Monday, January 08, 2007

Pounding Down the Home Stretch

"Jenny" has been notified that she goes home Thursday...and it shows in her behavior, at least toward The Wife.

She's always saved her especially nasty attitudes for The Wife. I'm not sure what that's about, but it was also true to a lesser degree with "Angel" and also "Josie". The Wife has always had to deal with the worst. It's tempting to believe that it's because The Wife has a friendlier and less stern look to them; the simple fact that my voice rumbles a little more and my eyebrows are heavier. Because I'm more or less a typical man and she's more or less a typical woman, there is an instinctive feeling in them that they can get by with more.

There's also the fact that The Wife has almost supernatural patience and I simply don't. Over time, they learn that they can get by with things if they stick with times when only she is around. I can only be pushed so far before it's gonna get ugly. Priveleges will be yanked sooner, voices will get louder faster, and I hold a grudge much longer. They actually have to apologize to me before it'll be all better, while The Wife tends to forgive and forget within a day. I don't know how she does it...but I'm glad she does.

We've been doing this a year now and our roles are coming clear. When it's time for good-cop-bad-cop, I'm clearly the bad cop. When she has used her patience up (as tonight), I have to step in and play a game of monopoly or something (also as tonight). She has to be careful not to let the kids walk on her too much. I have to be careful not to tread to harshly on them...because they tend to be more respectful of me, I also have the power to hurt them more with an inadvertent harsh word or even look.

I take great glee in trying to catch them in the act of doing stuff they aren't supposed to be doing. She hopes they never do those things in the first place and (I think) sort of dreads confrontation. In this, her attitude is more idealistic. Mine is more realistic. I'm also much like my Mom in this. I enjoy the confrontation, at least in part because I know it helps them to learn that confrontation can be handled without people hitting them or verbally or emotionally abusing them. Also, as in "Josie's" case, nobody has ever really confronted some of them before, and they need to get a taste of what life is going to be like once they get out of their chrysalis. Plus, let's face it, after a hard day there's nothing that blows off steam like having a good argument with a brat.

But in the ways that count--really count--we have the same approach. Love them unconditionally, even when we don't love the things they do. Even when the things they do make us want to run and hide our heads in shame or disgust. Especially then. Make them understand that even after they leave here, they're always welcome to visit as often as they like, and we will still love them when they come back. Make sure they know that if they're ever in need of a foster home again because of further problems in their family, we will take them back in if we can. The exception to this so far is "Josie" who we've decided won't be coming back permanently under almost any circumstances, but more on that in another post.

I think we're the right people in the right place, doing the right things for the right people in the right way. So far, at least.

Unless something pops up soon, we have an empty house starting Thursday. A chance to focus on finally finishing most of the basement (or at least as much as our dwindling money supply will allow). A chance to spend some time with each other and rebuild our stock of patience and burn off our stock of aggravation. Take some alone-time, relax and prepare for the inevitable call from "Vicki".

There will be visits from "Josie" and "Melanie" no doubt, and calls from other friends we've made in our new town over the last year and a half. There are surprisingly many of them.

Maybe I'll try to get out ice fishing. Maybe I'll go for a walk. Maybe I'll finally start my book. Maybe I'll go for a walk out on the lake to do some ice fishing while I start my book. Once I shake this cold, the possibilities seem pretty wide open to me right now.

On top of that, I got "in the zone" today at work, and blew through an uninterrupted 10-hour day of good, solid work that seemed like about 2 hours...just like I used to do a lot in college and early in my career while I was first learning my craft.

I love my life.


At 6:53 AM , Anonymous hope4future said...

Thinking of you today, Dan. I hope today goes well and that you enjoy your peace and quiet for a while - but not too long!


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