Wow. Raising juvenile delinquents (as well as the rest of the children) is hard, exhausting, emotional work. Without tempting fate or anything (which I realize is a silly superstition), this week has been one of the top ten (or bottom ten) of worst weeks ever.
First of all, Haley’s had a tough week. After she called Sunday night heartbroken and at her wit’s end, she decided she would come home for a few days. Then her car got broken into…and her money stolen. And, while we were able to help a little bit, we can’t swoop in and make everything all better for her, which has made for sadness both in New York and here at home.
Speaking of here at home, things have gone from already-pretty-darn-hard to barely-possible-with-the-help-of-God around here. Dillon has landed himself in a heap of legal trouble, which I won’t go into here, but which has the potential to change the course of his life. He, however, is not sorry…or humbled…or embarrassed. In fact, he asked me the other day if it had ever dawned on me that maybe if I had ever been any kind of a mother to him, he wouldn’t have made the (ginormous) mistake he did.
Fiffer, too, has upped the ante. Although she’s been under as-constant-as-we-can-make-it surveillance for her wall-decorating-stuff-smashing-food-stealing behavior, she got past us one afternoon this week. Feffer had been home all day with a tummy bug, so she got off the bus and walked the tiny distance to our house alone. Before she came in the house (as we found out the next morning), she grabbed a sharp stick and punctured the family’s bike tires (7 in all…she missed one of Josiah’s because it was stuck in a corner…and she…of course…skipped her own).
It was on our way to Walmart for new bike tubes (I can’t stand to have the little boys heartbroken like that) that Dillon asked (after several other charming statements), “Why are you even foster parenting…”
He let the sentence peter out, but the context gave me the clue I needed. To double-check his intention, I asked, “Since we’re so bad at it?”
He shrugged. “Well, yeah. I mean, really, Mom, don’t you ever wonder why everyone who comes into your house is so angry and has so many problems?”
I wondered aloud if that was actually the case for everyone who comes into my house and if (maybe, just maybe) foster kids have anger and problems because of the things that happened to them prior to coming into my house. He shrugged again and replied that, while that might be part of the problem, he’s pretty sure I make everything worse.
I told him that was enough with the talking and turned up the radio.
And he doesn’t know this, but I have been wondering the exact same thing. Several friends (much more kindly) have suggested that maybe we have more on our plates than we can handle right now. I couldn’t agree more. I just don’t know what to do about it. We’re trying to get Fiffer the help she needs (which may someday include a break from us), but she comes as part of a sibling package, and we don’t want to do anything to further harm her little brothers. Plus, she’s eight years old…and I’m not quite ready to give up on a little girl. If Dillon doesn’t end up in the juvenile detention center (his misguided dream come true), he wants us to put him somewhere (anywhere!) else. He wants us to put him in a children’s home, where kids make remarkable turn-arounds because they finally have a loving home and needed structure…but…wait…don’t we have that here…for “free”?
So the week has held a couple of tear-filled, sleep-deprived nights. And when the caseworker called yesterday and said that they want me to get more training so that I can better manage Fiffer’s issues, it was a blessing…a sign that they are finally hearing us. But, on the other hand, it frustrated me. I don’t want to have any more training. I don’t want to rearrange our lives so that I can sit in class. I also don’t want to learn all the new information we’re bound to learn from the state’s attorney (about Dillon’s case). I’m weary to the bone. Why isn’t there extra training for these children?! Why can’t they go sit in classes all day and learn to knock. it. off?!
But, alas. That’s not how this works. And I’ve always longed for some sort of challenging life-work. Right? Right?!
But I’ve been feeling sorry for myself. I have. I admit it. But then yesterday, I happened to get out of my van as our next door neighbor was walking by (not Jennifer, for those of you who know us). As usual, she didn’t ask about us at all, but just launched into a long monologue about her own woes. It seems that she’s struggling with a very pesky rash on her tushy. She went on and on and on, telling me about it, while I choked back laughter and prayed that Hayden wouldn’t walk outside, which would have completely unhinged me. Mercy.
But I went inside the house with a new attitude. Yes, things are tough right now. But God is seeing us through, and I know He will continue to do so. And…at least my butt doesn’t itch:)