smart, emotionally together, successful adults who've blessed me so much by their very existence.

Yeahboy. I'd do it again in a New York minute.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Fearful of Fun



Our weather remains gorgeous, very warm afternoons in which our trampoline is the place to be, a conduit for discharging one's energy after a tediously long school day. My pretty grandbaby, Alyssa, now age seven, was down to a tank top due to her exertions. Yolie'd babysat here in order to allow me to attend the funeral of Lisa's dad.

There was a police shooting being blasted on the media last night, not much said about it this morning, other than a 15 year old with mental and emotional issues had threatened his family with a machete. Police were called, the boy charged at them, and he was fatally shot.

Neighbors saying the kid was well-behaved...like they've ever lived with such a threat?

Sad to say, I can so visualize an incident like this, having lived through incredibly severe trauma over the last several years, sometimes having to lock my very frightened younger kids up over on Grandma's side of the house, they'd nervously play games, fretting over me, while I tried to tend to murderous threats and actions here.

I remember my very elderly and frail father trying to prevent a stabbing of me one afternoon, fortunately the deputies were here in time. Even more fortuitous was an even more disturbed older son then trying also to protect me from the younger enraged one. I'd have been dead otherwise.

After all this, is it any wonder I'm now ultra-wary of human contact? I feel emotionally threatened so easily nowadays. I dive down into my hard outer shell.

Is it any wonder that isolation and solitude deeply appeals to me? My social withdrawal has been very pronounced.

That insomnia plagues me? That food tastes like dust sometimes? Or that my digestive system balks?

Right now, fortunately, I live with a very safe bunch of loud and rambunctious teenagers. Oppositional Defiant Disorder is the only real threat to family harmony, and after years of violence, this is a piece of cake in comparison. It might drive others to drink, but for me, after all I've been through? Not so much.

Those who'd raged during holidays, year after year, are not now living with us, allowing my children a tremendous sense of normalise that we've been deprived of for so long.

I only live with one severe case of ODD, and I've learned to live with it, after 11 years of an entire sibling group having this diagnosis. They even argue at the results of psych evals, that clearly indicate the severity of what I'm encountering, and trying to help them ascertain resources. I just disengage, knowing nothing I say will make a difference. Nothing. Nothing will penetrate, so why argue? Let it go.

"I'm so glad you understand that concept," I'd recently been told by a therapist, when another son was in a facility. "So many parents will balk, go iron-fisted, will stubbornly stand their ground, unbudgingly, insist on being right, and try to force the child to concede - when it is just not gonna happen, when their neurons do not, nor cannot, connect."

Well I do understand, but it's taken me many years to get to this point. Years ago I would've called it 'giving up or non-parenting'. I would've wailed that it didn't teach the kids how to live in the real world.

But if being jailed many times for various misdemeanors doesn't teach some folks, how do I expect logical, wordy explanations to do so?

Words only escalate a bad situation into a ridiculous rationale, in their minds, for violent aggression.

It doesn't make sense to logical human beings, but it is what it is. It really is as thus.

How do I then explain, in my last sibling group adoption, four children who'd been severely traumatized...why do they not act out terribly? How did their neurons manage to form properly? Is it resilience or a higher IQ? I don't know.

There's a lot I don't know, and I keep searching for answers and explanations, keys to human behavior, antidotes, anecdotes, resources and comprehension. Not an easy row to hoe, nor to plow, but plodding along is the only way.

The time stamp here only indicates the time in which I started typing, obviously not the constant interruptions, nor does it indicate I've already been up to the high school twice, delivering what was forgotten here on an exam day. I could've said, "Tough toenails. I'm not bringing it. This'll teach you to try and remember," a technique that might've worked on teenagers with normal neural patterns.

A thousand years ago when Sarah was my only child, an organized child of a working single mom, she didn't have the luxury of calling me to bring what she'd forgotten. Cell phones weren't invented then, nor could I have left my job to tend to forgetfulness. Sarah's turned out to be a strong, organized, fully functioning wife, mother and accounting business owner since she was never enabled nor allowed to make lame excuses. She didn't need to, she'd been nurtured since birth, and therein lies a huge, almost insurmountable, difference.

And oddly enough, Nando has melted down, dissolved into tears, stressed over a Holiday Party at school which I know is not The Real Issue. Holidays, referred to here as Holiday Hell, after years and years of me gaily trying to make it fun, only to eventually comprehend that all their old fears and memories crippled them at this time, they wouldn't allow themselves to have fun, fearful of enjoyment, paralyzed by their insecurities, nervous, emotionally rattled and very discombobulated.

Nando's experiencing a small dose of it today, a residual aftereffect of his own past trauma. I held him and let him cry it out, the lack of structure at school today and The Party makes him insecure. Other students find it fun and liberating, it scares Nando.

We've since, in the years he's been with us, made our own traditions that he helped select. He does know that he can count on me, yet he, too, had his emotional scabs ripped off lately by supposedly well-meaning folks who re-traumatized him.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Stopwatch Mama


My one daughter-in-law, Lena, is married to Jesse, a wonderful well-adjusted son of mine. One whose childhood was horrific, not joining our family until he was 12 and a half, but who has spent the next two decades making me so very proud of him. He's a marvelous husband and great father to Isaiah.

I spend most of my time acting like a stopwatch, "Five minutes til time to go!" I holler every morning at 7:20. I've always given them 15 minutes updates as well. I always do. JoJo will stand in front of a clock and yell for me, "How long til we have to go Mom?"

Five minutes before our regularly scheduled departure to church yesterday, we always leave at 8:45 a.m., we always do so, nothing changes, we have stability and a schedule, but at the five minute warning Chuy defiantly passed by me to get into the shower.

I said nothing, obviously he was brewing within, stewing for a rationale to melt down. He must've gotten up on the wrong side of the bed, his panties in a wad, someone peed in his oatmeal, choose a cliche, I didn't want to give him one. Drama bores me.

We loaded up, no Chuy, no JoJo, I went back inside, heard the shower running, and JoJo predictably hollering to no one about nothing, just fussing. Oppositional Defiant Disorder in full bloom.

I got into the van, irked, knowing if I bothered to quietly explain to either one of them that punctuality is so important, they'd, especially JoJo, flat-out meltdown and scream argumentatively. That his aggression is greatly lessened should be enough for me, a victory certainly for him, but knowing that folks get fired for this one thing, prompts me to continue mentioning the extreme importance of being on time.

I left Chuy home alone. At 16 and with a high IQ one might think he could process this natural consequence, right? I hope so. He pointedly ignored me the rest of the day though.

I simply had decided I didn't want to be late. A PK, a Preacher's Kid, myself, I think it shows utter disrespect to the Preacher to wander in late.

I think late is rude.

After church, Grandma decided to organize a van cleaning party of volunteers only, which spurred Tony, Sabrina, Scotty, Tabby and Nando out to help, while CW kept toting heavy laundry baskets for me, Gina took Lily for the afternoon, and I completely, single-mindedly worked on my nonstop, never ever ending paint job(s).

This morning, walking through the house before anyone got up I was stuck by how nice it is now, with no one trashing the joint just to piss me off. My office has taken so many kicks in the walls from Jonathan back in his truancy days, 25-30 large holes, now covered with beadboard on the bottom, plaster on the top, sanded and ready for painting, but then I gotta move on to repair the adjacent bedroom, as he'd totally destroyed it as well.

I remember a $2,000 window repair job a couple of years ago when I had so many very violent kids breaking windows...just because.

I couldn't consequence them, it'd just make them rage more, temper dysregulation in action, deputies would be called, behaviors documented, but to no avail overall. I'd stand there sad and helpless. One is in prison now for failing to contain his severe anti-social behaviors, but the very sad aspect is that he just can't do so. He truly can't. This is what mental illness looks like.

It is just so very, very sad.

What if I went to someone's home and created such vandalism and destruction? Well, duh, I'd be arrested. In the adoption of older, emotionally ill children, one's home is an immediate casualty. One's self takes a severe beating too.

By nightfall Grandma drug out the Rummicbes, both because she loves to play and also because she was babysitting while I went to the Funeral Home to pay my respects to Lisa's dad. Yes, I need a babysitter in a home with 9 teenagers who, in the real world, could be paid to babysit somewhere, but in my world, supervision is always needed.

I was only gone an hour and a half, itchy and squirming in my monkey suit, but upon returning I found Grandma, Tabby, Nando and Scotty were still engrossed in Rummicubes.

Sarah'd ridden there with me, me again mumbling about how many funerals I seem to have attended over the recent years, but at 57, that number will only continue to grow. Lisa and her husband, Tracy, have long been mentors, supporters, spiritual counselors...so much to both Sarah and I for 30 years now, which is obviously most of Sarah's entire life.

My house is very slowly, since it is very DIY, improving. The vandalism and abject destruction has nearly ceased, which is an incredible relief. I'm very tempted to just sell this entire place in ten years, completely rid myself of it, and the sad memories of my own trauma endured while simply trying to help children who didn't want to be helped, indeed those who routinely punished me for ever even trying, leaving me fighting bitterness certainly, and a sense of wasting so many long, difficult, fruitless years, when I see them grow up and not break the engrained self-destructive patterns or a genetic predisposition to violence and chaos.

They HATED my old school rules regarding no stealing, no assaulting, no lying and maybe the worst one of all, "Hard work pays off!" I'd cheerily state to dead eyes.

Wow.

I remain flattened and stunned.

Most of them are now on their own, not doing so great either, since they still hate the old school rules that polite society apparently requires of everyone in order to be even mildy successful.

I don't really want to sell and leave my gardens, not after all this work, so I'm sloooooooowly transforming everything with brow sweat, hard labor, and elbow grease, wanting everything to change, no reminders of what I, and we've, endured so painfully.

Big, big changes.

Me learning strong breathing in place of ever succumbing to anti-depressants, blasting uncool, happy hillbilly praise and worship music through my Ipod to clean out my bitter, sad brain. I'm eating, as usual, only those foods that are very rich in nutrients, still able to eat more'n a ton a day, my metabolism is still very high due to my constant activity.

I want to regain my once very happy-go-lucky, optimistic, incredibly goofy personality. I've always been strong, and I wanna see that in myself again.

Another Lisa, the one I so admire, wrote a great post about success with a very difficult child. Add a cute doggie to the story and it's right moving.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Boxing Arenas




The windowish looking ledge between the dining room and eating part of the kitchen used to be a window to the patio before I'd added on years ago. Instead of walling it up, I'd left the opening, increasing my visibility throughout the heavily traveled areas of our home, that of the large kitchen, living room, dining room and family room. There's no such thing as too much supervision around here. The missing kitchen chairs had been moved to the boxing viewing arena.

While four teenagers were at their Driver's Ed class, I'd been invited to a Bridal Shower of the daughter of my friend, Beth. They live in our small community, go to our church, I've known the bride-to-be almost all her life plus generations of her family, yet I've noticed a blossoming case of social anxiety emerging within me. I showered, found a sweater that wasn't black, a red one I'd had since I used to go to Virginia for Christmases before my sister passed away and gritted my teeth, squared my shoulders and forged on ahead.

"You look ummmm nice?" CW searched for words, very surprised to see me not wearing my black sweatpants uniform. "Where in the world are you going?"

I had to force myself out the door. I feel like a socially challenged impostor, not one who'll be bubbly or even fun to be with. A Debbie Downer Doll is who I am, crushed on the inside from all the crap that's been dumped upon me for so long.

I, of course, had fun. I always do when I force myself to go somewhere. Her youngest daughter, Jami, between CW and Lily's age, beautifully hosted the affair, and I totally enjoyed myself until Sabrina called that it was time to come get them. Grandma was babysitting, Chuck and Yolie babysat later while I ran to town to get the wireless booster and USB adaptors to get two more cobbled together computers functioning in our house while I had Chuck's expertise to get it done.

Allen's been begging for some boxing gloves, so I obliged. I got some very cushioned, lightweight ones. Our sweet friend Michael came by, bringing food, but like my older sons, there's something about our home that brings out one's inner Bubba, so Michael boxed with Scotty for a few minutes. I think it was Allen videotaping it, using my phone, dadgum I'm so impressed with the Iphone's abilities.

Behind Musician's Warehouse, where CW and Lily had asked to go to get some more guitar picks, well behind the mall actually, at the same house I've stopped at half a dozen times already, I refilled my truck with nicely bagged leaves and pine straw, smiling happily. Score!

I wanted to go knock on their door and explain that this bagged mixture could be tucked in and around all their foundation shrubs, that it would rot quickly and amend the soil beautifully, while also suppressing weeds and the grievous evaporation of the minuscule rainfall we've had lately. But I didn't, I took them home where they'll rot happily out in my own Big Back Garden areas.

Back at home, Jack was gleefully hanging out with Chuck, under his truck, working on something that required tools and Chuck's attention. Big Joe's Daughter, Alyssa, I refer to her as Jo-Lissa because she is exactly like him, played all afternoon with Tabby.

Such a nice, nice day - the kind of day I'd once imagined every day would be with a large family, me then totally clueless about anger issues, severe emotional problems, trauma and violence. I drug the laundry up to Grandma's machine, did dishes, spread the leaves and pine straw, and simply reveled in a very nice day.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Such Pretty Cousins


Just because I absolutely one million percent comprehend why my kids lash out, doesn't mean that after decades of it, I can not not stop myself from automatically, figuratively jumping in a fox hole. Sorry 'bout the double negative, I just pound the keyboard, what comes out, comes out.

It's a reflex now.

I totally understand that it's not about me. It's like a dog who's been hit by a car, blinded by pain, biting the helper that tries to rescue it.

My children are furious, and rightly so, at the world, and I'm the available representative target.

I'm the one they feel "safe" to scream out their rage to, I get that.

However I have accessed them all sorts of therapies over the years, knowing they must grow out of this, or all of their relationships, friendships and employment opportunities will be jeopardized forever by their unwillingness or inability to treat others decently.

Most of them do eventually comprehend this simple fact.

Most of them do grow up and manage to lead very decent lives, self-supporting, and gainfully employed.

I, however, have born the brunt of the destructive fury for such a long, long time, that I do wonder how far away the land of 'normal' is?

I've ended two sentences with prepositions, further illustrating my own inability to be grammatically correct, however all Southerners share this annoying trait.

A day so beautiful yesterday that it brought tears to my eyes. 72 degrees in December, and I wallowed in the dirt happily. My haphazard years of gardening, when I only had two minutes with which to pick some produce before dashing back inside to work, or to referee, well, the quack grass diabolically spread insidiously, creeping tenaciously under the heavy mulch, which did suppress it to some point, but more importantly, it has allowed for easier weeding nowadays.

The rhizomes are so relentless though, if I leave a speck, it'll multiply like wharf rats, so I spread it outside the garden and mow it, heartlessly leaving it to dry, to desiccate itself in the blazing sun, to turn to harmless dust.

Reading this very interesting book, it spoke of new farming techniques that recognize the benefits of weeds in the overall eco-diversity world...an interesting concept. I like to weed. Go figure. It's a simple task that gives me immediate visible results, unlike the job of raising righteously angry children.

I awoke with a start from a nightmare regarding an older threatening one. My heart was pounding, my pulse racing. I came downstairs, wandered around, all was right within our world, clean zen-like counters that soothe me. Books and plants are my only clutter. This is what I saw.
I opened the laptop to read the news, which just gave me anxiety. I find myself spending less and less time online over the years, for so long, it was my only connection to the world, it still is, but my concern and interest in the real world is diminishing quickly.

A Facebook friend has 50 sacks of oaks leaves, thank you dear Jessica for pointing this out, that I may or may not have the opportunity to go fetch, depends on the availability of Grandma, and the willingness of my older sons to help. She'd spent all afternoon yesterday helping an elderly woman, 20 years her junior, with an eye doctor appointment. Her church circle meeting project.

This morning they, Martin, Sabrina, Chuy and Allen have Driver's Ed again, another 7 hour Saturday class.

I watched some channel-flipping show last night about women in an Ohio jail, the cameras were given full access, interviewing and just filming the intake. The behaviors I witnessed reminded so much of the disturbances I've seen here. It was startlingly similar, the anti-social behaviors and the ugly defiance was shocking. One lady, stating she'd been in that county jail for 406 days on a burglary charge, kept talking about her four children. Where the heck were they? Foster care? Up for adoption? At my house?

After so many years of folks screaming their anger at their birth mothers at me, misdirected but understandable, I literally flinch nowadays at the alarming thought of being around those who've mistreated me for so long. I forgive, of course, but I so deeply prefer solitude, I crave its healing powers. I need niceness and sunshine.

Mr P went Mr P on us last night, I saw it building up, he's dysthymic in his behaviors, the seeming bipolarness is not exactly that, there's not a discernible high, a manic period, nor a corresponding depression low, rather his lows are irritability rather than sadness, a low grade ugliness where he snarls hatefully at everyone.

I disengaged, walking off, not wanting to be in this predictable dance, surprisingly enough, he muttered, "Sorry," within an hour. He growled it actually, not heartfelt, but at least a learned behavior. A necessary one at that if he desires any sort of a decent future where no always present mama serves as his conscience.

My kids stumble so badly at The Legal Age, where they think they can do what they want, without Mama's stupid, square Old School rules. Then they find themselves battling policemen, logic, the Laws of Gravity, and Cause and Effect, the natural consequences that I'd tried to explain for soooooo long.

My sweet, sweet longtime friend Lisa, lost her father last night. My heart ached when I got the news, knowing exactly the pain of her loss. We all knew this was coming. Yolie and I'd just talked about the joy though, as we'd also known, allowing one's parent to leave this world peacefully, at home, surrounded by loved ones, just as Grandpa'd done. It is so natural, it lessens the shock a bit, I think.

Like me, Lisa had been extraordinarily blessed to have had a loving, supportive father in her life, for all of her life, but that makes the loss so much more profound, but also has given me the strength to go on, knowing that's what Dad would've wanted me to do. I know that Lisa, and her sister, Susan, also will go on, but the loss is major. They're also tending to their dear mother 24-7, as she recovers from serious health issues..

My dad hated seeing the way I was treated so badly by those I only wanted to help. I spent hours explaining to him the whys of this, he did understand though, he'd been a counseling pastor for so long, he knew human behavior, but the complete and utter lack of understanding by my children, the abject rejection of logic, the resentment of me for doing what their birth parents weren't doing, bumfuddled him on many days.

"Don't you children understand?" he'd ask them, trying to help me, trying to convey simple logic to unhearing ears. He'd spend hours trying to reach Jonathan or Paloma, speaking softly, receiving wrath in response. He never understood that the folks he'd once counseled as a pastor, voluntarily came to him asking for help, versus children who'd been taken from their birth parents, not understanding anything, seeing me only as the enemy.

I do understand why they feel this way, I truly do, and I hope someday that this issue is better addressed in adoption readiness counseling. But, is that not a contradiction in terms? Duh.

Us adoptive parents are so weary and beaten down.

Before I was an adoptive parent, I was a school library media specialist, thus the emphasis on books.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Repair Person and Polite Restraint




"Do you mind letting yourself out?" I politely asked with great restraint, after the not-his-fault washer repairman told me that the pump that'd burned up had taken out several other parts that would need to be ordered and him rescheduled...two weeks from now.

I went outside before I exploded from the stress and frustration. Dude, this is America, overnight the dadgum parts and make this right. This recalled defective pump could've burned my house down. I said none of the above.

I called the Customer Solutions Department with even more self-control, although it was obvious I was upset, we reduced the waiting time by one week, which does very little for a mama who needs to constantly wash clothes. I swanny, Nando rolls in dirt more'n our dogs do. I'm not much better at staying clean.

Fortunately it was a beautiful day again, Marcela brought Marissa over to play, and I had Ray and Hazel for a bit. Hazel stepped in a fire ant pile, ran inside to plunge her foot in the dog water bowl, which didn't stop Shadow from drinking simultaneously. Tony instagraming photos.

We also had Dr. Mandy, who always helps me see the forests for the trees, telling me exactly what would work best in yet another thorny situation involving grown kids who do not want advice, just concern. It's hard to disentangle when one knows that without advice, the concern is greatly merited, But when they are grown, making their own decisions and living with the consequences, the relationship itself might be the only survival mechanism in the end.

I drug the dirty clothes up and over to the second floor of Grandma's attached house, attended Lily's chorus concert that she gave me 8 hours advance notice about, texting me from school, I'd even been questioning her, knowing there was one in December, she is so oblivious to dates and the minutia of life, preferring her guitar and her art. I'm good with that.

Right at dusk, when I could barely see, I remembered I'd not emptied, nor spread, the last three large sacks of leaves and pine needles I'd scored in town where I'd found a neighborhood with some possibly 60 sacks there curbside, waiting for a gleaner such as I. It bothers me that I've not had time to return and fetch the rest, but Lord Have Mercy, have I been overbooked, or what lately?

I spread the bounty over a bed I'd been relentlessly digging in, knowing the predicted rain would pack it down nicely, me gleefully absorbing the warm air on my skin, 70 degrees there at nightfall, it just makes me literally blissful. I inhaled the pine needle scent, listened to the hens clucking and noticed JoJo on the back stoop who surprisingly remarked, "I love this land," something I so often say, hearing him parroting it made me smile. This land that he never works, never, ever, yet if my work on it makes him happy, then that's OK, too.

Three calls from the assistant principal regarding three rude teenagers of mine, acting out from the intrusive, threatening encounters of the past month, angry that there was nothing Mama could do to keep them as 'normal' as they'd like to be. Another reason why I refuse these reality TV offers. My kids don't want to be looked at differently, they wanna just function as normally as possible and they are still very furious regarding nosey people. I'm starting to shake my own irritation off slowly, processing that some folks just don't understand why a woman would've spent the last 40 years as Justamama, with another ten to go until Tabby is grown up.

Yeahboy, 50 years in a row, with kids at home, while some folks are overwhelmed with their 2.5 kid responsibilities, overall I've totally enjoyed my time. I've needed this purpose, this direction, this challenge...and I'll also be just as happy when I face the second half of my life, concentrating on growing fruits and vegetables for the next generation.

My three rude sons all got a day of ISS, the administration at school totally knows I support all policies and procedures, two rude ones have already apologized to me. "You need to apologize to the teachers," I advised.

I'm reading Barnheart - another of my new used books - winter is when I have more time to read, plopping my tired old butt in the living room chair. This author is more obsessed by farm animals, I'm more garden-oriented, but it's still an interesting read for homesteading dreams. She's doing it on rented land in this book, making me so much more grateful for the land I own and love so much.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Studies Show...




It's not like I was upending tree roots, merely turning over the parched soil when I heard the sickening crack of my spading fork. I was just glad it wasn't my back.

Yolie had to go to town anyway, so she took it to Sears who promptly stood by their Craftsman lifetime pledge, replacing it for free.

We've had a string of gorgeous days, I feel so much better when I've worked outside. I emotionally process everything better while working.

Going to visit either Jonathan or Paloma takes both planning and an entire school day. I feel I can only go when the kids are in school, then I fret that a school will call and need me, or about all the work that doesn't get done when I'm driving, or even the fact that RAD kids just don't care that much about my presence, only my presents, presenting me with a list of demands every phone call, like they used to do when they lived with us, melting down any time any arbitrary and impossible demand was not met.

Lily would've never been able to have her friend, Jaden, over here every Wednesday afternoon, joining us for supper and then going to youth group with our family. Paloma used to verbally attack and physically threaten Lily's friends on the school bus, or cut Mayra and Sabrina's clothes up just because she felt they, both girls, were too pretty. She'd scream wild accusations at everyone who walked by her, demanding that I punish them when they'd not done anything, screaming at me that I never punished them.

They'd all stare at me in utter disbelief at her accusations, knowing they'd all been right there in my eyesight.

It must be tragically difficult to live like that, to have one's own mind so terribly tortured from within. She is such a beautiful child when she is not snarling.

I still shudder to think of the 24-7 vigilance that was required, yet did little good. This is where I want to concentrate on my own PTSD recovery and growth.

One of my new used books A Very Modest Cottage is entrancing. Seducing me even, with its beautiful photos. I have an old tenant house on my own property that someday I'd love to restore. I'm reading this slowly, savoring every word, loving every illustration.

I awoke with a start at five this morning, dreaming I'd seen the tail lights of the washing machine repair man pulling away without fixing it. Seriously, Cindy? That's what you're stressing about? Our microwave made a loud exploding sound and gave up the ghost two days ago, I'd already replaced it via Wal-Mart. Everything here dies of over use. Someday even me.

The Wednesday night church service had served pies, cakes and cheesecake, our family benefited from the leftovers, Chuy and I remained in the driveway, trying to figure out why the van door wouldn't close. Oh no. A large metal hinge was broken, that's gonna require a welding repair.

I'd spent the afternoon in the very warm sunshine, working and listening to Shrink Rap Radio podcasts, a psychologist who interviews authors in his field, fascinating as all get out. I literally wanted to take notes with my dirty hands, trying to absorb all I was learning.

Studies show that one learns better while moving around, this is why school age boys particularly have such a difficult time, they're told to "Stop fidgeting," when, if left alone and allowed to be wiggle worms, they'd be able to absorb and assimilate more information at a better rate.

Sarah'd read that study aloud to me from a book, I can't remember the title, or I'd link it here. Yolie 'd been telling me that she reads all Sarah's homeschool links on Facebook, because even if one doesn't home school, one can learn so much about helping their children learn better. In today's world, full of electronic distractions that compete with homework, we parents need all the help we can get.

But the point is, I too, can retain information that I've absorbed while in movement, much like a mischievous little boy I suppose. I spouted off several theories I'd listened to that afternoon, later talking with Yolie. The world is a fascinating sphere, there's so much still to learn and to discover.