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Archive for March, 2012

Permanency Hearing

Andrew and I received a notification in the mail about a month ago, advising us that a permanency hearing had been scheduled.  So we put it on our calendars and went.  It was 15 minutes long and 10 of those minutes were spent calendaring – as in the officers of the court all looking at their calendars to figure out a mutually agreeable date for the next hearing.  It is now clear to me that our entire criminal justice system can probably be fixed if everyone just used google calendar.  Seriously, it would save millions and all that money could go to educating the poor and disenfranchised, teaching people good parenting skills and responsible family planning. But I digress.

We went and we probably didn’t need to.  Nothing happened.  They reviewed some court documents, found an error, corrected it and scheduled another hearing for September.

Blitzen’s Nana was there. We also met Blitzen’s mother for the first time – we literally just said ‘hi’.  She was busy and upset – we certainly did not expect a heartfelt conversation.  I was kind of surprised by her lack of interest or curiousity but then again, not really. I think that I have mentioned before that Blitzen perceives herself to be the root of her families problems.  She has said this to us many times.  It is either “I am the reason that all the kids are in care” or “Mommy thinks it is my fault that the kids are in care”.  It is hard to know the reality of statement number 2 but Nana has offered some cooberation there so it is probably not a complete fiction that Blitzen has been, in some way, scapegoated by mom and at least a few of siblings.  We believe that there was an incident involving Blitzen that ultimately resulted in the children’s last removal from their home.  So if you were a very immature person with no sense of responsibility or accountability and perhaps some mental health issues, you could say that all of this was Blitzen’s fault.  Or if you were a nine year old that believed yourself to be totally unlovable, you could say that.  Anyone else would know that it could not in any way, shape or form, be true.  But Blitzen feels like an outsider to be sure.

All this to say that I am not sure what I expected to get when I met Blitzen’s mom but I didn’t get anything except a face that now will pop into my head when Blitzen talks about her.  She is young, oh so very young, and scared too, I am sure.

And since Nana was there, Andrew and I got our usual earful of kinda crazy, half-information that makes us scratch our heads saying “Did she just really say that?”

Nana informed us that the agency has been falsifying records in order to win the case against Bio Mom.  I really didn’t have the heart to say that I couldn’t imagine anyone in the courtroom caring enough to jeopardize their career by falsifying anything – what would be the point?  It is possible that the agency has been irresponsible, maybe they haven’t done everything well, but perjury seems an extreme reaction to this particular case.  Then Nana let us know that because the records have been falsified, Bio Mom was getting the kids back and when she does, she will be keeping 5 and giving Blitzen to Nana.  When she says these things, we literally do not know how to respond.  We often simply gape at her, our mouths hanging open, words failing to form as our brains spin around and around thinking – how on earth does a family get this screwed up?

Fast-forward 16 minutes, Andrew and I are exiting the courthouse and I am now yelling “What, what, is she crazy? Doesn’t she see how damaging that kind of arrangement would be to these kids? They are not f@#$ing puppies! You can’t take your pick of the litter.”

Guess we’ll see what happens in September.

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Playing dress up

On Sunday morning, bright and early, we went to Target to do a little spring clothes shopping.  Blitzen was a trouper.  I outlined the items that we needed to buy, she chose what she liked and we were done.  We were in and out in a flash.

During our little shopping spree, we bought a couple of spring dresses to wear to school and wherever.  One of them is more like a long sundress but Blitzen calls it her ballgown.  She has been changing into her ballgown immediately after getting off the bus each day, accessorizing with my very high, high-heeled boots and teetering all over the apartment, requesting that Andrew and I play “Going to the ball” with her.  What does this include, you may wonder?  Well, Andrew and I are also required to dress up, she picks out an outfit for each of us, then we dance on the living carpet.  Occassionally, there is an element of drama – Blitzen is a 13 year old and we, her mean parents, are forbidding her to attend the ball.  Several times in the past week, Blitzen has adorably said to us “Now, pretend you are my mom and dad.”  Umm, done.

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During my absence, Blitzen was much more independent in the morning.  It has been tricky for me to reinsert myself into the routine without backtracking to the morning struggles that we had before I left.  She is capable of managing much of her self-care (bathing, dressing, etc) by herself.  But it is quite clear that she really wants me to participate in those things.  It feels to me like a need for nurturing and caring.  Consequently, I am stuck somewhere between providing that tender loving care and teaching her how to be an independent, grown-up girl.  The truth is that she may not stay with us forever and not everyone will have the time/patience/nutty inclination to baby her in this way and frankly, I don’t want to be picking her outfit when she is 13.  So at some point, she has got to start managing this on her own.  On the other hand, she is in so many ways a 4 or 5 year old kid in a 9 year old’s body.  Hard to know what is best developmentally, when to push and when to let some of these things just play themselves out.

I know that I’ve discussed mornings a lot.  It clearly is my own personal button.  I am used to, in my adult life, have a quiet morning routine.  I do not commute – I walk to work so that I can spend time planning my day and getting myself together and so that I don’t have to deal with other humans (in traffic, on the bus or the subway).  I used to shuffle around the house (Andrew was always the first out the door) in my robe, having breakfast, tidying up, reading the paper, puttering around — it was time to myself.  Now, while Blitzen leaves before I do and I could putter around the house because she is out the door an hour before I am required to be at work, I leave right after her because I leave work HOURS before I used to.  I leave at 5:30pm which is when many sane people and those with kids leave work but there is still work to do, lots of it. I come in early to get a jump on the day .  So you know, no quiet shuffling.  This makes mornings a little stressful for me which is probably why I’ve written about the morning routine like 5 times already.  I think that I probably over-manage Blitzen so that I can keep things moving, quietly and quickly.  It might be time, though, to push Blitzen to take a little more responsibility, brace myself for a couple of rough weeks and work through it.  Seems like a lot before my first cup of coffee!

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I missed Blitzen’s first plane ride, hotel room stay and play with our niece and nephew.  But I heard that fun was had by all and that Blitzen was her usual adorable, charming, funny self.  There were many cute stories – I will share a few as relayed by Andrew.

Apparently, when Andrew had to use the restroom in public places like the airport, Blitzen would stand directly outside the men’s room door and chatter away at him the entire time – much the surprise and amusement of the other gentlemen in the bathroom.

She adored our little nephew, S, who is almost 2.  She insisted in carrying him just about everywhere and I hear he was a very good sport about it.

When they arrived at the hotel, she was delighted to see that it was exactly as depicted on the internet and gleefully claimed the bed that she identified as ‘her bed’ earlier in the week via the photos on the website.  She was disappointed that the only fun channel on the hotel tv was Nickelodeon.

She wore many of the beautiful outfits that she had packed (all her fanciest clothes) during the trip.  She was quite the fashion sensation.

She proved her hypothesis that 5 year olds really do like swimming because our niece, K, did indeed enjoy lots of pool time with Blitzen.

She also got to play in a tree fort, ride a bycicle, and play on the playground that is directly across the street from K and S’s front door.

She was, by all accounts, a stellar traveler.  We’re already looking forward to more adventures this summer.

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Lots of things to process here and I’ll try to do it slowly over the next several days.  Blitzen had a really rough end of the week.  Really rough.  I came back early rough.

I probably over-reacted.  Andrew says that I was just missing Blitzen and used the nuclear meltdown as an excuse.  That could be true.  I was missing Blitzen but it is hard to be 11 hours away by plane when the bomb that is only-very-occassionally-now Blitzen detonates.  By the time I got on the plane, things had calmed way down.  Blitzen was safe and home.  I am sure a lot of you are wondering what the hell happened and I am not going to tell you.  It is part of Blitzen’s story, maybe she’ll tell you sometime.

I will say this – my husband is a rockstar.  Our agency really stepped up and supported Blitzen and supported us.  The school did exactly what they had to do to keep Blitzen safe and they were communicative and helpful.

Now we’re thinking about how to work more closely with the school to connect them to Blitzen’s mental health care providers and work holistically as a team.  That is really tough – everyone is willing but it is a challenging thing to connect all of the dots in a meaningful way.  And there is a lot that we don’t know.  We need to do a better job educating ourselves about what is possible, what options are available to us.

So we’re exploring. We’re on to a new phase – its a good thing, overall.  Blitzen and Andrew had an amazing week.  They took really good care of each other.  I heard lots of fun stories about their adventures, I look forward to sharing them because, apparently, Andrew hates to blog :)  Love you, honey.

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I used to

Politely listen to other people rattle on about their kids but secretly hope that they would wrap it up soon. Now I hope that they go on and on so that when it is my turn, I get to chatter for like an hour about Blitzen.

Missing Blitzen and Andrew terribly while away – Sunday cannot possibly get here fast enough.

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Suitcase

For the big North Carolina trip, I took Blitzen to the store to purchase a suitcase.  We went to a discount type place so I told her that she could pick out whichever one she wanted as long as it was carry-on size.  We looked at several models and she settled on a purple and pink number with Jessica Simpson’s name scrawled all over it.  Probably would not have been my first choice but hey, I am not the one that needs to pull it around the airport.

She was very excited about the suitcase.  She took it home and immediately turned it into a baby doll transporting vehicle.  Loaded up her dolls, strapped them in and took them on a walk to the park.

The next day (a full week before the trip) she was ready to pack.  She has plenty of clothing, so we just let her pack away.  Told her she could take anything that fit in the case as long as she remembered to bring underwear.  Once she loaded the suitcase with all of her best outfits and one baby doll, she started pulling it around the house.  Wherever she went, the suitcase went.  Parked it by her chair at the dinner table, right next to the tv during tv time.  Rolled to a place of honor next to her bedside table at night.  It really was quite adorable.

Then, Blitzen being Blitzen, she started to get a little anxious because Andrew and I were not packed yet. She talked about it constantly and to add to the angst, she knew that my suitcase was at the repair shop getting a new handle.  ‘What if Andrew forgets to pick it up?’ she kept asking.  ‘I think you should just go get it yourself,’ she told me on day 3.  I reassured  her that the suitcase would be picked up by one adult or another in plenty of time.  But finally, she really couldn’t stand it any more and took matters into her own hands.  My suitcase might be awol but Andrew’s was not. One day after school, she packed for Andrew.  Just loaded up his suitcase with a little help from the babysitter – packed his fanciest outfits too because a weekend out of town is a big deal, gotta look sharp.

She was so proud and excited to show him when he got home.  And so relieved to see that he had, in fact, remembered to pick up my suitcase.  Now the whole family really could go out of town, nothing could possiby stop us when we had suitcases!

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