During January there were meetings at which it was supposed to be decided where Ann would live. I kept expecting, as did the social worker, an official decision that she would be placed with me as her primary home and would visit Mandy and John on a regular basis. The recommendations were always looser than that, and the situation never officially changed. Her placement with me never left temporary status.
It made it difficult to know how to talk to Ann.
To the social worker:
Jan. 13, 2003
We have had an intense evening around last night. Ann cried and told me that she wanted to go home. She likes it here, but she wants to go home to stay, but her case worker will might make her stay. I spent about half an hour with her. I reassured her (several times) that no matter what happened her Mom and Dad would love her and be part of her life, as would we. At one point she said that if she could go home she would do all her chores and her homework, but if she had to stay here she would just mope at school, not try and not do anything. I did not respond to that. She told me that she could not stand to live with an 8 year old boy. I agreed that it was difficult. 8-year-old boys can be whiny and throw temper tantrums. "Like me." "I suppose." "Is what I am doing now throwing a tantrum?" "No. This is just being sad. It is okay to be sad and ask someone to spend time with you. It is okay to cry and to be homesick." I told her that it was always okay to be sad and that she can tell me if she feels homesick -- my feelings will not be hurt.Parts 11&12
I told her also that everyone wanted and loved her and that we all thought that it was just so hard for her to live with all those challenge girls. She told me that one girl (only one) had tried to comfort her and told her that her Mom loved her, that her Mom had cried when she left and she never does that with the other girls. She also told me that the other girls though were mean to her and that her Mom and Dad thought that it was always all her fault and nobody else's fault (this brought on more tears).
We kept going back and forth. She would cry and say that she wanted to go home. Then she would talk about what she liked about being here. Finally she got out the photos she had with her and told me all about each of them. She told me about her pets and about sleeping with the big dog. She listed some things that she did like about living here, and asked (as she has in the past) about whether she could have a pet here. I told her that I would talk to Roland about it.
Roland and I talked about room pets and agreed that we should give Ann the same rules we gave the boys. We told her the rule about room pets is that someone has to go 3 months being very responsible about chores and homework and then when they save up half the money needed they can have a caged pet in their room. We discussed the cost and she thought she could do it. She then suddenly remembered another homework sheet she had and got it out to finish.
I suspect that this is one half manipulation. "I feel miserable the least you can do is give me a rabbit" and one half trying to make the likely prospect of being here full time seem more attractive. I don't know if she will be able to save up the equivalent of two months allowance. I rather doubt it, but if she does, she can have the rabbit.
She is feeling better now and having snack.