Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Picture Perfect Moment

I wish I had my camera at ready this morning.  I dropped Vampire off at her school first, like I usually do.  DQ's school is on the way to my work, so I find it's easier to drop V off first, then DQ second.  There was a little girl at Vampire's school.  She was with her mommy, and she was very upset that her mommy was leaving.  OK... she was more than very upset - she was hysterical.  Both of my girls stared at her.  I think they were a little afraid due to the screaming this little girl was doing, and they could just sense something was wrong.  I believe this child is autistic, or could have a slight mental retardation, but a child doesn't always understand these things as an adult does, and can't always process the logic of it all.  Vampire shook it off pretty quickly and went to be with her teacher.  DQ on the other hand was pretty shaken up by it all.  She clung to me on the way to the car.  I teased her that I was running behind getting to work, and she was just going to have to walk from Vampire's daycare to her own, and that she had better start walking.  She knew I was teasing and laughed and said, "no... you walk to work!"

We got in the car and drove the short distance to DQ's daycare.  I walked her to the door.  Told her to enjoy her field trip today.  I kissed her on top of her head and hugged her.  She seemed preoccupied.  I sensed that she was thinking of the hysterical little girl.  I asked her if it scared her a bit.  She said it did.  I told her that I believe the little girl could have something different going on in her mind, than what DQ and I have, that she thinks differently, and is more distressed that her mom is leaving than what DQ and Vampire are.  By this time - we are at the door.  She hugs me then walks into the daycare.  I call out that I love her - and get no response.  She is getting to the age where parental displays of affection are only welcomed when she wants them.  I checked her in, then walked back to my car.  As I am climbing into my car, I hear the door to the daycare open, and I look back.  There stands my sweet little girl.  Tan from playing outside during the summer.  Missing her top front tooth on the left side, and a bottom tooth just under it.  She has a pretty red white and blue shirt on the M's mom bought for her.  Her hair is parted down the center and lays in two braids on either side of her shoulders.  She smiles that toothless grin I have come to love so well.  I smile.  I wave.  I blow her a kiss.  She simply holds her hands up in the sign language gesture of I Love You.  I do the same, my heart bursting with a love I never knew I could have.  Then she dances off to play with the other kids.  I wish I could have photographed that with my camera.  But I have put it down in writing, and now I will be able to see the image when I re-read this blog post.

In the last week, Vampire has not bit anyone (cheer).  She has however still been aggressive.  She hits, pushes, kicks, pinches.  The daycare keeps working through it all with her.  She has been pushing buttons at home.  She picks at DQ.  She uses way more toilet paper than she is supposed to and she will stop up the toilet, and when asked why, she will smile that knowing smile and shrug her shoulders.  On Sunday - she urinated on my couch.  She flat out sat there and peed on my couch.  I asked her why she felt that it was OK to pee on my couch instead of getting up and going to the restroom.  She said it was because she didn't want to have to miss watching Scooby Doo.  It was about 1/2 hour before her bedtime anyway, so I showered her and put her to bed.  I told her that if she had not peed on herself, and my couch that she could have finished watching the movie.  She cried herself to sleep.  It was raining yesterday when we were getting ready to leave for daycare.  She insisted that since it was raining she had to wear a jacket - and she pulled the hood up over her head.  It was so cute.  M began to argue with her that it was too hot for a jacket, but I stopped him and said that if she wanted to wear a jacket in 90 degree weather - we should let her make that decision.  It wouldn't be for long.  It's not a major battle to fight, like if she wanted to go to school nude!  And finally - she would learn before too long just how hot it gets in a jacket in extreme heat like we have been having.

DQ has been telling me she loves me at random intervals at home.  She will just say, "mommy?"  I say, "yes sweetie?"  Then she says, "I love you."  And I tell her I love her too.  It makes me feel as if I am doing something right that this child wants to tell me she loves me, and that she isn't expecting anything but an 'I love you too' in return.  My love for her and her sister is so fierce.... it would crush me if anything ever happened to either of them.  DQ is still coming along in her reading.  She has been reading one book off and on all summer, and likes to talk to me about it sometimes.  I enjoy these times with her.  I can't believe school will be starting in a few weeks.  Summer seems to have come and gone all ready!

I must bring you up to speed with what has been happening with my sister.  She called mom and I last Friday around noon.  She wanted to tell us that she is sorry for not having texted in awhile.  She didn't have a cell phone any longer and she had "fallen on hard times".  She said that the number she called from wasn't a good number to reach her at, so don't call back - but she wanted to tell the kids that she loves and misses them, and that she is sorry for everything.  Mom and I corresponded about it all.  We have very good, open lines of communication.  We did the same thing we usually do... by tucking the knowledge away and moving on with our lives raising these children.  Yesterday however, I received a call from a number that merely appeared as the area code.  I thought it odd that only three digits showed up on my caller ID and answered the phone.  The lady on the other end identified herself as an employee of the child support agency in the state we reside.  She was trying to contact my sister.  She thought this was a number for her, and I told her it isn't.  It is my number (has been since 2003).  She asked if the person she was looking for was indeed my sister, and I confirmed it.  She wanted to know what she does as a profession...  I told her I really couldn't say as the past 8 years she has just done odd jobs, or collected scrap metal as an income.  She asked if I knew where she was living...  I told her that the last I knew, she was living/working in a local motel.  She gave me an address, and asked me if I knew where that was.  I did a reverse look up...  it's right down the street from where I work.  The motel she was living in was that close...  The child support employee then asked if I knew where she could be located now.  I told her that I'm sorry, I didn't.  I told her that she contacted us on Friday from a number but told us how it wasn't a good contact for her.  Her response was..."imagine that."  She then asked if I get any new contact information, could I please call her and give it to her as they are going to take my sister to court b/c she is so behind in the child support she owes on these three children.

I can tell you honestly that my heart is so torn.  So very torn.  I love my sister.  I wish she could pull herself up out of this lifestyle.  I know that she will never get ahead now... owing so much in child support.  I also know that it was entirely her choice to leave.  It was her choice to walk away from these kids.  The only support we get from the state is medical insurance for all three of these kids.  We don't get food stamps.  We don't get daycare assistance.  We get medical insurance... which I can say is priceless, but the state pays for that.  The child support that my sister owes then.... is not due to us, it is due to the state.  The state isn't independently wealthy.  They have to get money to pay for these things from somewhere.  Where do you think it comes from when at least 1/2 of these parents don't pay child support regularly?  That's right.  Taxpayers.  John and Jane Q. Public.  So should the state have a right to pursue her for support?  In the end - I decided yes.  I did a reverse look up on the phone number she had called from on Friday.  It was another motel.  This one is a little further away.  So I called the child support worker back.  I got her voice mail, and I left her a message with the phone number, the motel she MIGHT be staying at now, and the residue of my guilt on having to do this to my own sister.

So again, I am feeling a little guilty.  I am wishing that I could find that magic road to making more money so that I could adopt these girls and negate the need for the state paying for their medical insurance.  It just isn't in the cards right now.  How could it be with the daycare tuition being as high as it is for both girls?  Again the question of having a child of my own floats into my mind, and more and more... I feel that even if I could conceive a child.  I couldn't afford to care for it anyway.  So thus is my life.  I'm hitting another valley on this roller coaster ride... but it won't be too long before I'm flying down the hill again, smiling as the wind caresses my face, and the world flies past me so fast that everything but my joy and happiness is just a blur.

Aunt TT

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Not the end of the world....

.....  but still so hard to cope with.  I'm so afraid that the Vampire is autistic.  Yes.  I understand it is not the end of the world.  I still love her.  I will still fight for her, and do everything I can to support her.  I am past the point of blindly trusting that things will just get better.  She is four, and so strong willed, so aggressive, so problematic!  I don't have much of a basis of comparison, but I know that this is NOT how "normal" children behave.  What am I saying "normal"?  What the heck is "normal" anyway?  Who is "normal"?  I don't think I ever have been.

She is so difficult.  She fights me every step of the way.  I am not the kind of parent who gives into their kids just because they fight for what they want - so every day is this huge fight.  I am so tired of fighting.  She can't seem to understand respect.  She refuses to follow direction.  She can not be quiet.  She picks at DQ to the point that DQ can't stand to be around her.  If Vampire breathes in DQ's general direction, it's a fight.  So M and I are always playing referee.  She peed herself multiple times yesterday at daycare.  She can go weeks without peeing herself, then suddenly she thinks it's OK to sit around in urine soaked undies.  They have been able to keep the biting at a minimum but only b/c they have a 3rd adult in the room that is Vampire's constant shadow.  So the biting is diminishing, but the aggression is still kind of hardcore.  She was pretty much a bully on her birthday.  I hate thinking that my kid is "the bully".  I keep seeing more and more ASD symptoms in the Vampire that terrify me.  I don't want her to be like her older brother.  I love Z-man, but it is so hard to communicate with him.  I feel like a horrible person for admitting that, but his autism is so very difficult to cope with, and I fear that Vampire is going down the very same path.  I fear being exhausted, and fighting her for the rest of my life.

Z-man was at our house on Weds when I got home from work b/c M had picked him up from his therapy.  Backtracking further...  Z-man's therapy takes place at the Vampire's daycare.  So I come home to chaos (after a craptastic day where I spent my lunch break crying after being treated like crap by a salesman at the other store).  Z-man has this really whiny voice when he is upset.  It's this mixture of yelling/crying/whining.  He is nearly incomprehensible when he does this.  His speech isn't "normal" to begin with, but this is off the charts.  My mom is off work by now and picking him up from our place.  He is doing that yell/cry thing at her because he can't find his socks.  I help him find them, by moving the couch - just knew they were under there.  Five to ten minutes later, he seems calm, in control, and I start talking to him about his day.  I learn from mom that he visited a local kids camp (where I went to camp in 6th grade), and try to talk to him about the zip line, and this really cool swing they have.  He flat out clams up.  He WILL NOT speak to me.  He won't look at me.  He won't acknowledge me.  I know it is part of the autism, but I am still a little heartbroken.  Here I think I can connect with the kid by talking about something from my past that maybe he did today, and he's just mentally gone.  Like he mentally crawled into a hole, and refuses to come back out.  I get down on his level, make eye contact, and try to talk to him.  He just looks away and begins doing something else.  He and mom leave a little while later.  He doesn't even say good bye to me when I tell him goodbye.  I give him a quick hug.  I am lost, and can't understand why he clammed up on me as mom says he had a really good time on the swing, and had a good day.  I try not to take it personally, but it's so hard.  I feel like I just lost years of respect with this kid because he chose NOT to talk to me, and there was nothing I could do to convince him otherwise.  He was so oppositional towards me.

The Vampire exhibits the same traits.  She has been doing the highly annoying yell/cry/whine thing.  She is incomprehensible when she does it.  She has always been aggressive like Z-man was before he was placed on medicine.  She was up at 6:15 this morning and was told she could play quietly in her bed since she is wide awake and can't go back to sleep.  I was trying to get ready for work.  M wanted to sleep in a little bit.  It's like she didn't even hear me tell her to be quiet twice and M tell her once.  She's out of her bed running around giggling, yelling, laughing.  I love to see her have fun, but can she do it quietly?  No.  DQ is being mostly quiet.  V isn't even trying.  I tell them to get back in their beds, that I don't want to hear another peep.  I get done with my shower, and can still hear all the ruckus.  I can't always re-direct them.  I can't always sit down on the floor to play with them.  I snap and tell them that if I hear anything else from them I will swat their bottoms and put them back in bed.  I go back to getting ready for work.  Now they are creeping into the bathroom saying they have to potty.  I tell them one at a time.  They both take their sweet time, and fool around.  I'm just trying to get done so I can be out the door and to work on time.  It is a stressful start to the day.

It's not always like this.  Today is just a bad day.  I'm tired.  Work has been stressful.  Life has been stressful the past few weeks.  I'm a miserable failure when it comes to dieting as I eat in times of stress.  Hello chocolate!  It's just one of those days where you wish you could crawl into bed and stay there for awhile.  For those who aren't up on my blog - YES.  I have had the Vampire tested for ASD.  They told me she COULD have it, but aren't going to diagnose as she has been diagnosed with PTSD.   M doesn't think she is autistic.  I don't know if he is right or in denial.  I really haven't been able to figure that out yet. 

In more positive news today marks three weeks since I have heard from their biological mom.  The bills are all paid for the month of June.  I still have a job and I still work with a (mostly, except for the salesman at the other store) wonderful group of people.  M still has a job, and although he has not received the raise he expected, he does still enjoy the job and the folks he works with.  Vampire is in the best daycare she could possibly be in.  DQ seems to be enjoying her summer daycare.  We are healthy.  There is a new Conan movie due out later this year.  My new sewing machine works well (and is quieter than my old one for some reason).  Thanks again to M and his family for my sewing machine gift.  Love you all.  We have decided on Halloween costumes for this fall.  I just need to get busy sewing them.  My cell phone still works although I have dropped it countless times.  My pets are healthy, and the best companions a person could ask for.  My car is still running, and I did not ruin my brakes hauling the camper on back roads last weekend.  We never go without food, and the girls have plenty of clothes.  Zombies have not yet taken over the world.  There is a public (supposedly free) online school that I can enroll DQ in if all else fails, and I can't get her into the school I want.  I'm a fan of homeschool anyway, and wish that I could be a stay at home mom to provide that to these kids, but that's just not how the cookie crumbles.  My favorite ink pen still works.  My loved ones are alive and healthy.  Focus on the positives.  Just focus on the positives.

Aunt TT

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Teenagers, Camping, and Tubes

Let me start this blog off by saying I've had my fill of teenagers for a few years.  I hope and pray that everything I am doing now with the girls will help them to respect me better in their teenage years.  Teenagers really have a problem with respect these days.  I have also decided that they won't have a cell phone until they can afford to buy it and pay for the plan themselves.  May sound harsh.  Yes.  I know.  But to me....  it beats the disrespectful snotty teenager with a cell phone alternative. 

We took the girls camping this past weekend.  It was mostly fun, a little stressful, and very little aggravating.  The girls seemed to have a lot of fun, and did a lot of complaining when they couldn't swim when they wanted to.  DQ has started talking in this really annoying baby voice and become helpless when asked to tie her shoes, or general every day tasks that she could usually perform.  It seems like a cry for attention, and constantly feeding that attention hungry child is exhausting.  Did I mention that Vampire needs lots of attention too?  At any rate... it was nice to be out away from the world with the girls and M.  Mom and dad came with us, as did Z-man.  It was fun to be out with them, working together to make our meals over a fire (or gas stove... we cheated) and watching the kids run and play and have fun.  DQ suffered a burn on the back of her leg.  Vampire was stung by a hornet, and developed an ear infection over the weekend, but other than that, the weekend was fairly relaxing.  I must say that since it was a balmy 95+ degrees and humid all weekend, it was lovely to have our camper with a/c!

I have scheduled Vampire back with the ear, nose, and throat doctor.  Her right tube has come out, and the left one is probably on it's way out now.  She had an ear infection in her left over the weekend.  I fear that she will need tubes again, as she will start to develop the infections all over again.  We shall see.  All I can do is keep taking her back to them, and hoping for the best.  Poor kid. 

I haven't heard from their biological mother since the recital (6/19).  I have had news that my cousin who is living with her has lost his place to live as of 7/4, and don't know if that means they are all moving somewhere else, or just him.  I haven't pushed my aunt for more info.  Part of me doesn't care what she does as long as she stays away.  The other part of me worries about the new child (or children) in the picture.  So things still haven't changed on that front.

I have been so tired.  I took a break from giving plasma.  I'm still trying to find inventive ways to supplement the daycare income.  DQ was not accepted to the school in the district that I wanted her to attend.  I am bummed about that and trying to figure out other ways to get her in.  Someone in Uncle M's family suggested a hardship form because it is too difficult for us to drive to the school she was transferred to to get her to/from school, and she can't ride the bus due to our work schedules.  I haven't been able to locate that form, but I intend on typing a letter to them stating just that and seeing where that will take us.  I called dad crying today due to a bad day at work, money, and not knowing what I will do with DQ next school year.  Life is so overwhelming sometimes.  It sure isn't easy to be an adult.  But you never realize that until you've walked a mile in those big ole adult shoes.  Things will shape up.  I just have to keep hanging in there.

Aunt TT