Tuesday, August 22, 2006

What I can handle

I was never a pre-placement foster parent.

First I was a mom with a couple of birth kids, ages five and eleven. Then I found out that my kids' favorite babysitter needed a home. After six weeks of paper work, pre-placement visits, house renovations and training, I was the mom of three kids, ages six, eleven and sixteen (yeah...there was a birthday during the six weeks).

I had just wanted to be Carl's mom. And then I was.

So I did not spend a lot of time wondering which kids I could parent and which I could not. I did not look at the on-line listings. I did not debate the pros and cons of different ages. I just became Carl's mom.

Early in the process I remember sitting with Carl and his social worker at the table and learning that Carl had in the past lied to his previous foster parents. I remember feeling a sense of panic and saying that I had to trust the people that I live with. "Lying is the one thing I just cannot tolerate."

I figured I could deal with anything, as long as the kid was honest.

Well, as I have mentioned before, Carl lies. All the time. About everything. Even when he does not have to. It is his automatic response. Of course since he is trying to say whatever he thinks you want to hear and since he also talks to other people his lies are easy to detect.

Though I had thought I could NEVER live with a chronic liar, I discovered that I could. I could continue to love him while separating my decisions from whatever he had said. I just learned to live in this place where I kept everything that he said in doubt. I took satisfaction out of outwitting him.

******Interruption for phone call from Hubby*******

Hubby just now called to vent a little. He drove Evan to the counselor's appointment. On the way out Evan shared more about his terrible job at the grocery store. Here is the short version:

Evan hates his boss. His boss is on a power trip and criticizes and pushes him around for no reason. Other people at work we surprised when he showed up yesterday because she hates him so much. They assured him though that she has a hard time getting along with lots of people. It is not just him. So Evan knows it is not his fault.

The woman in the deli really likes him though and she has a position open and she is going to hire him. That will be much, much better.

But he hates this boss and has no respect for her at all.

Yesterday was a horrible day. He was bagging this one man's groceries and he picked up a six pack of soda and the man said, "Now don't shake that. My wife will be very angry." Well, that was just insulting, so Evan picked up the six pack shook it and said, "What? Like this?"

Later a little kid was looking at him funny and he said, "WHAT???" and the little snot started to scream and cry. The mother was really upset and made this really big deal out it. She kept saying that she had never seen her kid cry like that.

Hubby was upset and wanted to vent.

So since I was writing about what I can handle I thought I would write about this too.

Not too long ago I would think that I needed to fix this. I would think I needed to sit down and have a good long talk with Evan, try to get him to understand. Now I don't.

If he tells me about it, I will not even lecture him. I will offer up another perspective, if he gives me a good opening. However I will not expect that he will agree with me. He will reject it, and I will not argue. Even if he realizes at the time that I am right he won't acknowledge that, so why fight it?

I think that if Evan is going to develop a different attitude towards work and authority he needs a couple of things: he needs the experience, which will include the experience of losing jobs; and he needs another way of thinking presented to him. There is no way I can force that other way of thinking upon him. If he continued to live in a household that reinforced the perspective that bosses are on power-trips and that it was funny to shake people's groceries and frighten children into crying, then he would have little chance of changing his attitude. But I cannot give him a new attitude.

I have come to understand that all I can give kids is the opportunity to grow and learn. The growing and learning is something they have to do themselves.

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