Friday, June 23, 2006

David's Story Part 11: September 2003


Things are so peaceful at home. David is so easy to deal with. He tells the truth, comes home when he says he will, can be found where he says he will be. I told someone that my biggest problem with him is that he has to catch a 5:55am bus and he ALWAYS makes his bed before he leaves...which means I have absolutely no excuse not to make mine.

My life feels strange to me at the moment. I feel like I am in a little bubble of calm bouncing on the waves of a storm. Morale at work is at an all-time low; a friend told us in confidence that she is about to leave her husband, who happens to work with my husband (poor Hubby has to see this man every day and pretend he doesnÂ’t know what is about to happen to him); and Carl is broke, having troubles with creditors, sleeping on his sister's couch, and pouting because I won't rescue him. And I plan lessons, work on my quilt, and help my kids with their homework. It has a surreal quality to it.


Remember the party that was supposed to be at the hotel? Well "Savannah"(the party girl) began to be afraid that people would not show and she would be stuck with the bill, so she moved it to a friend's house on Saturday (yesterday). There was never any explanation for why it was at this friend's house so Hubby and I said that David would have to give us the phone number of those parents so that we could check things out. On Friday he asked if he could spend the night with Michael in The City, we said yes. He had a ride over and would have a ride back by 5:00 so that he could be at the party at 6:00. (This is how I remember it. David claims that he said he would be back around 6-ish). I told him that he did not yet have permission to go to the party and he assured me that he would have the phone number when he got back.

On Saturday when we got back from the training, "Savannah" had already called asking whether David was coming to her party. It had already started and where was he? I called Michael and the line was busy. We started calling his friends and K (who had driven him to the Michael's) said that David had said that he had had a ride back to the party and was going to be spending Saturday night at Michael's.

I decided that the Saturday night part must be confusion, but I was worried about the possibility that he was planning on going directly to the party. Anyway, we kept trying to call Michael's and the line was always busy. I finally got into the car and drove the 25 miles to Michael's. Part of my brain was jumping to "The little stinker...this is what he did to Dora. Go to Michael's and act all helpless like he just can't get back..." The other part, having just returned from the training on conflict resolution was thinking, "Now, don't escalate...anything might have happened. Just get David and find out."

Anyway, my showing up at 6:15 at Michael's was quite dramatic. I just told David that he needed to get his things and we were going home. He stared at me for a few minutes trying to figure out what was going on. I asked him to tell me what had happened from his perspective and he said that he was waiting for Carmen to get out of some seminar so she could take him home and then I showed up. I told him that I was concerned because he was supposed to be home by 5:00, had not called, and I could not get him in touch with him. He said that he had said that he would be home around 6. I pointed out that it was past six and had he called Hubby while I was driving? He said no. By the way, though there was some tension in this conversation it was all said in calm tones.

So we got in the car and he said in a very small voice, "I'm really sorry...I did not mean things to turn out this way." I told him that I knew he did not and that we would have to be very certain that when he went to be with his friends' in The City that he had a clear plan worked out for getting home. Since he could not control his friends that would probably mean that he could only go when we knew that we would be able to pick him up. He agreed. I also told him that since we had never got those phone numbers he was, obviously, not going to be able to go to the party. He did not quarrel.

I decided that my showing up like that had made a sufficient impression and that nothing else was needed. He decided that I was not horribly angry at him and loosened up and told me about his time at Michael's. He was fine throughout the evening. He did say that he really needed to get a job so that he could get a cell phone and then I would be able to keep in touch and not have to drive to The City when Michael was on the internet all afternoon.

Oh...he missed his 6:00am bus twice this week. The first time I told him that this was his last free ride and then next time he would have to pay me back with a chore. When I gave him a ride on Friday I told him that I wanted him to mop the bathroom floor after school. When he came home he mopped without complaining or needing to be reminded.

I was told by one of the social workers that Health & Welfare Region IV (where David is from) has passed a new rule: the kids cannot spend the night at a friend's unless the adults in the house have been finger printed and had a background check. I understand why they want this, but it is stupid. The kids in care should not have to announce to everyone that they are in care. They should be able to have lives that are not different from the other kids. I have let David spend the night with his friend Michael several times. I certainly do not want to tell him that he can't.

I did end up talking to Michael's mother and she agreed to fill out a self-declaration form which I gave to the social worker. They decided that was enough and they did not require her to get finger-printed. David continued to hang at her house and occasionally spend the night. His previous pattern of staying with Michael for days or weeks at a time seemed to be broken.

One of the unexpected benefits of having David in the house was an improvement in Andrew and Brian's relationship. Brian had at this time really perfected the role of annoying little brother. David was an expert at ignoring him. I suggested that Andrew study how David did it and Andrew slowly learned how not to react. He never got as good at it as David was, but he did it well enough that annoying people on purpose became much less interesting. Brian's behavior improved significantly.

Bet you did not expect that one huh? The new foster kid taught the biokid some important relationship skills.

David's Story Part 1: The Beginning
David's Story Part 12: October 2003 at home

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