Tonight, I see. I experienced.
It lasted less than 10 minutes. It felt like an eternity.
Blue Eye’s eyes went grey.
It’s been just over three weeks, and I’ve been waiting for an explosion to know if I could handle one or not. I could handle this one. I pray they are not going to get increasingly worse, though I expect they might.
I don’t know how those who don’t have faith in God can do this. Can I be real? Like, for realz? I was scared. If I didn’t believe in God, I would have been frozen. Prayer got me through this. No joke.
Blue Eyes had an awesome, incredible, very good day at school. He came home and worked on a project for 2 hours straight, interrupted only for dinner, quite a feat for him. His concentration and patience were wearing thin, and he began to get frustrated when he realized he could not finish the project before bed. A raised voice, “But it’s MINE”. I explained he was frustrated and needed to set it down for a moment. “But it’s MINE!” Bummer. I need you to go to your room.
Yelling. Faux crying. What a show. 5-minute timer starts when it’s quiet.
Quiet. Timer beeps. He walks out. I turn, startled. There was The Look. It was all over him. His face, his body. Chin to chest, eyes glaring up, arms crossed, daring me to say something, daring me to speak. It stopped me cold. Only for a split second. I recover.
Cheerily, sing song-y, “Go brush your tee-eeth!” Glaring. Staring. I feel the blood rush through my body, feeling the fight or flight response coursing through my veins. Happily, “Honey, is there something else I can do for you?” Smiling, “What is it, would you like to talk to me? I will gladly listen.”
Stomping, a kick to a heavy bookcase. “That looked like it hurt. Bummer.”
Stomping to bedroom, door slamming, locked. The door has a lock?! How could I have lived here for 18 months and never noticed that?
I pick up the abandoned project at the kitchen table, putting it away in its box.
Stomping back out. Tearful, “Just give it away, give it to some other kid. Give it away, give it away, I don’t care, just do it, give it away.” I am watching my back, I feel I could be hit at any moment. I don’t respond to his ramblings. I watch carefully as I turn my body to pick up the pieces. “Lord,” I pray outloud calmly, reassuringly, ”I thank you that You are a good God, and you are in control. Father, I thank you for your love. Thank you Jesus, for your blood. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Lord.”
“GIVE IT AWAY!!! I DON’T CARE! GIVE IT AWAY, TAKE IT AWAY, I. DON’T. CARE!!!”
Slowly, calmly, making no sudden moves, I walk to his bedroom. I reach blindly for random toys, whatever is close to my hands, because I can’t see straight, I can’t think straight. I grab his piggy bank along with whatever is nearby and put it in the puzzle box I have in my hand. “JUST GREAT! JUST FRIGGIN’ GREAT. GIVE IT ALL AWAY, I DON’T CARE!” I walk slowly toward the side door of the house, unsure what to do with the booty I just stole.
Blue Eyes has two big boxes that are his most treasured possessions. More so than even his DS, which he loves because of the status (big kid status, don’chaknow?) but doesn’t really understand how to use it. He knows how to use boxes, feels safe in them. He likes to hide in them and watch tv.
He runs back to his room, maniacally screaming, “YOU CAN’T TAKE MY BOXES AWAY!! THEY’RE MINE!! AAAAAH HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!” Door slammed again. Locked again.
Boxes inside. Dang.
Ten seconds. Door opens. Blue Eye’s yelling ensues. I continue to praise God quietly. It’s the only think I can do when my adrenaline starts to flow like this, when I sense danger, real or perceived.
He throws himself on his bed, crying. It’s over. Blue Eyes is back. Where did he go?
Sobbing, “Please don’t send me away.”
My heart breaks. “No, sweetheart, you have a lot of big feelings. We will talk more another time. Tonight, you are safe, you are loved, and you are not going anywhere.”
I rock him, this husky, heavy nine year old, on my lap, back and forth. I kiss his forehead. Tell him he is loved and safe. He hugs my arms and tells me he doesn’t want to leave, doesn’t even want to go to school tomorrow. Wants to be with me all day.
He is a toddler again. The breaking away, the coming back, the fits of rage, and the release of a cry. He is a giant, nine year old, toddler.
I tell him I will be here when he gets off the bus tomorrow. I will be here all night. He relaxes. For the first time since the night he arrived, he asks for his door to be open. All night long, he makes clear to me.
He eventually sleeps.
Husband, who was at work, thinks I am too easy on him. Thinks I need to stand my ground, make him obey. I think, I don’t want to get into a pissing match with an aggresive traumatized child. My number one goal is to get him back into a relaxed state of mind, not an anxious, hyper-aroused state of mind. If that means staying calm and delaying consequences for an angry outburst, so be it.
Where was Blue Eyes?
Now,I go read my Bible. And then I, too, shall sleep.
There is something so routine, so culturally engrained in me, that I didn’t recognize it as anything special at all, until I did it twice this week. I put Blue Eyes on the bus. It’s an awesome feeling.
We have an hour together in the morning before the bus comes. He bathes, of course, and immediately gets dressed and has breakfast, ready for the day to begin. It’s such a joyful, peaceful time. And both days he has given me a hug and a kiss before boarding, waving happily to me from inside the warm bus, content to be going to school. I love it. Such a small act in the morning is surprisingly and deeply fulfilling to me.
Maybe those parents whose kids are younger, who just started riding the bus, can relate more with what I’m saying than those with teenagers who drag their feet, or parents with kids who fight every instruction, each step of the way. This is a new experience for me. I have never put my children on a school bus. My niece and nephew were far too young for school when they lived with us. Our next placements were with us over the summer and moved in with their grandmother before school began. The following placement came the first week of school, but I had a job in a neighboring district, and so I dropped him off and picked him up from daycare. I never got him on or off the bus myself.
I don’t know how long I will be able to do this for. Blue Eyes only goes to school for 6 hours a day, and before he came I was working 9 hour days. We just came back from vacation this week, and I have not had time to speak to my supervisor about how my schedule will be changing. The best solution I can come up with is to ask for part-time FMLA leave. Employers are not federally mandated to allow for a part time schedule, the law says either full time or no time unless the employer is willing to make concessions. My supervisor and the HR dept of the organization are flexible, I’m hoping they’ll go for it. If not, I will have to work an extra few hours on the weekend. That would be alright, I guess, but it takes me away from my family during the precious few hours we get together on Saturday and Sunday.
I keep holding out hope that my husband will be able to quit (or will be let go, that would be fine, too!) from his second shift job. If he is, that means he will be able to work solely on our business from home, AND get Blue Eyes on and/or off the bus. I hold all the health and dental insurance through my job, so I really cant leave. This arrangement would be ideal. Please, Lord, let something shift. Please Lord, let him not go another month at this job. It doesn’t have to work out just the way I’ve planned, you know all and have the wisdom to execute it. I pray it is good and that it comes quickly…
Blue Eyes needs a lot of attention, a lot of healing. His stipend is supposed to be large enough to allow one parent to stay home. It’s not, at least not for us and our current budget. If our business begins to grow, even just a little bit, I think we might be able to swing Husband working from home. Of course, I would rather be the one to stay home, but with my awesome job and benefits, I don’t think that will happen. I will only leave if I know that God is calling me to do so. Otherwise, I am staying put.
I don’t know how much longer I will be able to put Blue Eyes on the bus in the morning. It may soon become Husband’s responsibility. I’ll just enjoy every moment while I can.
Blue Eyes loves baths. He asks me three times a day if he can take one. I’ve limited him to twice- once in the morning and once at night. The control freak in me says once a day is enough. He doesn’t get that dirty. It’s pouring money down the drain- hot water ain’t free. It’s winter, his skin is going to dry out. I’m worried about the toll it’s going to take on our well, between the extra loads (I mean LOADS) of laundry and dishes, and now baths. He wets the bed most mornings anyway, so we should just make it a rule he has to bathe in the morning instead of at night.
But then I remember, his other foster family didn’t have a tub, only a shower stall. I remember how happy he was at the beach this summer- the only time I saw his eyes smile. He loves sitting quietly in the bath water. He doesn’t splash or make a mess. He ardently cleans the bathroom afterwards. And it helps him to relax and enjoy his daily routines. He looks forward to his baths.
Two baths a day it is.
Blue Eyes’ GAL came to visit us on New Years. She is one of the few people from the beginning of the case that is still in his life. She confided to me that she would adopt Blue Eyes herself, but she believes herself too old. I can see why. I don’t know her age, but she has a bit of difficulty getting around, and has obviously been a smoker for most of her life. I pray her health holds out long enough at least to see the end of this case through.
We had a nice visit, but she mentioned something that has been nagging at me since she said it. She talked to me about Blue Eyes’ adoptive parents that fell through. It came up when I said I heard the county is pretty open about sharing relevant information with foster parents and that I would like to request to see his file. She told me I didn’t want to do that. And she blamed the open information culture of the county on his failed adoption. She said she believed that the parents backed off when they got a taste of what they read, and they shouldn’t have had access to that information until they were closer to adoption. If they hadn’t already read the case, they would have felt more secure in just parenting him instead if being intimidated by his history of outbursts, and they could read his history as they grew closer together.
I disagree completely. I certainly agree that on paper, Blue Eyes is scary. His many diagnoses, behavior history and two hospitalizations in his short life look overwhelming. But to blame a disruption on the parents having too much information? I find that a hard pill to swallow. I’m sure there were a number of factors involved, not just the background knowledge. And whatever is in that file, she does not want me to read.
Sharing her thoughts with me on that had the opposite effect of what she intended. Instead of allowing me to rest comfortably in thinking I know all pertinent facts on this case, I now am consumed with finding out what is in the file. And honestly, I am not sure I want to know. Will I be intimidated, just like the others? What is it in the file that is so worrisome, more so than what I already know? Will it make me second guess everything I’m doing with him? Is he a psychopath? A sociopath? Is he going to start hoarding weapons, making shanks out of pens? Attack me while I sleep?
I need to stop here and say I have seen ZERO indication of any of the above. I have not seen a preoccupation with weapons, death, or pain. I have seen a little boy who loves to cuddle, especially with animals. Do I need to prepare myself for the coming shift? Someone, removed from the case only by a degree, but still an involved professional, once brought up DID as a possible diagnosis for him. She is not his caseworker, not a doctor, but she has raised 12 adopted children and many foster children. And so for her to mention something like that makes me wonder, when his behavior is so bad, really bad, IS he disassociating? And will I be able to handle IT, whatever IT is, when IT happens? The county thinks so, but I honestly have my doubts. I need to find it what is in that file.
But first, I need to get myself calm. Under control.
I think I’ll go take a bath.