Friday, June 20, 2008

Dull to write about, but not to live

I want to write you interesting and compelling stories about Gary, but it is difficult. Ordinary, kind, basically responsible kids are wonderful to live with but they don't make for good stories. But I want to keep you engaged in part because I want to counter-balance on the hard stories you read: stories like Frankie's. Many of the kids in foster care have major issues. They are angry, hurt, and that anger and hurt comes out in ways that can be difficult to deal with.

But not all of them. I mean, they all have been traumatized. If they are in foster care something bad happened to them, but not all those kids are difficult to parent, or not any more difficult than most teens.

You know what Andrew and Brian complain about with respect to Gary? He's too tidy. He prods them into cleaning the rec room and gets irritated if they leave empty soda cans lying around. He's always tidying up the bathroom and putting things into the cupboard. "Mom, some things belong on the shelf."

Cry me a river, darlings.

I did hear that teenager tone in his voice for the first time the other day. He asked if he could go to his friend's -- you know the boy from the football team. I said, "Will there be parents there?" He said, "Yes" with that exasperated-teen-talking-to-cognitively-challenged-adult tone in his voice. I laughed and said, "You know I am going to ask you that every time you go anywhere." He smiled, spoke in a less irritated tone and said, "And I am going to answer you every single time."

I know that part of the reason that he is easy to get along with is that I have got better at dealing with teens. I almost never speak in the imperative "Do this" or threaten consequences, "or else you will lose X privilege." It isn't that I don't expect them to do things, it is just that I don't order. Instead of telling someone to go wash dishes right now I will usually say something like, "Andrew, don't forget to figure out with Gary how to divide up the kitchen clean-up."

It isn't magic. Speaking like this doesn't turn teenagers into cooperative angels, but it helps. For kids like Gary and Evan not setting up a power struggle helps enormously.

But that is just a part of it. Mostly Gary is just, so far, a pretty easy kid to live with. I know he has been here just 2 1/2 weeks, and four weekends. We are still in "assessment and observation." Testing and boundary exploration are yet to come. Still I predict he is going to be a pretty easy kid.

Hopefully the blog won't be too boring.


  1. You know, for some of us out here dull is really good. I'm really enjoying following Gary's journey into the Land of Yondalla. I yearn for normal these days and truly enjoy reading about your new adventures in calm, no daily crisis land. If you get to missing the adrinaline rush too much just let me know and I'll gladly swap out with you for a few days. The big move has happened and we are having a really hard time hiding our pleasure over our apt and everything! But so far we are managing! The truth is, it is really nice...I want to live there and be taken care of in such a stellar manner! Meanwhile, enjoy your boy! You earned him last fall! Gary is your gift for loving Frankie, God does notice sometimes!

  2. I am glad you got Gary in your life, you deserved an easier kid for a change! And yes good news is still news. Bad news is more intriguing but never fear you have such a wonderful way of expressing yourself we will still be intrigued with you and your family to want to read your blog. You are on my top 4!


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