Monday, November 26, 2007

Incident Witnessed and Compared to Life

The small, tiger-striped kitten explored the house. He had lived there for awhile, but he still found wonderful things to play with everywhere he looked. The humans seemed to have an aneurysm when he climbed up on those wide ledges in by the food box and water spewer...and they didn't have much of a sense of humor about his climbing practice on the brand new funny-smelling tree in the living room, but they didn't seem to mind when he found something on the floor.

And here was a nice-smelling little piece of chocolate human-kibble on the floor. He loved these things. You could bat them with a paw and they skitter right across the whole room, and of course it must then be immediately chased and batted again before it could stop. Bat. Chase. Bat. Chase. Whew. Time to relax and consider things again.

As the kitten idly batted the piece of Count Chocula an inch here and an inch there, Willy walked in, sized up the situation, slurped up the human-kibble and then went to the watching human to collect some petting. The kitten sat where he was, puzzled as to where his toy went.

This is a little like how I've felt about the adoption thing. They tease us with possibilities, and so we chase and bat, and chase and bat. And then some other couple comes in and chomps up our piece of kibble.

Of course, it's not so much like our current befuddlement. In this case, they've known for over two weeks that the baby needs to be adopted. The baby is now a month old, and we've heard exactly zero, except that they confirmed that they received our home study when we badgered them about it. Our system is badly broken, ladies and gentlemen, and some days it feels like it's breaking my spirit right along with it.

Will we be able to adopt this child before we have to start worrying about college tuition? Stay tuned.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Interesting Possibilities

I may have mentioned before that we have a local youth group called Youth For Christ (YFC). We tend to try to funnel our kids to this organization, not because we're trying to stuff our religion down their throats (though religion would do some of them, including "Celeste", a world of good) but mostly because the guy that runs that outfit is OUT OF THIS WORLD GREAT. He has a way with kids that just won't quit. I admire that, and I envy his touch.

But in this case, it's one of the other kids that provides some interesting possibilities for friendship with "Celeste". This girl is one of the older kids in YFC, and she has a pretty special bond with the guy that runs it. She comes from a VERY broken home, and he's a sort of surrogate father to her. It's wonderful to see them together.

Tonight this girl was having a very tough time and "Celeste" and only a couple of others happened to be there this time. They all talked out her issues and "Celeste" got to be in the position to feel some empathy for someone else who was having trouble with a sucky family situation.

From the time I picked her up she couldn't stop talking about how bad this girl had it. It didn't take a genius to read between the lines of her babbling and see that she had compared this girl's problems to her own and found them equivalent, if not tilted in her favor. Someone else actually might really have it worse than her. Oh sure, those pesky foster parents have told her that several times, but what do they know? Heh. It makes a much bigger impact getting it straight from the horse's mouth.

Anyway, the girl has been on better behavior again the last few days, hence my lack of writing. She readily, if not happily, went to church AND to a special service where there was a pie social afterward. She spoke with her counselor and said she wasn't going to go to school. The counselor told her that was fine, but he would have no choice but to make sure she ended up in court over it. She decided she had had enough of court, and maybe school wasn't so bad after all.

I get the feeling that we've got her fairly well settled in now, and we just need to play good, tight goalie until she stops taking so many pot shots to test our defenses. At that point, we may have created an actual human being, with feelings and everything. Okay, maybe we will just have helped her bring out her better self, but you know what I mean.

Now if the courts will just let us have enough time for that to happen...


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Poor Attempt at a Dirt Nap

"Celeste" took it upon herself last night, when The Wife wasn't looking, to sneak into our bathroom and take a bunch of her pills. She then downed them, according to her, at around 9 last night. Of course, these pills were all-natural melatonin, but still it's pretty alarming. Lucky thing that "Celeste" is a moron, I'd say.

And it was hugely inconvenient...The Wife had to take the day off from work (she only works Thursdays at that job to begin with) and sit in the hospital while they grilled her to try to figure out if she was serious or not. Apparently they determined not, because she's back here tonight. I've decided to take a hands-off approach for this one. She'll talk to me if she wants to, but I know she's been through the wringer today and I don't feel like exacerbating anything. She's just plain been difficult lately and I'm in a funk of my own tonight. I just keep staring out the window or distractedly surfing web pages, looking for nothing in particular. I hate moods like this.

I'm not too worried about the girl, though. The pros seem to think she's alright, and I think if she had really meant it, she would have succeeded. She can be a dipstick, but she's not entirely stupid. Neither are we, which is why it would be really difficult to actually die from any of the medicines we have in the house in the quantities that we have them in. One of the downsides of providing foster care is that you don't really have the option of developing a nice bathroom pharmacy.

Whatever. I'm gonna mess around on the computer a little more and hit the rack early tonight. One more day left in the week. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Babies Are Neat Toys

"Melanie" came over today and brought her new little munchkin with her. She has announced to us that she would like us to be his godparents, which honors us greatly. What would honor me more is if she would entrust me with his football education. I asked if he could come over sunday and watch the game.

I also wanted to start showing him a good three point stance and teach him the proper way to hold for a kicker (laces out)...but my inner coach advised me that it might be better to wait until he can hold his own head up before moving on to those more advanced concepts. I settled for feeding him, attempting-but-failing to burp him, singing him "Dream On" (kids love the Oakridge Boys) and describing for him only the most basic tenets of the West Coast Offense. The difficult stuff can come later.

Did anybody besides me ever notice that babies sometimes resemble space aliens? Seriously, when a newborn is about to start crying, they sort of fold their face in half. It reminds me of the sea monsters in the Sigmund the Sea Monster series when I was a kid. And their gums sort of look like pink mouth-ridges of a type I once saw in the Star Trek bar.

And what's with this whole "watch out for his soft spot" stuff? For the uninitiated, they are, of course, speaking of the part of the skull where the bones have not yet fused his melon toghether completely. My theory is that a good brain massage would stimulate learning later in life. Strangely, "Melanie" didn't want me to test my theory on her child. Hmmm.

Anyway, we (the child and I) came to several crucial agreements that will enable us to coexist in the overwhelmingly likely scenario where I have to take care of him, probably staring this weekend ("Melanie" has pleaded with us to take him overnight this weekend so she can get some sleep...girl's not in football shape yet apparently):

1) He is in charge of spitting up. I am in charge of cleaning it up.
2) He is in charge of filling diapers. I am in charge of changing them.
3) He is in charge of eating. I am in charge of feeding both our faces.
4) He is in charge of sleeping. I am in charge of watching him sleep.
5) He does what he wants. I stay out of his way.

I suspect I may not have been in top negotiating form this evening. Doesn't matter. I'll probably have more fun than him anyway.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


I've had small irritations building up lately with "Celeste", and I made the mistake of not venting them a bit at a time. What happens when you buy a 12-pack of soda while on a long road trip, and then start drinking cans one after the other? Sooner or later, my friend, you WILL be making a pit stop. Tonight was that pit stop for me.

I was in a mildly pissy mood when I got home. I was able to be pleasant to The Wife and greeted "Celeste" and the dogs as usual, but my mind was working through some unresolved problems from work and I was a little distracted. UNTIL..."Celeste" started in on one of her patented never-ending strings of negativity. She decided she didn't like dogs anymore, even Willy. She asked The Wife what was for supper, and when she was told that it was wild rice and turkey soup and that carrots had been withheld to cater to her taste, she LOUDLY pronounced it "gross" and started to put together a sandwich. Everything that was mentioned was "stupid". Blah blah blah.

Finally I had had it, and this little irritated mood of mine rapidly blossomed into something like controlled rage. I started in on her, telling her in no uncertain terms that this was going to stop. Not just tonight, but every night for the rest of her time here. She would treat us with respect, and if she couldn't be grateful to The Wife for the incredible amount she does for her, she would at least be civil. Or she would be sorry.

And I'm not just blowing smoke here, either. No, I'm not going to hit her, or starve her, or anything like that. But I will get in her face from now on every time she cusses and every time she gets negative. She claimed loudly that she was "hardly ever" negative. Well, now I'm just going to do her the favor of pointing out every single negative thing she says. Heh. The honeymoon is over and the gloves are now officially unlaced, if not off. Mom has been saying for some time that we put up with too much from her, and it took me a little longer but I'm right with her now. Never thought I'd see myself on the same side of a parenting question as Mom, but hey, men went to the moon too, am I right?

Anyway, as the discussion progressed and I warmed up, I began to improv and branch out. I riffed on the fact that she feels compelled to write stupid crap on her clothes. I pointed out that while she may or may not be gay, bi, straight or autoerotic for all anybody knows or cares, she doesn't need to make a huge public production of it. She may feel the need to do so, but then she has to accept that with that decision comes consequences, especially when you live in a basically conservative small town. Fair? Maybe not. So what? Them's the facts. I've got Cystic Fibrosis. Not fair. Didn't do anything to deserve it. So what? Them's the facts.

She went in circles in her logic and I gleefully followed right on her tail, pointing out her inconsistencies and how she had a habit of saying something in one breath and then two breaths later directly contradicting herself. Oh, I love this stuff. I used to be a political blogger, you know, and what is political blogging if not indulging in childish gotcha games? Yeehaw.

There was a lot of back-and-forth, and I was actually fairly proud of the way I stayed controlled yet firm through most of it. I had to keep reeling her back in as she kept starting to yell and go off on tangents...and I don't know whether it was on purpose to distract from the gaping holes in her arguments or just a result of confusion from having me confront her so directly.

It doesn't really matter, of course. It was a useful exercise/example for her in how to be angry at each other and have a, uh, "spirited discussion", and then walk away from it without any particularly hard feelings.

She also said some pretty revealing things. She outright admitted, as she has other times, that she won't let anybody get close enough to her to hurt her badly. I asked her why she thought The Wife or I would hurt her, and she didn't answer. She can never answer that one. I think she knows we would never hurt her, and she's just scared. I don't blame her...I probably would be too, having the parents she's got.

The Wife had her own interjections from time to time, but a lot of it was just "Celeste" and me , um, "exchanging information". The Wife was most definitely the good cop to my bad cop this time around.

Finally I just had to repeat myself until she ran out of breath and had to hear me tell her that no matter what she did, how she felt about it, we care about her. Nothing she can do about it. She REALLY doesn't like to hear that, which is why I've said it to her several times over the months she's been here. One of these times one of us (or both) are going to break through this tough-kid exterior. I think we probably already would have made significant progress in that direction except that the social workers are dead-set on getting her back with her family. Her knowing that she could be yanked out of here at any time no matter what we do or want is probably the biggest obstacle to us getting any kind of bond with this girl. And we're so close it almost hurts sometimes.

The best part, and the reason I know she's not still too mad at me, is that awhile ago she got off the internet within 2 minutes of the first time I reminded her that her time was about up.

All your teenagers are belong to us. Mheh.

Oh, and not word on The Wife's job prospect. She felt like she had screwed the pooch on the interview, but here's the thing: she interviewed with three people (all at the same time, if I understood correctly). One of them just so happens to be a foster parent in town that we know very well, whose house we've eaten at regularly and who already knows what The Wife is like. A second one is one of the people at the school that we've had dealings with due to him working with some of our former foster kids (like "Jenny" and "Josie", I believe). He also has a pretty good feel for who she is and her history. The third was the superintendent, and I think it was this one that made her nervous.

She called after the interview and expressed to our fellow foster mom that she hadn't felt well and didn't feel she'd done her best on the interview, but was told that she thought she did fine. She also mentioned that apparently there were a couple of other interviews that didn't go so well, which bodes well for The Wife's chances. However, it sounded as though there were about 10 applicants, so there is some competition. After hearing the salary, hours, and knowing what benefits are like for government jobs, I can see why. This job could be a HUGE boost to our household income, which wouldn't make me cry.

And now, the Zulus and Spanish have joined forces and declared war on my one flank and the Russians need a hard lesson on the other flank, and I've JUST ABOUT discovered computers so I can build the Seti Program, which should get me to building my spaceship to go to Alpha Centauri in another 50 years or so.

Did I mention I'm a nut for playing Civilization II?


Monday, November 12, 2007

Lovers' Vignette

I step out of work, anxious to get home to my loving wife and my parents, who are dropping through town and will be staying for dinner. I always enjoy the show when Mom and "Celeste" lock horns. Dad is helping out with a couple of little projects in the house, and I thought he might need me to pick something up from Menard's or something. I reach for the trusty cell.

beep boop bop bep boop beep beep


The Wife: Hi, handsome.

Me: Hi, lady. Does dad need me to pick anything up from the store?

The Wife: I [BRRRRAAAAAAPPPPPP!!!!!!!]...oh. EXCUSE me.

She may have said more while I was laughing, I'm not really sure.

I love my life.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Trouble in Paradise

It was just one of those days. "Celeste" was being a pill almost the entire day. She was disturbed that we had web sites on "alternative sexuality" blocked. I believe I've mentioned that she's very adamantly in the face of everybody she knows for more than 5 minutes that she's bisexual. We feel that at 13, nobody should be much of anything sexual. What ever happened to sneaking a kiss in a private place when nobody is looking? Today, kids at 13 are trying to swing 10-year-olds over to their view of sexuality. Call me a prude if you must, but this is all just wrong.

I mean, at 13 I hadn't even had my first real kiss. Sure, I was a dork and it wasn't for lack of me wanting to, but at the same time I distinctly remember that the first time I ever really considered the real possibility of having sex, I was 16 or 17. "Celeste" is 13, and probably has more experience than I do. Not only do we need to dial that back, but we need to get her to focus on other more important aspects of life. Indulging her sexual urges is NOT the way for her to start feeling better about herself, or for her to learn how to reconcile with her family, or for her to start learning how to live as an actual adult. At this point in her life, I'd say having sex (of any kind) ranks somewhere between freebasing drain cleaner and seeing what happens when she lights her hair on fire.

So am I apologetic about stealing sources of sexual inspiration from her? No freaking way. Oh, she tries to guilt me into it by pointing out that I get to use the internet whenever I want. I usually counter that I also use the internet mostly to write, read blogs/news or to feed my admittedly sad and pathetic fantasy football addiction, and most emphatically not to visit or Okay, I made the latter one up, but the former is actually a site she likes to visit. Sigh.

Then, Sophie decided she'd had enough of my parents' cat. And she meant it. So we have crap in our tub, crap and pee on various carpets (they've all been picked up now to avoid her wrath), plus The Wife has scratches, several deep ones, on her arms. Luckily, Mom & Dad are back now and will be picking him up soon. Hopefully things will be a little saner when they go again this winter...or poor Sammy may end up locked in the downstairs bedroom to save our cats' sanity.

Speaking of The Wife, she also has a pretty important interview in the morning for a job she really, really wants, so if you could send prayers and good thoughts her way, I'm sure she'd appreciate it. She's a little nervous about taking a job since it may limit future options in fostering (we've gotten a couple of placements specifically because she was a stay-at-home mom), but to me that's letting the tail wag the dog. First priority should be doing things that make her happy and fulfilled. Second should be doing what she (and I) can to help these kids. Otherwise, she'd just burn out or feel like she was in prison. That's no way to live. So go wife!! Knock 'em dead!

Hopefully they'll offer her six figures so I can retire and spend my days fishing.

Hey, a guy can dream, right?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Saturday Morning Interlude

It's Saturday morning, and The Wife is happily asleep in her Sleep-Number bed, dialed into that perfect combination of cushiness and firmness. She's not been feeling well for a day or so, and her body welcomes the extra sleep. She's been sleeping well all night, except that she had a hard time initially falling asleep because, as is often the case, hubby was late coming to bed. Finally she just turned off the light. "Let the dirtbag stay up as long as he wants...I'm sleeping" she thinks groggily before spiraling down into her slumber.


Damn alarm. Can't they make alarm clocks that can tell when it's Saturday and just shut the hell up?


She opens one eye a slit and sees the dark mound on the other side of the bed that is her husband, and decides to wait until he climbs his way out of his dream to shut it off. It takes him a minute sometimes...


Okay, it's Saturday. She decides she shouldn't have to put up with this crap.

"Honey, shut off the alarm."

No response except a slight shift on the other side of the bed.


"Honey, WAKE UP. Shut it off."


She reaches over to give her husband-lump a shake-nudge. He needs that sometimes. Suddenly a tongue reaches out of the lump and slides along her hand. The shape shifts, she feels fur on her wrist and two eyes shine out of the dark at her. She suddenly understood why her husband wasn't shutting off the alarm.

I'm writing a lot of this out of my imagination, because I had fallen asleep in my chair in the living room and didn't get into bed until about an hour after it all happened. But Willy was right there to say good morning to The Wife the minute she woke up. Dogs are great like that.

Friday, November 09, 2007

If I Were a New Mom...

I'd probably write like this. Or at least try.

Seriously, folks, I stopped reading blogs--or at least foster/adopt/parenting blogs--very much awhile back. The depression kept creeping in over the fact that there are thousands of new babies up for adoption every week in the United States and in OVER A YEAR OF WAITING not one person out there in the entire country thinks we are an appropriate choice to love and raise a single one of them. I know that they know about us, too. You know how I know? Because we paid THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS in advertising costs. The best part is that if we don't have a hit before the middle of next September (I think), we have the choice of either giving it up or paying a pro-rated fee monthly until we either decide to give up or get a hit. Or I guess we could go to a different agency and give THEM 10 or 20 grand to give it a shot with no guarantees. Sigh.

Anyway, I just started reading my own genre again recently. There are some EXCELLENT new contenders out there. Which is good on an evening when you don't have much to say yourself.


Haven't added anything to my sidebar for a long time...I just found this blog, which appears to be pretty cool to me. Up it goes! Give it a look. They're putting all their money into a new house that needs lots of stuff they can't afford. Sounds familiar...OH YEAH. It really is a time warp, and that's us 3 1/2 years ago.

Don't worry, Susan. You'll be fine. After you've spent a bunch of money you don't have to furnish the place, work your tail off because you've got more time than money, and basically run yourself ragged for a few years, you'll be all caught up to my state of mind.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


I have observed "Celeste" in her natural habitat for some time now. I think I understand as well as most what her motivations and desires are. And my own humble opinion is that, of the things I can actually give her, cash ranks right up there.

How convenient. I have a few dollars burning a hole in my pocket. And The Wife attended parent-teacher conferences tonight, learning that while "Celeste" got Bs almost across the board (a couple of B-s and B+s in there) they feel she is certainly capable of As.

Now, I try not to push kids for better scholastic performance than they can do. If a kid just isn't more than a C student, I'm down with that...but I'm also going to torment them until they damn well get their grades up to Cs and keep them there.

I decided shortly after I met "Celeste" that she was probably a thinly-disguised A student, and now we have documentary proof that the pros agree. But how to get her to feel the need to live up to her potential? I've found that nothing works on most kids better than bribery, and with "Celeste" it's a sure thing.

She painted most of a deck for a fairly cheap MP3 player, and did a pretty passable job on most of it. I told her that if she got the grades for her core courses (Math, Science, English and Social Studies) up to As while keeping her other grades at at least Bs, she would receive $10 for each A.

True to her character, she thought about it and then grumped: "I suppose this means I have to start doing things."

Yes, "Celeste." Yes, you do. But in about 5 to 10 years, you'll understand that it's not for me, The Wife, or anybody else except for you. November Fool. You think you're doing it for me because I've got some "stupid hangup" on your grades. My hangup isn't on your grades, it's on your education. And your character. You're plenty smart, but you need work in those two areas, and if I had a better idea to get you motivated, I'd use it.

I don't. So do you take plastic?


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

It's Time

We have a lead on another adoption, and I think it's getting to be time for something to break our way. I'm starting to have doubts about our profile, our abilities as foster parents, and basically just myself in general. Yes, I know sometimes it takes time. Yes, I know I need to keep my chin up and not get discouraged. That doesn't mean I can actually do those things, though.

This one is a little girl who was born just a week or two ago, and she's actually in our state. We sent an email inquiring about her, and they had us send our home study by snail mail. Yeck. Anyway, they should have gotten that either today or tomorrow...then I guess we'll see. If any readers have any idea how these things work in MN, it would be nice if you could give us an idea of what sort of time frame we should expect in this situation. The baby is already born, and it sounds like she looks healthy so far but both parents are alcohol/drug users and who knows what sort of issues she might have when she's older. It sounds like we might be able to get an assisted adoption with it, too, which would be way cool.

Anyway, I've been talking to God a lot lately at odd the car on the way to and from work, while I'm eating lunch, while I'm sitting looking out the window in the evening. I'm trying to, as they told us in AA, get some serenity about my situation. I'm not a spring chicken by normal standards, and by the standards of CF patients I'm practically Methuselah (and my sister is probably Methuselah's mom). I have high school classmates who are grandparents. Do I get a turn here, too, or what?

The Wife needs this to happen soon, too. She's been poring over lists of baby names. It has to have a good meaning, preferably be biblical, and flow nicely with our last name and one of several middle names that she seems to have settled on for a girl or my Dad's name as the middle name for a boy. Today she called me at work to ask me what I thought about her latest brainstorm: Pocahontas. I shit you not. "We could call her 'Pokie' for short!" This needs to happen soon. Truly.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

"Melanie" Explodes

Shortly after her shower yesterday, from what I understand, "Melanie" decided to take a nap. She awoke realizing the The Time Had Come. We received a call last night that she had gone into labor and was at the hospital. We finished up our pay-per-view movie and headed out to join her.

I became extremely fatigued by around 1:30 and, as I wasn't really all that eager to be in the delivery room during the actual moment and all that, I headed home for some shuteye. The Wife stayed till the bitter end, and witnessed her explosion and resulting healthy male, 7-pound-something-or-other shrapnel.

So I guess we timed the shower pretty well, eh?

As an aside, to my surprise, the boyfriend/sperm donor was actually there last night. Lest you get the idea that he had developed some honor, I should report a direct quote I overheard while he was talking to "Melanie's" sister and cousin: "hey, I'm just here to give her moral support." Way to go, champ. I'm sure you'll make a great dad. What a punk. The Honorable Order of Men should call a special meeting and hold a vote to revoke this little moron's penis license.


Saturday, November 03, 2007

Gender Archaeology

I'm now reporting to you deep from within the normally female-only ritual known as the "baby shower". I had originally retreated to the basement to wait out the storm, but curiosity overwhelmed my better sense and I went upstairs to see what could be seen. Strangely enough, the participants did not scratch my eyes out or condemn me as an outsider, so I've stayed to see if MANkind could gain knowledge by my intrepid exploration.

The first thing I note is that this all seems very much like a birthday party, complete with cake (candle-free bars actually, but whatever), other goodies, a pile of presents and an arrangement of chairs in a circle filled with clucking hens gabbing ladies. The presents have actually been opened at this point, and they're pretty dang boring by my standards.

How can an event involving presents be fun if it's all baby stuff? A relief, perhaps, to a young father whose wife is the guest of honor. It's that much less stuff you'll have to fork over perfectly good cash for, and young fathers in their early 20s or whatever would have to be tickled about the thing.

Not me. I'd rather people just bought us a subscription to Sunday NFL Ticket, or maybe buy us a boat. But then, I don't think that's the price range we're talking about here, so whatever.

The natives here seem much friendlier than I had supposed they would be toward an interloper such as myself. They almost seem to like the fact that I showed up. Hmmm. You know, it just might be that the only reason no man has ever set foot in a baby shower is because, from a man's point of view, it's just really boring.

Interesting thought. I'll have to develop that one further...but for now I have to take advantage of my status as welcome male in an almost exclusively female setting to go back to the table and get some more cheese and crackers. Mmmmm. Cheese and crackers.

I think I'm becoming more metrosexual by the minute. If you don't hear from me in the next few days, please send rescuers in a pickup with beer, cigars and other manly stuff to save me.

Naivete: Good or Bad?

In my opinion, naivete is a very useful and desirable trait in many, many cases. If you get into a political discussion and put forth an idealistic policy proposal from either the left or the right perspective, you'll almost certainly be treated to the snide comment from your opponent: "don't be naive". This is usually delivered with rolled eyes and an optional heaving sigh.

Why is naivete such a dirty word? What's wrong with it? From

Main Entry:
or na·ïve
Inflected Form(s):
na·iv·er; na·iv·est
French naïve, feminine of naïf, from Old French, inborn, natural, from Latin nativus native
1: marked by unaffected simplicity : artless, ingenuous2 a: deficient in worldly wisdom or informed judgment; especially : credulous b: not previously subjected to experimentation or a particular experimental situation naive rats>; also : not having previously used a particular drug (as marijuana) c: not having been exposed previously to an antigen <naive T cells>3 a: self-taught, primitive b: produced by or as if by a self-taught artist <naive murals>
synonyms see natural
Depending on the situation, I guess naivete really isn't such a bad thing in most cases. When I think of naivete, I usually think of definition 1. Unaffected. Simple. Artless. Ingenuous. Yes. Not difficult to understand, not mucked up with a bunch of "sophisticated" stuff. Just straightforward attitude and behavior. This is how I like my politics. And this is essential for effective fostering. A kid who has been abused or been around other behaviors is usually not very naive. They've been around the block, often several times too many. They've also usually got finely tuned bullshit detectors and know how to spot "sophisticated" adults a mile away and usually how to defeat their sophistication as well.

An adult (or even sometimes a kid) that is or acts truly naive, though, usually presents more of a challenge for them. At first, their reaction is probably going to be one more of scorn, much like any political proposal presented to a conservative that is touted as being "for the children" or "for the poor". But most of these kids are smart. They may put up a scornful front, but they'll analyze the adult in their own good time and come to a private conclusion, just like a canny politician. If an adult (or a policy proposal) seems to have good underlying merit, often that initial scorn will replaced with wary acceptance on a trial basis.

And that's what we're after in fostering, isn't it? If you can just pry up the edge of that armor, it's a chance to prove that no, you are not in fact going to stick a shiv into his/her guts as soon as you get the chance. You're different than many of the other adults they've had to deal with in their lives, and you honestly, truly want to help them however you can.

Me personally? I'm more likely to scorn people who are desperate to prove that meaning 2b doesn't apply to them. They don't want to be "deficient in worldly wisdom". Well, worldly wisdom is highly overrated, if you ask me. In my view, "worldly wisdom" is one of the primary reasons there is even a foster system to begin with. Give me meaning 1 any day.

I have an aunt who comes off (at least to me) as one of the most naive people I know. She's lived in the same tiny town her whole life, doesn't get out much, to my knowledge hasn't traveled much, and her concerns are almost exclusively related to her family's, her community's and her own well-being. She is a favorite of all of our mutual acquaintances. I, who have traveled all over the US on business and pleasure and lived in The Big City for years, am not necessarily one of their favorites.

I think she's on to least as far as personal happiness and genuine popularity are concerned. And really, when all the artifice and affectation is stripped away, aren't personal happiness and genuine popularity for who you really are at your core a couple of really great things?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Another Submission

Okay, I recently had a story accepted for publication in a new regional magazine, which is cool. Of course...when somebody encourages behavior that behavior is likely to be repeated. I've submitted the following to the same editor. She had commented that she was looking for shorter stories, so I tried to crop this one a bit:

A little over a year go I had to have my best friend Beau put to sleep. He was a monstrous hound tipping the scale at 160+ pounds in his prime, and had a wonderful coat the color of a deer. I miss him terribly, but there were things I don't miss so the fact that he was occasionally dumber than dirt.

The day I brought Beau home it was a bit of a surprise even to me. I had decided I wanted a big dog--perhaps something like a Great Dane--and called a few animal shelters to see what they had. One said they had a very big boy that might be a Great Dane cross, but they weren't really certain. Good. I like surprises.

I fell in love with "Rex" instantly, and after a short walk and get-acquainted session I announced to my wife that this would be my dog. Being as soft in the head as I am about these things herself, she didn't bat an eye. "Rex" became "Beauregard" as he jumped into the car, and home we went.

Upon arriving home, my wife stayed in the garage with our new friend to straighten some things up while I went outside to help my father-in-law, who was doing something in the yard. Suddenly we heard a remarkably loud scream, followed by what sounded like something crashing in the garage. I ran to see what was the matter. Suddenly the walk-in garage door was forcefully pushed open and out slunk a lumbering--and very guilty-looking--Beau. He stepped across the yard to the fence, where he turned around and sat, apparently immediately forgetting whatever had happened as he broke into a huge, dopey doggie grin..

I noticed that he had something black or brown all over his feet and on one flank. I turned to the garage again. There stood my wife, covered in oil. I should admit at this point that I change the oil in the cars myself, and sometimes I forget to empty the oil pan into a jug. Beau had walked by the pan, seen 4 quarts of oil sitting there, and for reasons known only to him it made sense to grab the pan in his teeth and fling it in the air. It hit my wife and then the wall, dousing both in oil. Maybe he was celebrating his new home.

A dog nearly died at the hands of a crazed woman that day, but I'm happy to report that he eventually found redemption through being the best dog anybody could hope to know, and spent the rest of his life proving that his first day with us was simply a bad first impression.

It's a great story (I think the long form is better, but requirements are what they are). The fact that it's true: frosting on the cake. The fact that the wife mentioned in the story is my ex: priceless.

Quick "Celeste" update: she went on a "date" Halloween night. So of course, now she has a boyfriend. It's a pity, really. She has the kid's poor dad thinking she's a really, really great girl. Which, of course she is...but not at all the kind of great girl--or at least not in the ways--that he thinks. She has ascertained that the boy is a virgin, and I'm pretty sure she's got her cap set to do something about that.

Now I'm just wondering if I should be warning the Dad. Probably so...but it's just so weird. Usually you're worried that the BOY will seduce the GIRL. Or does that make me a sexist? Probably. So what? So I care about the girl and her effect on the boys she sees, and I'm a little shocked and dismayed that she's promiscuous to the point where even gender isn't a barrier (I worry about her being with girls too, for good reasons). Sue me, call me old fashioned, whatever. Just don't cut off my spaghetti and football on Sundays.

"Melanie" is pretty huge with child these days, and is due any time. We took her to town tonight and bought her dinner and The Wife took her shopping. I think she has adopted The Wife as a semi-official mother/big sister figure, and that seems good to me because she needs somebody like that. It will be hard enough being a mother at her age without a husband or even involved boyfriend, much less doing it completely alone.

Oh, and I'm banished to the basement with Sammy, my parents' cat (they are in Arizona for 2 weeks and he's staying with us) tomorrow. The Wife has organized a baby shower for "Melanie" upstairs, and I don't want to get messed over into all that girly stuff. I may have to go find some guys and smoke some cigars or do some other macho stuff later just to get it off me. How does anybody around here expect me to be a proper cave-dwelling Neanderthal with all this frilly crap happening? Argh.

I love my life.


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