Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Home Alone Again

And tonight I got another reprieve from the kidz, as "Tammy" is on a home visit and the other two are with The Wife on a church youth trip to an amusement park or some such.

Tonight I'd finally like to focus a little on something more specific, and that something is "Celeste". I admit I wasn't much impressed with her at first. She struck me as a stuck-up little snot that would take some breaking before she could mend. I think I may have thought too fast.

This girl is, as Mom said so eloquently when I talked to her earlier this evening, deep. I think there's some really, really good stuff in her. Oh, she's got a defensive shield up 100% about 90% of the time, but that other 10% is really, really interesting to see. When she lets the mask slip, you can see a calm, kind, thoughtful and very, very smart person inside. Freaky smart, really. Combined with the fact that she has a more developed body than many 16- and even 18-year-olds, her intellect makes you naturally treat her as a lot older than the 12 that she is. She does still have a bit of a baby face, which keeps me from forgetting myself completely and asking if she wants a shot of gin, but she often does carry herself with a good deal of maturity.

That, I'm discovering, seems to be a very rare thing indeed in fostering. Lots of times these kids have been mistreated, or neglected, or simply exposed to too much adult activity/material/experience. Perhaps counterintuitively, that seems to arrest their development and maturation in many cases rather than make them wise beyond their years. The only way I've discovered these girls to be wise beyond their years is in knowing ALL the tricks of the trade in how to seduce boys, sneak out at night, get their way and so forth.

But there is more of that maturity in "Celeste" than the other two put together, I think, and they're both older than her. We just need to try to coax it out and provide the right kind of environment, opportunity and expectations. I think she'll be alright here. I really do.

A short note: on the flipside, "Tammy" is beginning to show a bit more immaturity than I had credited her with--but just a bit. I think most of it is that she is very, very, very much more a follower than a leader, and "Jill" is a born leader/rabble-rouser. We are providing foster care to the freakin' Pied Piper, and "Tammy" is just itching to follow her out of the village and down the road.

Note to self: pick up a set of chains for "Tammy" with the next paycheck.

All in all, this is what we envisioned when we started this mess. It's incredibly interesting, and nerve-wracking. One minute I feel like I'm on top of things, and the next minute I feel so completely out of my depth I want to either scream or go hide. But I can feel my abilities and horizons expanding, and it's fun to watch The Wife gradually get a handle on the situation and begin to assert herself with somebody. Somebody besides me.

Come to think of it, that was one of the draws in fostering for me when my parents did it: somebody else around to draw some of Mom's fire. And life goes full circle once again.

I love my life.


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