Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Such an easy read... the dwarf, not the blog

So there are times when my mom gut instinct is "spot on".  Most times it involves our adopted dwarfs and their "squirrel-ish"  behaviors.  When they drop off the radar, there is always a trigger, and when they are in need it is always significant.  They read like a cheap dime store novel, you always, sadly figure out the end of the story in the first several chapters.

Each of my dwarfs start and end chapters in their life just like the rest of us mere mortals. The difference is because of their impairments, watching their stories unfold is somewhat like a train wreck, it is hard to tear your eyes away and you always, always despite your deepest hopes and desires as a parent, watch them muck it up over and over again.  Mental illness is a horrible and debilitating disease for the sufferers and their families.

The dwarf today that I am shaking my head in absolute fascination over is Grumpy. He can't, or won't, or is unable to make a good choice. I have had the distinction of being his mother for 14 years, and nothing is changing for the good, only getting worse now that he has no care or accountability in his life.

Many of you may have heard that Grumpy was involved in a "hit and run" accident a little over two months ago.  He was struck, we were initially lead to believe, by a vehicle while he was walking in a crosswalk, coming home from work at about 4PM in the afternoon.  A hit and run.  In his mind, he was the victim, and the story that he weaved to us and the emergency room employees, was to say the least, consistent, and compelling and evoked empathy and even some sympathy.  The Prince and I considered all things, caught the inconsistencies that others missed, and knew that the verdict would be out until we had the official police report.  Needless to say he is a pathological liar.  Nothing about the story was true, except that yes he was struck full on by a moving vehicle at 4PM on a clear afternoon.

Grumpy lost two front teeth.  His body was battered, and road rash covered his face, head and left side of his body, his foot and big toe on his right foot were broken.  While he has recovered fully from the road rash, and broken body parts, what was discovered in that emergency room visit was his serious and remarkable thyroid problem, Graves Disease.

I am not a doctor, so what exactly these stats mean, is foreign to me, but seemed to be a large enough concern for his nurse to make him aware that he must take medication daily and be under a doctors care.  His heart rate at the time of the accident was 220 beats per minute, his resting that day after they stabilized him, 160 beats per minute.   This disease caused him to among other things, have the shakes, the crazy eyes, shortness of breath,  hallucinations, and disillusions.  When he dashed across three lanes of traffic to get hit in the fourth and final lane (eventually he claimed) he was running away from the bus stop because he thought someone was chasing him.

While Grumpy has had a rough go of it, homeless for almost two years and in and out of facilities, he had somewhat settled in a program that offered him a second chance.  A room in a home, food stamps, rent free, with a case worker to help him with life's issues.  While this is not his first program, nor are we foolish enough to think it will be his last, we were somewhat hopeful that after being struck by a motor vehicle, something would start clicking for the dwarf.

From the time of the accident until two weeks ago, Grumpy was heavily dependent on us for care from everything to showers and bandage changes, to grocery and med pick ups and transportation to and from appointments.  Because of the missing front teeth and loose teeth, he also requested soft foods, so we bought groceries and occasionally, when the Prince was headed over,  I made mashed potatoes as a treat.

While he was "incapacitated" he desired to read books, do word search puzzles, and write letters to his siblings and his old friends.  In said letters he encouraged everyone to do the right things, listen to authority and to obey the rules, so that they do not end up like him!  Most excellent most would say.  However, when the rubber meets the road and the healing began, the red flags started flying!

First, he stopped calling every day.  Why you may ask?  My guess was two fold.  He was feeling better and was going out of the house more, and some how managed to get his hands on technology.  Some devise with wifi.  Which as soon as he has access to social media, he starts living life untethered.  As a matter of fact, the day that I told the Prince that Grumpy was up to no good, I heard through the grapevine on snapchat he was attempting to buy a gun... shocking no, but if you think you're a thug, absolutely appropriate, I guess... I mean don't all thugs buy their guns off snapchat?

Second, while not much more than another week of extended silence... it was still silence. When the Prince "pops" in after work one night to check on his groceries and meds, he is a) not home, and b) his room shows all indications of having a house guest.  This is how and why he was removed from the program the last time!  There is a very strict policy about house guests, while they can visit in the day light hours they may not, any under circumstances, stay in the group home over night.

The Prince reminds Grumpy that this is how he got kicked out of the program the last time.  He also reminds him that the program will not give him a third chance, so get this kid and his stuff out of the house now, OR, you forfeit all that your mother and I are currently doing to help you.  Grumpy says that he will immediately have his friend leave, he just was trying to help out this homeless "friend"  and that he is really sorry.

More silence.  A red flag to us that he did not do as he has been instructed, and is now putting not only his position in the program at risk, but putting the other men that live there and follow the rules in a tight spot. 

Yesterday, I pick him up for an appointment for a thyroid check.  Their first option in treating the Graves Disease is with medications and regular monitoring.   When we arrive, we find out I have the wrong day.  (it doesn't happen often, but sometimes I get confused... )   As we are leaving the doctors in record time I might add,  Grumpy sees a side table in the back of my truck and asks if that is for him.  I said, yes, that I picked it up at the Goodwill so he could put his bed side lamp on top of it instead of the cardboard boxes he was currently using.   As we make the trek back to the halfway house, he says he has something to tell me.  He has a friend staying at the house.  I look at him, and shake my head.  In no uncertain terms I again, lay out for him what the Prince said to him, he needs to go!  Under no circumstances  can that "friend" be staying in his house, room, garage etc.   Grumpy says that he feels bad and that he just wants to help him out.  He feels like he wants to give back to someone else (oh how liars lie).  I tell him, he is helping no one including himself.  If he wants to give back to others, get himself situated and then do what he feels led to do when he has his own funds, home etc.  Grumpy agrees that the friend has to go.  I remind him that he was removed from the program before because of this, and if he looses his placement again, he also looses our current supports.  Choose wisely...

Today, the correct day for the doctors appointment, I show up at the halfway house and the driveway has a car in it.  Not like a cool car... a mini van.  Clue one for me... an adult in charge is on location.  One of the roommates is on the front porch drinking coffee, avoiding eye contact with me. Clue two, as this gent is usually super chatty.   I enter the house and there stands his new case worker and her supervisor.   Grumpy is mad, flying around like a hornet, spouting lies about what is going on, as they are calming explaining to me that the "friend" was found in the house this am by them, and that Grumpy is being evicted.  Just so we are clear, the day before, he assured me that the "friend" was out. (Insert eye roll here and the reminder that pathological liars will tell you whatever they think you want to hear.)

As he was creating a verbal mess to contend with, I told him to shut up and get in the truck.  I took a moment to speak to the case workers.  Found out the situation by asking a few pointed questions, thanked them for their time and left.

We went to the appointment.  He tried to talk to me about the situation and what were we going to do?  First of all we? I don't think so... but I hold all my words in!   I told him this was not a conversation we were having while we were at the doctors.  During the appointment, it became obvious that while initial treatments from month one were working well, as Grumpy was taking his meds regularly, and we were checking in regularly, this last month that he has been off the grid,  he has also not regularly taken his medications.  His blood levels were elevated, and his symptoms are starting to partially return.

This doctor (God bless Him!) is more than aware of Grumpy's situation and we have all indicated that we are in this, as long as Grumpy does what he needs to do.  If Grumpy jumps the rails, he looses the significant assistance (financially) this doctor is providing and without medication will return to the previous issues sufferers from Graves Disease struggle with.

Now because it has been over 40 minutes in the office (of which I have the pleasure of paying for) and Grumpy has been stewing in the error of his ways and his eviction, when we get to the truck, he is dying to talk this out.  I think the Prince would be proud of me... without emotion, without raising my voice, I clearly told him to shut up and listen to me.

This was a mess that he created, and chose to keep allowing to happen, even though his father and I advised him against it, and more importantly is against the rules of the program.   That all of his life he has been a follower, not a leader, and that this behavior will lead him down the road of destruction if he continues to follow those only interested in using him for their own gain.   ( Insert a small chuckle here... oh the irony...Grumpy is in a halfway house with nothing to his name that is actually his, and is being used by a homeless friend for free shelter and food.)

My advise, I tell him is that after I drop him at the house, he should clear all his "friends" belonging out of the house and put them in front of the garage, and call him to pick them up. Tell him not to come back.  Never let him back in the house, and if he comes back on the property,  call the police or his case worker.  After he does that, he should call his case worker and apologize for breaking the program rules, ask for forgiveness and beg for them to help him find a new and suitable housing arrangement.  Here is the sad situation.  He can not, currently be successful,  on his own in a minimum accountability situation.  He needs a placement where he has no technology, has assistance in making and keeping appointments, has transportation available to him, is given his medication at the appointed times, is fed three hots a day, and can continue learning life skills. 

Oh,  and get a freaking job!!! Because by the way, back to the "hit and run", coming home from work... nope... all a lie. He told us he called his boss, and his boss told him to get better and call in a week or so to let him know how he was feeling, and that they would hold his job for him.  He even produced a work shirt!!  Truth,  he had worked for a week with a landscaper and the landscaper was paying him cash.  When his boss told him that he had to get a bank account, so that they could direct deposit his check, Grumpy told them no thanks, he was not getting a bank account, and walked of the job.... The only job he has had since Jan of 2017.

Today, as he started to sputter and wanted to tell me his side of the story, I told him to not say another word.  We are past talking.  I told him that today, he has a choice to make.  All this mess is because he has been making a series of poor choices.  At the end of the day, this is his life.  He can follow my counsel and trust that I may know a bit about life or he can continue to do what he has been doing for the last two plus years. Muck it the heck up... but the choice is his.   I told him to weigh the options.  He has 15 days to figure this out, without our help.  He knows right from wrong and continues to choose poorly.

When we arrived back at his house, I handed him his appointment cards for the next round of doctor visits and blood draws, gave him the adjustments to his medication, reinforcing the warning from the doctor that he had to take these meds regularly, and told him not to forget to pick up his medications tomorrow... I hugged his neck, told him I loved him.   I backed out of the driveway,  a little sad, as I know already, how this chapter will end.

You really can not make this stuff up...

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

"Officer, really, can you please take ME!"

I tell you, when I started having children, and even when I adopted, never did I think that my conversations in my own home would involve police officers.  Unless of course, one of my darling seven dwarfs grew up and became one, or married one.

I have had the sheriff at my house a bit more than I would like to recount, as well as children and youth and a visit from the agency that protects special needs adults.  Why you ask?  Because I am raising RAD kids.  Kids that as they "matured" into adults, figured out that they had this amazing "power" to report the abuse that they endure in our home to the authorities. 

So for this particular visit yesterday, I am sure that the dwarf who made the phone call thought that  I would be satisfyingly hauled off in the paddy wagon to the jailhouse to pay for the great travesty of  asking him to stop doing his chores halfway.

On a personal note, I find that it is very hard to live in a home, and parent a dwarf, where you never know what phrase, word or situation is going to set them off.  In particular, this dwarf has a very bad habit (especially when the Prince is out of town) of refusing to do that things that he knows he ought to do (like chores and taking his meds or cleaning up after himself)

I have not blogged much recently because, life is a series of situations like this.  Until yesterday I felt like no one would "get it" or that no one would want to hear the serious side of the not so cute anymore, adult-ish people that reside in my home.  Perhaps, however that when I have time, and there is a situation like this one I that I can retell with humor, it would be beneficial for another to read, if for no other reason than to know that they are not alone.  Raising mental health special needs kids is hard, and it has that ability to isolate you from "normal people" with normal kid and family issues. So if you are reading this, and understand, because you live it first hand.  You are not alone!

This story actually starts on Monday.  I had to work outside the kingdom, a longer shift than normal.  Dopey picked up Bashful from school, and brought him home for me.  I had no contact with the dwarfs while I was at work, but it was apparent when I got home that night that one of the dwarf's did not do anything at all. Meaning his things from school were dropped on the table and floor of the kitchen, and his chores not done.

He woke up Tuesday morning edgy, because he knew he had been a slacker the day before for no good reason, so while he was searching for his shoes (insert eye roll here, if you took them off and put them away they would be where they are supposed to be.) I said, "they are in the upstairs bathroom, and while you are up there, since you did not clean it last night, please bring the towels down to the laundry room.  Instead of a "hey thanks mom", his head swiveled as if he were possessed and he growled out, " I am not going to f-ing clean the bathroom because Happy doesn't. Those towels are not mine I wasn't even home all weekend.  Happy was supposed to clean it Friday, and did not, so I am not!"

What?!  Wait a minute.  I offhandedly replied (sort of like a mumble to myself) "If you boys do not clean the newly and (a bit expensively) remodeled bathroom, then you can shower outside." 

Bashful, who never hears me when I speak clearly and directly to him, manages to hear me mumble and then began a tirade of curse words and rants explaining to me that I can't make him do that and that the Prince wouldn't make him do that. Finishing out the tirade about how he is not bringing the towels down, and that if the Prince was home, he would not have asked him to do anything this morning.

Of which, I told Bashful, he was absolutely right!  If the Prince was home, this would not be a conversation that they would be having in the morning because the Prince would have made Bashful not only bring the towels down, but start the laundry, scrub the toilet, clean the sink and mirror, remove the trash and sweep the floor; last night!!  The day that it was Bashful's day to clean the bathroom!!

This is the greatest way to start the morning, says no one ever.  I finally,  loosing what bit of half a cup of coffee, tolerance for nonsense I have, and tell him to shut his mouth and get in the truck.   By the time I refill my coffee cup and get to the truck, like a switch, now he wants to be my BFF.  Can you say personality disorder...yikes.

The day proceeds (and no I did not get the towels and bring them to the laundry, because my towels in my bathroom are clean and fresh!) eventually I have to return to the school to pick Bashful up at the end of the day.  The dwarf jumps in, and picks up where we left off with conversation and tales of the day.

Because he is still aware that Monday he did nothing; and that I am on to him, and because he was a jerk in the morning, (of which he will never apologize for because in his mind he is right) after he enters that house and has a snack, he sets about doing his chores for the day.

Now you would think, oh never mind, that is why I have these situations, he doesn't and never will think like me!  He pulls out the vacuum for his "vacuum the steps and upstairs landing" chore.

I am working in the room adjacent to the staircase so I am very aware of what and how long it takes him to vacuum.  He plugs the vacuum in beside me, runs it across the first step and then walks the vacuum to the landing and makes a few passes around that area.  He then turns off the vacuum, comes downstairs and unplugs the vacuum from the plug beside me. 

I turn from what I am doing and say, leave the vacuum, I will sweep the stairs since you did not.  My voice is level, no anger, no frustration, just simply state, " leave the vacuum, I will do the stairs". After stating that he was not done with the chore, (then why were you unplugging the vacuum) he proceeds to loose his mind.  His words follow in no kind of order, escalating and of course where appropriate if you are a cursing person, (insert any curse words you would like into the dialogue), says the following sorts of things.

"If you want me to leave, then I will".  (Not what I said, I said,  "leave the vacuum.") " I don't know why you never get on anyone else about their chores."  (Sure, let me yell at Happy since Monday while I was at work he did his chores and mine, and because he knew I was sick, came and picked me up at work on his scooter so I did not have to walk home. )  "It would be better for everyone if I left."  (Says who? While I won't lie, I think that, in times like this, I do not ever say it to his face.)

I then text the Prince and say "CALL HOME NOW!" thinking that he can be the voice of reason in this situation because I am about to loose my marbles.  At one point I even said, "look Bashful, go to your room.  I will leave.  I seem to be the trigger for you, so give me a minute and I will go."

To which his response was (keep the cursing coming) "that is stupid. That because I live here and pay the bills and he does not pay for anything he should be the one to pack his stuff and leave. "

Let me say at this point I am like, "no please let me help you pack", but again that is just my inner dialogue.  (Gosh how do you get credit for all the stuff that goes through your mind that you do not say...please someone tell me how!)

The Prince calls at that moment, so I hand the phone over to Bashful, which just proceeds to make him angrier.  Hard for me to imagine, but I saw it with my own eyes.   I am still working and Bashful abruptly stops talking and hands me the phone.  The Prince says, "Hang up and call 911."

So I hang up and Bashful asks what his dad had said to me.  I tell him, and he again starts verbally attacking (insert your curse words here) peppered into phrases like this:  " I'm leaving, you can't stop me." You are such a puss because you actually listen to what he says."  What are you waiting for, are you afraid to call the police because they might arrest you?"

Now, I have reached about the end of my self, and I am not proud of it, but reached out and punched him. (in the arm; and again I'd like credit for not dropping him to the ground and pummeling him)  I was hopeful that a change in the situation (a physical sting to the arm) vs this word battle we were in would cause him to pause and think, "wait a minute this is going a bit far".  Again, who am I kidding.  Instead he is now claiming abuse and he wants to call 911.

So I did what any parent would do in this situation.  I dial 911 for him and hand him the phone.  While he is on the phone with the dispatcher, I am still working, and listening to his conversation.  He gives his address, my phone number, and my description (age, hair color and clothing that I am wearing)  When he gets to the abuse part, I interject from my workstation, "Make sure you tell them what you did that lead up to the point where I punched you."  So he tells the dispatcher that he didn't want to do his chore and was yelling and cursing at me.   She must have asked then if he felt like he was in harms way, to which he answered no, because I was working.   He then tries to bring up years of the past with the dispatcher of all the ways he has been abused over the years.  I say,  "hey Bashful, can you ask how soon the sheriff will be here?"  He does, and the dispatcher indicates that there is an officer on our street.  He is super excited about that and tells the dispatcher that he will go get him "so my a$$ can go to jail".

He throws the phone at me without hanging up as soon as he spies the officer, I greet the dispatcher, she asks who I am, I say Bashful's mother, and thank her for her time and tell her the officer is at the end of the drive.

Bashful literally skip runs to the end of the drive to meet this officer, because in his mind (even though they have been here before) since he called them, surely they will be on his side! 

The officer and Bashful talk and then come inside the house.  When the officer asks for my version of the story, I start to tell him, and then just stop.  I look at him and say, "Look, really, can you please take me?  Really... I am tired of living this way.  You can handcuff me, but I think that is extreme, because I will go willingly."  I think he thought I was joking.

Bashful, who thinks I deserve to be hauled off, is now encouraging the officer to do it, cursing about me and using the F word.  At that point the officer draws himself to full height and leans towards Bashful and says,  " DO NOT, use that word in your mother's presence again.  I will not tolerate that disrespect, or we will throw down, do YOU UNDERSTAND ME?"   Bashful has enough sense to respond with a "yes sir".

Another officer is now knocking at the door.  Bashful looks at me as if I should answer the door.  I say "go let the officer in, you invited him."   When Bashful walks away to let him in, Officer 1 asks me what the situation is.  I say in what felt like was a defeated, and exhausted voice, he is the youngest of 7.  The youngest sibling of a set of four we adopted.  The highlight reel is he has,  RAD/FAS/and is on the spectrum.  Officer 1, says "I'm sorry."  I feel like saying, "not as sorry as I am."

So by now the situation is mostly defused.  Officer 1 tells Bashful, that if any time I hit him or other wise physically disciplined him,  I have the right to do so because he is a minor living in my home.  He continues to elaborate on what abuse looks like.  Marks have to remain 8 days.  He also explains that if I had been abusing Bashful, he would not be standing there in front of us whole and unmarred.  That his experience is that if Bashful was being abused he would have marks all over him where I punched him and would be bleeding and swollen.  That if anytime, either of his parents physically discipline him, and they leave a scratch mark with a fingernail or even a hand print from a slap, that is considered an unintentional mark.  Not an intentional sign of abuse.

Then Officer 1 asks Bashful how old he is again, and reaffirms that it seems to him that Bashful does not have a very good exit strategy for life on the streets when he turns 18.   He indicates he should work hard at school, get a job, and graduate and not screw up what seems to be a pretty good situation that he currently has. 

To make this officer, maybe my favorite of all that we have met under these type of circumstances, he also elaborated and said,  "You son have to live here until you are 18.  I suggest that when your parents ask you to do anything, you do it.  Furthermore, if either of them say that the task is not done to their liking, guess what?  They can ask you to do it again.  You should do it again until it meets their standards, not yours.  So I suggest you just do it right the first time.  Grow up and start acting like the adult you think you are!"

You can't make this stuff up, and even if you could, who would want to live this way on purpose?

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

March 5th Marks 20 Years

Today is the Birthday of Grumpy.  At 2:35 PM today, March 5, 2019  he turns 20 years old.

I wish that I was writing a post of celebration and joy in regards to the 20th birthday of my third youngest dwarf.  I am instead making a plea to our family and friends, to commit to praying for him today. For safety, for others to be raised up around him to guide and protect him, and for continued favor upon his young life.

As you know Grumpy spent January 2, 2018 through the 10th of January 2019 homeless.  The Prince and I did all that we could to help him find a meal, transportation (we provided him with two bikes)  places to stay, clothing, occasionally a shower or a car ride.  Sadly at every turn he would disrupt his opportunity because of his inability to follow the rules, fleeing and leaving all his belongings behind.  The further he got into his stint being homeless the shorter his stays became in the homes of those who were willing to take a chance on him.  He refused to get a job.  Opportunities for employment arose, even some of the managers of the locations he was applying went so far as to purchase work shoes or clothing for him, all resulting in him just never showing up for day one.

On January 10, 2019 the Prince made a two hour drive with a dwarf that we thought may be at the end of himself.  We found a ministry that specialized in men needing a fresh start.  Men that needed to disconnect from the environment that they were living in and receive supports and therapy to help them in a span of two years, reconnect with appropriate contacts in their life, learn job skills and work on learning to help themselves. 

Sadly, we report that while he managed to stay longer at this placement than any other over the last year, they have returned him to our home town area to a mental health facility.  We believe that he was baker acted, and hence has 7 days of observations at this location.  After that time, we are unsure what his lot will be.  He is soon running out of options.  Florida does not have systems in place for young adults with mental needs.

If we are being honest, Grumpy most likely needs to be institutionalized so that he can live his best life ever.  He needs to be in a place where he is told when and how to do things, and just has to follow the rules.  Where someone will wake him for work, remind him to do his laundry, enforce schedules and time management for him. A place where when you do not follow the rules, there is a consequence, and there is consistency until the offending behavior is regulated.

Please be praying for Grumpy today on the day of his 20th birthday. We know that we are only part of his story, and the Lord holds his beginning middle and end in His hands.  However, even though we know and trust this, we still need to be fervent in our petitions and prayers for this young man's heart, soul, mind and body. As you pray today with a hope for Grumpy's future, please include the following areas:
  • A secure and safe placement for him after his 7 days are up at this mental health facility
  • In the time he is in the facility, that they would see the true depth of his illness which may open up other options for treatment and/or programs 
  • That whatever needs to happen to Grumpy to bring him to the end of himself, would happen sooner rather than later
  • That Grumpy would desire change, want to work and function well in society
  • That he would not be placed back on the streets, homeless
  • That the Lord would continue to raise up men and women that would desire to pour themselves into Grumpy to give him yet another fresh start
  • That Grumpy will not forget that above all he is loved and treasured as one of God's children and that he has value. 
Just because we as a society do our part and adopt these children from foster care in no way assures them a healthy and productive future.  At some point in their lives their mental health overtakes their abilities to function inside or around the "normal" parameters of life and they disrupt from their safe and structured home environments.

I leave you with these statistics to ponder.   It is more than just and adoption issue.  It is more than just a homeless issue.  It is more than just a mental health issue.  As these children in foster care or that have been adopted age, it becomes a mental health issue for many, and homelessness or prison for many more.

The statistics  are a couple years old, however speak volumes to the situation in our foster care system, and the overwhelming increase in our homeless population across the nation.  Our states need to make changes so that we can appropriately care for those who have mental health issues. 

Estimates at the end of 2017 Fiscal Year indicated by the US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children Youth and families and the Children's Bureau indicate that the following: 

437,465 children were already in foster care at the start of the fiscal year
273,539 children would be added to the foster care system in that fiscal year
250,248 children/young adults would exit the foster care system in that fiscal year through aging out or reunification attempts (many to return again another year)
117,794 children would be adopted into homes during that fiscal year

Approximately 1/3 of the total homeless population includes individuals with serious, untreated mental illness according to a research summary compiled by the Treatment Advocacy Center.

"Serious mental illness disrupts people's ability to carry out essential aspects of daily life such as self care and life management skills.  Mental illness often also prevents people from forming and maintaining stable relationships or cause people to misinterpret others guidance and react irrationally.  This results in pushing away caregivers, family and friends who may be the force keeping that person from being homeless.  As a result of these factors and the stress of living with a mental disorder, people with mental illness are much more likely to become homeless." (National Coalition for the Homeless)

This is not the path that I ever thought I would find myself on, but as I journey I share, as we are not alone in this fight for our children, adopted or biological.

Statistics have been cited from the sources indicated

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

They say, "Sometimes even a blind squirrel finds the nut."

Much of our life spent parenting children, the typical and the not so typical, has been filled with quick change in directions, attitudes, and drama. Trauma to triumph in a minute, or vise versa,  so when a moment happens that makes us stand back just shaking our heads, with a small and crooked smile, on our faces that are a mix of joy, bewilderment  and a dash of "did this really happen?", well it just needs to be shared.

Understand this moment in time was an accidental victory.  Not one thing about the way this unfolded was "appropriate" or pleased the Prince and I as parents.  It went against all the safety nets and rules we had set up for this dwarf.  Yet in the end, amidst the sneaky behavior, the lie and finding out the truth, this dwarf caught a victory, and a rash of "what for " from the Prince and I. 

This is the tale of how even a blind squirrel can find a nut.  Our dwarf Happy will live with us forever as we are his legal guardians. He is 21 is diagnosed ID.   He has celebrated some wonderful milestones in the last year,  which included landing a part time position doing what he loves, landscaping. Yes, even in the hot Florida sun. That job has lead to a occasional work  mulching and mowing in our neighborhood.  He has sustained continued employment at his main job at a local grocery store for going on three years now.  He graduated high school.  He got his first cell phone.   He turned 21.  He has picked up a hobby, wood burning, and it turns out is very skilled at it!  He volunteers twice a week at our church to help with sound for events.  In all a stellar year for the dwarf!!

Out of all of the above mentioned milestones, the item that has honestly given us the most problem has been, of course his cell phone usage.  The prince and I have been pretty tireless in trying to monitor and delete and discuss things that we see in text messages, on internet searches and the apps he uses that are just not socially acceptable.  Learning the appropriate rules for snap chat, and texting is difficult to navigate typically, but when you miss cues socially it can be really tough.

Often on the app Let Go, and similar sites and apps, we would see him bartering with people for items they were letting go by posting for sale,  in ways that were not only a waste of the sellers time but also were getting him bad ratings on the site for not showing to look at items he claimed he wanted to purchase etc. He would offer all the money in his account $46.29 for a $200 item, or he would barter with them in other unreasonable ways like trade offers of things he had. 

Unfortunately, another one of this particular dwarf's challenges is lack of comprehension about money. Truth be told most young adults suffer with this one.  But for Happy, this is a hot topic at least once a week. 

Three Sunday's ago the prince texts me while I am at work.  He says did you know that Happy bought a scooter?  "What?! NO!!"   He proceeds to tell me that Happy came home from church on Sunday afternoon riding a motorized scooter. 

When the Prince inquired about the scooter, Happy indicates that someone dropped it off for him to "test ride".   But it seems suspicions that Happy is not riding back across the street to the church to return it to anyone. 

The Prince pulls up Happy's bank account and finds that his account is overdrawn by $550.  Now remember to Happy there is not much difference in his mind between $10 and said overdraft amount.   He regularly spends more than he makes. 

The Prince confronts Happy about the lie, the overdrawn account which indicates no one is waiting for him to return the scooter after a test ride,  and for yet another time, speaks to him about making purchases of such grand proportion without discussing his desires to do so with an adult.   Not much sticks from that conversation, as it is clear that Happy can only see visions of freedom in his eyes as he tries to focus and listen to his father. 

Understand, the Prince and I have been talking about the potential of getting Happy a golf cart, or scooter for small trips around the neighborhood and for him to get back and forth to work.  However we have not mentioned this to him yet, as the situation is a bit more complicated in the fact that Happy can not get his license, he will always live with us as we have legal guardianship of him for life, and we have not done any research about what is acceptable in Florida for use in the bike lane. 

Sunday, the scooter is affectionately referred to as the "$550 paper weight" as we are not going to allow Happy to ride it until we find out what the law is.    It takes the Prince a few days to sort out the Florida law.  And wait for it... this is where Happy lands on the good side of all these bad choices.  Drum roll please.... according to Florida law if you own a motorized scooter and it is a 50CC machine, you must register it, you may not ride in the bike lane, and you must have a valid drivers license. 

Happy's new acquisition?  Well this is the victory!  He unintentionally purchased a used scooter, behind our backs without the assistance of a sales person that would know the rules that was a  49CC machine...  Because it is a 49CC machine he can ride it unregistered, unlicensed anywhere that the speed limit is 25mph,  or any roads of greater speeds that have bike lanes!  As the Prince learns the rules, suddenly the scooter becomes a significant victory for our dear dwarf. 

With this purchase he can now drive himself to and from work. He can ride to and from church.  He can run for dinner, grab something that he needs at the store and last night he and friend even went to the movies. And while the distance was less than 5 miles from our home, the dwarf at 21,  finally has a great sense of freedom, pride in ownership, a feeling of being one of the guys.  Really, it makes a mom's heart swell! Well that swell is a little bit of anxiety truth be told! 

His job coach shared that at his work, people are noticing that he has more pep in his step, is working harder, and seems to be boosted by this positively "accidental" working out of his unauthorized  purchase.  He rides to his job, locks the scooter to the bike rack and takes his helmet to the break room.  He offers to run small errands for me, and today he even went for a haircut, that he scheduled on his own! 

If it were up to the Prince and I, we would most likely still be in the research stage of this idea to get Happy some independence.   While I have once again blocked all re-sale apps from his phone, and Ipad, and have been diligently checking for inbox messages from Craigs' list sellers,  it seems that this purchase was a great deal, (it came with the full size helmet ) he was not taken advantage of, the price was fair and the person he bought from was on the up and up!! 

Happy has made a large step forward in being independent and is starting to enjoy some additional freedoms!  I make him keep his GPS on at all times!  He has to check in before leaving anywhere, and has to report to us when he arrives at home or another destination, but so far he is following the rules of the kingdom and those of the Florida bike lanes!!

Happy is currently living his best life ever! You can't make this stuff up!!! 

Thursday, January 3, 2019

A Future with Hope

Today is the anniversary date of the removal of one of the seven dwarfs from our kingdom.  Last year at this time, I was a mess.  I was faced with a decision which required me to finally back up my three plus years of words, with actions.

For almost four years, the prince and I kept telling this particular dwarf that his life choices, his inability to do the right thing, to be a productive member of the family, was drawing neigh.

The parts of the story that are the in between, started over thirteen years ago. The meet and greet, smiles, reuniting of siblings, the adoption, the honeymoon period, the start of inappropriate behaviors, failing in the classrooms, questions on our end, testing, evaluations, twenty-six months of a therapeutic treatment facility. The RAD diagnosis and therapists, wrap around services, IEP meetings,  behavioral specialists, phycologists, psychiatrists, medications, an inconclusive FAS diagnosis. Walking through our days on egg shells for fear of setting him off, holidays,  birthday's, fights over homework,  manipulation, fights about nothing and all things, his cursing, his tears, our tears, the growing anger, the lying, the continual battles of wills, the lack of being tethered to reality in his life, his inability to make good choices.  All this pushed us, pulled us and challenged us to become his biggest advocate, his biggest supporter. Yet, nothing made the impact in his heart or mind to promote healing or growth in any lasting, tangible ways.  Still we carried on with equal parts determination, and hope. 

If you had told me when we started this process of parenting "special needs" children, that were classified as "special needs" because of the number of siblings in their grouping, I would have thought you were crazy.  After all these years of living in the trenches, battling daily, an existence that very few people understand or even try to understand, I sometimes feel like I am the crazy one.

While I am secure in the knowledge that is a path that the Lord has equipped me(us) for, there are certainly times in this journey when I have not relied solely on Him or His promises.  There have been times when for the sake of self preservation, I have gotten in my car and driven away. I have yelled until I was hoarse. I have cried.  I have locked myself in my room.  I have shuffled kids off to friends homes in the middle of the night so they would be safe so that we could spend hours de-escalating a situation.  The number of hours of my life spent in negotiations, battles of the will, steeped in worry and fear and the struggling with the unknowns for this one dwarf alone, are unable to be counted.

In the reflecting of those minutes, hours and days we did all this and more clinging to hope. We battled in the trenches for his spiritual, mental and physical being.  Hope for the next hour, the next day and for his ultimate future.

When it became apparent that this was a situation that was not changing for the good, only deteriorating, we were faced in that moment in time to say, enough is enough.  That day was January 2,  2018.

In the midst of this past year, I find that there is nothing harder than knowing the name of the homeless man on the corner.  Being torn between helping again, or running the risk of being an enabler.  Knowing when to walk away.  Knowing to not answer the phone.  When to ignore that pleas of strangers and police that want to reunify because they only have one skewed side of the picture. Remembering when faced with the stories about the worst of times that he was enduring, that at the end of it all he is a liar and a manipulator, who has had countless chances to change and has not.  How challenging and difficult it as been to stand firm in our decision to have him to leave our home. 

Even in this, when the path for him seems hopeless.  We, as his parents have hope.  In the midst of the past year, there has been growth in the other dwarfs,  in the absence of the one. Healing has begun for me personally.  The stressors in our home has been dramatically been cut.  As I write this update, tomorrow there is hope for this one too.  It is going to take a monumental effort on his part.  He will have to conform, and while he has agreed to this two year program, the hard work is going to have to be done by him.  If I(we) could have fixed his broken parts there would be no need for any of this past year to happen.

Please join us in praying for our dwarf.  While he has said with his words that he will participate, he is not yet there.  The journey is going to difficult.  He will be doing this alone.  It will be at least 13 weeks or more until we hear from him, and even at that, the responsibility of communicating with us will fall on him to set up and organize, with the staff of the program.

"The Lord is good to those who wait hopefully and expectantly for Him, to those that seek Him."  Lamentations 3:25

May this time away be for our dwarf the final stop in his tormented existence.  May he find peace from his past, come to terms with his current and find his own hope for his tomorrows.

Sometimes, I do wish that I was making this stuff up....