Thursday, May 24, 2012

System Defined Permanent

After another day of court for Baby K, I was doing the mom thing - albeit I was cutting it close because even though it was clearly marked on the calendar and in my phone and we had talked about it, I still managed to space Youngest's choir performance until 30 minutes prior to - and taking Youngest to her concert yesterday when I asked her this question:

"What does permanent mean? Like permanent markers?"

Youngest: "Oh - well that means they're supposed to stay on forever, but if you just rinse and scrub a lot they come off anyway."

And I thought to myself, "Yep. That is just what it means." Of course we laughed and talked about all the times it has been good that permanent markers aren't really permanent.

So, we were awarded "permanent guardianship" of Baby K. Both of her parents need an indefinite amount of time to complete the tasks the state has set before them in a manner that demonstrates either is in a position to be a full-time parent and caregiver....But what does that mean?

Here in Sunnyville the state doesn't want to keep children in the foster care system, it is costly and unstable. As a result, they opt for permanent guardianship. It isn't adoption. It isn't foster care. It is a static state that can last until the child is 18 or until the parent(s) satisfactorily complete(s) the plan and show(s) stability for a period of time. At this point the parent petitions the court for reunification.

This is the state we have now entered with Baby K. She will still visit with her parents weekly, she will still possibly return to one of them at some point in her future, but for now she is ours...Yes, it is pretty much the same exact place we were before court yesterday with a major difference for us.

We can return to a normal or what passes for normal in Sunnyville life. There will be no more visits from case managers or court-appointed guardians. We will be able to ask the neighbor to watch Baby K without having a full background check done first. We will be able to go on vacation as a family. We will be parents to Baby K in every way we have been, without the constant checking-in with others to have our plans/actions approved. It seems almost inconsequential, but it isn't. It is a return to stasis for our lives...

At lest that is what we fervently hope. Of course there is still a connection to the parents, it is almost like a bizarre divorce triangle. With her mom's visits being supervised by an agency and her dad's visits supervised by us or someone else in the family. But, hey, this is 2012 and families come in all shapes and sizes, so happily Baby K remains a part of ours and we continue to move forward as we always have with hope and love.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Explicit Instruction Needed

Parts of life here in Sunnyville seem to speed by at 100mph, I look around and think wait! How did we get here already? Sometimes I handle the changing needs with grace, and other times - well we seem to muddle through. Teen buying her first car falls into the muddle events.

See, Teen had earned a truck from the neighbors for babysitting last summer. It was a nice truck, but would need some work. As excited as she was to own this vehicle, there was definitely some trepidation about fixing it and making it her own. Consequently, she sold it - for cheap. Then she promptly got a job to earn money for a car. She has been saving her money well, though you don't make much working at the local ice cream shop, and felt she was ready to buy a car - Hubby and I were not so keen.

Daily she brought cars to our attention, and daily we found flaws and issues until it dawned on me that this was a futile exercise. She would buy a car. She would grow-up. It is pointless to attempt to halt the practice. So, I began to help. Then she found it. An old sedan that met all her requirements - cheap and good gas mileage - and she was off. She researched the KBB value, the car, and what to look for when you are buying a used car. We went for the test drive.

Is it old? Yes. Does it run well? Yes. Does the AC work? Yes. Her questions were answered. She drove around accelerating and decelerating quickly with no rhyme or reason to test that it shifted well and even checked the oil and for leaks - she was doing well. Until it was time to settle on a price.

Let me start by saying I am not laughing at Teen (and myself as well), I am laughing with her. Yes, there is a difference. The three of us stand around the car; me, Teen, Seller. I asked a few questions they were answered, Teen stated she wanted the car.

I look to Teen and say, "Well, now is when you decide how much you are will to pay for the car."
"Okay, well, I have $1200 in the bank..." DOH!! Yes, she really said that aloud to the seller...who was asking $1200.
Trying for salvage, I laugh and make a joke before reminding her, "Okay, but consider how much you will have to spend to fix the tail pipe and how much you will have to pay for title and tags..."
"Oh! But you said you would help with those for my birthday."
Yes, I am not kidding, it was like a bad comedy of how not to buy a car!
Thankfully, Seller was a nice guy, who laughed and said "You are supposed to rehearse this stuff you know!"

We all laughed and Teen got the car for $900 - not too bad for her first attempt and the rocky start...
sometimes there is grace, sometimes there is blindly groping in the dark and sometimes it is a bit of both. Plus, now I know, explicit instruction in haggling is needed for my children. Maybe this summer we'll haunt some flea markets...

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Pets Decrease Stress - Right??

          Youngest had been complaining of unfair treatment for months. Her sister had a snake, her brother had a lizard of some sort and here she was forced to share the 2 family dogs and cat with well, the family. After hearing her adamantly stating her case, I’ll admit it, I caved.
In a few agonizingly long weeks she received the absolute satisfaction of a tiny 6-week-old dwarf hamster. The adoration was instantaneous on her side anyway and she loves the hyperactive biting machine in a way only pure-hearted 7 year-old’s and cats are capable of maintaining.
Needless to say cat shooing and chasing has become a primary pastime for Youngest as the cat is sneaky. By pushing the cage over the cat has freed the hamster on 2 previous occasions, resulting in mass panic and general pandemonium.
So, as soon as I heard a crash in Youngest’s room last night I directed Teen to check it out. She opened the door to spilled shavings scattered around a flipped cage. “Griselda! Get OUT!”

And out she went, her sleek black mass prancing by with a white mustache…wait, white mustache? Before she knew what was coming I pounced, she released her prize and I was in hot pursuit of the tiny beast. After snatching it to safety, I relinquished the would-be victim to Teen who concluded it needed to move into protection in her room until a suitable situation can be found – much to the annoyance of Youngest.

Happily; however, she received some generous gifts for her First Communion, so after work today we will be heading out to purchase a new, hopefully cat-proof, cage…

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Spring Has Sprung

Even without the traditional hallmarks of seasons that grace the majority of this country, there still exist sure signs of spring here in Sunnyville. If you happen to have teens at home these signs are clear, and if you happen to work with these pubescent creatures the signs are neon, flashing, and practically scream at you on a daily basis.

My first inclination of spring stems not from trees budding and flowers blooming, that happens here all year. No, instead it sprang forth from showering. Yes, showering. Anyone who has known or been i would assume a young teen boy knows showering while important for hygienic reasons, is not a top priority in the average 13 year-olds life. So, when Boy began showering without prodding or reminders everyday before school, I noticed.

In jokingly making a comment about a possible crush leading to the showering, I inadvertently triggered a blush reflex in Boy that began at his feet and traveled up to his scalp. Of course, being the respectful mother I am I let it go...okay no way did that happen. After some teasing and jest the confirmation that there was not only a crush but a "girlfriend" came to light.

I did a brief - okay 3 day - freak-out and then took Hubby's counsel to heart. A girlfriend at school and on facebook is not dating. So, I am somewhat at ease...and thankful that they are not in classes together.

In the classroom these signs are more overt and often related to giggling glances and note passing. Yes, paper and pencil notes still exist despite the best efforts of technology. So, it should have been no surprise when I watched a young lady trying to inconspicuously pass something to a young man seated in front of her.

Guessing it was a mint or candy of some type, I stopped the lesson, looked directly at them and waited. I was 3 feet away and still she tried to unburden herself knowing I was watching. I announced, "Well ---, go ahead and give it to ---- so we can all move on." "Really? Ok," she replied and handed him an intricately folded piece of paper.

"A NOTE?" I gasped in my best shocked-at-you voice. I really did think it would be a candy or mint.

"Not from me!!" She replied, "I am just the messenger!!"

Of course the boy in question was quick to offer to throw said note away and the girls-in-the-know were quickly spreading word of the contents of said notes between giggles while the boy tried his best to shred all evidence over the recycling bin.

In the space of a minute the entire class knew what the note said, except me - though I could guess. This is when one student stage-sneakily made her way to the bin and brought me a piece of the offending paper. Then as she was handing it to me she stage whispered that --- had asked ---- to go-out with her. To which the note-writer yelped, "It was a dare!"

Aww. Isn't spring grand? Only another month of hormones until summer.