Monday, August 30, 2010

Dealing with Disappointment

Yesterday, we spent some time with Kismet again. She was pretty obsessed with Brad's iPhone, to the point of not interacting much with us, at least during dinner. We then tried to find something interesting to do in the short period of time we were able to keep her but a good number of stores in the valley close at 6 p.m. on Sundays and since she didn't get out of church until 4:30 and we had dinner first, we were pretty limited in our options.

We did, however, get to take her into Best Buy. Oddly enough, she really wanted to go in there and she bounced around from item to item, going about 500 miles an hour. It's funny, Moon Unit also had ADHD as a young child but she is now 19 and has outgrown most of it. I'd forgotten how exhausting these kids can be. Even just watching them is tiring.

We took her back home and the other girls who are in care in the group home were there. Kismet gave a quick round of hugs and then just turned her back on us. So we left and it took a little while pondering on the situation to realize she was probably playing it cool and non-chalant in front of the other girls.

Later in the evening, Brad tried to give her a call to say goodnight but discovered that, just like the last time we took her out, she had another melt-down after dropping her off. After talking with her foster father for a bit, we discovered that the reason Kismet keeps having these melt-downs is because over the years, so many people have failed her. Her mother used to tell her she'd get clean and take her home but she never did. Or she was supposed to come visit but then wouldn't. And her group home parents would come and go, so it was hard to attach to anyone because it seemed, to her, like they always left her. So in her mind, when we took her back home after visiting with her, we would not be back. That makes her melt-downs perfectly understandable.

How sad is it that at such a tender young age, a child can already come to understand that adults are not always true to their word? How sad is it that this poor child has had so much disappointment with the people in her life that she wanted to be close to and wanted to love her that she has a hard time trusting us and believing we will be back?

I don't know if there's any way for us to be able to reassure her now that we will be back but Brad did tell her last night when she was allowed to call us back that we would always be there for her. I don't know if she believes it. We will see her again hopefully on Wednesday and then I'm out of town for 5 days. I worry that she will think I won't be back but Brad will be out to see her while I'm gone.

I guess this will work itself out in time, that eventually she will come to realize that we are always going to be there for her. Hopefully, she will start to understand that we will not abandon her, and some day, she will get over the disappointment she has experienced with those who she felt failed her in her life. Hopefully, she will learn to trust again.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Meeting Our Destiny

So we met Kismet last night. It was pretty darned cool. We met at Red Robin, which is one of her favorite places to eat. She came with her caseworker and her CASA (court appointed special advocate, which is a volunteer who is appointed by court to, well, advocate for abused and neglected children in the foster care system, see more). Her CASA had a big binder full of pictures of Kismet from their different activities and adventures together, which we had a chance to browse through rather quickly while waiting for Kismet and her caseworker. It was fun to see the different pictures and things she likes to do.

Kismet walked in and looked at us and looked all serious for a moment. Then she instantly started to dig into her bag to get some stuff out for us but we were lead off to our table. She wanted to sit between me and Brad. She then handed us some pictures that she colored for us and she gave us some bracelets that she made for us, with our names spelled out in beads. She hands Brad's to him and says, "I know your name has an R in it but I didn't have one [me instantly thinking the bracelet she made said "Bad"] so I put a green bead in there instead." So cute!

She was very chatty and a bit giddy and Brad and I were both so charmed by her and I have little recollection of most of the dinner experience, just sitting and absorbing her. She did ask us almost immediately if it was okay to call us mom and dad, which of course we said it was, and so she did. When her CASA was leaving, she decided to walk out with her, having conversed with her caseworker in whispers first, then as she was walking past me, she leaned over and whispered, "I'm going out because I'm gassy." That made me chuckle.

She was enthralled by the fact that Brad has an iPhone and wanted us to give her a ride back to her house after dinner. She asked to ride in the passenger seat and so she played with Brad's phone all the way back to her house. Brad asked her what her favorite color was and she said blue. Then he asked her, "Paper or plastic?" She looked at him and said, "That's a dumb question." And we laughed some more. Then she asked us if we swore, to which we replied that yes, sometimes we swear but not at other people. She had seen something on Brad's phone with the "S-word" on it and he told her that she would have to keep him in line with his swearing, to which she replied, "Yes, I can see that." As I'm laughing, I'm thinking, "This kid is a good match for our family!"

We get to her house and we go inside with her while she drops stuff off and then she comes back out and says, "I don't want you guys to leave," and throws herself at Brad, giving him the longest hug ever. I was a little worried with how long the hug was that she might be getting ready to have a melt-down but she didn't. Then she finally let go of him and hugged me for a little bit then went back to hug Brad again. She's really taken to Brad, although I console myself with this by saying that it's only coz he had an iPhone. I'm not jealous that she likes Brad better. (Okay, maybe I am a little bit.)

She also asked us if she could spend the weekend with us and we had to tell her not yet but that we would see her again this weekend. Brad called over to her house today and was told by the foster parents that she had a bit of a melt-down today because she wanted to be with us. I guess nothing says, "I like you guys and want to be with you," by having a melt-down at school. :-) But I think everyone rather expected something like that to happen.

We will see her again this weekend and we are looking forward to it. We have another month-plus before she gets to come home with us. Seems like a long time.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Moving Right Along

Last I wrote about Kismet, we were still waiting to hear something, anything, about training for her needs. The following week, we heard back from the caseworker, who said that the current group home parents where Kismet was living would be leaving in October. Since Kismet doesn't do well with changes, the caseworker was thinking that instead of her having to adjust to new foster parents and then turning around and moving in with us and having to adjust again a short time later that maybe it was a good idea for Kismet to move in with us in October. Well, of course we were all over that idea! Two months earlier than we'd expected? Hell yeah!

We finally got to meet with Kismet's caseworker this past Monday, along with her foster father, her therapist, a woman who I think was supposed to be the head of the group homes and also a former foster mother to Kismet, and a court-appointed volunteer who spends time with kids. We talked a bit about some of the things Kismet is currently going through, how she's struggling with the idea of the current foster parents leaving (they are having a baby in October, which is why they are leaving), some of the things we might expect from her and how we might deal with some of the behavioral issues that might come up. Then we were told we were looking at a two-week training period and some "shadowing" at the group home. I'm not sure what the shadowing would entail but I guess it's just seeing how things work in the group home.

We were then told that since she would be moving in with us in October, which previously had been presented to us as an option but is now an actuality, we could meet her this week. This week! OMG! After all this waiting and waiting and thinking that we wouldn't get her until December and wouldn't even meet her for months, everything has been ramped up and we will get to meet her this week!

The caseworker then told Kismet the next day that she was going to be adopted. We had made a little light-hearted booklet for Kismet as a way of introducing the family so that she would know some things about us. She was given this booklet and was apparently so excited, she was giggling and squealing and had to go run around the yard to burn off some of that excitement. We were thrilled that she was so excited. Who would have guessed anyone could be that excited about living with us?

So we are on for meeting Kismet tomorrow night. I think the plans are to see her again some time in the next week. Then I will be leaving for Orlando for 5 days and when I get back, we will start our training.

This is so exciting, I almost feel like squealing and giggling myself!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Forest Green Turtleneck Society

I have often seen members of the Red Hat Society out and about and have been amused by their red hats and purple outfits. I love the absurdity of it: a group of women who are unconcerned about their looks, about how society may view the way they dress, and are just out enjoying themselves. I've always said that some day, when I'm old enough, I'm going to join the Red Hats.

As I was looking at their website one day, I saw that I might possibly be old enough. While most Red Hatters are over 50, there are some who are younger. And I went, "Uh... wow. I'm maybe old enough to join." And then I started to go through a crisis. Yes, I want to be able to join the Red Hats some day. But... I'm only 42! And that seems too young to join the Red Hats. I was thinking that I would be ready to join when I turned 50 but I could maybe join now. It would give me an opportunity to meet and make friends with other like-minded women and I have missed having friends to hang out with. On the other hand, I have in my mind this perception that Red Hatters were much older than me and the fact that they're not, well, that kinda freaks me out.

So I was looking online to see if I could find a local chapter but the Red Hats keep chapter information very quiet. As I was looking, I stumbled across a group called The Blue Thong Society. Um... okay? The Blue Thong Society is kind of the antithesis of Red Hat, trying to stay young and hip and trendy as they age. Their motto? "Fight Frump!" Well. I don't want to be frumpy but I see the Red Hat group as being silly in their frumpiness, not that they were throwing in the towel and succumbing to a life of elastic-waisted polyester supreme pants and sweatshirts with little kitties on them or going about in hair curlers and mumuus because they can't be bothered to dress better. I'm sure that the members of the Blue Thong Group are probably nicer than that but first impression? Not such a good one.

Lying in bed with Brad last night, I mentioned both groups to him and said, "I feel like I fall smack dab in the middle of the two groups. I'm not sure Blue Thong is right for me but I'm not quite ready for Red Hatters, either. What would be the middle between blue thongs and red hats? Is it yellow jumpers? Forest green turtlenecks? Orange stars? Pink hearts?"

I've been racking my brain for a long time, trying to figure out how to meet and make friends with others. Alas, I have no crafty sorts of abilities so hanging out with crafters is not an option and I'm not going to join a book club because I'm very fussy about the books I read. Where does a 42-year old woman go these days to make friends?

If you have any ideas, let me know. Otherwise, I think I'll be down the street at the local watering hole, eyeing other women and working on pick-up lines: "Hey little lady, wanna come back to my place and play Scrabble and look at pictures of my kids?"

Friday, August 20, 2010

Who Needs Paper Towel?

The boys are up this weekend and we were sitting around the dinner table this evening, cracking jokes and eating (home-grilled) hamburgers. (I rock!) I discovered that we had no paper towels in the house to wipe our hands off on. Home-grilled hamburgers with condiments can be a bit messy. Add to that the fact that we were also eating chips and the discovery of no paper towels was a rather unfortunate turn of events.

So I started wiping my hands together, as if that's somehow going to rid me of the mess on my hands. Then I reached out towards Brad and Frank, who were sitting on either side of me, and wiped my hands off on their shirts. (I also let out an unexpected belch that set the wine glasses to tinkling in their rack and the whole family falling out of their chairs with laughter but that's another story all together.) Then I stuck my sticky fingers under the table to let our dog Sunny lick them off but that didn't help much either.

Brad, being the totally chivalrous dude that he is, leans his shoulder towards me and says: Here, go ahead and wipe your hands off. That's what shirts are for.

Me: Give me your pant leg.

Brad gives me a look.

Me: Oh yeah, it's not your pant leg, it's your socks.

Me, to the kids: Brad will wipe his fingers off on his socks when he's wearing them if he doesn't have a napkin.

Me, to Brad: So what do you do when you're not wearing any socks? Do you wipe them off on your ankles? I guess that's why men have hairy legs, to wipe off their dirty fingers.

Dweezil: I don't even want to know.

Me: No, it's good because then he has this stuff in the hair on his legs and then the dogs go up and lick his legs and the circle of life begins all over again.

Moral of the story: Make sure to always have paper towel on hand in case of emergency so that your wife doesn't share your dirty little secrets with the kids and her 9 blog followers.

Addendum: Now that I think about it, I think we might actually have some napkins in one of the storage cabinets in the kitchen, making the wiping off of my hands on other people's shirts totally unnecessary. I'm sure we all learned a very valuable lesson from this.

Monday, August 16, 2010

So Far Away

My parents divorced when I was very young. I'm not sure exactly how old I was, I guess I never bothered to ask. But based on photos taken from when I was a toddler, with my mother's second husband, I would venture a guess that I was somewhere between 1-2 years old.

For almost all of my life, my father has lived too far away to see him much. I spent some time living with him at various times in my childhood in Alabama and California but not more than about a year or two. I saw him a few times in my teen years but not much as an adult. He was (is) living in Delaware and every time I looked at plane tickets, it was upwards of $400 to visit and I just never had that money. I'd see him when he'd make a trip out to see me and my siblings, every 2-3 years. Often when he did come to visit, I'd be busy working and unable to take time off so I rarely got to spend much time with him when he was in town.

He's now 80 years old. Last year I finally pulled the money together to fly out to see him since it'd been more years than I could remember since I had seen him last. My children don't really remember him, it's been that long. I spent a nice 5 days visiting with him and I recall him saying how much he has regretted not being closer over the years so that he could have been a part of our lives while we were growing up. He is coming out next month to visit for a few days and it's going to be the first time Dweezil and Frank will have seen him since they were very little.

I live in Utah and I have never really liked it. I have lived here longer than I've lived any other place yet it's never felt like home to me. It's always felt like a way station, a place I've stopped on my way to some place else. In my adulthood, I've viewed it as a temporary stop and yet it's been an 18 year temporary stop so far. I itch deep down in my core to move away. My heart yearns for another home, some place not land-locked, close to the ocean. It's been a struggle for me to stay here. I have tried to convince Brad that we need to move but he wants to stay, for no real reason he can put his finger on.

Then I think about my boys who live with their father. Dweezil is 14, Frank is almost 11. And I think about how little I saw of my father over the years and I realize I can't move yet. Sure, I survived without my father but I always missed him, always wished he lived closer. My boys could probably survive just fine without me but I don't think I can survive just fine without them. I suppose it's the sort of thing one can get used to after a while but it's not something I want to get used to. Not yet. Seeing them every other weekend is not enough for me, seeing them less is not an option. Right now, I live about a 2-hour round trip drive from them so I don't get to go to their sporting events, although I try to make sure I get to Dweezil's choir concerts whenever I can. I hate to tell them that their event is too early for me to get to after I get off work or too early on a Saturday morning for me to see them. I don't want to move so far away that I can't see them for important events in their lives as they become teenagers. So only seeing them once or twice a year right now is not an option.

And that means my 18 year temporary stop in Utah is going to become at least a 25 year temporary stop. Maybe longer. Who knows? As long as I live here, I'll always be yearning deep down in my heart to be somewhere else. But being a parent means putting aside some of your most selfish desires for the good of your children. It means being there for your children as much as possible. Some day, they'll be old enough to move on with their lives. Maybe they'll go to school somewhere else, maybe they'll go to school out of state. Maybe they'll marry and move out of Utah for employment. And until they are adults, I will be here, making sure I'm as constant a presence in their lives as I can be; I will be here when they need me. I don't ever want them to look at their childhood and wish that I'd been more of a part of it. I don't want anyone, not me, not them, to have that sort of regret.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

"You Don't Suck"

So on Friday, Brad and I had picked up the boys to bring home for the weekend. And our normal silliness ensued. I don't recall exactly what the conversation was at that moment but I said something about how I was so awesome. Conversation went something like this:

Me: I'm so awesome!

Dweezil (14): No you're not.

Me: Yes I am! Ask Brad!

Dweezil: He's your husband, he's supposed to say you're awesome.

Me: No really, he doesn't have to.

Brad: I think you're awesome.

Me: See? I am awesome! Why don't you just admit that you love me coz I'm awesome?

Dweezil: I love you coz you don't suck.

Me: Aww, come on!

Dweezil: All my friends at school say they hate their moms and I say, "I love my mom."

Brad: Why do your friends hate their moms?

Dweezil: I don't know. But they're always saying they hate their moms and I say, "I love my mom, she's awesome."

Me: HAH! You DO think I'm awesome! You just admitted it!

Everyone, even Frank, who had been sulking about something or other up to this point, started laughing.

I'm on Cloud 9. That's high praise from a 14 year old! AAAND, he admits to his friends that he loves me. :-)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

An Open Letter to the Religious

First, let me start off by saying that I know this blog isn't about religion. It's about being a parent, a human being, living life, and not taking yourself too seriously. But lately, I have become highly annoyed by people who, left and right, are continuously quoting scripture every chance they get. Most of the time, they are doing this in situations where it is highly inappropriate. So let me say, if you’re religious but not one who loves to quote scripture all the time, feel free to ignore this. If you aren’t a scripture-quoter but you know someone who is, feel free to share this with them.

Now then, for those of you who are scripture-quoters, I’m going to say this: for the love of all that you consider holy, knock off with the scripture quoting. There is, hands-down, little that is more annoying than someone who loves to quote scripture for everything of social/cultural significance that they happen to disagree with. This is some of the worst self-aggrandizement there is, quoting scripture to everyone. Let me explain to you why there is no point.

1. Those you are quoting scripture to? Probably don’t actually give a flying Fig Newton what the scripture says that you are quoting to them. Your scripture quoting will serve no purpose other than to annoy the person you are quoting to. You will not get your point across and will, in fact, manage to further alienate that person.

2. For almost every scripture you want to quote that prohibits a certain behavior, there is a 99% probability that there is another scripture that refutes it. We could go ‘round and ‘round, quoting all kinds of scripture to each other to make our points but in the end, will either side be swayed? Almost certainly not. It’s a waste of time and energy and again, will result in nothing but frustration.

3. Out of curiosity, are you familiar with the social norms and mores of the Middle East thousands of years ago? Are you aware of the significance and implications of Biblical verses in regards to those ancient norms and mores? If not, what makes you certain that they have any pertinence at all to the norms and mores of now? I mean, I think you’ve already come to the conclusion that stoning your neighbor for infractions is probably not in anyone’s best interest. Why is that? Why choose to adhere to certain parts of the Bible but not others? Is it because stoning your neighbor is not socially acceptable today? Then why would other parts be acceptable? If you are going to be strict to adhering to the parts of the Bible you agree with, you should be strict to adhering to the parts of the Bible you don’t agree with. If you get to pick and choose which parts of the Bible you are going to adhere to, why can’t someone else do the same thing?

4. Are you one of those people who believes God never changes? If so, explain why God is wrathful, vengeful, and often seems to be very angry in the Old Testament but is a kind and loving God in the New Testament. If God never changes, why did He allow Jesus to toss out most of the rules of the Old Testament? If God tosses out Old Testament rules, what makes you think that God isn’t tossing out the rules of the New Testament? If God changed enough to make much of the Old Testament moot, why not the New Testament? You believe that He speaks through prophets, pastors, priests, bishops, etc. That is how you know that he isn’t tossing out the rules of the New Testament, because you hear it from the pulpit every Sunday. But every religion have a different slant on things. And if every religion has a different slant on things, what's to say any of it is what God wants you to follow? Every religion thinks they are the right one so either they are all right or they are all wrong.

5. When was the last time humans received new scripture from God? Okay, if you are a Mormon, you believe that the Book of Mormon is new scripture but even that has events that take place more than a thousand years ago. Mormons also have other scripture so perhaps they have the most up-to-date scripture. Let’s say, though, that you aren’t Mormon and that you don't believe the Mormons have new scripture. If mankind has not received any new scripture lately, what’s to say that the New Testament isn’t wildly outdated in its philosophies?

6. Let me take this one step further and say, there are many variations on the Bible. There are many translations. Each translation says something slightly different than other translations. If God is sending His holy spirit to influence these translations, why are they different? Shouldn’t they all be the same? If they vary, what does that tell us? It tells us that man is the one translating the Bible. Man is fallible. And yes, man is, in fact, putting his own spin on the Bible, to make it better suit his ideals, without any concern for what the scripture actually means. At that point, what makes the Bible so valuable to you for quoting? Your Bible and my Bible might say different things. Whose is right? Doesn’t that make scripture quoting futile at that point?

If you believe in the Bible, there are only 10 Commandments in the Old Testament. Most of your scripture quoting does not fall within these 10 Commandments. If you are a follower of Christ, He says the two greatest commandments are to love God with all your might and the second is similar: love your neighbor as yourself. And then there’s the Golden Rule. The idea of ethical reciprocity has been around since the days of ancient Babylon. It essentially states that you treat others as you would like to be treated and do not treat others in ways that you would not like to be treated. It is essentially the best argument for human rights out there. And it makes my whole point for me.

I understand you are who you are. I understand that my communication to you is likely to have no impact on what you say or what you do because you feel justified. If you actually read my entire post, please understand, your opinions are yours. There are likely many people out there whose opinions are similar to yours. But in those situations where you quote scripture to try to justify inequities, which I think is the kindest word I can use, you are having no impact on anyone who disagrees with you. You are most likely alienating those you are attempting to reach. Let bygones be bygones. You are not seeking retribution to hurts, you are only attempting to justify your beliefs and actions. And in the end, you should just use scripture to guide your own life rather than trying to guide someone else’s.