Sunday, April 02, 2006

Explosion and Aftermath

Yesterday I had finally had had enough of "Josie's" BS. I had spoken sharply (and privately) with her earlier in the week, and it didn't seem to register much, if at I tried firing another round across her bow.

It was precipitated by her badgering The Wife again and again and AGAIN about letting her visit home. I guess us driving her around every single day to home, her brother's, her friends', letting her friends come here and stay overnight repeatedly, et al wasn't enough. And the Wife, after showing more forebearance than she even does with me, finally had had enough and said "I'm not going to argue about it anymore." I piped up and said "I will. Let me know if you need to argue more."

Mistake 1: saying it at all.

Mistake 2: saying such a thing when I actually meant it.

She took me up on it. Shifting into whine mode, she made some offensive comment or other, after which I said "what are you worried about going home for anyway? Your PO already told you you'll most likely be going home this week. Then you won't have to worry about nasty old Dan and Karla getting in your way when you want to do whatever you want."

Then SHE made the mistake: "Shut up."

Both the words and the tone in which they were said as I was walking out of the room reached into my spine like a fishhook and yanked me back into the room, spun me around, and pulled me right up to a position across the counter from her. I looked her directly in the eye, put my fisted hands down on the counter, and continued the string of utterances I had begun as soon as the fishhook in my spine had been set.

Everything I said was on the mark, it was all true, and it all needed desperately to be said. The only exception was at the end, when I said that if she hated it so much here and really wanted to disrespect us, I'd gladly call the cops and have them take her out of here right now. The truth is, I wouldn't be glad to do it, and I wouldn't do it anyway because it would be ridiculous. If I can't handle a kid telling me to shut up without calling the cops, I'm most certainly in the wrong business.

I also should never have let my volume out of control. That was probably the biggest mistake, and I tried to apologize for it...I truly did. "Josie" locked herself in her room over it, however, and refused to come to supper because she'd have to be in the same room with me. So much for my high estimation of her maturity. Here we had a 15-year-old acting like she was 8.

So now we gladly switched her overnight home visit tomorrow night for tonight. "Charlie" and "George" have been handed back to their mother, "Josie" has gone home for the evening, and it's just The Wife and I home alone for the first time in what seems like forever.

You'd think this would be the time for a romantic night together...but The Wife is exhausted (I don't blame her) and I'm pretty deeply involved in reevaluating my skill level at fostering. I came into this with maybe too high an opinion of myself. Time to get real with myself.

I guess you can't just re-enter this stuff after not doing it actively for over a decade and be great at it out the gate. Also, being the foster parent is a much different thing from being a foster sibling. Oh, it helps having watched a master at work (Mom), but it turns out watching a master and being a master aren't quite the same thing. I suppose I should have intuited that before now, but there's nothing like getting your nose busted once or twice to bring it home to you a little. Helping a blackbelt beat a guy up 12 or 13 years ago is a whole different thing from standing in front of the same guy now, up close and alone.

Oh, I'm not re-evaluating whether we should be doing this. We should be. It's the only way I can imagine to live at this point, pain in the ass or not. But I suspect my personal attitude is going to be a little less cocky going forward.

Mom told me there would be times when we'd be glad to see the back side of the kids leaving the house. I can tell you now, dearest readers, that she wasn't just whistling Dixie. I've had it with "Josie". The county won't let us do it right, and because of that, "Josie" won't let us into her space at all. So goodbye, honey, good luck, and I really, really, REALLY hope the PO follows through and sends you home. I'm truly sorry, but we can't seem to help you now.

Mom said one other thing that's a little frightening. They stopped in yesterday for a visit, and after evaluating everything that's happened, her judgement is that probably twice more before "Josie" is 18, we will get a call asking us to take her back...the first probably coming after she screws up again and goes to a group home (which the voice in my head tells me will happen inside of a few months).

Of course, we'll discuss it carefully when the time comes. And of course we'll take her back. We do, after all, love her. And we'll miss her horribly once we're done being so damned glad she's gone.


At 5:14 PM , Blogger Beth said...

Right there with you Dan! How well I know the "I love you and I really cannot stand to be in your presence at the moment" feeling!

You inspired me to share a story of when I lost it. It's on my blog. Maybe it will help you feel a little less alone.


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