Reading Spikes and the Big Green Light

This is Em wearing a favorite outfit she got for Christmas – a white sweater with a fuzzy heart and black polka dot pants, holding our future foster baby. “I didn’t want to color the baby in, Mama, because we don’t know what we will get and I didn’t want to assume.”

I’m so stinkin’ excited, folks. I can’t even tell you how excited! Well, I will, right now actually…

The Right Way to Start Off the Week

Finally, after weeks of delays, and a nearly seven-month-long process, we received our foster care home study and a contract to sign with the State of Missouri. As of tonight, when my husband is home from work and can sign the paperwork, and send it back, we can officially accept a foster child into our home.

Holy Toledo, we finally have that big green light!

Em drew the picture at the top of this post after hearing that we had finally received approval. I would say that she’s excited, wouldn’t you?!

Intrusive Doesn’t Begin to Cover It

I am not complaining, believe me I am not, but I did have a chuckle when I read another prospective foster parent’s post…

Birth certificates, drives license, ss cards, recommendations letters, W2s, physical, FBI finger printed, 30 hours of parenting training,….all to foster a child…all I had to do was spend 3 minutes in the back of a Dodge Omni with an idiot to get a biological child….

And the paperwork was only the beginning. The home visits were down and dirty and asked about every part of our lives.

I can only hope it helps the social workers weed out those who are in it for the money (the joke is on them, Missouri has one of the lowest compensation rates) or for some nefarious reasons.

I’m pretty open, and I share a good deal of my life as it is, but even I grew weary of it by the end. The proverbial straw came with the request to get a statement from a counselor my eldest daughter and I had seen over sixteen years ago in the wake of a particularly nasty divorce and abuse on my ex-husband’s part. I wrote to the social worker and said…

My daughter, despite her insistence on blaming me for all of her problems along with the waxing and waning of the moon, has a right to her privacy. She has a right to break ties with me, as much as it has hurt me and our small family, and she has a right to not be intruded upon in her decision to no longer be in our lives or to re-hash events that happened half a lifetime ago. And if that means that you or your supervisor are not interested in allowing my family to be foster parents, so be it.

I have been patient, I have been open, and I have been honest. I am not so desperate to have another child that I will intrude on my daughter’s decision to ostracize herself from our family. I spent nearly 12 years chasing after my child, desperate to have a relationship with her, and I’m done.

I don’t need that, and neither does she. As talented and smart as she is, from this armchair psychiatrist’s perspective, she is at worst a narcissist, and at the very least suffers from depression and anxiety. And that is the extent of what I am going to say about her because I am not a psychologist and she is not in my home nor will she be around a foster child.

In the end, you and your supervisor have a decision to make. Either we are people who can provide a good, safe home for a child, or we are not.

That was Sunday. And today we received the home study, without any more questions, hoops, or “And one more thing…”

Reading over the home study, which included gushing praise from all of our references including Em’s 5th grade home room teacher, was a very bright spot in my day. It’s not every day you read things like…

Emily meets and exceeds all expectations. She pushes herself to do more
and do better. She is aware if she is struggling with a task and will ask for help. Emily takes it upon herself to work above and beyond her potential. Emily has a great relationship with everyone she meets. She is empathetic to the feelings of those around her. She wants to help people and make them happy. She knows how people’s temperaments are and does a great job meeting them at their level.

Emily makes everyone’s day better. Emily’s parents are what all teachers hope for. They reply quickly and happily. They ask questions and seek to be proactive. I always feel comfortable and supported by Emily’s parents. I can’t think of a better family. They are understanding, welcoming, funny, intelligent and selfless. They have all helped make me a better teacher.

How amazing is that?! I just couldn’t stop smiling thinking about that!

More Training On the Horizon

Now that we are certified, there is annual training to be done. I have already had us signed up for two classes – The Importance of Sibling Relationships and CPR/First Aid. The first one we just have to do as part of our annual hours of training, the second class is one that I am really looking forward to. Knowing CPR/First Aid is an excellent skill to have.

Reading, Reading, and More Reading

So in case you haven’t been reading this blog since the beginning – my 11-year-old has not had a particularly positive view of reading in general.

I can’t tell you the number of times she has said to me, “Mama, I just don’t like reading.”

As the author of six books, four blogs, and the proud owner of nearly 30 journals in various stages of completion – to say that I was horrified at that statement doesn’t do it justice.

She was late to enter the reading game – and was nearly 8 1/2 when she finally nailed reading and felt competent. And while we were homeschooling Kindergarten through 4th grade, she still resisted, even after learning, complaining, dragging her feet, and generally down in the mouth whenever tasked with reading more than a few words or sentences.

In my world, which is overly filled with books (I think I own at least 1,000 books at this point), I have struggled to understand this. I love to read, and when I was younger I plowed through books, slowed only by a lack of accessibility or funds. My parents never thought to take me to libraries for some reason, I know not why.

And honestly, I have clung to the belief that all it would take was the right book to turn the key and open the reading frenzy floodgates.

I have bided my time, counseled patience in the face of my own fears, and countered to her “I don’t like reading” complaints with “You don’t like reading yet, but you will get there.”

I struggled with reading aloud to her, since reading aloud, especially while lying in a prone position in bed, induces sleep regardless of my energy levels. I finally figured out that, if I read to her first thing in the morning, while sitting upright in the library, I would not fall asleep. So that is what we have been doing, reading the three “Bad” books by Pseudonymous Bosch and then moving on to The Girl Who Drank the Moon, which is a lovely story.

Waiting in the wings are Hatchet, clothed in a leather 30th Anniversary edition and The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog

And reading these aloud to Em has been wonderful. Truly. I was over the moon to finally find a solution to my falling asleep while reading problem. It was something that had dogged me through Dee’s childhood and Em’s early childhood and was sooo frustrating!

Now that we have a steady pattern of reading in the morning, I have added the evening adventure of reading side-by-side in bed to the mix. I start by inviting her to prepare for bed at 8:30 or so. “Hey, come brush your teeth with me.”

She does and then I say, “I’m going to read in bed. Why don’t you grab a book and join me?” We cuddle close and read our books. I turned around twice and she had moved from graphic novels to Book One of Dork Diaries, Tales From a Not-So-Fabulous Life that she had checked out of the library at school.

Today she said, “I really like this book and I want to try and find more of them.”

“Would you like me to see if I can find them on Amazon?”

Her eyes lit up, “Oh, yes please, Mama!”

She will have Books 2 and 3 in her hands by the end of the week. Around here, when this recalcitrant “I just don’t like reading” girl says she likes a book, you can be damn sure I’m getting it for her!

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