Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Ann's Story Part 27: Positive Attitude

My friend, not surprisingly, expressed concern about my decision to live with someone who I thought could become violent. I tried to reassure her, though not all that successfully, especially since I finally learned what had happened the summer before when she got into the fist fight.


Ann has these two sides. When she is good she is very, very good. When she is bad she can be frightening. The fight with J turned out to be more violent than I had thought. I was finally able to read the account that the court psychologist gave and it said "8 or 10 times, hard." At Mandy and John’s she regularly body-slammed other girls (Ann weighs 185 lbs), and slammed drawers on their fingers.

My anxiety started going up when she started making threats of threats. "Sooner or later I will not be able to control my temper and I will hurt someone."

When Ann is being sweet, which she often is, my anxiety seems so ridiculous. When she is angry at the kids and doing that puff up intimidation thing the anxieties do not seem frivolous at all. But let me be clear about what the anxiety is. I am afraid that IF we are ever in the situation where Ann comes to the conclusion that she will absolutely not be allowed to go back to Mandy and John’s and that she is being forced to live here, THEN I think she is capable of being destructive or violent in an attempt to force a move. That is why it was so important to me to make Ruby understand, and that is why I started to feel so much better after it was clear that Ruby did get it. WE have agreed that as it becomes more clear to Ann that she will not be going back to Mandy and John’s Ruby will talk with her about whether she wants to visit homes where there are no other children. We anticipate that Ann will turn down that offer, but it will structure her staying with me as a partly her choice.

The reason, BTW, that Ann still thinks she is going home soon is that Mandy and John’s are still working for that. Everyone wants to preserve Ann's relationship with Mandy and John. Ann will not accept that she is not going back until Mandy does. I think it might be a good thing for Ann to be able to go back when she is fifteen. She did do well with Mandy for a good chunk of her childhood, and Mandy is the woman she considers to be her mother. If she goes back into the house after going through the insanity of early puberty, she may do well.

The biggest problem we are having right now is that Ann is trying to use her well-developed intimidation techniques on Andrew and Brian. So, for instance, Andrew noticed that the snack packs of apple sauce that I had bought for lunches were disappearing and he said to both Brian and Ann that whoever was eating them should stop because they were only for lunches. Brian said that he did not eat them. Ann puffed up and told Andrew that she did not appreciate him accusing her of things she did not do, that he was not the boss of her and that he had better just shut up. This is pretty normal behavior for her, but it left Andrew blinking in surprise.
We will have a family meeting about how they need to deal with each other.

My friend responded with more concerns, along with questions about how Andrew and Brian felt about everything.
I had not realized how big the fight with J was either until I read that report. It startled me. That's when I realized that though Ann is not inclined to violence, she is capable of it. That is why I want her not to feel trapped with me.
We have talked with Andrew and Brian about being a foster family. With Carl we would not have done it unless they were completely on board, which they were. After he moved out we told them that this is something that we wanted to do and we wanted to know how they felt about it. I would say that they were not enthusiastic, but they had no major objections either. We also asked them about Ann before she moved in and then their response was, "Well, if you are going to do this anyway, I guess she is okay."

At this point if Ann were to move out and we were deciding again, I think they would say that they would rather not live with her but that they would manage it if it happened. We have agreed that we need to have a family meeting about how to get along. In the meantime though, we have agreed that Ann can never be alone with the boys for any length of time. It looked for a while like neither of us were going to be able to get home early on Mondays and I arranged for Ann to spend the hour with someone else. She is too old for that, but there it is.

I think that all this is going to work out. Ann's attitude has been much better recently. She is no longer expressing concern about future behavior and, since I stopped rewarding it, she has stopped pouting about wanting to go home.

I have spoken very directly and honestly with Andrew about Ann. I told him that I expected there will be lots of normal sibling aggravations and that I would help them work things out, but that if there is anything that is not normal he should tell me. We had a long talk about what is and what isn't normal.

The agency psychiatrist has recommended that next year she be moved back to public school so that she can be on an IEP (Individual education program) and some special assistance. I am thrilled. I am not positive that she will qualify for those services, because she is really bright, but I will be happy to have her leave her private school. Ann's social studies text is printed by Bob Jones University Press! They are in league with the forces of darkness; they represent everything that I am dedicated to fighting against. I keep seeing a headline in my head, "Gay Rights Activist Sends Child to Fundamentalist School."

Part 28

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