Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Big Girl / Little Baby

I know it's written into our training and has been discussed quite a bit, but it still amazes me how complex kids who have experienced trauma and loss can be in their development.  Little teenagers, infants, and kids all rolled into one body.

Today during "resting time" was a prime example.  Cricket had a clear, 8-year-old level conversation with me about how she missed her mom.  "Sometimes I have to leave the visits, and my mom stays there, and I feel sad."  She then was fiddling with a baby bottle for her doll and started sucking on it.  Her face lit up and she asked me to feed her.  Switch from 8-year-old to infant.  I cradled that 4T-sized body in my arms, and she curled up against me like a newborn: warm, cozy, eyes half-closed though she wasn't actually sleep and truly at peace.  Somehow at peace, among all the confusion she must feel, all the warring ages and stages within her from times her needs weren't met.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Lesson Learned: Seeing a Former Foster Kid in Public

We went to a pool as a family and were swimming around when I saw her.  A girl that reminded me a lot of Caterpillar's sister.  Then across the pool, I saw a man holding a baby.  Caterpillar.

I had heard from his caseworker that he did end up in a home where he could be with his sister like the agency hoped.  I told her to pass on our information to that family, and that we would be happy to talk with them or do respite sometime.  I hadn't heard anything further.

I went to B, stumbling over my words with excitement.  Without really talking about it, he knew I wanted him to go up and introduce himself.  I kind of hovered nearby, imagining he would wave me over and I'd have a joyful little reunion with Caterpillar.  Well, we totally freaked out the foster dad and his body language showed he didn't really want to talk with us.  So, we backed off.

Our kids kept ending up playing near each other, though, so inevitably later we were close by each other.  I apologized for the awkwardness and he said he was just really worried about confidentiality, so being asked if he was the foster dad made him really uncomfortable.  Of course.  We had a little small talk about hair, how long we'd fostered, and I got to smile at Caterpillar a bit.  My arms longed to hold him and bring him closer, but clearly this was not the situation to be pushy. 

So, in the future, I would start with, "Hi, I'm a foster parent, and I recognized Caterpillar because he used to live in our home!"  No questions to be answered, just immediately making ourselves clear.

And yes, it was so, so good to see him.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Self-care denied

Currently my self-care involves exercise.  I run outside once per week, even though it is soooo cold and icy and snowy this time of year.  The fresh air and exercise does win out over the inconvenience, though not by a ton.  For my other weekly exercise, I go to a gym with child care.  I had it all planned out for Friday morning.  Usually I make it happen earlier in the week, so after a week that had some busy stuff and heavy stuff, I was craving that time.

Also, we had a date planned for the same day in the evening.  The gym has a "parents' night out" and we signed up our kids for the first time, having all of them meeting the age requirement now.  It was going to go a bit late for them, but we decided to go along with it anyway.

Well, Cricket developed an awful cold.  Oh, colds.  There's no fever, so you want to just go with it, but she sounded so, so bad.  So I skipped the gym, hoping for improvement before the evening.  But as the day went on, we knew keeping her up late was not a good idea.  So, there goes the date, and the date budget, as it was pre-paid.  And our date last month was cancelled, too.

It just sucks sometimes, you know?  I know we're not the only parents to encounter this, and I know it's small in light of big stuff, but man.  Sometimes I preach the "you have to take care of yourself" line so much to myself and others that when those plans fall apart, I start to fall apart, too.  Like cry in front of the kids and have to take a break in the bathroom (thankfully B was home).

But I did get to go to a mom's group that I love as a plan B, which was after kids' bedtime and didn't really give me a break from the kids or time out with B, but it did help me refocus and remember to live life like the gospel is as true as I say it is.  Confess my sins, my "little" ones, like being jealous of friends with family in town that babysit kids with or without colds.  Pray and pour my heart out for others who are hurting.  Keep on going.

And in two weeks, we have an attempt at an overnight away.  Here's hoping!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Birthday time

Cricket's birthday is coming up.  Thanks to my loyal readers that responded in the comments!  I'll just assume everyone else that reads is not licensed yet and is just soaking up my vast wisdom, and not internet robots. ;)

I learned at the last sibling visit that Cricket's sister's birthday is also this month.  Gina planned to invite us to a birthday party, but as we were also going to do something for Cricket, we decided to combine.  We're going to a place they can swim then have cake in a rented room afterward.  Because it's a public place, I was thinking a little bit about inviting Cricket's mom and having a caseworker or case aide attend, as her visits need to be supervised.  Cricket's mom has been appropriate with us and with Cricket, and I don't worry about safety issues.  But unfortunately she hasn't acted appropriately with employees of our agency in front of the kids, and since an employee of the agency would have to be there... it seemed a bit too volatile for a birthday party.

Her mom asked again for our Google Voice number and called this weekend, talked with me a little before she talked to Cricket.  She wanted to know what we were doing for Cricket's birthday.  I was worried she would ask if she could be there or hint toward that, but she didn't.  And tearfully, she asked if we would give her pictures.  Of course.  I asked if there was anything I could do for the visit closest to Cricket's birthday, like bring cookies for them to decorate together.  She said she'd like that.

At times, I become frustrated and outraged at Cricket's mom's choices.  But when her voice breaks asking about birthday details, asking for pictures, thanking us so much for pictures... my heart breaks for her.  This month will be hard for her, two of her babies having birthdays.  I can't imagine.

So, we will have a blast swimming and eating Hello Kitty cake, announcing new ages loudly and proudly.  But it will be bittersweet printing the pictures for the woman who wasn't there.

Monday, February 2, 2015

First Day February 2015 - How I Spend a Day Doing Hair

Really, it's not a complaint, it's just something that blows my mind.  Cricket has a cold bad enough to keep her home from church, so I just used the whole day to undo the last style (which was pretty quick this time), wash, braid, and bead.  Pretty much everything she's doing in these pictures* is happening while I am doing hair.  She did play outside during one break, which I forgot to get a picture of, and she had a long "resting time," when I went off to a fabulous new coffee shop nearby.  I kind of drove in a blizzard to go there, but I really needed to get out, and it was heavenly.  Just reading a book, sipping coffee that was still good even when it got cold, looking up to see the snow swirling outside.

I'm linking up with Journey to Josie to share pictures of our "first days."

*Did you know there's a Teletubbies episode with a mom braiding her daughter's hair?  Which we watched while braiding hair?  Here you go!