Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Focus on "Josie" (again)

With "Angel" now out of the picture, I find myself considering "Josie's" situation a little more carefully. I find that really, our recommendations are still being largely ignored. She's still being pushed back into the home that created her problems, though I'll admit the push seems somewhat more measured and hesitant. I'll call that a victory for now.

Today she was to be at her grandma's for awhile, after which she would meet her friend when her friend got off work and she would be with her until her mom got off work. After that, she was to spend the remainder of the day and overnight with her mom. This is every Tuesday...it's supposed to be a "therapeutic" family reunification exercise. This would be made easier if her mom didn't leave her at home and go to the bar, but facts don't seem to enter in to the equation. Sigh.

So I got a call just before lunch and it was "Josie" telling me her grandma had a dental appointment and did I want to spend my lunch with her before she met her friend (who works in the building next to mine)? Sure, I said. That sounds like fun. And it did. And it was.

She had already eaten, so I grabbed a couple of tacos and a bottle of soda and we headed for the park. I've discovered that the park on the lake south of town is a glorious place to eat my lunch on nice days. It's even nicer when you spend the time with a girl developing a deeper relationship with her.

I don't know if I'm a father figure to her or not. Sometimes it seems like it, but other times it seems more of a big brother or really good family friend sort of thing. I know she trusts me more than other men in her life, and that feels good. She has developed a gentle manner with me that makes me know she's fond of me, and she has become sort of anxious to please me. I'm anxious to please her too when I can...that is when she's not being a normal sulky 15-year-old girl.

But our relationship is slowly starting to really blossom, and there are really, really good things happening there. We had a great talk at lunch about her readiness to go home. She admitted (not in so many words) that she didn't really feel ready to go home, and absolutely didn't feel ready to go home full time. This is something she doesn't tell her counsellors and she should, but I don't think she trusts them.

I cussed her for always coming home wrecked after being at her mom's place overnight. She's always very tired, sometimes has rings under her eyes, and is generally pretty sour to be around for a day or so. I told her I understand that her mom isn't being fair or even sane, but that she has to for her own sake.

I harped on her to remember her meds and get some fercripesake sleep tonight. We'll see if she does.

While we were in the park, she dragged me over to a little raised gazebo thing that she wanted me to sit in with her and look at the lake. She said how she used to come there and sit by herself a lot when she was younger. She started to talk about how the town was shrinking, about how she wasn't sure about what she wanted to do after high school, and some other very interesting things. I was almost holding my breath, because these were EXACTLY the thoughts of hers that I've been wanting to hear for a long time. When she would pause I would simply look at her and nod, and she would keep talking.

I'm really, really getting to know her, and it's really, really good. She's no angel...her family situation has forced her to grow far beyond her years in some areas. But there's still a surprisingly large part of her that's still 15 or younger and yearning for parents to talk to and give her a little guidance.

She is apparently considered to be one of the more difficult placements in the whole area by some, and she was when she got here...but she's warmed to us an incredible amount and I have to say the feeling is mutual.

When I asked her what she would think if they sent her home again, she said she'd hate it, and she'd come visit us as much as she could and stay with us sometimes if it was possible. Now that's definitely a question for the social workers as to whether that's a good idea, but it makes me very happy that she would want to spend time with us. Very happy indeed.

There are deep scars on The Wife and I from the "Angel" experience that we'll need a little time to heal, but "Josie" is like a salve on the wound.

Right now we need her almost as much as she needs us, I think. I love that girl.


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