Friday, October 29, 2010

Another one Bites the Dust

"And another one down, and another one down, another one bites the dust." 

I was going to start this blog with some sort of baseball commentary, but I've never paid that much attention to baseball, and couldn't write effectively about it.  So I will just honor Queen, and use their infamous song with the brilliant bass line, Another One Bites the Dust.  I have been humming and singing it since yesterday morning.  Why you ask?  Well the Vampire hit strike three yesterday, and has now lost her spot in yet another daycare.  Should I call and make sure they don't charge my credit card for today's services?  I mean I had to pick her up after her being there for two hours on two days of her nine day stretch with this facility.  I was always told before that I was paying for the entire week to hold her spot, but now that she's been given the hardcore boot (all of her stuff put neatly in her cubbie) they don't need to hold her spot anymore, and I can't afford to part with money for nothing in return....

I'm a little angry, a little bitter.  Not towards the Vampire at all, but at the failing system I seem to have no choice to keep putting her in.  I have now lost my scholarship with the 4C due to this because there are only a few centers in the area who are partnered with 4C, and the Vampire has in 12 months time, run through them both.  At the first center, her biting was excusable until she turned 3, at the age that developmentally most children stop biting.  Since she turned 3 in July, the pressure has been on me pretty constantly due to the biting behavior.  Most of the months of July, August, September, and October, I have had to pick her up from school early 2-3 days a week. 

The Vampire is a very smart little cookie.  She learned early on that she can indeed get what she wants using biting and brute force due to the discipline used by the child care center.  You see their policy is to lavish affection on the child who is bitten, ignoring the biter (because any attention could be considered reinforcing negative behavior) then after ensuring that the bitten child has been coddled and medical attention is administered, then they turn to the biter and say "we do not bite our friends.  biting hurts!"  This is the widespread belief to be the cure to biting in young toddlers.  With my Vampire however, she learned that she bites the child, the child drops the toy or gets off the slide that the Vampire wanted.  The teachers all rush to the aid of the bitee while the Vampire is happily playing with the slide or toy that she wanted.  This happened just enough to show her that there is a power in brute force, and she hasn't been able to un-learn the behavior.  The most recent child care center seemed to be onto that pattern, and I was mildly hopeful that they could help to correct it for her. 

I did pretty well holding my emotions together yesterday.  I didn't begin crying until the teacher who has seemed to work hardest with the Vampire bent down and told her goodbye and hugged her.  The Vampire is seemingly oblivious to the fact that she will never see this lady, but it is all too real to me, and I lose it at that point.  Dad met me there to pick her up from me, because I can't miss any more time off work as I have a lengthy doctor's appointment with a behavior specialist this afternoon.  I was shaking (too much caffiene) and sobbing and just handed her off to him and went back to work.  I didn't want to go to work.  Every ounce of my concentration towards my employment is just gone, as I now need to get on the ball and find another facility.  I didn't even have the will to do that yesterday.  I was just numb, and exhausted.  The Vampire doesn't understand all of this.  She just says "bye" and happily goes off with Papaw.  But I can't be too upset.  This is my cross to bear.  I stepped up and took the reins of raising this problematic 3 yr old and her mouthy sister.  I knew going into this that there would be bumps, issues, emotional drain.  I just didn't figure it would be so soon.  I imagined that they would lash out as teenagers in anger because they don't understand how mommy and daddy could ditch them.  I have a feeling in my heart that my sister has other kids, so I have braced myself since I first heard of her pregnancy in October of 2009 for the day that one of the girls looks at me and screams "HOW could she bail out on us... and run off to have more kids!"  I can only fathom the amount of pain and anger they will feel when they learn of this - if it is true.  I have been preparing myself for those more problematic years...  I just didn't think to prepare for a 3 yr old who can't seem to stay in daycare!

I have many calls and e-mails out about this entire issue.  I am waiting to hear back today from all those people to find more child care before next week rolls around.  I will have to drop my independence facade and allow Uncle M to begin helping me pay for child care.  That alone is hard for me to swallow because of my background.  You see I was in an abusive relationship for many years, and relied upon my abuser for everything from a place to live to being told how to feel.  When I was finally able to get away from him and learn how to soar on my own...  I vowed never to be in a position where I couldn't take complete care of myself.  I must break that vow, because the Vampire has to have daycare, I have to keep my 40 hour a week job, and I would have to sacrifice what little time I get with the girls to work a part time job if I don't give in and let Uncle M donate money to the cause.  Total package price on the cause is 542.00 to 760.00 per month.  My current daycare costs have been (since Drama Queen started Kindergarten) 252.00 per month, so the new costs will be double to triple what I am currently paying.  And all of this for people who can't seem to get a 3 year old to learn that biting to control others is not acceptable.  So sad. 

The Drama Queen is doing very well in school.  She has a hunger for knowledge, and is in an enrichment group to help feed that desire.  Her teacher seems to have a love of teaching, and I felt really good after the meeting because the teacher seems to be very patient and working very hard with the Drama Queen.  The teacher did say that the Drama Queen can't seem to sit still.  That is a problem we have at home too.  When I try to talk to her about it, she will tell me "but TT, I am a Wiggle Worm, I can't sit still..."  It's true.  She has always had a fidgety issue.  When we were at her dance recital, before the lights came on, I could see all the outlines of the little girls on stage standing perfectly still, and I knew the one who wasn't was the Drama Queen.  Regardless, I have been working with her on it.  I keep reminding her to sit still and just take five minutes now and then to be calm and be still.  I think her metabolism is really high too because she will eat and eat and eat, and not gain weight.  More to talk to doctors and therapists about. 

The little girl who was burned with the cigarette is healing.  It sounds as if her mother is doing what she can to protect her, and I told my friend to remind the mother that if she doesn't chose to - someone else will some day, and she will be cut out of the child's life.  To some of us the decision to protect a child is a no-brainer, and it is difficult to understand why anyone would hesitate.  There is probably a great number of reasons for the hesitation, that we will never understand - but obviously some people just don't put their kids first, and all of these torn and abused kids in our society reflect that.  If I can stop the pain, abuse, or neglect of one child, I will have done something great in my life, and will hold my head high.  I don't need to be a star athlete, musician, or writer to make my mark in life, because my mark will be something far greater - the mark of the smile and pure joy on the face of a child. 

Aunt TT

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cigarette Burns

So today, I am really worried about one of my friends, and her family.  She contacted me on Monday night, and I like an idiot left my phone on vibrate and in my purse, and missed her text and call.  I texted her back two hours after I rec'd her message, and haven't heard from her since.  The reason for her call at 8:00 at night....  her niece had been burned on her back with a cigarette by the girl's father.  I don't know the extent of the burns, how old the child is, or even if she is OK.  I am very worried about the entire situation, and very angry.  What would posess a grown man to take a lit cigarette to the body of his own child?

I've been burned before, by my own carelessness.  Not by a cigarette - as I don't smoke, but when I was 12 years old, I decided to use my hand to see if the stove was still hot.  I didn't put the tip of my finger on it... oh no, I set my entire palm down on the burner.  For weeks I had the red gaping circular burn pattern on the palm of my hand, and was miserable.  I am right handed, and it would have to be my right hand.  I still have the faint scar from the ordeal, but I learned not to do that ever again.  Much safer to get your fingers wet and splash a bit of water on the burner (if it's not a ceramic top) than to set your entire palm on it.

I have dropped the curling irons, and blow dryers on my leg and yes... even my face.  Nothing like a blow dryer grid on your cheek to explain to everyone, or being asked if you have a sailor tattoo at band camp cause the red grid peeking out of your shorts on your thigh looks like an anchor bottom.  Really who would ask a 15 yr old if she has a sailor tattoo.  *sigh*  I still to this day feel HORRIBLE for burning my sister's ear when trying to help her curl her hair for a dance we were going to.  This is the sister who left her children with me.  She never let me forget about it, and used to joke about how lethal I am with a curling iron.

I have scars on my arms from working as a cook in a nursing home kitchen and having burnt myself pretty bad getting food in and out of the oven.  The hand on the stove, and arm on the rack are the only two burn scars I still have to bear for the world to see.  The rest faded with my dilligent application of creams, or just weren't even bad enough to remember.  When asked about these scars, I can explain, even laugh about what happened to others.  But how do you explain to anyone that the scars on your back are because daddy got angry one evening and decided to take a lit cigarette to your body.  It makes me sick, it makes me angry.  I want to find the guy and do the same to him and scream, "so how do you like this!" the entire time.  I know that would solve nothing.  It would get me thrown in jail, and would make it impossible for me to keep custody of my angels. 

Then I realize through my anger that I just don't have it in me to do something like that to anyone.  Even when the children were being hurt by others, I couldn't step in and scream, yell or do anything like that.  I waited in the shadows, and stepped up to the plate when the moment was right.  I believe in karma, and that people will get what they give out three times as much as they gave it out.  I don't want to be on the recieving end of bad karma, so I will continue to try and send out good vibes, and just wait patiently till this jerk gets what he deserves for hurting his own child like this.  I hope my friend contacts me back soon, and I will give you an update on the girl's condition if I hear from her.  You must understand that my imagination runs away from me some times, and I can't help but picture her beating the hell out of this guy for hurting her kin like that, but then the rational side of me is calmly saying, "now T, you know she is no more capable of that than you are". 

In other news, The Vampire has had two bite free days, I am praying today will be another.  We rec'd the chewelery in the mail, and she has worn it.  I must commend National Autism Resources, for getting the product to me so fast.  I ordered it on Friday and had it in my hands on Monday.  I had put in the comments when ordering the product that it was for a three year old with biting issues, I am so glad that they seem to have taken that into account.  I plan on calling today and giving my praise!  Uncle M and I have been working very hard with her on her feelings, and social interactions.  If she cries I say "You have tears on your face.  You seem sad.  What are you sad about?"  Then she will tell me and we talk about it.  Or I will say "I see a smile.  You seem happy!  What are you happy about?"  Again, encouraging her to use her words to express feelings.  We have changed the name of the time out chair to the calming chair because we are trying to mirror the school as much as possible.  I am hoping and praying that this works.

The Drama Queen is doing very well in tap.  She seemed to surprise even the dance teacher last night when demonstrating a new dance step that they were going to learn.  I was so proud, and told her so.  She is very excited about some fall/Halloween festivity that is happening at school this Friday.  I love to just listen to her talk when she is this happy.  She told me on Monday morning, that she was a little sad because she didn't remember what her mommy looks like.  I told her that I can get her some photos if she would like, so she can remember.  She said at that point, "OK TT, but please don't give me photos of when she was a baby because I didn't know her then."  I couldn't help but smile, and re-assured her that I would make sure they were of when her mommy was an adult, and that she would remember.  I have a few hanging up in the basement.  We have just been so busy that I haven't had the time to take her down and point them out.  I will do that tonight after our very first parent teacher conference! 

Aunt TT

Monday, October 25, 2010

No Call, No Show, can we fire him?

When I got off work on Saturday, mom called and asked me if we were heading out to the costume contest in Franklin.  I told her that we hadn't planned on it, but after she talked it up, I thought "HEY!  That could be fun!!" So I talked to Uncle M when I got home, and he seemed like he would enjoy it too, and before I knew what I was doing...  I was walking around Franklin with the Red Queen, The Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter on my arm, and I was Alice.  Everyone LOVED the costumes.  They kept stopping us and asking us if they could take our photos.  The girls enjoyed it as well!  We ended up winning the Best Group Costume section of the contests, and a set of $20.00 gift certificates to a local restaraunt!  Uncle M was in the height of his glory parading around as the Hatter.  I can't even begin to explain what fun the car ride there was....

The whole reason we were able to attend this event was because the Redneck didn't call, and didn't show his face the entire weekend.  It was his weekend to see the girls, and he didn't even call to let me know he wouldn't be visiting them this weekend.  I wasn't too upset about it, and since the girls didn't know anything about it, they weren't either.  I love that they are at an age, that they are blissfully innocent to the workings of unstable parents.  I can shield them from that so they can enjoy childhood.  Uncle M however asked me "No Call... No Show... can we Fire him???"  I giggled and said "we both know it doesn't work that way... although it should." 

On Sunday we went to the zoo, again in full costume.  I felt like a fool dressing up, but a bigger one walking around with the family in complete costume, and I was not in costume, so I put mine on in the bathroom once we got into the zoo.  The girls were exhausted by the time we got home, but really enjoyed visiting the zoo.  We saw most of the animal exhibits, fed some seriously overweight goats in the petting zoo, watched a very talented magician at his magic show, and participated in the Halloween festivities at the zoo.  I felt a little sad for the animals, they all looked kind of cramped and sleepy, but at least the girls got to have a bit of that culture.  We were stopped by an entire photography class and our photos were taken by all twenty of them, I couldn't get over how fancy all of their cameras were!  Uncle M picked on me because for being a very camera shy person, I was in front of the camera an awful lot all weekend long. 

I met with the amazing preschool teacher from the IEP program and the director of her current Child Care this morning.  It was very enlightening.  The preschool teacher, handled the entire situation very well, and was able to address all of the director's reluctance to accepting what she was proposing.  The director seemed to be interested in the social skills modeling techniques, was seemingly opposed to the rewards chart, and strongly opposed to a communication system due to privacy issues.  She seems to be very pressed for time each day.  The teacher from the IEP went so far as to offer to give the center 24 backpacks (one for each child) so a communication system can be set up between the parents and students, privately.  She is giving the director and myself, a good chunk of child care education tools that teach social situations, and emotions, so the Vampire, and other kids in her class will have a better structured learning environment.  The IEP preschool teacher talked about one of the teachers, and what an excellent job she did with the Vampire, and it gave me hope that maybe the little one can pull through this insanity.  As we were leaving, I let the IEP preschool teacher know what my fears are with this daycare, and she told me not to worry, because if the Vampire does lose her spot here, then she can follow her to the next daycare, and do the same thing, and one of these days, she will catch on.  So I am hopeful once again.  The Vampire had a good day today at daycare, I will do everything I can to ensure that there are many more to follow!


Aunt TT

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Strike Two

On days like today, I feel desperate and frantic.  I am holding onto a cliff, and my fingers are slipping.  Every time the Vampire bites, it is like someone is kicking gravel into my eyes or stepping on the fingers clinging to the edge of the cliff.  My arms and back are sore and near exhaustion from trying to hold on for dear life.  I ask people for help, and with most, those requests are just falling on deaf ears.  I am at a point in this journey, that I am letting my desperation show to everyone I speak with.  I have been calling therapists, speech therapists, new Child Care Centers because I know I will have to move her soon.  I feel like I had to beg a woman at a center for troubled children to do a diagnostic exam on her, to see if I can't have anything done to help her.  I am hoping that my desperate, frantic search will pay off soon, and will keep trying to haul myself off the edge of that cliff until I am successful.

The actions of the Vampire are entirely out of my control when she is not in my care.  I entrust her to strangers every day, go to work and hope for the best.  Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of this week, she has done wonderfully.  Yes, she has had attempts at biting, but no where near as frequent as before, and only one connected (Monday), until today.  Today (10/22), she had strike two.  I was called around 8:45a, and asked to pick her up, because she bit a friend.  "Friend" is what they call the peers of the children.  I don't feel like Katie has any friends.  I am sure she doesn't feel she does either.  How could she, when the other kids are afraid of her?  Even at this new daycare, where she has been there for only a week - the children are afraid of her...

So I spent the morning on the phone trying to make sure I have a plan B in place.  I was referred to a daycare in the area that specializes in behavior issues, and have all the facilities within their building to deal with them (Therapists, etc.).  I called, and was told that there are six children in front of my little one, and that could be awhile.  I put her on the waiting list anyway, and will do what I must, but after speaking to the daycare director... I felt a bit more like I had some power...   I just don't know if I can wield it.  The power is to be more assertive and to tell the current Child Care Provider that I would like to speak to their agency's Licensing Specialist.  I am hesitant on this.  I feel that something isn't right inside either daycare, and the staff members need to be better trained in how to deal with all types of children, instead of just sticking to the easy to deal with ones.  Please do not misunderstand what I am saying.  Some of the teachers are wonderful and do the best job they can.  Others, just don't even try.  In my eyes, this is a tragedy, but in the eyes of others, no where near as bad as abuse, neglect, etc. The employees of the daycare she previously attended did give her many chances.  They didn't give me much, cause two bites in a day, and they sent her home.  She views being sent home as fun, as she loves to be with me or papaw (my emergency sitter).  Although she wasn't spending full days (usually sent home between 9a and 11a) I was still paying full price for daycare, to hold her spot.  I feel that some people at the daycare worked their hardest with the Vampire, and cared about her to the fullest extent, on the other hand, I feel that other people...  just didn't.  Is this something worth ratting them out for?

We are dealing with an extreme behavior problem.  Biting is way worse than hitting, hurts worse, there are health hazard issues, the bruises are horrendous.  Children are afraid of her, she is shunned.  Yet she continues.  I talk to her, level with her, try to reason with her, praise her for the good days, promise great rewards for being a good girl, remind her constantly to use her words, not her teeth.  It seems to work at home, but something is failing at school.  The director at this Plan B daycare was invigorating to talk to.  She didn't sugar coat anything, but told me how it is.  She suggested using chewelery to give her something to vent her oral fixations on, I ordered two this afternoon.  Here is an idea of what it is, a necklace that they can grab and chew on when they feel the need.  The ones I bought are made of soft terrycloth, and can be machine washed and dried.  I bought two so that I can make sure she has a fresh, clean one every day.  A lot of maintenance for me, but they are 7.50 apiece, and I want to make sure it works before I spring for more.  I don't know if I should feed into her oral fixation, or constantly be reminding her to quit chewing on things, but in my situation, I just can't have her hurting other kids - it is not acceptable. 

I did not get a handbook of rules from the Vampire's current Child Care Center, and need to see if I can find the handbook from the former Child Care Center.  I am sure they think they are doing the best they can do at their jobs, and their best just isn't enough for Katie (some of them are quite noticeably lazy, and don't make any effort if they don't have to).  The director at the Plan B Child Care Center praised me for stepping up for these children, and told me that I wouldn't believe how many people wouldn't do the same in my shoes.  She told me that I should keep working as a strong advocate for them, because I am their one and only voice.  The world is so different when someone puts it to you that way.  She said she couldn't make me any promises, but she will work her schedule around and see if there is any way she can help me get the Vampire into her facility soon.  She discussed their policy and procedure with things, and really seemed to care, about helping my sweet little one.  She told me she was truly sorry she didn't have room for me, and I told her that after speaking with her, I was truly sorry as well, but I felt a little better after talking to her.

I have behavioral testing next Friday for the Vampire, and on Monday a meeting with a member of the IEP team, the director of the daycare, and one of her teachers to see if we can't implement some things that will help her with her biting issues.  I am not too hopeful of it helping anything however, because she only has one bite left before they kick her out.  People can say anything they want about me, but they won't have much room to claim that I am not trying every possible avenue to help this child out.  She broke my heart this morning when she asked me to stay at daycare with her.  I told her "this is a really fun place, and I wish I could stay and have fun with you!"  Then I hear the teacher exclaim "It's not fun" sarcastically.  As a parent, I'm in shock, and thinking that I wish I could just stay there with her, and be her conscience, especially since this lady clearly doesn't enjoy her job - but then that would defeat the purpose of my needing Child Care all together.  It is so sad when people are just in a job to collect a paycheck.  In the end, it isn't about money, it is about the lives you have touched, and your ability to excel at your given profession. 

I talked to my mom about it a little bit.  She and Uncle M are people I run to most of the time with these issues.  She told me that she happens to know the Licensing Specialist for this area, and gave her a call for me.  The specialist called me back shortly after that.  I talked to her briefly about what has been going on, things that have been said, and let her know that I just wanted to get her opinion before moving forward with something like threatening to call someone like her to the daycare.  She asked me to gather a few things, and call her back on Monday, so that is what I shall do.  I told her that I don't want to get anyone in trouble, I just want to get my child into a situation that is better for her, and better for me, and that I also want to make sure the other kids at the center are being well cared for and are happy.  She said she understood, and we would talk more on Monday.  I feel as if I have fallen off that cliff into the water below, and now the tides of the ocean are sweeping me away on a path that I can not control.  I hope I am doing right.

The Drama Queen had a field trip at school today.  They went to a local farm as a class, and got to go on a hayride, pick pumpkins, and drink cider.  I sorely wished I could have taken the day off work today to be a chaperone.  I would have loved to have photos of that, and to blog her experience first hand, so she would be able to remember it when she is older, but it didn't work like that.  She was beside herself excited and out of bed on her own accord this morning.  I love when she has something she is looking forward to because she is so easy to deal with, and I can enjoy just being with her and having fun.  She sounds like she had lots of fun on the field trip, but I haven't had a whole lot of time to talk to her about it, because grandma came to pick them up and keep them for the night as soon as I got off work.  The girls were so sweet as I got ready to go to dinner with Uncle M on our date night, they sat on the floor with the flashcards we bought to help the Vampire with her colors, and The Drama Queen quizzed her.  Precious moments.  I got the Drama Queen's school photos yesterday.  She is so beautiful, and I see such promise in her future, and in her eyes.  I'm a little sad that I had to miss photos for the Vampire because of these child care switches, but at least I have the photos from last year to treasure.  Maybe I should just drop the money, and have a professional family portrait sitting for the four of us, and get an individual photo of the Vampire at that time.  Photos mean so much more to me now that I am a "mommy".  

Things have been stressful at work.  I dedicate so much mental energy to trying to keep the Vampire in school.  And I live in fear that every time my phone rings, it is because I have to leave and pick her up.  I feel I am neglecting things, and making mistakes more and more often.  It's like I am at work physically, and I can respond to the most basic tasks, but my mind just isn't in it.  It makes being at my maximum productivity level difficult, but I am determined to get the Vampire into a better situation, and pull through.  I am made of tough stuff - my lineage is proof of that. 

When I came home from work on Wednesday, something amazing happened.  The Vampire calls me mommy or mommy TT off and on all the time and I have become accustomed to hearing it from her, the Drama Queen usually doesn't, but when I came home, she threw herself at me and yelled "MOMMY!"  It shook me to my soul, I hugged her against my legs so tightly as she stood there with her arms wrapped around my waist.  The Vampire was clinging to the other side of me, saying "MOMMY" as well, and I just wanted to sit down and cry.  They think that highly of me... to bestow a title like that upon me.  Speechless.  Then later that evening, we were talking with the Drama Queen about a friend of hers from school that lives down the street from us.  Uncle M was telling the Drama Queen that she should ask if maybe she could get off the bus there with her friend, I fussed at him for putting her up to that, saying that it's our responsibility to do that, and we won't let the kids do our job.  He then tells her, "OK, then tell your friend that your... well what do you call Aunt TT and I?"  She says without an ounce of hesitation "daddy and mommy."  She called Uncle M daddy.  She views him as her father, and it is something that she feels comfortable talking about.  So surreal.  At this point in the conversation, I tell her that if that is indeed her little friend from school who lives there, that maybe one day we will all walk down together so Uncle M and I can meet her friend's parents, and we will handle all the grown up stuff. 

We have a fun weekend ahead, it is supposed to be a visitation weekend, but there has been no contact from the Redneck.  Sunday we are going to visit the Zoo for a trial run of the costumes on the kiddos.  I am in process of cleaning out drawers and closets, and realized that I don't have much in the sizes 6-6x for The Drama Queen, so I am going to have to hit up the thrift stores to see if I can find her some cute clothes.  They usually have so much there for kids, more bang for your buck.  That's about all I have to write about today, I am sure there will be more to follow later!  *HUGS*



 
Aunt TT   

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I miss Mommy...

The Vampire had a really good day yesterday.  Uncle M and I have been working hard on keeping everything low key, and doing everything in our power not to become angry with either child or yell.  There was one point this morning, that I wanted to yell, but instead I picked the Vampire up and said you are not listening to me right now, and I am becoming very angry with you because of it.  Again, it was all over putting shoes on.  She said her pants were too tight and she couldn't bend over to put them on.  I said "then let's go change them into something more comfortable."  She insists on wearing the tight pants, but asks me for help with her shoes.  She will learn on her own - so I leave her in the tight pants, and help her with the shoes.  The pants however... might disappear in the wash when they come off of her body....  I hope and pray today is just as wonderful at daycare for our little Vampire and that before too long, I can change what I call her in this blog!

The Drama Queen had two accidents in her pants yesterday.  I smelled the first one when I got home from work, and made her change her undies, and I cleaned her up.  We went to dance class, and I could tell she had another accident.  I discreetly asked her if she had an accident, and she said no!  I told her that I could smell something, and was sure that it was coming from her.  She denied it again.  Uncle M asked me if I wanted him to take her home to change her undies, and I told him no - that she didn't use the restroom like she should have, so she will deal with the consequences.  Yes, I am hard about this.  She is five years old, and old enough to say to someone that she needs to potty, or even just excuse herself from an activity.  I usually keep a change of clothes on hand, but this day,  I didn't have it.  Her usual  punishment for accidents is to wash the undies out in the back yard with the water hose, then carry them to the basement to be washed properly.  I told her that if she did have an accident she would have to do this when we got home.  Again, she insisted it wasn't her.  Other moms smelled it.  They were checking their kids, and deducting who it was.  One mom looked at me and mouthed "I think she had an accident."  I mouthed back "I think she did too."  On the way home, I asked her about it again.  She then admits to me that there is poop in her undies, but she hasn't a clue how it got there.  I run through a few scenarios that are nearly as insane as her not knowing how it got there, and ask her "Did aliens snatch you from dance class, poop in your underwear, then return you?"  and "I guess some fairies snuck into your undies and took a dump then flew off unnoticed?"  She insisted that couldn't happen, but she still didn't know where the poop came from.

At this point, I am frustrated that she is lying to me.  I told her that she will have to hold vinegar in her mouth while she rinses the underwear out because she isn't telling me the truth.  She then tells me that I am the one lying, and begins to yell at me.  I reminded her that I am not yelling at her, and she will not yell at me, and that I don't want to hear any more on the subject unless she wants to tell me the truth.  She sits in silence the rest of the way home.  I get her into the house, and get her undressed for her shower.  She is tired, and she is sobbing because she knows that she has to rinse the poop out of her underwear, while holding a cotton ball with vinegar in her mouth.  I reminded her that she wouldn't have to have the vinegar, if she had not lied to me about the accident.  She sobs "I know" and takes the cotton ball from me.  She tells me how afraid she is to put the vinegar in her mouth.  I tell her I understand, but she has to because she was being dishonest, and that I will put it in her mouth for her if she wants me to.  She puts it in her mouth, then begins scrubbing her underwear.  Crying the entire time.  When she is done and has rinsed her mouth out, I get her into the shower.  She then breaks down into an absolute mess and says "TT I really miss my mommy."  I am washing her hair, and say "I know honey.  I miss her too.  But I am here and I will never leave you.  EVER."  She sniffles a little, then says "I love you TT."  I told her that I love her too.  She is so good the rest of the night, doesn't dally in the shower, or brushing her teeth, and goes to bed/sleep when she is asked to. 

The Drama Queen hasn't had very many accidents lately, so I'm a little confused by it, but take it as a rough day for her, and go on.  Her teacher called me this morning, when I was going to drop her off at school, to let me know that a little boy cussed her out yesterday because he was trying to help her with something, and she didn't want his help, so he got angry and began yelling and cussing at her.  She had mentioned a little boy being mean, but didn't tell Uncle M the entire story, and we were so busy getting ready for dance class, that she didn't say anything to me about it yesterday afternoon.  I thanked Mrs. B. for calling me, and let her know I'm not angry about it, but I am glad to know so I can help the Drama Queen deal with it.  When we hung up, I talked to the Drama Queen about it, and let her know that sometimes people say things in anger, and they really don't mean everything they say, and that we have to just tell them that we don't appreciate the way they are speaking to us, and go on.  I have wondered all day if she wasn't dealing with it in her own way by having accidents yesterday in her undies.  Maybe it reminded her of things that took place in her former life, it's hard to tell.  I was very glad at how I handled it.  I was tired, and wanted to snap, but didn't, and the reward was amazing.  I punished a child for doing wrong, but when it was over, she still told me how much she loves me, of her own free will.  So I feel I handled that situation as best I could.

The Vampire has mentioned that she wants a bunk bed.  I have been toying with the idea of buying them one to maximize space in their room anyway, but am now using that as incentive for her to stop biting.  She told me yesterday afternoon on the way to dance class "i used to bite people when I was a baby."  I hope that is a sign that she is going to stop all together soon.  I am encouraging her to know that she is a big girl now, and that big girls who don't bite people deserve bunk beds, etc.  Hopefully it will help her to remember through the day that she can't continue to hurt people.  She insisted all yesterday afternoon that TT Mommy is her best friend, and wanted to be so close to me.  It was exhilarating to hear her sweet little voice declare that I am her best friend.  I am making strides to savor those small bits and pieces that I will look back in ten years and smile upon, and miss.  It is not every day that I am the beloved best friend of a three year old, and freely told by a five year old that they just love me.  Small battles...  and one day we will have big victories!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Will smaller prove to be better?

So the Vampire started her new daycare today, Monday 10/18/10.  Yes, I was able to find care that fast - because the grace and mercy of the people who work at 4C.  I am trying not to judge this daycare by it's proverbial "cover" but it is tiny.  The playground doesn't have much space for children to run and play.  The facility it's self  is cramped and cluttered looking.  It is also affiliated with her former daycare, as the director of the former daycare is the senior director of this one. So I am scared on many levels when stepping into this new situation.  Is the daycare environment right for her?  Will she stop biting?  Will her reputation proceed her, and cause her to be treated poorly by the staff?  Will I be able to spend an entire week at work w/o having to run and pick her up before 11:00 every single day? 

Now I am wondering... Will I have to find a new daycare again at the end of this week?  She had a biting incident today.  I don't understand the drive behind her biting passion.  The people with the IEP screening felt that she was well within average levels, and she didn't need their care.  Dentist says teeth are all fine, and there is no reason for her oral fixation there.  Pediatrician says that biting is a phase that some children go through, and she will stop in time, to just hang in there, and one day this will all just be a bad dream.  Therapist says to bring her back in, and she will start working with her again.  I now have a diagnostics screening with a panel of behavior specialists, in the hopes of getting her in to see a speech pathologist, because a friend of mine feels firmly that she needs to see a speech pathologist to begin communicating instead of biting.  I miss a lot of work, and time at work, just because she can not seem to stop herself consistently instead of eating other kids. 

So I wonder what I am doing wrong.  Today I feel like it is my fault she acted out because I spent the morning yelling at the girls because they were not listening to me at all.  Have you ever had that happen to you?  When you say to your child "please go put your shoes and socks on, so we can leave".  They smile.  They nod.  They eagerly run and actually dig a pair of socks out of their drawer, and grab the shoes from the front door.  You feel like your child heard you and you are happy that they are listening...  you finish putting your make-up on... and walk into the living room...  to find them sitting on the dog reading a book - one shoe is under the couch, the other nowhere to be found, and neither socks have graced either of their feet.  You gently remind them "I asked you to go put your shoes on, you may read the book when you are ready to go to school.  Please get your shoes/socks on.  We have to leave soon."  You turn your back to urge the five year old to finish brushing her hair, and let her know that you are going to brush your teeth, then you will help her with fixing her hair.  You check on the three year old again...  no socks or shoes on.  A little more of a stern reminder this time "Put your socks and shoes on like I asked you, or I am going loose my cool - we have to go!"  Again, child ignores your plea for cooperation.  At this point.  I lost my cool.  I yelled at her to put her shoes and socks on because I am becoming very angry at her when she does not listen to me.  She tells me "don't yell at me!"  I tell her, then please do what I ask you to do the first time!  I don't know what makes me angry more, that I actually believed she would listen to me or that she didn't listen at all.

That happened at least four times this morning.  In different situations of course - but I had to yell at her four different times.  I went to work feeling like the worst parent in the world, and when Uncle M called to let me know that she had bitten someone... I felt like it had to be my fault, because I yelled so much this morning.  I have tried so many other methods instead of yelling.  The beat the timer method doesn't work because the Drama Queen usually wins (she's faster cause she is bigger) and Vampire gives up.  I try to do it just for Vampire, Drama Queen feels left out and throws a huge fit.  I try getting them up earlier to give them more time to get the tasks that I have requested they do.  They just take all that extra time to goof off and refrain from listening.  I've sunk to the low level of "If you listen to everything I ask of you and are good, I will give you a piece of candy before we leave."  Yeah... candy before breakfast... bribery... how can that be good?  Getting out the door in the morning is like trying to wrestle a badger from his hole in the ground.  I've read a few books on parenting tips.  Grandma's rule "If you don't do this, you won't get this."  Doesn't seem to phase them.  Time outs when you're running behind getting out the door are just not feasible.  I can see it now... "hey boss - yeah, I'm going to be 15-20 minutes late today, I had to put a child in time out a few times."    Sometimes it's like they don't listen unless I yell.  Is it the tone of my voice?  Is it that easy to ignore me?  What good am I as a parent if I can't command some form of respect from a 3 yr old and a 5 yr old?

So IF I understand the policy at this school correctly, it's three bites and she's out.  She's down one... and it's the first inning...  I feel like I should start looking for another Child Care Center now.  She told me today that she wanted to stay with papaw instead of school.  I told her that is not possible, as both papaw and I had to work, and we could not spend the day with her, so she had to go to school.  She wasn't happy with that answer, but didn't complain anymore.  I am so tired.  I wish I could pinpoint the reasons behind the bites.  I wish I could understand what is going on in her head and help her learn how to suppress the urge to hurt someone to get her way.  I wonder if this is something that is just inherent in her personality, or if this is something learned.  I saw her bite her sister to get her attention when she was barely walking, before I was "mommy TT"!!!

People praise me for doing good and right by these girls.  They seem to think I'm some sort of saint for having stepped up to the plate and being the person who decided to raise them.  I don't feel that way at all, especially on days like today when nothing goes right, and I spent the first hour the girls were awake, yelling at them.  Everyone has their bad days - but I can't help but wonder...  Am I contributing to their problems?  Am I the reason the biting hasn't stopped?  Did I do the right thing by them in agreeing to raise them or is something in my personality making their lives worse?  I don't wonder these things cause I want out of this.  I adore those little girls, and would lay down my life for them before I would give them up.  I just want so much for them, and don't want anything that is wrong inside of me to make their lives worse.  Uncle M tells me that I am better than most, and no one is perfect, but if I am better than most, why can't I pull that gorgeous little blonde out of this aggressive streak and help her see the beauty that life can be when you are nice to people?  Why can't I help our brilliant Drama Queen understand that it's not normal or good to argue and fight against every situation that she doesn't like (or doesn't think she will like)?  I am such a perfectionist by nature, raising kids is not a science, but I beat myself up constantly because I can not be a perfect parent.  I want to help them.  More than anything in the world.  Do I have to look inside myself and fix something there before I can truly help them?

On the flip side, we had a fairly good weekend!  On Saturday we went to a local Arboretum and took so many wonderful photos of these my girls, their brother, and their cousins.  Mom was so happy to have most of the grand-kids together, and was missing only 3 to have her complete collection.  Maybe next year....  I know she would love that.  We went back home and worked on carving pumpkins after a huge spaghetti dinner.  It was lovely to have my brother and his wife (and their three children) over for it all.  I miss my siblings so much.  The kids trashed the house, and I told them they have to clean up their mess of toys before they could go home, and  I have had to turn a blind eye to the closet in the girls room... because it was where they shoved everything when they cleaned up their mess...  but the kids all had a blast playing together and just being kids.  Mom got quite a few photos of the children up to their elbows in pumpkin guts.  I love them!  We didn't make it to the zoo like we were hoping, and now I am hoping that the rain will hold off this weekend so we can try to go then.  It is HallZooWeen, and the kids can "trick or treat" there, it will be a dry run of the costumes.  Most of Uncle M's Hatter costume is all put together.  The stripes are all glued onto the Vampire's costume.  My costume is a little more put together.  If only I could pull the emotional issues of these kids together like I can Halloween costumes.  Here is to hoping and praying it gets better soon!!  I feel like I am running out of avenues to help the Vampire.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

When one door closes...

Just last week, I was thinking about changing the name of my blog...  to The Blonde, the Drama Queen, Uncle M, and Mommy TT.  You see... the Vampire was doing an amazing job of keeping her cannibalistic side under wraps.  She had gone nearly three weeks with only two biting incidents, which was amazing compared to her 2+ incidents per day.  This week however...  she fell apart.  Uncle M, (even the Drama Queen) and I spent every waking moment working on role playing with her, and modeling.  I kept reminding her to use her words, and to try to resolve issues without putting her hands, feet, or mouth on anyone.  Something changed... and it all just crumbled in my hands.  She was sent home every day this week.  I tried to talk to the teachers, it was falling on deaf ears.  I couldn't get much response out of them, and they kept saying that she was just spontaneously biting people.  I feel in my heart that there were reasons, that maybe they didn't see, so I asked the director on Tuesday if I could see the tapes from the days this week that she had been sent home.  She said she would get them together. 

Yesterday, when I had her at my work with me, I made a pallet of a thick blanket up and put her under my desk with her pillow to nap.  Keep in mind - I am bringing her to work with me because she ASKED to go see Papaw when I picked her up, and I didn't want to give her what she wanted after she was sent home for hurting someone.  She's sitting there, and looking at me with those big blue eyes of hers.  I had a feeling come over me, of complete and utter hopelessness.  Call it whatever you will, but I KNEW she would be kicked out of the daycare by the end of the week.  I felt this had all played out before, and bits and pieces of it were coming back to me.  That stayed with me for the rest of the day, and all this morning, I was a nervous wreck.  Every time the phone rang, and I was told it was for me... I dreaded answering it.  Around ten forty-five am, today I received that dreaded call.  The director told me she bit a child on the leg, and it was a pretty bad bite.  I told her that I can't keep doing this.  She asked if I had someone else to come get the Vampire, and I said no, I don't.  She told me that I needed to have someone come get her, and that since I am paid though Friday, I may bring her back tomorrow...  but not after that. 

I have felt for a long time (except for the two week reprieve) that my little vampire was not wanted there.  She seems to have made a name for herself as a trouble child... and there is literally nothing I can do to change that.  I was however, devastated by this.  I got off the phone and began to sob at my desk.  My co-workers, bless their hearts, know what I have been going through.  It happens mostly during working hours, and they let me sit there and cry - it's what I needed to do.  I called my mom, she's the person I usually run to when the world seems to be breaking apart and falling away from me.  She told me to pull my emotions together and hold my head high and go get our sweet little girl.  I have fought so hard, for so long to keep her in this daycare.  There is so much at her fingertips there - so much she can become involved in...  that I just hated to accept defeat, and walk away - but my heart told me it is time.  A gentleman I work with is a pastor, and he is an amazing upbeat fellow, and he came in and gave me a big hug and told me to never forget that when one door closes, another one will open, and he hopes the Lord makes it a clear path for me to see.  I am trying to believe in that right now, as I look through bleary eyes at this computer screen. 

I am exploring other daycare options.  I am not a wealthy person, and do not have the 600-800 dollars a month it will cost for daycare. She has been in her old program by the grace and mercy of the United Way and 4C, as they provided us with a scholarship.  I pay a portion of it, and they handle the rest, based on my income.  I could not have made it without this.  Uncle M...   I don't deserve him, is willing to help me pay the daycare costs now that I may be forced to pay full price, which is more than my current house payment on our tiny 900 square foot home.  I am torn over this because of how hard I fought for my independence, and how much I don't want to be come dependent on someone for anything.  I am going to figure out if there is another facility that 4C works with, and re-apply for county assistance.  I'm going to call a number that Uncle M found for a complete screening of problematic children, and see if that is something that I can get her into.  I'm also going to start exploring a speech pathologist.  I am not hopeful - since they were not able to find much wrong at the IEP screening, but I have to do something.

The Vampire doesn't seem to realize the impact of what she has done.  I can't be entirely angry with her, because I feel the school holds some responsibility in her continued behavior, as they never did time outs when she did wrong, and she really never learned from her mistakes.  She viewed being sent home as a treat, and I believe would act out so she could have that.  I will continue to work with her...  to hope and pray that she begins to understand that there are better ways to deal with anger...  and to just be there.  I wish I could reach into her little mind and help her - to soothe her savage beast, and just show her how much better life can be when you follow the Golden Rule and treat others how you want to be treated. 

The Drama Queen is acting up again too.  She is whistling in class, and refusing to stop when the teacher asks her to quit.  I don't know what typical Kindergarten behavior is...  but I can't imagine she is exhibiting it.  I told her this morning if she wasn't good at school today, that she was going to help me clean the house tonight.  She helped me clean the house.... and she was almost cheerful about it.  I don't understand. 

My sister sent another letter to the children.  She mentioned again that she may be coming to visit - this time named a date in March 2011.  Again, I didn't show it to them, and it is in the box in the closet.  She wrote a letter to my mom, and said that she knows she can't erase what she has done, but she wants to make it right.  I look back at the emotional hell that these kids and I have been through, and wonder if she can ever really "make it right".  I know that forgiving her is well within my capacity, and have pretty much done just that.  I just can't see letting her be in their lives for one day... then disappearing again.  They need stability and to know that the people they hold dear will ALWAYS be there, putting them above everything else.  If she can not provide that to them, then I don't want to subject them to her.  I still question if she is hiding another child from us, as someone contacted me via FaceBook on an anon. page to tell me that she was pregnant almost exactly a year ago.  I never know what to believe anymore. 

I am trying to stay positive about all of this.  I am trying to have some faith that it will all work out, however it is meant to, and I just need to keep doing what I think is right until the end.  Some days... it is so difficult.  But in the words of Breaking Benjamin.... "I will not bow, I will not break, I will shut the world away.  I will not fall, I will not fade, I will take your breath away.  And I'll survive, paranoid.  I have lost the will to change.  And I am not proud, coldblooded, fake, I will shut the world away."

Monday, October 11, 2010

"NO doesn't work for JJ"

I would be ecstatic to write that we have had countless bite free days with our lil Vampire, but she bit on Friday (10/8).  She got a little boy in the face, and I got a call about it by 10:30a.  She was able to restrain herself the rest of the day, but she seems to be backpedaling with the biting and peeing in her pants.  EVERY single night she wets the bed and at least once or twice during the day.  I feel that with the wetting thing, she doesn't want to stop playing, or get out of bed alone at night to go to the potty.  She won't tell us, "hey, I need to potty".  She just pees herself and continues on like no big deal...  I have had her to a few doctors appointments in the last few weeks.  One was the dentist to check her teeth out and make sure there is nothing going on in her little mouth that would prompt her to bite.  She has also been to the ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat) to have the tubes in her ears checked - he said that everything looks just as it should, the tubes do not look as if they are starting to come out yet, and not to worry about anything, but bring her back in December for her next check-up.  Just last week, we visited the primary care physician (well one of them... cause it's a luck of the draw type situation when you're on CareSource) for her yearly physical.  I had hear ears checked thoroughly at that visit as well, and was told there is no infection, and everything looks wonderful.  I was also told that the urination in the pants is normal, and I should just continue to use positive reinforcement and keep reminding her to use the potty.  I can't help but feel sometimes, that it's not working.  I can tell that something is going on with her, though.  I feel that she is starting to get another ear infection, because she complains of loud noises, and has an increased amount of ear wax in her right ear. 

The therapist that has been seeing our little vampire weekly, has decided that she has done all she can do for her right now, and that she doesn't see the need to continue seeing her right now.  She had all but stopped biting, and was doing much better at controlling her anger.  I'm so paranoid now that she is going to start gnawing on children again.  It's back to every time the phone rings, I am dreading answering it.  The therapist still wants to see the Drama Queen, she would like to figure out if there are issues there that she can help her work through, since being ditched by your mom, and being put second to everything else in the world by your dad can be no easy thing for any kid to swallow.  So next week our dear Drama Queen gets to see the therapist on her own.

We had a very busy week/weekend.  Maybe it is because this is just from my perspective, but I have so very little time with the girls.  My days seem so long, and I have two hours with them in the evening before they go to bed.  It is hard to involve having fun with them, and keeping the house clean, getting their soiled laundry going, dinner cooked, everything ready for school the next day, etc.  It helps a lot to have Uncle M around.  He usually does the retrieving from school/daycare and feeding portion of the evening.  I wish I could just enjoy all of the silly things they say/do, all of the hugs, and kisses being dished out as an attempt to put bedtime off a little bit longer, and enjoy watching them play instead of hurrying them along to beat the next deadline, but it's just not that way for a full time working "mom" and "dad".

There are some times that I can enjoy, and I would like to share with you a huge laugh Uncle M and I had at the Drama Queen's expense yesterday.  We were trying to get her to finish getting dressed, so that we could go to the Renaissance Festival.  She was having a difficult time chosing what outfit to wear, and I kept making suggestions to help her, but none of them were good enough.  I must tell you now that the nickname we use around the house is not Drama Queen.  I used that for her privacy in this very public blog.  At home, we call her JJ.  I have called her that from birth, although I say it with a very Hungarian twist and it sounds more like something Zsay Zsay (in reference to Zsa Zsa Gabor).  Everyone else in the household calls her JJ, and sometimes she calls herself that as well.  But back to the story, she's throwing a fit that she can't wear a pair of purple shorts that are a size too small for her - last time she wore them, she complained to me for two hours that they were too tight, but she had messed her pants, and it was all I had in my bag to put on her.  I suggested a pair of jean shorts that were a larger size and would be comfortable on her.  She again insists on wearing the small purple shorts.  At this point, I realize negotiations aren't going to work with her and I drop the N O bomb, then walk away to finish getting ready myself.  She shouts at me "NO doesn't work for JJ."  I could have been angry.  Some parents may say I should have been angry.  Instead... I burst out laughing.  It was the mere absurdity of a 5 yr old telling me that NO doesn't work for them.  Should I begin training her to be a sales rep now....  Uncle M and I have a good laugh over that.  Uncle M tells me he sees BLOG written all over this situation, and he is right, I can't help but share with all of you.  I tell our little Drama Queen that in this instance, NO will have to work for her, because she is not wearing shorts that are too small, and put them in the GoodWill donation bag that I have in the living room.  She takes that as end of argument, then gets dressed, and the ordeal is over, she even laughed with us after announcing that "NO doesn't work for JJ."

This weekend should have been a Redneck visitation weekend.  He is apparently out of town working on a contractor job (I'm pretty sure it is under the table... and wonder what he did with his full time job to work this gypsy job).  He had called at 7:00 to say that he might not be able to get a ride down to visit the girls, and I tell him that the Drama Queen is sick anyway, and I don't want to drag her out (this convo takes place Friday night - she is entirely recovered by Sunday for Ren Fest, I promise, it wasn't just an excuse - she had a high fever and was so tired on Friday night.).  I then tell him that we can play it by ear, because she seemed to be feeling better as she was eating chicken soup, and watching TV.  He informs me that you're supposed to feed a cold, but starve a fever, and I am shocked speechless, cause I can not imagine telling a 5 year old child "sorry honey, you can't eat today, you are running a fever."  I ignore the comment and tell him to call me on Saturday, and I will let him know what her condition is.  He also says he wouldn't care to "drop a $50.00 or $100.00 to take them somewhere they would have fun", and asks me to "find a place he could do that in our area."  Uncle M and I drop that much on them all the time when we take them out to do something fun.  I save up year round so that we can enjoy fall festivities, b/c October is my FAVORITE month.  I felt like the entire conversation with the Redneck was pointless, and a waste of my time.  I get so emotional and depressed after listening to his voice.

The Redneck called back at 1:15p on Saturday, and left me a message that he couldn't get a ride "down" here anyway, and he would like to see them next weekend.  I know I made him angry, but I called him back and let him know that I couldn't re-arrange our schedule because his schedule was different, and that we do have plans next weekend.  I have tried to work with him on schedules that are re-arranged, and he never pulls through on his end.  I am tired of trying to deal with his instabilities.  The girls haven't even asked about him.  He told me to tell them that "daddy loves them", but I just couldn't bring myself to do it.  I didn't want to mention him, or our conversation to them unless they ask me about him, because I don't want to cause them any upset.  If it is out of sight, and out of mind...  then that is for the best for now.  I may be wrong in that.  I hope that if I am, everyone involved can forgive me.  But if someone can't be a steady, stable part of their lives - then they don't deserve to be shoved down their throats.

To end this on a happy note - Halloween costumes are coming along nicely.  We rec'd the Drama Queen's Red Queen outfit in the mail last week, and she looks adorable in it.  This is the 2010 Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland Character we will model her after.



The Vampire's black cat costume is also in, and we just need to add gray and teal stripes to make it more like Tim Burton's Cheshire Cat, as you see in the photo below.  I'm sure she won't look anywhere near a creepy as this cat, though.






Uncle M's Hatter costume is in the very early stages of being done as I will work on his kilt soon, and he has picked up various pieces to pull some more of it together.  This is a photo of what we are shooting for, the Mad Hatter by Tim Burton in his 2010 Alice in Wonderland movie..


And finally, my wig is in, and my dress just needs some finishing touches to become Alice's "Hatter's Dress".  I promise to share photos when it is all done.  This isn't the most popular dress that Alice wore, but it was within my sewing skill, and it has an empire waist, which is most forgiving to my curvy body.  Below is a photo from the movie as well.

I hope everyone had a lovely weekend, and thanks again for taking the time out to read my rambles! 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Letter from "mommy"

As I re-read my previous post before writing this one, I realized that I failed to put anything positive and upbeat into it.  All I did was talk about the Redneck, and for me, that is rarely a happy subject.  There were some great things that happened last weekend!  Like the football game we took the girls to!!  It was their first high school football game ever.  The Drama Queen was obsessed with the cheerleaders and tried to cheer like them.  The Vampire (who has been 11 days w/o biting as of 9/30!!!) wasn't interested in much but the cheering, and since our team was kicking butt (54-0 at halftime), she was able to do a lot of that!

Sunday we took the girls to the grocery with us, then stopped to let them spend their own hard earned money on the way home.  The Drama Queen bought Disney Princesses make-up case and a pack of silly ringz.  The Vampire bought two packs of silly bandz and a little Strawberry Shortcake metal purse.  They were so fun to watch as they sifted through all of their options.  The Vampire decided what she wanted right off, and was ready to go but the Drama Queen took a little bit of time sifting through everything trying to decide what she wanted.  It was a good day, and so nice to see how their little faces lit up with pride and joy.

I have had baby fever lately.  There are so many people I know who are expecting babies, or have had new grandbabies, etc.  I see all the photos, and got to hold a week old baby the other day.  A woman I work with has it too, and since we're both of childbearing age, and contemplating moving in that direction in the next few years of our lives, we talk about it at least once a day.  I am 31 years old.  I have NEVER been pregnant.  I don't know if I can become pregnant.  My sister, who left her children with me, always used to joke (or I thought she was joking at the time..) that the Drama Queen is actually my child and that she just gave birth to her for me.  I love birth, and being able to assist women in birth (I have 4 live births under my belt!!!).  And because I have been talking about babies, and my baby fever, there is a curiosity that has arisen in the Drama Queen.  She has been talking to me a little bit here and there about babies, and here is where you expect me to say something adorable like the Middle Wife story that floats around on the internet.  A sweet interpretation of a woman having a baby, being told by the older sibling who gets some of the words mixed up.  Wish I could, but I can't.  Instead, because of the background that this sweet 5yr old blossomed from, the words that tumble out of her mouth are "Aunt TT when women get fat, sometimes it is cause they have a baby in their belly right?"  "yes honey." I respond.  "Aunt TT if you ever had a baby in your belly, and it came out, and if you were with your husband or boyfriend, and they were mean to that baby, would you stay with him?"  I'm driving the car, headed toward my work so she can stay with me before I have to leave and take her to school.  My heart is breaking for her.  In my mind, no 5 yr old should EVER have to worry about someone being mean to them.  I know a little bit about the things that my sister's boyfriends did to the children.  Immediately, I suspect that this is her way of trying to validate her security with me.  I don't even hesitate to say "Miss J, if ANYONE ever hurt you, I would leave them in a heartbeat, an I would expect you to be honest with me about it if anyone does anything to you that hurts, or makes you feel uncomfortable."  She seems satisfied with my answer, and responds "I would do the same thing TT, if anyone ever hurt my babies, I would just leave."

She is so fragile.  She needs attention so bad.  She reminds me of how to really be human, and what really matters in life.  She frustrates me to no end some days, and makes me so proud to be the woman guiding her through life on other days.  This day however, I am just deeply sad, and feel so much remorse for my darling Drama Queen and her siblings.  I mentally berate myself for not having stepped up sooner, and had the spine to act on their behalf before things escalated to this level.  I carry such guilt over knowing that the Vampire was being left in a baby chair for hours on end and feeling powerless to do anything about it.  I replay the scenes in my mind over and over again of visiting my sister, or bringing the kids back from a weekend with Aunt TT, and imagine that I stormed back into the house and took the children home with me, imagining that my sister would do little about it because she would be glad to have the time off.  I feel like I was wrong on so many levels.  I feel like my soul is stained black because of my inability to act on their behalf.

When I feel like this, I have to remind myself that because I waited, but never actually used the law to intervene, I kept our relationship on good enough terms, that she picked me when she decided she was done.  She could have felt as cold toward me as she did our other siblings who shunned her and treated her like garbage, who picked fights with our parents over how much they did for her kids, or who refused to have anything to do with her children because they were so angry with her and her poor choices.  She never turned her back on me when I was in the wrong, when I was making bad decisions in my life, and when I called her crying because my abuser was still being abusive.  I couldn't turn my back on her either.  I felt guilty for her situation, I felt that if I had handled things differently in our childhood and adolescence that maybe, just maybe she would be happier, more confident, a better parent.  I felt like maybe just maybe if I stuck by her and tried to be that gentle voice of reason when she needed it or the person who wouldn't back down from an argument when she needed it...  that maybe I could help her right herself.  I couldn't have been more wrong as my sister wanted something worlds different than what I wanted for her, but I was raised to believe that if you work hard enough at something, you will reap the benefits.  I just didn't realize that my benefit would be in the form of two amazing kids, when I was hoping it would be to pull my sister out of her downward spiral.  These children have become a blessing to me, and have helped me pull my head out of my ass and become a better person.

I had told a friend of Uncle M's family a few weeks before my sister left that I would probably be raising my sister's kids someday.  We were at the annual fireman's parade in Clio MI, and we were listening to a band play.  His family is so... together, and that's what we were doing, just hanging out, being together.  I was drinking beer, and enjoying my freedom while growing closer to Uncle M's family.  She had mentioned the Drama Queen because I had brought her camping with us in May, and it just fell out of my mouth before I realized what I said.  When my sister left two fateful weeks later, and I called Uncle M sobbing, I felt as if I had caused this entire thing to happen, by saying that to someone.  My sister didn't know I said it.  I certainly didn't mean this soon when I said it.  But I felt in my soul that by my saying that....  the man upstairs knew that I was ready to do what needed to be done.  It wasn't easy...  giving up my life of freedom and stepping into this role.  I had to change so many things to make room for them, and to make my life be something they could live in.  I am not perfect.  Some days I lose sight of everything that means anything to me, and get caught up in the hustle and bustle of deadlines, dance class, work, keeping a clean house, school, being a girlfriend/mother figure.  This is truly the hardest thing I have ever done.  I miss my sister.  I search in my friendships for the relationship I wanted to have with her.  Someone I can laugh with, cry with, share horror stories with, raise our children TOGETHER, and be loved unconditionally by and love them in return.  So many lives have been so changed by the decision she made.

She wrote a letter to her kids and mailed it to mom and dad recently.  She sounds upbeat in it, and doesn't say much at all.  Just "Hi, mommy loves and misses you and hopes you are doing well.  I hope to see you soon, Love mommy :) ".  The therapist said we shouldn't show it to them right now.  That we should save it, and show them someday.  I will probably put it in a shoebox, along with the one she wrote a few months ago, and put it in the top of the closet.  I wonder when someday is.  How I will know that the moment is right, and if they will be angry with me for having kept it from them, or if they will be understanding of my situation, and have compassion.  How do I keep these children from forgetting the good that existed in their mother, yet refrain from revealing any of the bad.  Such a double edged sword I am balanced on, and it taxes my sanity at times.  Thank goodness for good friends and family, I would be lost without them.