Wednesday, March 29, 2006

All Over But the Crying

So today "Josie" is still on spring break, and The Wife was good enough to let her have a friend over for the day. The Wife lays down for about 45 minutes--not even sleeping--and gets up to find that "Josie" suddenly has a pierced tongue.

The Wife, of course, immediately called the social worker to make sure she was authorized to make her take it out.

Think about that. We have to call the social worker to make sure we have permission to reverse a stupid situation. The kid has been told, by her probation officer, that she will most likely be going home in a little over a week. We have come to understand that this county rarely keeps kids in foster care longer than three months, and it's obvious that all the local kids know that and consider it a form of punishment.

I can't believe there are professional social workers running this show. Somebody at the top around here is a complete bonehead. How do they expect foster families to help these kids if the kids consider it a punishment before they even get here and know that whatever they do, they'll be back home in three months? Where's the incentive to try to do anything worthwhile with their lives while they're here?

We've had a chance to analyze the kids' scene in the small town where "Josie" is from. Many of them have been in foster care, and it's the same thing over and over again.

Well, no more will likely be coming here. The Wife and I have agreed that there is no reason to take placements from this county when there is a steady stream of placements waiting to be made from other counties, and even other states. In those cases, we'll have a captive audience, we'll have time, and while they may be harder cases, we'll have a far better ability to have a go at cracking them.

Tonight after "Josie" and I drove her friend home, on the way back I laid it on the line with her. I started by informing her that she no longer had any right to call me "retarded" after she stuck a piece of metal through her tongue on purpose, joining that select group of girls that I've heard referred to as "sluts on parade". The Wife even said she sounded literally retarded after the piercing, slurring her words and barely able to talk.

I told her she's been hard to take lately. I meant what I said before, and I love her with all my heart, but I don't like her at all just lately. She's been rude, crude, ugly, and nasty. We understand she's going home soon and that she knows she's going home soon, but that doesn't give her free license to lie, sneak around, and not do anything for herself.

I will no longer be giving her rides I don't have to give her, I won't be doing her any favors, and she needs to give some thought to why it is that a lot of people don't seem to like her. Good gravy, this girl has taken to belching out loud at the dinner table. Last I checked, this is not Saudi Arabia.

About this point, she said something to the effect of "Fine, then, I'll just cut you out of my life altogether". As if she had planned on including us in her daily life after she left. Heh. I won't be sitting by the phone waiting for a call in any case.

But I left it on a guardedly lighter note as we approached the house. I told her, not for the first time, that if she's ever in real trouble she has someplace to call. The stuff I just said isn't supposed to mean we don't love you, because real love doesn't break that easily. But when you're being a little bitch, loving you doesn't mean we have to be thrilled to death every time you walk in the door, either.

This girl would also do well for herself to remember that not everybody is as softheaded as The Wife and I. Normal people will size her up for what she is and dismiss her, not bothering to look for all the good stuff she's trying so hard to hide. For most people, it's not worth it.

I hate to admit it, but I'm not all depressed about having finally had a decently edgy confrontation with her. I probably should have done it before now in fact, but the timing never seemed right. But I had to get this stuff out so she would at least have a chance to think about it before she goes.

And I'm now convinced she will be going. Her court date is a week from Friday, and her PO told her she'll probably be going home. He's the only one the court seems to listen to. I can read the writing on the wall, even if it isn't in braille.

We've been put in an impossible situation here. It was impossible from the get-go, we just didn't know it. I'm bitter about that. They're throwing this girl back into the same situation they took her from, and haven't given her a chance to address any of the things the court said should be addressed at the original hearing. No family therapy. No individual therapy, at least not outside of her admittedly excellent school.

So no, we will no longer be taking placements from the county we live in without a very clear understanding that it will be long-term, we will have autonomy to treat the case as we need to, and the kid will under no circumstances have an understanding that all they have to do is mark time and they will be going home. No sir. Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us twice, shame on us.

I'm starting a pool on how many locals here will be visiting her when she lands in a group home far out of town. I'm putting my dollar on three. Her mom, The Wife and me. I would have said two, but I suspect her mom may be able to tear herself away from the bar for a Saturday afternoon once in awhile. If she can't, there's always the chance her excellent counsellor at school will care enough to make the trip. I'll split the difference.

It's a hard world we live in, friends and neighbors. I'm taking more than my share of hard knocks on my psyche lately.


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