Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cutting back his schedule?

When Gary left his appointment today his counselor said that Gary's "homework" was to talk to us about how he could cut back his schedule some, cause he was too busy and it was stressing him.

I agree that he is stressed. He is not eating or sleeping well. He is nauseous in the morning.

However it just isn't the case that he is too busy. He goes to school, and then pretty much does what he wants. He sees his counselor once a week, which is something he wants to do. He spends time talking to and text messaging his girlfriend, periodically going out to see her. He denies that he has homework. (We will see if his mid-term grades confirm that). For months he insisted that he was going to get a job after his sixteenth birthday, but he has not put out any effort towards that.

His not looking for a job may have something to do with being signed up to work with this job-coach. I'm not sure that he would be out there filling out applications, but the job-coach has him filling out sample applications, talking about how to present himself, how to interview, etc. The job coaching is the one non-school activity that does demand quite a bit of time: five hours a week. That is in addition to the time he spends on assignments they give him (like writing in a journal daily). It may be stressful, but it is less time consuming than the job he wants to get.

In short, I don't think he is stressed because he is too busy. I think he feels like he is too busy because he is stressed.

School of course is an issue. I really wish the charter school would have just told him that he wasn't going to get in. I think that hoping he will transfer has got in his way of making friends at Our Small Town High. He claims that people there don't like him, which just doesn't make sense. He has great social skills. He is adorable. Girls put on huge smiles and introduce themselves and he converses with them well. I've watched it happening. It is a big school, but not bigger than the one he went to last year. It is a more racially diverse school, i.e. 50% Mexican American instead of 10%. Gary is part American Indian and could certainly pass for part Mexican American. I don't know if that is part of the issue for him. In a mostly-white school he is a white boy with dark hair who tans easily. In a white and brown school he may find that people are expecting him to have stories about his non-existent Mexican American grandmother. We haven't talked about whether this is an issue for him. My guess is that he wouldn't see it in those terms. I would expect him to say what he is currently saying: people there don't like him. Or he might agree and add it to the list of reasons why he really needs to get out of this school.

One more part of the puzzle is that he is taking two PE classes. One of those is weight lifting. His joints are hurting, probably from either lifting too much weight or not lifting it correctly. He told us about one pain he got when he was bench pressing without a spotter. (I know.) He is burning a lot of calories, and only sometimes packing lunch. He says school lunch is gross (an assessment with which I am inclined to agree) and won't eat it.

So we talked about what we can do. I've already bought lunch items that are easier to pack, granola bars and such. I told him we would see if we could get him out of weight lifting. He really doesn't need two PE classes. He is going to talk to the agency worker about getting out of the job coaching program. This is a bit round-about. He really should just call the coach or his state worker, but he is stressed and feels safest with the agency worker.

He has also decided that he would like to go to Brian's charter school if he can't get into his girlfriend's. Before he insisted that an arty school was not for him -- he was an athlete. Now though he doesn't want to go out for any sports and insists that he likes music and would be very happy at the art school. I'm not at all convinced that he would be, but I will see about getting him on the list.

The poor kid is just pulled in multiple directions. He can't seem to settle into whatever is in front of him. He has spent the past three years in facilities or with his aunt -- all places where he survived in part by looking forward to the time when he could be somewhere else. I suspect he survived a good deal of his childhood doing the same. Now he is in a place where he can settle, wants to settle, but just doesn't know how.

I am going to see if we can get him out of weight training, and, as I said, will put him on the list for Brian's charter school. I am supporting him if he decides to get himself out of the job coaching. I will make an appointment with the physician so he can talk about his joint pain and be told that he needs to back off the weight-training (which he already knows). I think he needs to know that we care enough about him to do these things. However, I don't think that any of these things are the real problem. I don't think he is over-committed. I don't think that it is impossible for him find friends at Our Small Town High.

Though I don't want to deny that he faces real challenges, I think underneath all this is another problem. I think he has spent most of his life "on alert." Group homes, detention centers, life with an aunt whose only qualification for parenting was a willingness to take him are not places where one enjoys the moment. I strongly suspect that life before the centers and groups homes was also a place where he needed to be watchful. I don't think he knows how to turn off that feeling of being on guard. He's anxious and that anxiety comes from within. That doesn't make a lot of sense to him, so he looks outside to find the cause.

I wish there was a way I could fix this. I wish I could get him out of weight training and that he would feel better. I wish I could get him into one of the charter schools and he would suddenly feel safe and relaxed. I don't think that is going to happen though.

At least not right away.

Well, he's not stupid

What do you do if the dad is the nice/easy/persuadable one and you know you will get in trouble if you ask the mom and THEN ask the the dad? Simple: just ask dad first!


Sometimes though, Dad, knowing himself to be the whimpy one, will make you come have a discussion with Mom, and Mom will say, "I know you feel bad. I do believe you. It is just that you have missed three days of school, and you only have so many before you lose credit. I really think you are better off feeling bad at school than feeling bad at home."

And then, if you are Gary, you are likely to give that small smile that acknowledges that you are fairly caught and that you are not going to get away with playing video games all day because you, like everyone else in the family, seems to have a mild intestinal virus that just won't go away.


I'm crazy busy right now. Yesterday I was at work or work-related and required activities for 13 hours. Today could be a repeat unless I just skip one thing I am supposed to do. If I do skip, I will only work a 10 hour day. Tomorrow will also be a ten-hour day.

The thing is, these long work days are so full of meetings that I am falling behind on my class prep and grading, which means that I am going to have to come to my office and work hard this weekend to catch up on the work that I can do while I am at work this week because I have so much extra crap to do.

Follow that?

I'll be catching up on your blogs later.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

On Not Adopting Gary

Mrs Butter B asks:

Not to put the proverbial cart before the horse, but are you prepared for him WANTING to be adopted by you? Its kinda like picking baby names, better to have an idea in your head of a boy name (even if you're due with a girl) than to be in the delivery room with the little ballsie sucker looking at you crying and you going"uh uh Hi, Annabelle, I mean, uh, uh, crud, what do I call you?"

I don't think I am prepared for him wanting to be adopted.

Well, let me back up. At this point if we were going to adopt the boys, and we have talked about that, we would both adopt Carl and David, Roland would adopt Evan, and I would adopt Gary. Well, we would offer to, and I think there is a good chance they would accept.

I would not not adopt Evan because he has a mother. Roland would not adopt Gary because he has a father. Their parental rights were never challenged by the court. No one ever argued that they were unfit parents. They are both complicated people who have not made the best decisions for their sons but do still love them. Evan and Gary have complicated feelings towards them. Sometimes they may wish they had different parents, but they don't have different parents. Both of them have been angry with their parents, but if I was to adopt Evan or Roland were to adopt Gary we would be asking them to disown the parents with whom they have this complicated relationship.

If Gary were to ask for us to adopt him, I think I would respond to that as an expression of his anger towards his parents and as a need for reassurance from us. I would try to respond to those needs, but I wouldn't pursue adoption. Even if I thought it was the right thing to do, the drama that would arise from fighting his dad for Gary would not be good for anyone. And we would almost certainly lose.

I can imagine a set of circumstances in which I would pursue legal guardianship for Gary. Gary's dad is increasingly difficult to reach. The state worker prefers for us to ask Gary's dad to sign documents before we ask him. So far every time we have had to ask him to sign something we have had to go back through the conversation about why Dad isn't signing. Becoming Gary's legal guardian would mean not having to go through all that. It would also mean being able to give Gary permission to drive. As it stands, Brian may be able to drive before Gary will. Andrew voluntarily put off driving so that wouldn't be the case with him and Evan, but I don't know that will be the best choice this time around.

I don't know if his dad would agree to such an arrangement, but he might. To be clear, no one is talking about that. It is just that I can imagine doing it where I can't imagine [Roland] adopting Gary.

Of course there are "what if's" a plenty. Gary's dad could die. He could move from the "I love you, but have to maintain strict boundaries" to in some way denouncing Gary. If he were to do that, I might change my mind.

Right now though, when I imagine Gary saying, "I wish you could adopt me" the response I expect I would give would be along the lines of, "I understand. We love you too, and you have every right to be angry at your father."

Oh, and Carl and David don't have strong feelings about Gary. They liked him okay when they met him, but I don't think they feel particularly attached to or threatened by him.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Loving Them

I am very skeptical of my own feelings of love for my kids -- especially when they are new.

Partly this is because of the sort of person I am. I analyze stuff. I analyze myself. Sometimes this is an asset. It helped me in my therapy because once someone helped me understand that some of my emotional responses were "re-feeling" of childhood feelings, I was able to reflect and identify those feelings and go through the process. Sometimes it is a disadvantage. It can mean that I am never fully engaged in something. Some part of me is always watching. I have trouble feeling relaxed and just having a good time. The point, though, is that I think about why I feel what I do.

The reason I am skeptical of my loving feelings is that I know how quickly most of us, especially perhaps those of us who do this work, have them for kids. We fall in love with profiles. Heck, we fall in love with photographs. It is primal. It is normal, and the feelings themselves are real. The thing is, we, or at least I, don't really love the child as much as our idea of the child. It isn't until that real person replaces the profile that we really love that child.

So I get all these warm and fuzzy feelings about kids and I separate myself from them. I pull away.

It is a way of protecting my heart, but I also feel that it is a way of respecting them. In college I didn't go out with this one boy a second time because he thought he was in love with me after one date. I knew he didn't KNOW me. I didn't know who he was in love with, but it wasn't me. It was all just too freaky. So I guess I expect the kids to have the same sort of reaction to foster parents declaring love for them immediately. How can we love them when we don't know them?

So I wait, not letting myself admit that I feel what I feel until I also believe that I know them.

'Cept you know what? There is not sharp line you pass from not knowing them to knowing them. There is no day when they stop being on guard, anxiously on their best behavior, and start being their real, flawed lovable selves. There is no day when the love I feel for them feels different from the day before. Love deepens, changes, grows, but it does so slowly.

I think that is why I enjoy it when they start breaking a few rules. There is this sub-text that happens. They do something they know they shouldn't. I get mad. At some level they are thinking, "Okay, so now you know I'm not perfect...do you still want me?"

And I get to answer, "Yes. I do. I still want you. I love you."

And I really do.

He called me "Mom"

Okay...he referred to me as "mom," but it was still pretty cool.

He was on the phone and he said something to me and then said into the phone, "Sorry, I was talking to my mom."

As long-time readers know, we suggest to the kids that they consider us an aunt and uncle. I tend to think that is a better model for foster parents of teens. It is less emotionally charged. The expectations of relationship are more reasonable. If you live with your aunt you may develop a very close relationship, but there is nothing wrong if you are just like each other. It also generally makes explaining things easier at school, because they don't really have to explain at all. People ask why they have moved to a new school and they can give just part of the truth, "I moved in with my aunt and uncle because..[insert part of story here]" If we are aunt and uncle there is no awkward explanation when the kid talks about the other mom and dad. There are all sorts of reasons why it makes sense. So that is what we do.

But that didn't mean that I didn't feel a little thrill when he referred to me as his mom.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Gary in trouble -- follow up

So I spoke with Roland on the phone and told him that I really thought the reprimand should come from him so that Gary would understand that he wasn't in trouble for defying me per se, but for the triangulation.

Roland is a gentle, quiet guy and can really have an impact when he tells a kid that they have let him down. I have more of a temper. I snap, growl, grumble, and get over it.

So Roland talked to him before I got home, which was fine with me. We agreed that seeing as this was the first time Gary had done anything that we knew he knew was wrong, that was all he needed. When I came home Gary presented himself to me, clearly waiting for me to put in my two cents. I didn't. I just asked him about his day, his meeting with the coach person, and thanked him for cleaning the kitchen.

I'm glad that I wasn't with Gary when I was feeling so pissy this morning. It would have escalated the situation and that isn't good.

Gary in trouble for the first time

So, here's the deal...not a biggie, but still.

Gary hurt his knee a couple days ago while playing football with other kids during lunch break. There is no swelling or bruising and he has full range of motion, so I told him to take some ibuprophen. Yesterday he told me about how his PE teachers wanted him to do the activities anyway, and he wouldn't. He was laughing about it.

He has a short day today and made an appointment with this new helpful adult in his life: a one-on-one job/career coach. Really, I have no idea what he is called, although I know the name of the organization. He will spend five hours a week with Gary helping him to fill out applications, practice interviewing, get his first job (fast food, whatever), explore career ideas, follow up with job shadowing, internships, possibly a part-time job related to whatever he thinks he wants to do, etc. Anyway, the appointment is at noon and though classes are done early, the school expects people to go to the pep rally and parade. It is not difficult just to leave, but the busses aren't running. I'm in a workshop all day and said that I couldn't help him. I told him to call the job-coach-guy who I was sure would be willing to pick him up from school.

He didn't look happy, but he didn't say anything.

Then when it was time to go he wasn't ready. Roland said Gary wasn't going to school, because he had this appointment and there wasn't any way he could get home in time.

I sort of went ballistic. I told Roland that I had already had a conversation with Gary and told him to make a phone call. I told Roland that this was just idiotic. It was going to count as a full absence, even though it was a shortened day. Gary can only miss so many days before he might lose credit for his courses. Even if he was sick I would have encouraged him to go on a half-day. Staying home because he didn't want to make a frickin phone call was just too much. I wasn't going to excuse him. So sir, not me. If HE wanted to excuse Gary HE could call the school, but if the school called ME I was going to tell them to give him detention.

And then I got to my office, calmed down, and thought about what happened. I called Roland.

"You know, what he did was pretty classic triangulation. He's been told that one 'no' means no and that in order to something he needs everyone to say 'yes.' I think when we get home we should tell him that asking you after I have said no is not acceptable and he can have his cell phone back tomorrow morning."

Roland cheerfully agreed.

Of course, by the time I get home I might have calmed down enough to let him off with a stern lecture and a warning.

And I think that lecture/warning/punishment (sorry, I will not use the word "consequence" for a punishment I impose) should come from Roland. It needs to be clear that the infraction was setting Roland up, not defying me.

This is the first time he has done something that I believe he knew he shouldn't do.

I am getting calmer by the minute though. Right now I am thinking that a firm explanation about why the behavior was unacceptable is probably the best route.

It is going to take me a while to sort out what is really the best response to him for his own sake, and what I want to do because I am pissed.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Gary canceled his counseling appointment for tomorrow because the state worker called about a workshop on finding jobs. Since he is about to turn 16 and can finally apply for jobs, he wants to do that. He is still hoping the be called by the charter school.

Andrew sends me frequent text messages and some email messages, which I appreciate. It has only been just a little more than 48 hours since we left him. I suppose the texting and emailing makes him feel in touch too. Today I gave him some feedback on the purchasing of noise-canceling headphones, learned that he had to buy himself a new toothbrush since he didn't pack his, and was told via twitter that by far the favorite dinner option was pasta.

My father left his keys in either the house or truck door (I have this story by way of my sister, so I am a little unclear on the details, as is she). In any case, his truck was stolen. He reported it, and changed the locks on his house, but was surprised when the next day the car was gone too. Evil me found that funny. I know, I am a terrible person.

Brian reports that since "he is an actor," he is playing the part of a really smart kid who gets all of his work done. Not in a play mind you -- all day in school. It seems to be working. He is very happy he went back to the charter school, and he is doing very well.

I am heading into a couple of very busy weeks at work, so I don't know if I will be posting much. Of course, usually when I say that it starts off a flurry of posting. But when I say THAT I find I have nothing to say.

It's a puzzlement.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Someone else didn't know what Twitter is!

Susan left a comment saying she didn't know what Twitter was. I'm so relieved. I thought I was the only one out of the loop.

Okay...there's this site called Twitter dot com. You sign up with a user name, an email and a cell phone number. You don't have to have a cell phone, but really that's really the point. You get a twitter page, which is sort of like a blog, except it is pretty minimal. You can send in little posts either by typing into the dialogue box or by text-messaging Twitter. The posts you send in are called "tweets" and technically they are all in response to the question "what are you doing?"

Okay, so you set up your page, and start twittering. All those posts show up on your twitter-page. The next thing you need are some followers. Seriously. "Followers" are people who are following your tweets, which means that your tweets also show up on THEIR twitter page. They can, if they so choose, also check a little box that says they are SO interested in every single little thing you have to say that they want all those tweets sent to them as text messages. You of course may decide to follow them, or others.

So yesterday I sent about 12 tweets to a sidebar on the blog. They were very exciting and if you missed them, you're life will never be the same. Well, except of course for the fact that all the real information was contained in the post I wrote this morning. It had a different feel to it though. Instead of one long, sort of composed, post there were, well, a dozen little things. Exciting ones too! Like, "A woman with a purse gets through security more quickly than a teenager with stuffed pockets."

I thought I might keep the twitter connected to the blog, but Andrew agreed to Twitter after I begged. (Actually, I just had to ask him two or three times, but he knows I wouldn't stop). Brian is also signed up and now the three of us form a little twittering circle.

Sometime early this morning Andrew learned that yesterday's sitter shut the dog door, but didn't tell me, so this morning there was dog poop in the kitchen.

How much less would his day have been without that information!

And Brian and I just got a text messages via Twitter that said, [Quote deleted.]

See? Vital information for enquiring minds!

Anyway, I do hope that Andrew keeps it up. Getting little messages from someone, however amazing or inane they may be does make you feel more connected.

I just hope that I have things more interesting than dog poop to twitter about.


It rained yesterday. The sitter closed the dog door so that the beasties wouldn't run in and out.

She didn't tell me.

This morning there was dog poop on the floor.

And for some reason I just had to tell you about it.

Brian is like me too

I tend to think of Brian as being so very like his father. Perhaps mostly because they both walk around making noise just to make noise, quote the same lines from movies at the same time for reasons I do not understand, and tell the same idiotic jokes over and over.

I do love them, really.

Anyway, I just noticed that there is one way in which Brian is a lot like me. We have a harder time anticipating loss than we do dealing with it. That Andrew was going to leave was tearing him apart. That Andrew is gone seems (at the moment) to mean that he gets to move into his room.

For Gary, in case you are wondering, it means he can TAKE CONTROL of the rec room. Andrew will no longer be having groups of friends over, making messes. He spent hours yesterday cleaning and scubbing. He is very pleased.

Taking off twitter

Andrew has decided to use twitter and so I am going to detach my Twitter from my blog and my blogging self. Twitter is going to belong to IRL me.

Just in case you were wondering.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Long Day

So I twittered my way through the day. It (the twittering) was sort of fun. I think I would love for Andrew to twitter. It is a fun way to keep in touch while traveling -- and does not require harassing FosterAbba. I know she doesn't mind, but still. I know some of you already twitter, those of you who don't, was the updating twitter widget interesting and/or helpful? Is it the sort of thing you would be interested in seeing me do when I travel? Twittering seems to be to be one part fun and one part idiocy.

Anyway, it was a long day. Fly to the Big City, rent the car, drive to university. Lordy, driving to the university.

Can anyone tell me why a man would hand you a map, ask you to navigate and then change lanes after you tell him not to, and THEN yell that your insisting that he not change lanes is making it impossible for him to drive so would you PLEASE shut up, and THEN ask you to work out a new route to the university as you sit in the middle of down town traffic?


So we finally got there. Andrew's room mate did not show while we were there. The rooms are long and thin. The desks are facing the window at the end. There is enough space between the desk and the end of the bed to get in and out of the desk chairs, and at the other end of the bed is a wardrom/dresser thing that is about 3 feet wide. The room is about 8 feet wide, which doesn't leave a lot of room between the two beds. Andrew is fortunate to have a double. There are rooms with triples and fourples just down the hall -- and those rooms aren't bigger. They just have bunk beds.

Anyway, after unpacking and putting away, which we did very quickly, we went shopping for all the things we didn't pack -- mostly on purpose. We got detergent, a power strip, and ethernet cable, more hangers, and a desk lamp. The desk lamp was the last one in the store. I bought the one on display and they gave me a discount on it. Everyone was sold out.

The Targ*t is two stories, and there is an escalator for carts! It is between the escalators for people. You shove your cart through the gate and this track thing grabs it and pulls it up or down. Pretty nifty. Of course it would have been niftier if they had desk lamps.

It was difficult leaving him. I don't think it will be so difficult living without him, since he was spending so much time off on his own anyway. Or maybe it will be awful. I don't know. I do know that it was good that I left first. Leaving him with his dad was easier. Of course it would have been nice to have his dad with me when I was falling apart in the airport.

Roland did get to meet the roommate. Says he is nice enough, probably someone Andrew can get along with, but probably not someone he would normally hang out with. (Translation: he looks like a jock. A nice jock, of course. Andrew is a D&D & Band Geek.)

Oh, his dorm was built prior to wifi and cell phones. The walls are impervious, no signal can get in or out. That is bad.

The quilt though looks wonderful on his bed.

(In case you were wondering, I scheduled the post about Gary and his dad to publish while I was gone.)

Gary's Dad and TPR

In my post about Andrew leaving, I said that I have a superstition about criticizing parents. I do understand that there are parents who cannot keep their children safe and who are not safe to be around their children, but even in those cases I find myself automatically spinning the most sympathetic story possible.

So I wonder about Gary's dad right now. This is what I know:

1. They moved sometime in the past few years and Gary was told that he wasn't going to be told where the new home was.
---My supposition is that the stepmother does not want Gary to show up at their house.

2. Gary's dad had a cell phone and when he lived mostly away from the family, Gary called him almost every other day. He knew when his dad would be home, alone, and awake. Gary didn't call his dad when his dad was home with the rest of the kids because he knew he would be too busy.

3. After his dad started living full-time with the family, it was much more difficult for Gary to find a time to call when his dad could talk.

4. His father's cell phone number is no longer connected, and he has no way of contacted his dad.

So what I am guessing is that his dad stopped the cell phone for any number of reasons. Perhaps now that he makes less money he cut it out as too expensive. Maybe they decided that one of Gary's step sisters needed to carry it sometimes and so changed the number. I am thinking that his dad just doesn't know how to resolve this issue.

I think his dad feels torn between his wife and young children on one hand, and his teenage children on the other. The youngest children, Gary's half siblings, don't remember Gary. They don't know he exists. If Gary calls, his dad can't be honest about who is on the phone. I don't think that his dad knows how to set things up so that he can have contact with his son and not piss off his wife.

But most of that is surmise, not knowledge.

And his dad is not innocent in all this. Even if I am right, there is still a difference between believing that all your children cannot be safe under one roof, and being secretive about the existence one of the children. Gary does need his father, and it is his father's responsibility to make contact possible.

But I don't think that his father is a terrible person.

And he must have deeply conflicted feelings about us. Gary is happy and safe here. I expect that his father is both grateful and resentful. How could he not be? He knows how to rise up in anger and protest when his son is being mistreated, but he doesn't know how to negotiate a relationship when his son is being treated well.

I don't think that his dad has decided to cut off contact. I do think that on any given day he does not face up to the problem. It is never urgent. He can figure it out later.

And maybe he will.

There are two sets of reasons why I agree with the decision not to pursue a TPR, even if his dad remains out of contact for months.

The first is that I think it would damage his relationship, or any possibility of a relationship, with his dad. Either that or his father would go into crisis mode, fight for his son, suggest that he would leave his wife if necessary, and break Gary's heart all over again. There's no good there.

The second is that I am generally not in favor of TPR's for kids unless it is either necessary for their safety or there is a real possibility for adoption. I'm not saying that is what the law is, it is just what seems right to me. Termination of parental rights is a serious thing, and it is a confusing thing. If your parents are no longer your parents, are your siblings still your siblings? What about your grandparents, aunts and uncles? You and I might be clear on these things, but that doesn't mean that the children and youth are.

If Gary wanted us to adopt him, that would be one thing. I don't think that he does though. He would feel torn if we tried. I think he is happy knowing that we love him, and that he is part of at least two families.

As far as I can see, a TPR in this case has the potential to cause a great deal of pain and very little benefit.


I'm seeing if I can figure out this twitter thing. There is a widget on the side bar that will have updates...that is if I can figure out how to convince twitter that my cell phone number is legit.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Andrew's Last Day Home

He had a list of things to do today: shop for a few more clothes; turn in his application for an absentee ballot; have lunch with his brother; finish packing; and maybe hang with a friend.

He got it all done except the buying of clothes. We agreed they probably sell clothes in the Big City.

I am very proud that he put getting his absentee ballot application in above buying clothes. This state is going to go red, we always do. It is almost like there isn't an election on. Nobody has signs for anyone in their yards. Today a student, a senior mind you, came by to ask if he could turn in a paper later. We ended up talking about email and I said, "After that Sarah Palin story I think I might change all my passwords, or maybe just the security questions." And he said, "Who's Sara Palin?"

But I digress.

Andrew got everything into five suitcases, plus his carry on for his laptop.

We are supposed to go out to dinner, but we are eating pizza at home. Andrew is feeling a little nauseous and has a slightly elevated temperature. He just wants to lie on his bed.

I'm thinking nerves.

I'm a little nauseous myself.

It is just impossible to believe that tomorrow I will fly with him to the Big City and leave him there. It is the right thing and the right time. He should be going. He really should. It is right.

I do not love my children "the same." I do not believe I have favorites, but the love I feel for each of them is as unique as they are. Each of them has touched a different place in me. I know it is hard to let any of them go, but I always suspected it would be most difficult with Andrew. We come from the same tribe.

Years ago he was struggling with a math problem and his dad was trying to explain it to him. He had divide 9 cubic feet by 3 square feet. Roland didn't understand what the problem was. Roland asked him how many square feet there were in 9 cubic feet. Andrew said, "an infinity?" And I saw it in my mind: a 3x3x3 cube sliced into squares, which being two dimensional and therefore without depth, not changing the size of the cube one bit. An infinite number of slices. Roland said, "No, just divide 9 cubic feet by 3 square feet. What do you get?" And Andrew said, "You can't divide cubes by squares!"

I helped him with it, promising that after I taught him how to divide cubes with squares we would divide elephants by zebras to see how many giraffes there were. He laughed and Roland looked at us like we were insane.

When he was four he asked me how clocks measure time. (My colleague at work said I should have told him that time goes through the clocks and pushes on the wheels inside.)

When he was three he was confused about what a question was. We had to avoid using the word altogether. If we forgot and said, "I have a question for you," he would run with excitement to get his question and thereby finally learn what it was. We would ask him what we wanted to ask and then he would hold at his hand and say, "Where's my question?" Once Roland told me that Andrew wanted to ask me something. I turned to him and said, "What's your question?" He looked at me confused and finally pointed to the inside of his elbow, "Is this it?"

He was the baby that turned me into a mother.

It was a long labor and I was exhausted when he was born. So tired. I breastfed and the nurses brought him in several times in the night. The second night when they came in I woke up hearing him cry and for a second I thought I was babysitting as I did in high school. I thought, "Where is this kid's mother and when is she coming back?!" And it hit me, I was the mother. No one was ever going to come. At that moment all I felt was despair.

Fortunately I got some sleep.

He reacted poorly to immunizations. At four months the injection site swelled and was hot. I gave him all the Tylen*l I could. All he wanted was to be held, and since I had no other children, I held him. For almost 24 straight hours, I held him.

I read all the child rearing books then, and I followed the ones that I thought were right ever-so-carefully. I worked hard to do everything "right." He watched little television. I read him books all the time. I bought him the toys that would stimulate his imagination. I gave him dolls and trucks. I agonized over how to respond to him when he was upset. How to be sympathetic while still encouraging him to be strong?

It was because of him that I developed my one and only deep superstition. Every time I criticized another parent because of his or her child's behavior, Andrew did the same thing within two months. To this day, I can't bring myself to say out loud that I think some child or youth does some particular thing because the parent was irresponsible. The thought occurs to me, and I sense the mischievous sprite over my shoulder, gleefully waiting for me to define the behavior so that it can be visited upon mine own. I've even warned other parents when they did it. They look at me like I am crazy. Later when their kid misbehaves in the same way I carefully refrain from saying, "I told you so."

I was twenty-six when he was born, but I still feel that his birth was the beginning of true adulthood for me. That was when I became responsible for another life. He came into my life and I became someone new.

And now almost nineteen years later he is leaving. It is the right thing and the right time. It is good. I know that it is.

But it is so hard.

Sometimes I'm a Little Slow

Tomorrow Roland and I are taking Andrew to college. We all three fly out early in the morning. I am coming back in the evening, and Roland is coming back Sunday morning. Gary has known about this for months. I had told him before to consider who he might want to spend the day with, if we had to have him spend the day with a licensed foster parent. Then I told him that I had an idea of who could stay at the house, which he said he vastly preferred. Two weeks ago I assured him that I had found someone.

And I didn't really think about whether our leaving would be a trigger for any of his anxiety and pain.

I mean, really? Why would the parents of the family packing suitcases, taking off in an airplane and saying, "Don't worry, we'll be back" trigger any trauma in a kid who has experience abandonment and rejection?

Like I said, a little slow.

He keeps everything under control. He doesn't let anything upset him. He accepts disappointment with the calm that comes from long practice. He doesn't get angry.

But this morning he said, "when exactly are you two leaving?"

I said, "About six am."

And then I saw it -- that anxiety in his eyes. It was a flash, but it was there.

Consciously he knows that he is not going to be abandoned. He believes we are coming back. But PTSD triggers aren't rational. I know, I got a couple myself. Most people have something like it. I fell and hurt my hand once. For months after that whenever I walked that path I would realize that I was holding my hand close to my body. That is not PTSD, but maybe you get the idea. It isn't that I was rationally concerned that I might hurt my hand; it was just an emotional reaction to a situation.

So Gary needs some reassurance for the anxiety, but at the same time he will need respect for his rational understanding.

Does that make sense? If I treat him like he really doesn't believe that I am coming back, I will insult him. If I ignore his anxiety completely, I won't have harmed him, but I won't also be an effective parent.

So I think what I will do tonight is to put Gary in charge of all the information to reach us at any time - just in case the "teensitter" who is coming over needs us. I'll give him whole itinerary, where we will be and when we will be there. What times we will be on the plane and unable to answer the cell phone, and assurances that if the teensitter needs anything, or if he needs anything, he should call. I will also give him all the emergency numbers to call in case anything were to happen. I think that all that will help.

You know, especially if I don't act like I think HE needs all that information. Cause he isn't a baby you know.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thank You FAScinated! (updated)

So...Brian's school called. "Brian is having a really hard day. He says his brother is about to leave?"

"Yes. He's going off to college on Saturday."

"Well, his English teacher brought him up here. He's crying and wants to go home. I thought maybe he could talk to you."

So we talk. I have this moment of anxiety...knowing that the school doesn't want a crying kid on their hands, but also that if I let him come home for this it will encourage more of these calls. He does need to learn how to cope. I know it is hard, but he needs to develop the skills. What to say? What to say?

And suddenly I remember a post or posts that Kari (aka FAScinated) wrote about helping Adam get through a school day. And I sure hope I am crediting the right blogger. If I am not, I hope the blogger who wrote this identifies herself. I can't find the specific post. Go read the whole blog.

"I hear you're having a hard time."


"I know this is really hard for you."

"Yeah." He tells me about how he can't stop thinking about Andrew leaving and he starts crying and then he can't do anything.

"What is your next class?"


"Tell me what you are doing in science." He talks about measurement. I also ask about English. Turns out that class was sitting and reading.

"Well, it sounds like science is a class that is more distracting."


"How about this: you put all this sadness out of your mind just for one class. Just go to science and tell yourself that you just have to do that class. When it is over, if you want, you can call me again."

He agrees it is a good plan! We talk a while longer. I ask him about the other classes he has and we rate their "distraction capacity." We agree that he can keep calling me, and that if he makes it through the whole day, I will have Andrew pick him up after school and he won't have to take the bus. (We don't talk about how the bus has a zero ability to distract him.) I talk to the people in the office. They say they will talk to his English teacher about helping him to stay distracted for the rest of English.

And right about now he should be heading off to science.

I'll let you know if he calls again.

And if anyone bumps into Andrew, tell him to answer his cell phone so I can tell him he is picking up his brother after school.

Update: School is out in less than an hour, and Brian did not call back. I did get in touch with Andrew and he agreed to get his brother, which was good seeing as how I already promised. I called Andrew back to ask if he remembered that the school moved and where it was. He didn't ... but he does now.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Talking About Their Parents

It is difficult to know how, precisely, to talk about our children's parents, particularly when we are talking with our children. In general I know what to do: I need to talk respectfully and sympathetically while at the same time supporting the child/youth while he works through his own feelings about what is going on.

I'm having a hard time with that right now. I'm getting pretty angry with Gary's dad. I remind myself that I don't know the whole situation, but I am still angry.

I was irritated when Gary told me that he had spotted his dad's vehicles outside a house. See his dad had told him that the family had moved, but refused to tell him where. Gary isn't allowed to go there, you see, so why would he need the address? Also when he left his youngest siblings were babies and toddlers and they don't even remember him. It would just be confusing for them if, you know, his existence was evidenced by him sending a letter or calling the house.

But I remind myself, what Gary did, did hurt his step-sisters. I cannot and should not judge what boundaries they and their mother need to feel safe. I don't think that Gary is a threat to them, but my perception of reality and, again, wha they need to feel safe are not the same things.

It was irritating because Gary's dad also did not tell the state where he lived and so he never got notices about hearings. He also complained that no one ever told him anything except Gary. (I find this part confusing. Do the letters not get returned? How could social services really not have figured out that he moved?)

Anyway, all of this I could emotionally accept because they still had regular contact. Both had Verizon cell phones and Gary called his dad every other night or so. When his dad was working out of state, Gary knew what time he could expect his dad to be home, alone and awake. Sometimes they would talk for a few minutes. Sometimes for an hour.

And about two weeks ago, Gary's father's cell phone number stopped working. When Gary calls his dad now he gets a message saying that the number is no longer in service.

Which means that there is no way that he can get in touch.

It breaks my heart for him. Gary doesn't want to talk about it much, but when he does I try just to listen and sympathize. I try to communicate to him that what he feels is reasonable. It is okay to be angry. Being cut off like this is not something that he deserves. It shouldn't be this way.

At the same time though it just infuriates me. A couple of months ago he was promising to make a home for Gary. Now he has made it impossible for Gary to contact him.

I'm just angry.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Six Days

No, I'm not going to write a post every day counting down until Andrew leaves. Or at least I don't plan on it.

We went shopping today. We bought some things he will need for his dorm room, and then we did the weekly grocery shopping. Andrew almost always does the weekly shopping with me. I think it started being a regular thing when he was learning to drive. It was one more opportunity to practice. Then it just became a habit. That is how we shopped.

Halfway through the store it just hit me that this was the last big weekly shop we would do together. I reminded myself that we would go shopping when he comes home for holidays, but that was little comfort.

Right now he is downstairs sorting through his clothes, deciding what to take and figuring out what new things he will need.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Orientation Schedule

We just checked out the orientation schedule. They have a dinner for the new students and their parents, during which we will be on an airplane coming home.

Andrew is clearly disappointed, although trying to be gracious about it. I told him that I was sure that his roommate and his parents would welcome him being with them. He nodded, but also said that everyone would be busy saying goodbye to their own parents.

Testing to see how much it mattered to him I told him that he could come with us back to the airport, get a quick bite there and then take a cab back to the university. He said that would be pretty cool. I was just trying to get a sense of what he wanted. He could go with us to the airport and take a cab back, but given what time we would have to go through security, he would be back on campus before the big dinner anyway. Of course, it would be easier under those circumstances for him to grab something to eat and not be there with everyone else saying goodbye to their parents.

He really does wish we could stay for the dinner. I checked with the airline. There is no late-evening flight. We would have to go back in the morning. It would cost $100/each for the ticket plus hotel. There is part of me that really wants to do it.

And then there is Gary.

Right now I have hired a young woman to spend the day here. The agency isn't particularly worried about her qualifications since it is just for the day. She is a CASA volunteer, so she is pretty safe. However, I don't think they would be okay with her spending the night. I think they might insist that he go to respite, and I know he really, really wouldn't want to.

And that of course assumes that they could find a respite place that would take him on such short notice.

Maybe just one of us could stay with Andrew and come back in the morning.

He told me that I should make sure that I get all the information and sign anything that I might have to sign because when he was there this summer (there was a program for parents then that we did not attend), they told him that they had important things for the parents.
It is so difficult letting my baby go.

I wish I had known about all this back when I was buying the blasted tickets.

Update: I was able to change Roland's ticket for not too much money, and he found a remarkably cheap hotel room, so he will stay for dinner.

Andrew Goes to College

in seven days.


On Taxes

Just passing on some links:

Obama Tax Cut (estimate your tax cut here)
Wall Street Journal Article
Snopes.com (the urban legends site)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Gary, His Dad and The Charter School

Things are not going well for Gary and his father. Basically his dad is becoming less available -- as in he is not calling Gary and has disconnected or changed his cell phone number so Gary can't call him. He also moved a while back and did not tell the state or Gary where he was living, so he does not get letters. I am a little confused about this, because one would think the letters would come back. Maybe is picking up the mail there? I don't know. I do know that Gary was in The Next Town Over and drove past a house where his father's vehicles were parked and toys he recognized were in the yard. He is confident that that is where his dad now lives.

I know I don't know all of the story, but Gary believes that this is all about his step-mother. She doesn't want Gary in their lives. Previously Gary's dad lived 10 days out of fourteen somewhere near his work site. Gary knew that if he called at a certain time in the evening his dad would be home and not yet asleep. The talked regularly. After Dad moved in with step mom there wasn't any time that he could call when his dad was not either working or at home with the fam.

And now he can't get in touch with him at all. Well, except by going to the house which would probably result in his stepmother trying to get him arrested for stalking or harassment or some such thing.

It is so difficult to watch. I know that Gary's heart is breaking.

In other news, Gary's girlfriend regularly stops by the office at the charter school where they tell her that they are slowly making their way through the waiting list of kids who said they wanted to get in. Gary is at the end of that list since he is out of district, but all the kids they have called so far, says the girlfriend, have said no. So Gary slowly gets closer to the phone call.

I am still hoping that he won't get called at all.

I don't think this charter school is particularly good. I don't think it is terrible, just not some place that I would send my kid to. Brian is going to a charter school for the arts. They have a new building that includes a really nice dance studio (the only PE they teach). In his geometry class some of his assignments are always to make drawings with the shapes. Last week he made a drawing of a curved shape with only straight lines. This week it was a drawing with overlapping circles. Everyone there is really committed to the arts.

At the charter school that Gary wants to go to everyone is really committed to safety and discipline. The idea behind the schools seems to be "OH NO THE GANGS ARE TAKING OVER OUR SCHOOLS! LET'S HIDE." Now, I do understand that sentiment, but I don't think that school whose defining characteristic is very strict classroom rules about (no) talking, sitting straight, and eating quietly is the most nurturing environment. Gary wants to go there because his girlfriend goes there. Of course his previous girlfriend (the one that he imagined was waiting for him while he was in the group home but who of course was not) goes there too.

So I am torn, as I have been. I had hoped he would get involved with things in the local school, maybe get a girl friend here.

Gary's charter school is not on the public bus route. Right now we all leave the house together at 7:00. Roland drops me off, then drops off Gary, and then goes to his school. We are both on the way. If he gets into the school, we would have to leave earlier and Roland would have to drive four miles past his school to drop Gary off at a neighborhood school bus stop. After school Gary would have to take a school bus to somewhere (probably a friend's, most probably his girlfriend's) and then walk to the public bus route. We will probably argue about how much time he may hang out and what time he has to be home. I have anxieties of Gary and his girlfriend being alone and unsupervised in those most dangerous of hours between 3:00pm and 5:00pm.

He has already suggested that if he is going to school there he might as well find a job there instead of here.

I'm beginning to think that we should just move to the The Next Town Over. Most of Gary's and Brian's new friends are there and they both want to go to school there. I'm just fretting here, spilling out the thoughts that run circles in my brain while I wait to see what happens. Roland is very calm about it. He also prefers that Gary stay in the local school, but he says he isn't going to worry about it unless something actually happens.

Amazingly, he can do that.

McCain's Proposal [updated]

Some things McCain has said and what they mean:

"Let's give families $5000 in tax credits so they can go across state lines and get the insurance policy that suits them best."

One part of McCain's plan is very confusing, and I am not entirely certain I understand it. Remember when I asked you to imagine that you were a HR manager and suggested that it might make sense for you to just pay the insurance premiums and pay your employees less? For most of us who are insured through work, that is what is happening to some degree. I get a pay check and it indicates that just under $200 has been deducted from it for my family's health insurance. But my employer pays 80% of my premium, which means that between us, over $900 a month is being paid in insurance premiums for me and my kids. Right now, that $200 comes out of my pay check before taxes (i.e. I don't pay income taxes on it), and the other $700+ doesn't even show up on the stub. McCain wants it all to be subject to income tax.

Then he wants to give tax credits of $2500 to individuals and $5000 to families. [Note: Sheri points out in the comments below that tax credits only help people who make enough money to pay taxes. Working people who don't pay any federal income tax, would receive no tax credit.]

For many people mean that the tax credit will just off-set the new tax burden. Some will come out ahead. Some will come out behind. (See factcheck.org for more explanation on this.)

What he wants it to do though is to encourage families to "go across state lines to buy the policy that suits them."

What does that "across state lines" part mean? Well, as Paul Krugman pointed out, it means doing to health care what has already been done to credit cards. Right now your state might have laws saying that health insurance companies have to pay for at least 3 days of hospital care after the birth of a baby. Your state might have restrictions on how risk can affect your premiums. It may require that the insurers who cover ED meds also cover birth control meds. Some other state however, may not.

Right now, if you buy insurance, the policy you buy has to conform to the laws of your state. Going across state lines means that you can buy a cheaper policy from a company in a state with fewer regulations.

And I see why some people would find that attractive, but think about credit cards. At one time credit card companies had to follow the laws in the state of the card holder. Different states had different guidelines about how high interest rates could go and under what conditions. Federal guidelines allowed us to "go across state lines" and get whatever cards we wanted. This resulted more people getting credit, which is arguably good. It also resulted in cards which offered very low "teaser" rates, followed by significantly higher rates and finally extremely high punitive rates. Similar things have happened with mortgages. Rules were relaxed to allow greater freedom of choice, which resulted in many people getting into situations in which they could not pay their debts.

When that happens on the small scale it is one thing, but when very many people start being unable to pay their debts, it affects all of us.

The same thing with health insurance. There is a real danger that people will not read all the fine print in the insurance policies they are buying (have you ever read an entire health insurance policy?!). Many people will purchase plans that are low cost and low coverage -- lower than they expected. A percentage of these people will end up with bills they can't pay, and, as I explained above, the costs of those bills will get passed on to others.

But wait...it gets worse.

McCain wants for you to be able to opt out of your employer's plan altogether and have your $2500 tax credit put into a health care savings account for you to use for your own health care expenses. Now this could be a great thing for the young and healthy, as long as they stay young and healthy. If things go well for them, they may save up a good deal of money. If things go poorly however, they will again have bills they cannot pay.

And because they opted out of the insurance system, left the shared risk pool, the rest of us will pay more for our premiums.

I know, this all got very complicated, didn't it? Let me give you what I think is the bottom line:

Insurance is supposed to be about shared risk. Higher rates of participation means lower premiums and fewer unpaid bills to be passed on. Whenever people opt out the opposite happens. To different degrees, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama want to get more people participating in insurance. They want people both paying into the system and benefiting from it. McCain wants to increase freedom of individual choice and responsibility. This is the opposite of insurance, and, I believe, has the potential to make our health care situation much much worse.

It is also interesting to note that in the system that McCain is pushing, a 72 year old man with a history of melanoma would probably find any insurance to be prohibitive.

Update: here is a link to an article explaining how people with risks like McCain would get insurance under McCain's plan. This particular article, looks at Alaska, for which the prospects are extremely bad. (h/t Yglesias)

Health Care -- Solutions?

In the previous post I tried to describe some of the issues around paying for health care.

So, what can we do about it?

Socialized Medicine
This is a non-starter in the US. Our public schools are socialized -- the people who work there are employees of the government and the people who use the services (the kids) don't have to pay to attend. Some other countries do this, but there is no way that that will happen here. No one is proposing it.

Single Payer
Something that has been floated, but also unlikely. In this scenario, the government becomes the insurance company, and the providers send them the bills. Presumably there would still be deductibles and co-pays. Before you get too worried about this, remember that a great number of us are already insured through the government. Add up the people who are government employees, on Medicaid or Medicare, or the VA and you got a good chunk of us. (I can't find the percentages right now, anyone know them?) Though there are certainly disadvantages to this route, it does have the potential advantage saving cost. Public institutions don't have to advertise, for one. The main disadvantage is that groups (employers) shopping for insurance plans is one of the places that competition enters the system and we could lose that. In any case though, it isn't happening here.

Pay or Play
This is part of a solution that informs Hillary Clinton's and Barack Obama's plans. Employers are encouraged to offer insurance, just as they do now, but if they are too small to get good rates, they have to participate in a program for small employers. Essentially all the little employers are bundled into one or several groups who then buy insurance for their employees based upon the risk pool created with them put together. If the program is run by the government, the amount that is charged to the employers and employees can be based upon various criteria. (We might want to give new businesses a very good deal, for instance, since they create a lot of jobs and have a high risk of failing.)

How much coercion?
Hillary Clinton's plan would have cost individual participants less than Barack Obama's because her plan required that every person participate. There would be many different ways you could get insurance. Most people would still be insured through their jobs, some because their employers were bundled in the pay or play model. People who were self-employed would have to buy insurance themselves. They could buy it from anyone they wanted, including a government-overseen program.

Barack Obama's plan requires that all children be insured, but does not require all adults to be. This means that some people, especially young and healthy adults, will opt out. That raises the cost for those who participate, but it is more politically palatable in the US.

What should a plan cover?
When we debated this way back when, there was a lot of discussion about "basic" health care. What was that? What was it that all insurance plans should have to cover. I love what both Clinton and Obama have put forth: the "basic" plan is whatever the legislators get for themselves. That is the level of coverage they have to make available to every citizen.

I'm going to take a break for a bit, but I am going to come back and tell you a little about McCain's plan and why I oppose it.

Palin Interview

What Fallows said.

I know I said I would back off of political blogging, but I want to say this, and I know there are at least some Palin-fans who agree with what I am going to say, although they wouldn't use my example.

I lived in Indiana when Dan Quayle was senator. I wrote to him periodically arguing against his positions. Though the letters I got back from other politicians were generally meaningless and non-commital ("thank you for your letter. It is important to me to hear from you."), his were thoughtful. I read them and thought, "Okay, I don't agree with this guy, but he is smart and he is fair."

Then he was picked to be Vice President and transformed into someone I did not know. Dan Quayle's new job assignment seemed to be: go keep the religious right happy.

He sucked at it.

He had the potential to have one day been an influencial and important person to the Republican Party. He was young, bright, capable, but was put in a role for which he was not suited.

Years later I saw an interview in which he was running for something and he told the interviewer that most of America did not know the real Dan Quayle and they were going to be surprised about who he really was. And I thought, "He's right, but he is never going to get anyone to listen."

A young, smart, thoughtful, fair guy with whom I disagreed but respected had been made the punch-line of a joke. It wasn't fair to him.

And something similar is happening to Palin. If her job is just to keep the religious right happy, then she can probably do that well. However, her job is to do more than that, and she just isn't ready. She just isn't. It isn't a personality attack. She just doesn't know the stuff she needs to know to be ready to take over for a guy who is getting up there.

And it isn't fair to her.

Or to us.

Health Care -- Part of the Problem

This is what I know about health care, the way we pay for it, and the options that face us in the US now. It is off-topic, but I'm feeling compelled. (Think of it as my way of trying to push the whole world to talk about issues again).

Competition does not work in health care the same way it does in other areas. If I want to buy a refrigerator I can do some research. I can decide how much certain features matter to me. I can check the prices at various stores. In the end, I make a reasoned choice about how much I am willing to spend. This activity plays its little part in the market.

When I break my arm I know that, because I have insurance, it will cost me less if I can get my family physician to see me than if I got to the emergency room. If I am out of town, I know it is better to find a "doc in the box" than go to an emergency room. Past that though, I really have no ability to compare service and price. Imagining even that I would be inclined to do research while in great pain, the information is not available to me. If I were to call the various clinics they could tell me how much an office visit was, but not how much they charge for an x-ray, or how many x-rays I would need, or anything else.

There is another factor that is important too. Medical facilities have to pay for their stuff. If they buy expensive stuff (like MRI machines) they try to pay for it by billing the people who use it. If they can keep it really busy, lots of patients can help pay for it. If they can't keep it busy, they have to charge more for each use. So sometimes competition increases costs. This is why many states require some sort of review process before a hospital can expand its services.

Of course, there are ways that competition can affect the price of health care (in a good way), but it is important to remember that those ways are significantly more limited than in other areas.

Insurance is shared risk. The first example of something like medical insurance is the case of professors all agreeing to put some money into a pot that would pay for their visits at the university hospital. The point is that a group of people realize that no one of them can afford the costs of a major illness and so everyone puts money in a pot to be used by the person who needs it. If you end up putting money in the pot and don't need it, YOU WON. You didn't get cancer. You didn't get sick. You stayed healthy and enjoyed the security of knowing that if you did get sick, the coverage was there.

In order for this to work people who are less likely to get sick have to join. That is why most large employers pay for a significant portion of the premium for health insurance -- to coerce young, healthy people into participation. Imagine you are in charge of the HR budget. You have $2,500,000/year for 50 employees. You could give them each $50,000 and let decide for themselves whether to pay for health insurance. If everyone decides to pay, it will cost them $5000. Let's say all the young, healthy employees opt out. Maybe they put the $5000/year into savings. Maybe they just spend it. Whatever. Only 30 employees want to join. Well, their combined risk is higher. The insurance company informs them that it will cost them $8000/year. The truly terrible thing is that the more people who opt out, the higher the price is, and the higher the price is, the more people opt out. The insurance system collapses.

So, it would make sense for you, our HR manager, to just pay every $45,000/year and tell them that they all get insurance free! The young people don't think of it as being made to pay out any money, so they don't complain. The risk rating for your employees remains relatively low, and you get relatively good rates.

The Cost of the Uninsured
In the USA around 16% of us have no insurance of any kind. Those people mostly do not get their asthma, diabetes, and high blood pressure treated, at least until it gets out of control. Someone whose asthma is so bad they really can't breathe, will get emergency treatment. If they start to loose their sight, or get gangrene, or have a heart attack, they will get treated. If, like my sister 18 months ago, they take a tumble on a sled and break their ankle in four places, they will get the $30,000 worth of treatment they need.

But they won't have the money to pay for it, and they don't have insurance that will either.

So what happens?

The medical care providers have to pass on the cost to other patients. When you go in and have your arm x-rayed, you pay the cost of your x-ray and the part of the cost of the patient who had no insurance. This is one of the reason those doc-in-the-boxes are often less expensive for these sorts of things. They don't take patients who can't pay. If you show up there with a broken arm and no insurance, they give you directions to the emergency room where you cannot be turned away.

Putting It Together
No one but the very rich can afford to pay for any medical bill they might have. So we have insurance. The cost of insurance goes up when the risk pool that we are in gets smaller, older, or sicker. The cost of care for those who can pay, or whose insurance can pay, goes up when there are more people who have no insurance at all.

Got it?

This is just one facet of the problem, of course, but it is an important one. In my next post I will try to summarize the different options to address it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Subtle Progress

I wouldn't normally blog about this, but since I have blogged about my feelings towards my husband regarding the debt, and about how I was trying to get over it, and then about what might be making it more difficult, I thought I would also blog about improvement in my attitude.

I was trying to tell him something last night. This first part is a little vague, cause I don't want to get off-topic. There is a commentator on television whom we both dislike, but whom other people do like. This commentator said something that I am very glad he said to his audience. There's all this noise and buzz, but I am glad that he said that one thing. I was trying to express to Roland that hearing that this guy said that made me happy and just a little bit more hopeful.

So the conversation went something like this, "So-and-so said..."

"He's such a jerk!"

"I know, but he said that [snip].."

"And now I guess the whole world will suddenly wake up and change their minds!"

"No, I mean, I wanted to tell you something about it."

"You just did."

"No. I wanted to tell you that I am GLAD he said it. I mean, there are implications about what he said."

"No kidding. That guy is a self-righteous, narcissistic, ass. I don't know why anyone would listen to him anyway."

"Dammit! I am trying to make a point here."

"That the guy is a self-righteous, narcissistic ass?" Now Roland is grinning and thinking he is funny.

"No! about..."

"So you don't think he is a self-righteous, narcissistic ass?" (Isn't Roland just SO FUNNY?)

"Dammit will you listen to me? Just shut up a minute!"

Roland just shut up. I told him what I want to tell him. He listened. Then he said, "you might be right." After that he went to his computer and started to work.

And I sat in my chair and realized that that emotional door that has been slamming shut whenever I get into conflict with him hadn't slammed shut. I realized that two weeks ago I would not have kept pushing in that conversation. I would have said "oh, forget it" and sat there fuming silently about how he doesn't listen and how tired I was of him not listening.

I did feel irritated with him, but it was the old kind of irritation, the sort that I know is going to quickly fade away.

So that's progress, and I thought I would tell you.

Oh, he finally got the last of the information I needed to send off the packet to the financial advisor (the last delay wasn't his fault, he had to wait for a mock-up of his pay stub from the new job). That is also adding to my sense of relief, I am sure.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Because she is sooooo pro-life

This isn't a post attacking Palin. In fact, I think her supporters are doing her a dis-service. My impression when I see her with Trig, when I read the things she has said about him, is that she loves him very much. I keep hearing that he is evidence that she is pro-life, which of course she is. Still, when people say that Trig's existence testifies to her commitment to her political values, it strongly suggests that that is the only reason she would have continued with the pregnancy.

I mean, who would give birth to a child with Down Syndrome unless they HAD to? Right?


I don't know what she and Todd felt when they learned they were expecting a child who had Down Syndrome. Presumably they worried about all the things that any parents would worry about. What are the chances that my child will be able to care for him or herself as I age and become less able to care for him or her? What will happen if my child cannot take care of him or herself? Who will take care of my child if that happens? Is the alternative seeing my child die young?

Other questions or course, but I know those would be foremost on my mind. I don't imagine I would think, "would it be a terrible thing to bring a child with Down Syndrome into this world?" or "do I want to work as hard as I would have to to care for a child with special needs?" I would probably think, "Will the work to care for this child eventually fall on my other children's shoulders, and would that be fair to them?"

I am pro-choice. I am 45. Roland and I have taken steps that pretty much guarantee we will not have any more birth children at all. I do not expect to have to answer those questions. But if I did, I would want to have the baby. I would not continue with the pregnancy because I believe that the other choice was immoral.If I did choose to end the pregnancy, it would be because of the answers to the questions above. I would be worried about what needs my kid would have in 15 or 25 years and whether I would be able to meet them. I would be worried about whether anyone else would do so.

If I knew the kid would be okay, that the society I live in would make sure that my kid would be okay even if I wasn't, I would want to have the baby. I would be glad I had the choice and that is the choice I would want to make.

So why is it that the religious right sees the birth of Trig as noble and evidence of a philosophical commitment, rather than just the birth of a wanted baby?

Is it because they think that living with and raising a child like Trig is so intrinsically difficult or unpleasant that someone would only do it if they thought they HAD to? Or is it because in the world as they envision it, Sara and Todd have no right to expect help? Perhaps the reason they know it takes courage to decide to have such a baby is that they know how little assistance Sara, Todd and especially Trig can expect to receive.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Blogging for Community Organizing Justice

I support Community Organizing Justice Day.

Of course you have heard the quip that is going around the web, right? "Jesus was a community organizer. Pontius Pilot was a governor."

Whose your favorite community organizer?

Personally, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony are at the top of my list, along with Margaret Sanger. All the women who worked to make things better.

A complete list though would have to go at least as far back as Moses, wouldn't it?

Am I a community organizer? I was when I was involved with PFLAG. We lobbied the legislature. I have depended on community organizers: those that organize the Pride Parade every year; who make possible the GLBT youth group that I depended upon; the people who have been willing to step forward in the churches I have attended; the students who made recycling a reality on campus.

So today I salute all the people who work locally and globally to make the world a more just and compassionate place.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Can even apologize well

Gary wanted to iron his t-shirt this morning before going to his girl friend's house. (I know, it didn't even look wrinkled to me.)

When he was done he asked how to turn off the iron and I said he could just unplug it. He said something else to me that I couldn't really hear because I was sewing the binding onto Andrew's quilt. I didn't ask him to repeat it because I had asked him to repeat more loudly the last three things he said and at some point you just can't ask anymore, you know? I smiled and nodded and he left.

I waited a minute and then walked to the stairs. I could hear the shower. So I went back and unplugged the iron.

When he came up half an hour later I said, "When you are suppposed to unplug the iron, you really need to remember to unplug the iron."

He said, "Oh, right. I forgot. My bad."

"It's okay."

I started to pour the water for my tea. He was still standing there and after a pause he said, "It's just..."

I interrupted him. "Stop! Right now, we're cool. Don't make excuses."

"I hear ya."

And we were both grinning.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Get Ready....

for blogging for community organizing ...

"I support the Day of Blogging for Community Organizing Justice: "I Am a Community Organizer". I propose that we all blog together on the topic on Monday, September 8, 2008."

"I am a community organizer" The Francis L. Holland Blog (via Third Mom)

Sex Education and Being the Mother of Boys

Gary has three hickies. Three.

So yeah, we had the talk. By the way, I find the car the very best place to talk to teenagers about sex. It is easier to talk about some things if you don't make eye contact, and not making eye contact in the car doesn't feel strange. Also they can't tell you that they know all that stuff and walk away.

He told me he was too shy to have sex, whatever that means. I told him that I would vastly prefer for him to wait years before becoming sexually active. "Years?" he said in surprise. "Yes, years." I also told him that I would also prefer to buy him condoms than have him engaging in unprotected sex. He was embarrassed but said that he got it, really.

I also said that it is different being the parent of a girls and boys in this way. I know that some people would think that if there was the pregnancy it is really the girl's "problem," but I didn't. He agreed that the boy was just as much involved as the girl. I told him though that if he was a girl showing up with hickies I would be able to consider just putting her on the pill. That wouldn't protect her from diseases, but I would know that she wasn't going to get pregnant before she was ready. I did not have that option with him though. There was no pill. All I could do was lecture and hope he behaved responsibly.

"So expect regular lectures, lots and lots of lectures."

Thinking About Process's questions

In response to my post, Confessions of an Irratible Wife, Process asks: "Remembering that we all replay our formative relationships, does this dynamic or the feelings you are having remind you of any other, earlier dynamic or feelings you had in a relationship? Once I answer this question for myself or otherwise figure out what's going on, I can usually change what I'm doing."

That is the sort of question my therapist asked me all the time. If my emotions right now seem even to me to be out of proportion with the issue, what am I re-feeling? If I can identify it, then I can deal with it. I can understand that these feelings are the feelings of my seven-year-old self (or whatever). They are important and they need to be respected and felt, but they are not my feelings now. I'm an adult and all that.

So...where does all this intolerance come from? Why is it that every way that I just can't seem to tolerate anything he does wrong?

Certainly it has to do with the debt, and yet when I think about the debt itself, I don't feel furious, especially now that we are working a plan and I know we will be okay. Okay, sometimes I get angry, but I am also angry (and mystified) by my own ability to "know and not know." When the financial planner asked us how it was that I didn't know Roland said, "Well, she never asked about more than one account at a time." And that was true. I resisted knowing what the total was -- and I never asked him how much he owed on his personal credit card.

Anyway, that is certainly part of it, but I don't think my reactions to him right now are as simple as saying that I am really angry about the debt itself.

I think that I am relieved and PISSED that he is so willing to turn the finances over to me.

On one hand, I think this is necessary. I think that he needs the cash allowance system we have in place. I think I do need to be the one who is keeping track of where we spend money and deciding if we can afford to go out to dinner or how much we can spend on presents.

And I think that is the problem...that is the childhood thing that is coming back. And I am pretty sure about it because I feel like crying while I type this. In so many ways, with my father and sometimes with my mother, I had to take on adult responsibilities when I was a kid. I was proud of what I had to do, protective of my turf (who would I be if I wasn't the responsible one who took care of things?), and at the same time resentful of having to do it. At my father's house I was in charge of things like making sure my sister and I got fed, and to school on time. When I left and Sis kept visiting, she stopped getting fed adequately. She hadn't learned to insist on being taken to dinner, to pretend she was really hungry at 4:00 so that we would eat before it was too late. I don't know if she took over setting the alarm clock and waking dad up over and over.

****Just had an "aha moment." I think it is the whole ritual of having to wake up my father over and over that is behind the RAGE I feel when Brian keeps falling back to sleep and I need to wake him back up. What I keep thinking is "THIS SHOULDN'T BE MY JOB!!!"****

So back to Roland. It is not the debt itself, it is that I am the one that has to be the grown up and fix everything. He cheerfully has turned everything over to me. When I want to ask him to help me make decisions like, "How much should we budget for birthday presents?" he has no response. He will limit himself however I decide. He is happy to be the irresponsible teenager and let me be the responsible adult.

And it is that that I am angry about.

And it is not an easy problem to solve, because I agree that he isn't good at budgeting, that learning to budget is going to be difficult for him, and that the best plan for our financial future is for me to deal with it.

So here I am again, being the adult while someone who should be sharing in the adult responsibilities gets to act like a teenager. So there are all these little ways in which I have always felt like I was "being the grown-up."

Like dealing with his emotions. Now, let me admit that I get upset too. I can be moody and unreasonable. I need to run away sometimes. In fact, it could be that I am more emotional than he is. The point though, is that there are times when we are having conversations and failing to communicate well. Typically I take deep breaths, speak in a controlled and calm voice, while he gets more agitated. He is not necessarily getting agitated at ME, just agitated. I feel like the adult helping a teenager de-escalate. Intellectually I know there are situations in which it is reversed, but that isn't the point right now.

The point is that whenever I am having that feeling that he is not being an emotional adult, my response is not to accept that he needs me to be the adult. My current response is either to behave in ways that feel teenager-y to me or to just shut down. I tune him out. I try to talk to him about my sister and he shows no more concern about it than I would expect from a teenager, and I decide I am not going to talk to him. He has trouble making a decision and I sarcastically tell me that if he tries reeeeally hard I bet he can figure it out all by himself.

And I do want to move past this. The things he is doing that are annoying me are not different than the things he has always done and, in sum, no worse than the things I do. Last night I came home from my second day of classes feeling emotionally wore out. Andrew has been cooking almost every night for a month and last night he came and told me that we didn't have the ingredients for the meal we had put on the calendar. Andrew and Roland both looked at me to figure out what we should do. I felt like crying and said in a irritable, childish voice, "I don't care what we eat. Can't the two of you just figure it out?" Just to be clear: I was the first person to behave poorly. Their turning to me and asking, "What should we do?" was not unreasonable. I am normally in charge of planning meals. Roland responded to my whining voice by saying gently, "Sure. Can we afford ... never mind. We'll figure it out." They bought pre-cooked chicken, bread and salad-in-a-bag at the grocery store.

The night before he was telling me a story and I realized that I had totally tuned out and hadn't heard a thing. I told him I was sorry and would he repeat it. A look of frustration went over his face, quickly, and he retold the story. I had to struggle to figure out exactly how I was supposed to respond to this story about his student. I really wasn't sure what he wanted and I said something lame like, "wow, that's interesting."

So...I think that is it. The recuring pattern for me is that I feel like I am forced to be the adult while someone else who should be at least also an adult is getting out of the responsibilities.

Sigh. There are all sorts of responsibilities we have divided up. I tend to talk about my jobs, but you should know that he does all the lawn care (just the basics, neither of us is a gardener), the laundry, and the vacuuming and tidying.

But the money stuff. I have all these conflicting feelings about it. I am relieved that I am in charge. To enjoy seeing the amount of money owed going down and the amount in savings go up. I both want Roland to take responsibility and to stay out of it because I want it to be my way. I wish that he could be adult and responsible about money so that I didn't have to worry about it. I would like to be the care-free one here.


We will get through it. Maybe seeing the patterns will help. I don't know.

Yesterday he came and told me that (10 days after getting his monthly "allowance") he had pretty much spent it all. I just said, "uh huh." He went on to tell me that he really needed to be able to buy treats for his students and that he thought that if he was really careful he would be able to buy it with the money he had left, but he wouldn't be able to buy anything else. I said, "okay."

I still have almost all of my allowance money. I did buy myself lunch in the student union yesterday since we were out of lunch meat and I really didn't want to pack a peanut butter sandwich.

And now Andrew and Brian

The public bus is a great success. I am very pleased. The car pool family we did not really get along with is not using the bus. The other family is. There son and Brian have been friends since they were babies (meeting when Brian was 6 weeks old and the other boy was 10 months). Roland, as you may know, ran a day care for three years, and the other boy was a regular. After that we found the same home day care together.

Every time Brian has got into serious trouble, the other boy has been involved. I still think he is the kid most likely to experiment early with sex and alcohol, but he is beginning to calm down. In any case, he is riding the bus too. He and Brian have many of the same classes, including the same last class, so they leave school and walk the six blocks to the bus stop together. So far the bus has arrived about five minutes after they get there.

I am very pleased. Brian is very cool with the bus. I expect that in the winter we will do some picking up, and I hope that the other family will share that. I only want to go get them if there is heavy rain or icy sidewalks. We will see. In any case, it is looking good.

Andrew leaves for college in just a couple of weeks. He still has to get the quilt back from the quilter, although that will happen maybe today. Then I have to put the binding on. It would be nice to have it this weekend since I don't have grading to do.

It warmed my heart a few days ago when he came upstairs and said he had been doing computer searches for plane tickets for Thanksgiving and Christmas and wanted to know if we could buy his tickets. He had found good prices, so we did buy tickets for both holidays. He wanted to buy for Spring Break too, but the discount airline wasn't selling tickets that far out.

He didn't want to leave without having tickets in place for coming home. He is going to miss us too.

One of you bloggers mentioned etsy stores that sell cupcakes in jars. Whoever you are, thank you! I had been wondering for a while how I could send him a not-expensive birthday treat.

I heard from Carl

He called last night. He wanted to let me know tha the was calling for no reason at all, really, none. Just wanted to say hi.

He did manage to make sure I remembered about his birthday being not that far away. Gary and Evan in September, Andrew and Carl in September. I have not forgotten.

My relationship with Carl is one that is difficult for me to understand. He is a fairly compulsive liar, and yet I love him dearly. I could not be friends with him, but I can be his mother. Still, I try to pay attention to what he says as a response to what I have said and what he volunteers on his own.

I told him that he was getting mail here again. I confessed that I had opened one to see if I should just throw it away. It was an offer from the phone company on whom he had defaulted. They were offering to settle his account for a percentage of what he actually owed. So that whole enthusiastic conversation we had in which he declared his intention to get his finances in order, told me how well he had been doing the past couple of months, and that I should definitely send on anything I was getting so he could settle his debts and start building a clean credit record -- I'm pretty sure that was all made up. It isn't that he didn't believe it when he said it. I think that when I brought it up he was full of good intentions. After the conversation the importance of good credit will fade.

He did tell me about a boy who visited from the retreat center where he used to work and said that he was thinking about going back there. That is as close to telling me that he is in a relationship as he has come in five years. I did not push. He tends to imagine himself deeply in love very early on. None of the relationships have lasted very long, except for the really unhealthy one. I let him tell me what he wanted and asked for no more.

We talked about Andrew going away to college and about how I was going to miss him. He told me that he was thinking about trying to come home more too. Again, I don't think he was planning on telling me that before he called me, and I am not certain that it remained a priority after he hung up.

Carl is not a malicious liar. He just wants to please you, or at the very least make sure that you don't think poorly of him. So he can't tell me that he lost his birth certificate. He has to tell me that it was stolen. He can't tell me that he misses me too; he has to tell me that he is planning on saving money to come and visit.

I guess I have a little of Carl in me too. It is difficult for me to be totally honest with my mom. I don't want her to now about my mistakes. I don't want to disappoint her.

But it is always good to hear from him.

Update on Gary

Gary asked for, and got, an advance on his allowance so he could buy what I think is an extravagant present for his girlfriend. He now will not have any money until November, which also means that he will not be able to take the martial arts class he wanted, since his social worker and I agreed that he needed to put down a "deposit" on the first month. His social worker suggested we just make him pay for half of it, but I argued that he really couldn't afford that, although I did think that he should have to put some money up for it since he dropped out of football. On one hand, I am not one of those parents who insists that kids always continue with activities they sign up for, on the other hand, I don't want to send the message that we and or the agency will keep tossing out money as he follows whim after whim.

I also previously bought him one large, expensive protein powder thing. He has gone through it quickly and he agreed, without protest, that he will have to buy more on his own.

Oh, and he tells me that he doesn't really need money.

And I am inclined to believe that. If he has it, he has plenty that he wants to spend it on, but he can easily decide that he just doesn't need anything.

He turns sixteen in just a few weeks though and does plan on looking for a job then. Sometimes he seems very seriously about wanting to get a job. Other times he will tell me how important it is to him that he have time for everything else he wants to do, and that he can only get a job if it will fit around everything else.

I get it. He hasn't been able to be a kid for a very long time. He is enjoying the freedom. So he may look for a job and it may work out fine. Or he may just be a kid with no money.

Given the amount number of times he will be one the bus now that school starts, buying him a bus pass is not economical. Fortunately he is a trustworthy kid. I have a small container into which I am putting change, mostly quarters, from which he is allowed to take bus money.

He still has not been able to see his dad, and he doesn't seem to get to talk to him much. He will tell me that he is used to this, isn't disappointed, and has no expectations. Then a few days later he will ask if his social worker has heard from his dad yet -- clearly trying to keep his hopes under control. It's sad. Before his dad spent his working days far away from the family. Gary could count on his dad being awake and alone at 9:00pm. He called him every other night and they chatted for anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour. Now his dad comes home to the wife and kids and it is almost impossible for him to find a time to call when his dad can talk. He also suspects his step-mother of deleting his messages. I don't know if that is true, but it is easier to believe that than to think that maybe his dad hears them and doesn't respond.

I really don't think his dad is a bad person, flawed, but not bad.

I wonder if it is in some ways difficult for him to hear Gary being happy without him. I mean, I understand complex emotions. Of course he wants Gary to be happy, but he doesn't feel needed the way he did when Gary was in the group home and lonely. I think that Gary's relatively happiness makes visiting Gary less imperative and more uncomfortable. I hope he understands that even if Gary is mostly happy here, he does still miss his father very much. Gary needs his dad in his life.

In any case, Gary is doing mostly pretty well. He seems to be taking responsibility for keeping himself organized. He has a schedule for doing homework, going to the Y, seeing the girlfriend, and cleaning his room.

I tell you, it's a tough life I've got here right now.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Confessions of Irritable Wife

Something happened post-debt-confession: I stopped being a grown-up. Or something.

It's little things that have been going on for as long as I have known him and that I had pretty much given up being angry about. Like I say, "I wonder if we should do X or Y" and he responds by saying, "That won't work for me because I have to do Z." And then I have to ask which won't work for him, X, Y or both? He will sometimes respond by explaining how important Z is. (Are you following all this?)

For about a decade my response has been to take a deep breath and say carefully, "Sweetie, do you mean that you can't do X because of Z or that you can't do Y because of Z?" If he is very distracted he might get frustrated because I apparently don't understand how really, really important it is that he do Z. It isn't that he doesn't want to do X or Y, it is that he has to do Z. And then I begin to figure out that he can't do either, or more likely, can't think about which he has to do. I then decide whether it is important to make him hear me or just let it go for a while. It annoys me, but it is something I have learned to "let go."

Recently we have these sorts of conversation and I get pissed and say something like, "Dammit! Will you listen to me! I get that you need to do Z. I have no problem with you doing Z. Go ahead. Do Z! Just tell me whether, when you have finished Z you would prefer to do X or Y!"

Or this morning. We were sitting in the van waiting to be sure that the public bus showed up to pick up Brian and I said, "My sister called yesterday. Her husband is going to be deployed to Iraq."

(Now I will admit this isn't the best time for a serious conversation, but it really is difficult to get time with him. He is usually sitting at his computer working with head phones on.)

He said, "Is that a good thing or a bad thing."

I said, "Well, on the up side he will get more money, Sis might get help with school, and he is going as a cook so it is a bit less dangerous than other positions. Still, Sis is pretty anxious."

He said, "Wow. There's the bus. I guess we can go." And then he pulled out into traffic and turned on the radio.

And I sat there and thought evil thoughts. Gary was in the back seat. When he got to my work he pulled up and said very nicely (he knew something was wrong but not what), "Is this good or do you want me to drive you around the building?"

I opened the door and walked away without saying anything -- just like a pissy teenager.

I don't know exactly what I wanted him to say about Sis's husband being deployed. I really don't. I just wanted him to say something. I wanted it to make some sort of impact on his psyche.

And a month ago I would have handled it differently. I would have told him that I needed more from him. He would have apologized and asked me what else I wanted to say. I would not have been able to think of much else that I wanted to say. I mean, what else is there to say? He's going to Iraq in Feburary. She's nervous. I feel for her.

That is a pretty dramatic example, maybe one in which I come off looking like the sympathetic one and he is the insensitive heel. The truth though is that he is a very nice guy who sometimes needs to be told what I need from him. And this is a confusing situation since my sister's marriage has been not good for a while. She is has said that there isn't a reason to get divorced, but particularly since she started going back to school, she just doesn't have anything to say to him. I did, months ago, make a tasteless joke that she would probably make a good widow. (I did say it was tasteless.) Actually she joked that maybe it would be a good thing if he was deployed since they don't talk anyway. She didn't mean it though. Not in the way where you are happy if it happens.

So Roland really doesn't know what I think or what I need.

And I don't like having so little patience or tolerance for him.

It's like I forgave him for this really big thing and that used up all the forgiveness and understanding I had. When I think about the debt, I am not mad. I feel sympathy for him and understanding. At the same time though, it is like he has used up all his credit with me.

I don't want it to be this way. I'm not saying that I don't have any control over my reactions and choices, but this unforgiving response is something that is coming from somewhere deep and I don't know how to make myself get over it. It isn't something that I have direct control over. I find myself hoping that the raise he is getting will make that part of my lizard brain will really get over it.

The most loving thought I have for him these days is a deep conviction that he deserves better treatment than he is getting from me. I have faults and I wouldn't want someone to have no acceptance of mine. What if he got angry at me for everything little thing?

And I have deeply mixed feelings about this post. On one hand, given the way I work through things, I feel like if I write about it to people who might have insight, it might help me move on. I want to have a different attitude toward him. On the other hand, writing this post and talking about him feels like an example of the sort of behavior I want to stop.

I want to be the person who doesn't need to write this post.

Maybe I will delete it later.