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Posts Tagged ‘Foster care’

You made me cry a bit there – in a good way. My sis-in-law wrote to say that even she got a little teary from the comments and she is a total badass. (I am concerned about B’s privacy but not my in-laws, apparently!).

I am still a thinking — about Blitzen, self-preservation, a creative outlet, the support hat I really do get from the wonderful vibes anonymous people send my way and the ability to process this incredibly complex way of life that writing has created for me.

I am still a thinking — about what has shifted for me in the last few months that has made things so difficult in a new way.

I am going to take a little break for a week or two and try to figure out if there is a good way to move forward, perhaps with fewer public posts about Blitzen (although as several people have said — there are so many of the wonderful things about this kid that I have captured here, I hope to keep writing all that down for both me and for her whether or not I make those items public). Maybe it is time turn my attention more to some of the social justice issues that being a foster parent has brought into focus for me in a new  and very very real way.

I also just have to say that this past week, the entire world feels wrong which is likely contributing to this feeling that I am having. Everything that is happening in Missouri and the often disheartening discussions that I’ve had with other white people about it, the ridiculous and skewed press coverage, have just weighed me down.  I am deeply saddened, really struggling with how to contribute to this discussion in a meaningful way, how to help Blitzen cope with this tremendous injustice but also prepare for a world that doesn’t see her or respect her.  Even the air feels heavy and full of darkness.

Time to breathe and try to find some brightness.  I’ll likely be back, one way or another, soon.

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Oh, executive functioning, why oh why are you required to get through middle school?

On the upside, we do have a very elaborate plan of action in regards to locker decor – there will be a mirror and a chandelier, I am told…How to remember to bring home our work and books, the plan is less solid.

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Blitzen really wants to be independent – when it suits her.  There have been some disagreements about when she will be ready to take public transportation by herself.  She knows what to do and where she is going. She also gets distracted easily and then flustered when confused or anxious.  My biggest fear is that she will miss her stop and then be too anxious to get help until she is full melt down and panic mode.  So we’ve been trying create independence with a safety net.

Last week, Andrew and I let her walk up the hill from the subway to camp by herself. And by ‘by herself’ I mean that we stated that we would follow her (it is several blocks) but not talk to her or give her directions. We would just be a block behind her (we could still see her) and she could call back or come back to us if she needed anything. Well, don’t you know our adorable little Blitzen walked backward almost the entire way – chattering at us in a loud voice – about everything going by and her day ahead. That kid cracks me up.

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Blitzen struggles with money.  Some of it is being a kid. Some of it is a lack of math skills. Some of it is a basic lack of understanding about how we relate to the world – and by we, I mean Andrew and me.  Everyone manages their money differently, so be it.

Blitzen recently got very angry at me because I never spend money on fun stuff, I only the pay the bills.  According to Blitzen, I am always so worried about buying food and paying for our apartment. Take a look at my Amex bill, I spend plenty on fun stuff.  But she is correct that while I do like to pay those bills on time, I am fortunate enough not to be ‘worried’ about it.   I was talking to my mother about this and remembered a story from my childhood where my darling brother, when told that we didn’t have enough money for something, patiently explained to my mother that she could just use a check.  So I get it that kids don’t get money.

It is disheartening though, picking up on the thread about Blitzen’s often negative and worry filled interior life, how often Blitzen assumes the worst.  We talk about money in a very appropriate way with Blitzen — we are rarely concerned about it but we do explain about budgets – in theory, at least, the amount of money going out can’t exceed the amount coming in.   Going to work is important so that you can get paid. Paying your bills on time is  a responsible thing to do. But she has equated our discussions with worry – I understand why, of course, but it is yet another thing that I do wish I could get her to move beyond.  This also gets mixed up in her brain with the storyline that tells her that if I am spending money in one place, she is not going to get what she needs or wants. It is very hard to get to the point where, in this home and this situation, paying the rent does not equal taking money from you, paying the rent means having a safe place for us to live and making good on a commitment to landlord.  It helps us, as a family.  So hard, these things.

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First day of camp, awesome. Second day of camp, in the world according to Blitzen, was a lot like the Game of Thrones (which I do not watch but I read the books).  Apparently, there was a plot coordinated by the friends that she made day one because she was popular – there was a kiddie coup, I suppose, in Blitzen’s brain.  They apologized and asked for forgiveness — she is considering it but doesn’t think they really deserve it so she might just make new friends.  People, there are only like 30 kids in her age group at this camp, I am getting nervous she is going to burn through all possible playmates in the first week. And I am also (even at girl drama filled age 11_ concerned that so much of this is just about Blitzen’s negative spin and terrible self-image.

I really really really wish that Blitzen did not assume that every single human(dog, cat, bird, squirrel, taxi and stoplight) that she encounters is out to get her, make her life miserable, take everything that she has, control everything, steal everything, cheat and lie about EVERYTHING. I understand why she feels this way – it is actually a fairly sane reaction given the world that she lived in up until Nov of 2011.  I am sad ’cause I think that she might always feel this way and life is just better and easier if you can, once in awhile, assume the best of others instead of the worst.

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Ok, camp in NYC is just a crazy thing (and by crazy, I mean complicated and expensive).  So Blitzen has 2 weeks at a new day camp this year – she started yesterday.  She was very nervous and surprisingly, pretty in touch with the emotion and why she was feeling anxious.  This morning as we were walking from the bus to the camp, she said, “I am not scared today. I know all the people – the kids and the teachers are really nice.  And you can pretty much do whatever you want.”  Nothing Blitzen hates more than adults trying to tell her what to do.

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When Andrew and I are going on our honeymoon.  When indeed! She is recalling that last October we spent the weekend of our anniversary out of town and my mother and niece came to NYC to babysit and hang out.  She is not concerned about the status of the romance in our marriage — she wants cool visitors.

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Blitzen’s old bed had drawers underneath, handy.  But the new fancy canopy bed does not. I do wish I could post the videos that Blitzen has made of herself giving, I don’t know – tours?? of her new bed and explaining how to arrange the curtains and the pillows and why canopy beds are just the greatest.  Totally adorable.

Any way, Andrew and I were out hunting for a dresser and stopped in an antiquey/second-hand furniture place and found just what we needed.  A skinny but tall dresser, painted a lovely shade of blue with enamel drawer pulls – each with a little pink rose painted on them.  I was worried that Blitzen might be annoyed that it was used (not sure she that is into shabby chic) but it was a bargain, and so lovely, and I am really trying to make sure that her room doesn’t look like I ordered the entire thing right off the Pottery Barn website (not that there is anything wrong with Pottery Barn).  But she really likes it.  We worked together to clean it up with Murphy’s Oil soap, it fits perfectly in her room.  She worked very hard to organize her clothes and put them in the drawers — she had a definite plan.  It was really great.  And then (seriously people, I could swoon at this next part) she asked if she could do her own laundry from now on.  Um, yes, my darling child, you can.  She started right away, lovingly sorting the whites from the colors.

It has been the summer of growing independence.  I might be crazy (ok, I am definitely crazy but putting that aside) I think the layout of this home is really a key component.  She is so comfortable — it is just awesome.

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Blitzen’s friend said to her as we were standing in line at Cold Stone Creamery.  Blitzen, ever competitive, said, “My mom works more.”  I listened, wondered where this was going.  Blitzen’s friend, “Really? My mom has to work weekends. Does your mom work on the weekend?” Blitzen considered this and said, “Yes, she does and sometimes she has to take really long business trips and she has to help the President (of a University – not THE president). ”  Then she looked up and said, “Don’t you, Carrie?”

These moments never fail to surprise me — after almost 3 years, you would think that I would remember that in certain situations, I am ‘mom’.

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Since our move, we’ve been decorating, really getting Blitzen engaged in her room but also in the decor of the apartment at large.  We’re adding some photos of her and her family in addition to the many that we have of her, putting them in  frames and hanging up around the house.  We’ve always had lots of photos on the fridge and the bulletin board but we’re stepping it up a notch, going for a fancier presentation.

We had some lovely frames from back in the day (actually wedding gifts! so waaayyy back)  that we removed the photos from and offered to Blitzen.  This is the email that Andrew sent to me about what happened when he presented them:

***

Blitzen loved the picture frames. I showed them to her without photos in them, and invited her to find photos to put in them. She chose a picture of her, her littlest baby sister and one of her brothers for one and our wedding picture for the other. You can choose a picture with you in it, I invited. She pointed to our photo, then to the words “Loves Me” on the frame. Both frames are now in her room.

Love ya,
A

 

 

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