I have been calling this "Ann's Story" but of course it is really mine. It is a story of my journey from being naive and judgmental, to being at least LESS naive and judgmental.
I wanted to try to get to the beginning of the story, so I went back into my file of emails to my best friend and I found this from October of 2002. At that time we knew that things had been tense with Ann and Mandy's house. Carl was at Job Corps and coming home on the weekends. We had been asked to consider taking a young man, and we had responded that we would, but we wanted to know if we should stay available for Ann.
I wrote the following to a friend after doing a respite with Ann and another girl from the house.
October 25, 2002
Mandy and her husband definitely regard the "High Level" girls differently. They are their business, and they are good at it. Their attitude is a lot like Roland's (and my) attitude towards our students. We like them, we do what is best for them, and we don't spend much mental energy on them once they have left us.
They tell Ann that she is different though. About a year ago Ann was having a hard time there. She was acting out, yelling at people and I don't know what all else. Anyway, she was here on respite with a girl named "Faye". Faye said that she was looking forward to getting the "good room" when J moved out (good because it is so small that you are not ever required to have a roommate). Ann said that she (Ann) would never have to have another roommate, just like “Mary”. Faye said, "No...Mary is their real daughter! You are just like the rest of us, and if you don't start behaving they are going to send you away."
I could see that Faye had hit a sore spot. Later I sat with Ann and told her that I knew that she was not like the Challenge girls. She really did belong to the Mandy and her husband. She said, "I know. Mom tells me that when they say things like that I should just remember that they are jealous."
But it is certainly possible that even if they don't think of Ann in the same way now they will as soon as the idea is brought up. It might be that they will let go of Ann as easily as I let go of students dropping a class.
Yes, I actually wrote that last line. How little I understood anything.
This is just one email from this month. During this month the social workers considered whether Ann should be moved and in my naive little heart I hoped that she would be given to me and I would love her and she would be mine and we would all live happily ever after.
Do you ever want to go back in time and just slap your former self?