Sometimes, my kids surprise me. My fourteen year old has percussion band camp this week. My partner and I are scared for her - she isn't very good, and this could be one of a few chances for her to make a positive impression in ninth grade. She was not scared. She wasn't even apprehensive. I had to drop her off an hour early and she was fine with that. She was down right pleasant on the drive to drop her off. I love that kid!!!
My seventeen year old has initiated contact with her birth family. She's decided it is time to work through the anger and pain, and started it all on her own. She realized that she's never going to be really happy and comfortable until she has some sort of relationship with her mother. If her mother can't deal with it, she insists she'll be okay. She just wants to put the effort forth. Is that strength or what??
I am a very proud parent right now.
My fourteen year old is going to summer band prep today. It is very scary for us. Band was my saviour in high school. I was socially retarded and in band you could be geeky and still have friends. S gets so defensive and such a victim she makes me at her age look like the prom queen. She works so hard at it, and it's getting better, but is she ready for this kind of bombardment?
Holly got her a transfer to a better school than our feeder, so there won't be many, if any, kids from her middle school. This might be her best chance for a clean start for the next four years. The other really sucky thing is that she lacks almost all of the skills to succeed in marching band, being a rather less than mediocre musician and not very coordinated. I just hope they can find a place for her. She may not make the marching band - they are so competitive in this area. But, maybe she could be one of the kids that stands on the sidelines and carries the podium or something. I did that my freshman year, being a very weak horn player at the time, and I still felt like I was part of the big group. I still made friends.
Holly and I stressed to her that this was a fresh start and she needed to not complain or be difficult. Well, I guess we'll see when she gets thru at noon.
I never used to call myself a democrat. I wanted to keep it clear that I would vote for the candidate or issue that was the best, not along any party lines. I guess I still would, but now I can rest assured that the republican candidate or issue is way too extreme for me.
Why can't politicians do what is right?
I read a book, can't remember the name, but I think it was written by Arthur C. Clark where the president of the US was chosen at random by a computer from a list of qualified people. The very act of campaigning or acting like you wanted that much power was enough to disqualify you, because that would mean you were a crazy egomaniac. The person chosen couldn't refuse the position, and only served one term. That just makes so much sense!! Is that why we can't do it? I'll try to find the name of the book.
I've tried to talk my partner, Holly into running for office - the school board or something. She's got a simple name and she's very smart, well spoken, and she doesn't put up with much BS. She was a teacher for 8 years and a social worker for 8 years. She won't do it, insisting that people won't vote for a lesbian and she doesn't want people digging around for the skeletons she might have. That is one of the other horrid issues in politics - you better hide your past, which is a heck of a lot easier if you have tons of money, which we don't. Anyhow, she'd make an excellent member of the school board. She would help get rid of all the stuff that doesn't work, maybe try to make jobs in education reasonable. She's already proven to be an excellent teacher and an excellent parent. That should override any skeletons. If you want to see how well she writes, click on the myHolly link to the right.
Rosie's blog today is about Helen Thomas. That woman is something else. She is brilliant and forward and has been getting the job done for 50 years. Rosie suggested a musical about her. Wouldn't that be wonderful? I'd go see it, even all the way to New York. I wonder how Ro really feels. She probably has the money and clout to get it made and it's a great idea. Especially in NYC, which is pretty liberal. She could hit up all the liberal Hollywood types. I'd even give a few bucks... :-)
court court and more court
Yesterday I went to court with my partner and kids. Foster kids have their cases reviewed by a family court judge every six months, and somehow all four of the kids we have living at home were scheduled on the same day. CPS probably did it on purpose so that we only had to go once, but it sure made for a long day. I don't often go, but Holly would have been seriously miserable trying to deal with two babies and two grumpy teens at the same time, all day.
The judge was great. He played with the twins and gave us advice about their adoption. He let my seventeen year old change her name, and was so impressed by the letter she wrote to request the name change that he asked to keep it for his records. He laughed with us when we showed up for the third time for S's afternoon session. CASA has been putting pressure on us to adopt her. We will adopt her, but are concerned that, as she continues through adolescence, she will at times revert back to some of the tantrums and aggressive behavior she displayed when she first came to us. We handled it ourselves in the past, but now she is taller and weighs more and we want to be able to send her to our agency for a 'tuneup' if it comes to that. If she gets as difficult as she has been, because of her size, we would probably have to call the police if we can't send her to SH. Holly explained this to the judge and he said there was no hurry. S is in a safe environment and thriving and he'd didn't want us to adopt until we were sure we could handle what situations came up. He basically shut the CASA down. Can't argue with the judge.
The only really bad thing was that K's mother didn't show up. She was devastated about that. The other three's parental rights have been severed, so we are the only family they have. K wants to maintain a relationship with her mom. She called her mom afterward and the mother said she hadn't been notified. We knew that was a lie because the state sends the notifications by certified mail and the caseworker had the receipt. We didn't push that with k, though. We let her setup a lunch date with her mom for next month. I wonder if her mom will show up. I wonder if K will tell her that she is planning to let us adopt her after she turns 18.
Me and Martha the Beluga
a great day
Saturday we went to SeaWorld. I really love that place. We have season passes, so we can relax and see a couple of shows and do a couple of rides each time we go. We discovered a foam pit for the babies to play in that we hadn't noticed before. Ben and Sophia were in heaven. They marched around and pushed the foam blocks around and had a great time. They also ran around a kids' area that had water toys and fountains. Ben loved it, Sophia was not so sure. The teenagers were excited because there were no lines for the rollercoasters. Holly and I spent an hour in the water with the beluga whales. You can see pictures if you follow the myHolly link on the right.
I wish that all theme park visits could work like this one. Everyone was thoroughly warn out, yet happy. Next time, we'll go to the waterpark and see the Sea Lion show.
How to deal with grief...
My kids go through a lot of grief - completely understandable since, for one reason or another, they can't go back to their birth families. Even though our household is more loving, pleasant and nurturing than where they came from, they all have the urge to go back. They miss their birth families even if the only love they received from them was laden with abuse and neglect. So, Holly and I are used to dealing with grief.
My seventeen year old has wallowed into a different kind of grief, though. She has considerable social anxiety disorder and is most comfortable dealing with people through the filter of online chatrooms. But, last year, to our joy, she made a friend. This friend of hers, I'll call her Kim, is just as sarcastic and dark natured as my daughter. They wrote stories together and commiserated about their parents together. They were inseparable at school.
Kim has been very depressed, and for unknown reasons, her parents are convinced that she needs to just 'get over it' and won't get her professional help, even though she has asked for it. They also don't approve of my daughter because Kim's grades have gone down since they've been friends. (I have a feeling that their own precarious living conditions and constant pressure have just as much to do with it as my daughter.) Her mother doesn't like the fact that Holly and I are lesbians. We also have a big house where Kim gets her own bed when she spends the night, which is more than they can give her.
Even though we cautioned her against it several times, our daughter razzes Kim's parents to Kim all the time. We explained that people don't others to slam their home situation, even if it's true. Anyhow, Kim has decided that they need space and different friends. Kim is hanging around with the potheads now. I imagine they are much less judgmental than my daughter.
My kid doesn't know what to do. She is so uncomfortable opening herself up to new people that she won't try. She is grieving with full on tears. Holly and I explained to her that it will take time to work through. It still hurts, though. It hurts her to go through and us to watch.
But, it's all part of parenting, right?
bday for real
Today is my birthday. I am a little bummed, because nobody, except Holly, really even remembered. The kids only said anything after they were reminded. Of course there is so much else going on - Holly is sick, so I'm at home with the babies, the school year is ending so the teens have everything else on their minds, and we weren't planning to celebrate until Saturday, which of course is the wonderful swimming with whales. My grandmother called. That is special. She'll be 100 next month, so for her to remember means a lot. My old Tai chi teacher sent me an ecard. But, geez, this is 40 - a pretty big milestone. Enough feeling sorry for myself.
I got to spend two days in a row practically by myself with the twins. It was wonderful! Even though they are a bit grouchy, it was so much fun. I miss them while I'm at work. I have to go back to work tomorrow. Neither of us are sure that Holly can handle them by herself, but I can't miss more work without a dr note and she is determined that she isn't bad enough off to go. A friend of ours might come over for awhile. It'll work out somehow. She'd better be healthy enough to swim with whales on Saturday!!!
could we love them more?
I just read Rosie's blog talking about the birth of their youngest. How amazing is childbirth! Part of me feels badly, because we didn't birth any of our kids. Would we feel closer to them? Could we love them more? I can't really imagine loving them more, but then, how do you measure love?
Holly and I get tons of praise because we chose kids that were "difficult to place" to foster. It means more to me when my kids call me mom and are comfortable and happy. They weren't always. I have it in my heart to love kids, and loved my teens from the day I met them. But getting our family to become one in the true sense of the word took so much work. Talking and getting to know each other. Dealing with anxiety and abuse and neglect. Making space in our lives for kids who seemed to need all we had and more. And, always, the fear. They feared that we would send them back, that we would start behaving as their abusers had, or that we wouldn't love them. We feared that we weren't parenting right, that we missed things and didn't follow the rules, that we lost our tempers too often and that we were doing everything wrong.
It really took two years to form the ironclad bonds. I think that all of that work probably makes up for some of the pregnancy and labor, partly because the kids had to work just as hard, and they remember it.
My birthday is on May 10th. One week away. This will be one of those big deal birthdays - 40 - and Holly thought I should do something big. We skipped the annual birthday party this year in favor of giving the twins one. So, Holly and I are going to swim with the whales at Sea World. This is going to be Holly's birthday present, too, even though hers is in August and she will only be 38. It is also going to be our Mother's Day present to each other. I don't think I've ever been this excited about a present before. Well, when Holly gave me my ring three Christmas' ago... but that was different.
So, in eleven days, Holly and I get to spend time in a tank of freezing sea water with a Beluga Whale. We might get to touch him/her, scratch his/her tongue or even feed them. That would all be icing on the cake. I am thrilled just to be that close to one.
I know that I should probably be against any animals in captivity. I have a friend who won't visit zoos or SeaWorld because of that. I'm not, though. I think that SeaWorld and the good zoos teach people to love and have a concern for animals. It's harder to condone destroying the habitat of an animal that you've been 10 feet from and seen in a reasonable facsimile of their natural habitat in a zoo.
I'm so excited!!!
Saturday was my twins' first birthday. We had a party. We'd intended for it to be small, they are only one, after all. But, as these things will, it got bigger and bigger. Dozens of family and friends showed up, with their kids of all ages. It was chaotic, but everyone had fun. More fun than the twins, who fell asleep as folks started to arrive and woke to a houseful of people. They did not understand it. They played the game, of course, showing all how well they could walk and their few teeth, playing with the wrapping paper and putting everything into their mouths.
My sister-in-law told me that first birthday parties were really an affirmation for the parents from their friends and family that they are parenting well and doing a good thing. The babies don't understand the party and don't need more toys. Now, after the party, I am sure she is right. I feel affirmed.