Friday, August 11, 2006


Other foster parents on some other blogs are having some serious issues. Kids' futures are undecided. Kids are being arrested. I have had my share of drama, but right now there are no big things.

I guess I feel a little guiltily, complaining about the small stuff, but I am plumb out of drama or wisdom. So I will vent about the little stuff.

Example One:
We were having dinner with my father and he asked what an iPod is. We explained and then I added something that was supposed to be amusing, "A few years ago we were having terrible trouble with the internet at work. It was moving at a crawl. It turned out that it was because so many people who had nothing to do with the school were downloading music that our students were posting!"

Evan said in a very teacherly voice, "That's called peer-to-peer sharing."

Me, "I know. I just found it amazing that it could cause so much havoc with our internet access."

Evan, "YEAH. That is what I was telling you. It is peer-to-peer sharing. That's what Napster was about. I mean you heard about it right? It is not just at your work. People all over the world are doing that."

Me, sighing, "Yes I know. I was just commenting about the effects on the campus."

Evan, "I keep trying to tell you. It is not just your campus. It is everywhere."

On this particular occasion I got angry, "I KNOW. For Pete's sake, why do you have to argue with me every time I say anything?"

I apologized for that later. He was not arguing with me. He really was trying to participate in a conversation. He just was not listening. He also felt, of course, that I was not listening to him.

Example Two:
Two evenings ago I finally got my MP3 player (yes, the one one Evan insisted was the best) and was struggling to set it up. Things kept going wrong and I would make noises of frustration. Every time I did Evan would sigh and say, "What's wrong now?"

Now this happened several times. It played out in all the ways that I think it could:

Round One:
Me, "I am having trouble with....."
Evan, getting up and taking my lap top away from me, "Here. I will fix it."
Me, "You know. I did not ask for help."
Evan, "You need my help." Evan would struggle to figure out what was going on, ask me questions about what I had done, and figure out what had to be done. Of course since he had to go over everything I had already tried it took longer than if I had just done it myself.

Round Two:
Same as round one except I tease him about assuming that because I am having trouble he has to fix it. I consider pointing out that this is pretty extreme codependent behavior, but I know that will make him angry and I don't.

Rounds Three through Five:
Evan, "What's wrong now?"
Me, "Nothing."
Evan, "Come on. What's wrong?"
Me, "Nothing. I am just frustrated."
Evan, "You should let me help you."
Me, "I can figure this out myself."
Evan, "You know. Sooner or later you are going to have to admit that I know more about technology than you do."

Round Six:
Me, "Okay. I can't get the computer to recognize the player. I have tried changing USB ports and restarting the program and the whole computer. I think there is something wrong with the USB ports. I tried running a diagnostic and updating the drivers, but I can't figure out how to do it. Do you want to try to help?"
Evan smiles in a way that seems condescending, takes the computer away and fiddles with it. "Have you named registered the player?"
"Did you name the player?"
"You should reboot."
"Did that."
"Well try it again. If that doesn't work then maybe there is just something wrong with the USB port. You might need to take it to your IT department."


(By the way...I finally set up my MP3 player using another computer and will be taking my laptop to work to ask IT to check out the USB ports.)

I have two observations which may or may not be wise:

1. Relationships with foster kids are remarkably like relationships with in-laws. Of course that should not be surprising. They are both instant parent/child relationships with no history, no shared communication or problem-solving techniques.

2. Evan is more difficult in these ways just because he has not been bounced around the system so much. He lived with his mother from birth until middle school, then a few years in a home that he reports was run like a military school, then home again. He went to the teen shelter home at 17 and moved in with us three months before his 18th birthday. The other kids have lived in so many different homes that they are junior-anthropologists. They know that rules differ. They observe; they ask; they figure everything out.

Either that or they just try to be over-bearing and create the rules themselves.

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