So it has been an embarassingly long time since I last wrote anything for this blog. Long enough that I owe you all an apology. It started out simply enough – I did something I’ve done a million times, picked up a full water bucket for our cow. Not sure what I did differently, but I did something nasty to my elbow – my right elbow. I’ve had carpal tunnel syndrome for years from too much time writing books, and as long as I’m careful about not overdoing it, I can write, but this made it a lot harder and more painful. It also meant that when I did wedge my arm into a comfortable position to write, the carpal became worse.
I have the general habit (I first wrote “bad habit” but it has actually worked fairly well for me over the years) of ignoring things that hurt on me and figuring they will eventually go away. Usually they do. This one didn’t. I finally (after ignoring it way too long) did something about it, and it is much better, but still cutting WAY into my computer time.
T. and G. the six and 18 month old we had for a couple of months this spring left at the beginning of May. Shortly after that we had a lovely visit with my extended family, the end of the term and our annual foster parent recertification, in which I experience domestic PTSD about my housekeeping and panic that they will not only fail to recertify my but also take away the other children, and probably the livestock too due to my inadequate housekeeping ;-).
Preparing for that event takes a good week of crazy sorting and cleaning, during which I turn into a lunatic, panicked that they will look under my fridge and use that as a measure of my worth as a foster parent (yes, I know that’s insane, thanks for mentioning it ;-)). We finally survived said event a week ago last Thursday, and I had promised the children a weekend of absolute quiet, peace and doing whatever the heck we all wanted. I promised myself that on Sunday I’d sit down and attend to my poor neglected blog. We had a great time Thursday afternoon, a lovely morning on Friday, and at 3pm on Friday I foolishly answered a phone call, saying to my husband “Oh, it is probably too late on a Friday for them to be calling me NOW.”
Ah, famous last words. They had six children to place, ages 10, 6, 3, 3, 16 months and 2 months. Could we take some of them? All of them? I being a complete raving loon said (with some considerable trepidation) yes to all six, but was told in fact that other placements would be necessary for two of them for various complicated reasons. Originally we were supposed to get the four oldest children, but that changed over the next few complicated days in to our having D. a 10 year old girl with a minor physical disability and an amazing sense of style; Twins K. (boy) and R. (girl), both 3 1/2, sweet, loving, young for their age but wanting so much to please, and 16 month old Q. who is adorable, a solemn little girl who sees no reason why she shouldn’t be able to boss the entire crew around. Add in the normal group of kids (the biological ones – 13 year old Eli, 11 year old Simon, 9 year old Isaiah and 7 yea rold Asher) and 11 month old Baby Z. who is coming up on his first birthday and two days later, a year with us, and it makes for quite a party. Yes, if you were counting, that’s 9 children. Yes, 13, 11, 10, 9, 7, 3, 3, 16months and 11 months. Yes, it is a lot.
They arrived 10 days ago after a very traumatic beginning, and are really settling in. It is a huge adjustment, even though we’re accustomed to doing adjustments – we have yet to get into a routine – mostly because of the “beginning of the placement crazies.” This is my term for the stuff that goes on with new placements and makes the first few weeks really frustrating.
You see, all foster kids have to have doctor’s visits, one within the first 48 hours, and often multiple ones if there are health issues. They have weekly visits with parents. They have meetings for the people working together to help them. If they attend school we have to drive them for a week or two until the busing is set up – and they stay in their old districts (which is great!), so it can be quite a drive (we currently driving 4 hours EVERY SCHOOL DAY to do two round trips for D. to keep her in school – fortunately last week was short and the buses will be set up by Wednesday!) They have to be registered for programs, have things like early intervention transferred over, arrange for new therapy appointments. They need to go to dentists, eye doctors and specialists. They need clothes, shoes and for someone to come to the parent-teacher conference. They need…well…everything.
At the same time, what the kids and parents really need most is stability, routine and to stay home for a while. Home so everyone can learn the rules. Home so people can get the rest and down time they need – both traumatized kids and exhausted foster parents. Home so the kids can build sibling friendships. Home so you can get used to all the new stuff. Home so there’s time for just talking about stuff, or teaching colors or doing hair or singing the itsy bitsy spider. We’re working on it, but not there yet.
This one looks to be a longer term placement, so we also need time just to get organized – we are set up generally to foster, but we never know how it will work. A brother and sister, 9 and 8 who won’t want to be anywhere near each other, much less in the same room? Or three little ones who need to be in sight of one another. Will we need the dolls or the Lemony Snicket books, the fisher price people and the silkies or the Monopoly set - or all of the above.
With four under four (Z. 11 mos, Q. 16 mos, K. 3 and R. 3…and yes, I had noticed that our kids’ names begin with all the high scoring scrabble tiles ;-)), we are working on setting up our lives for little people again – and adding in strollers and carriers and things we’d mostly let slide (yes, that’s TWO double strollers I’m going to need). Adding in a pre-teen girl (she’ll be 11 shortly) also has its challenges. Still, we’re mostly enjoying ourselves, and settling in fairly comfortably.
The garden is in rough shape here (didn’t help that we lost most of what I HAD planted to frost last week), everything is running behind, and we are eating way too many quickie meals. I haven’t put up more than a couple of quarts of rhubarb – but the truth is that we’ll get back into a flow, as we always have before. I’m not worrying too much – I feel guiltier about neglecting you all, but the truth is that right this moment, the kids need me more.
So that’s the story here. Yes, btw, I do know my old site is gone. And no, you can’t get any loans from me from Singapore or anywhere else – all my cash is tied up in shoes for four more kids and double strollers.
More soon – I hope! Meanwhile, how are YOU??