Oh, where to start? It’s been an eventful few days.
Well, I think Lizzie has the stomach flu. For her to topple is really something else. In the nearly 5 years she’s been mine she has only ever thrown up one time and that was a 24 hour bug. Even now, she’s not what I call typically sick. Since yesterday afternoon she’s been complaining of stomach pain. But she isn’t spewing, nothing coming out the other end, no fever – just tummy pain and lethargy. I think she woke up about 5 times last night wandering into my room to tell me her stomach hurt. Ellie reported that Lizzie kept trying to crawl into bed with her, too, last night. So, anyway, when I took the others to school today I reported her absence to the secretary who asked, conversationally, what was going on. I told her I wasn’t really sure, but described the symptoms. The secretary then nodded and told me the stomach flu was making the rounds at school Great!
I think we all need to be using copious amounts of what Ellie has now economically begun to refer to as “hanitizer” (hand sanitizer). That’s such a better word, I think!
Well, we have a new president. And I am very pleased. I saw a meme on FB the other day that showed Jesus walking, loaded with suitcases, with the wording, “I’m headed back to the White House!” Yeah, I don’t think so. I’ve said it before on here – Christians are going to be disappointed if they think the country is going to reverse its anti-Christian stance just because we have a Republican in office. BUT, conservatism is going to have a renewal, at least to a certain point. And for that, I am grateful. I was able to listen to President Trump’s inaugural speech and was really impressed. I saw another meme that pointed out (true or falsely, I have no idea) that in one of Obama’s inaugural addresses he referred to himself 47 times and in Trump’s he only did that 3 times and spoke repeatedly of the “American people.” I was not impressed by the rioting and protesting. Sam saw that on the news coverage that night and was absolutely outraged. For being a little boy he has pretty strong opinions on right and wrong. Neither was I impressed with the women’s march on Washington the next day. They don’t speak for me. Women do not have any rights in this country that men do not have. If they want to put their energy into defending women's rights how about standing up for the rights of women suffering oppression around the world under Sharia law? How about standing up for the rights of the unborn? A bunch of pathetic, ungrateful whiners…And if you listened to the mainstream media you’d think this was the greatest movement since Martin Luther King walked the streets of Washington.
After cancelling twice, I finally got Ben in to the dentist (it is in Iowa City – it’s kind of a day’s commitment to get him there). They said Ben is taking excellent care of his teeth. You know, I think that might be due to the autism. He is very regimented in his self-care routine. It completely throws him off if someone is in the bathroom when he is ready to take care of himself in the morning. He’ll just sit in the rocker in his pajamas. When I ask him why he doesn’t use the time to get dressed, he always acts like it just never occurred to him. And I don’t think it does. In his mind A must come first, followed by B and there can be no switching! So, thankfully, he has no cavities, which would have necessitated another trip out there. Now they’re telling me to not even worry about getting his wisdom teeth removed yet. They’re still in the baby stages and he doesn’t have any pain. The one dentist said to just plan on doing it sometime in his twenties since recovery gets harder the older you get.
I had to pay another visit to the DHS today (bad section of town). I got a notice last week telling me that Sam and David’s Medicaid is being cancelled Feb. 1. I called them and miracle or miracles, actually got to speak to a person, who told me they never received my paperwork (that I mailed in late Nov). Grrr….So, I made the trip up there today, refilled the paperwork, and re-copied all 20 pages of last year’s tax return for them. Now they can’t tell me they didn’t receive the paperwork. They weren’t even going to let me talk to a real person, but I threw a minor fit at the front window and insisted I wanted to be taken back so I could talk to someone. That finally happened and the guy must be new or incompetent because he was trying to tell me he didn’t know what happened – they had my taxes right there on the screen. Until I pointed out to him that the taxes shown were from 2014, not 2015. Oops. Why are government offices filled with dumb people? I would have felt better if I could have left there today knowing for sure everything was taken care of, but all I could do was leave a second copy of all the paperwork and hope it all works out this time.
I know I’m a bit of a snob when I go into places like this. The offices are so sterile and cold and uninviting. And they’re filled with people- desperate people, people who don’t speak English, people who don’t bathe regularly (I was grateful for my scarf that I could bury my nose in). I would say my compassion levels have risen in the last few years, but it’s still not an enjoyable experience.
Well, Will hit a deer with my van last Wed. night. He was moving some furniture to his apartment. I got a call from him about 10 min. after he left the house and he said, “Well, the good news is that we’re ok!” Apparently it was a good sized buck that came up out of the ditch. The bad news is that it didn’t die on the spot, but ran off. It happened on that same highway that I hit a deer the last time – about 7 or 8 years ago now. It crumpled up part of the hood, smashed out the headlight area, did some radiator damage. Will wasn’t sure if the van was going to be drive-able so he had me bring the truck over, thinking he’d transfer the furniture to that. I hate driving that beast. It’s been so muddy that it got stuck in our yard first and then Will was cautioning me not to go in our ditch – and I couldn’t even see the ditch in the dark! Talk about stress! In the end, the van was still drive-able, even though it was losing radiator fluid (which is just water, I think). We were able to get the furniture unloaded in the apartment and then deposited the van in front of a body shop that I’ve used before in Indianola.
I’m not sure what’s going to happen. The body shop lady told me she thinks they will total out the van. Quite honestly, I’d be ok with that. The van has developed a real rust problem that would cost me more than $5000 to fix – which I’m not going to spend. So, sooner or later it’s going to start rusting complete holes and I’ll have to replace it a lot sooner than I had planned. But, they may not. In that case, I’ll just have to keep spraypainting the rust until I can’t anymore. The adjuster called me today (finally!) and told me he’d be out today to look at it. I haven’t heard anything yet. I’m not crazy about the idea of having to vehicle shop all over again, either.
I’m not quite sure what to think. It seemed to me, at the time, that getting that red van was such a “God” thing. And maybe it was. But I sure didn’t expect to only have it for 4 months. I’ll know more in a day or so, I guess. In the meantime, we are limping around with David’s car. I’ve had to have the Littles ride the bus home a couple of days when I haven’t been available to pick them up. I don’t like doing that too much, either.
Yesterday, when we had Sunday lunch I prayed and one of the things I prayed about was wisdom regarding the van. As soon as I said “amen” Ellie piped up, “Ahem – Will!”
Last week Sam came home from school all excited about Anne Frank. He had never heard of her before. But he’d been telling his teacher all about the book he’s been reading about the boy fighting in the Resistance movement. She told him he’d probably enjoy reading about Anne Frank. So when they had library that day, she tried to help him find “The Diary of Anne Frank” but couldn’t locate it. However, they did find a children’s book about Anne Frank and Sam brought that home. He was so excited by it he had it read in two days. He kept telling me all the things he’d learned in it and even said at one point, “I just feel so sorry for Anne!”
So, Will and I went to Paul’s grandma’s funeral last Wed. Everything worked out just like we had hoped. We got into town a little bit early so we detoured and drove by the little house we used to live in Weston. We moved from there right before David was born- like 5 days before. It was still there. I think it’s been painted, but other than that, it looked exactly the same. The entire town looked the same, actually.
We parked several blocks away from the funeral home. We didn’t want to be in the lot and get accidentally caught up in the funeral procession. But, the home is in the downtown portion of the city and I had emptied out all my change the night before and didn’t have anything to plug a meter with. So, we walked further than we might have, otherwise. We slipped into the back of the home just as the pastor was beginning. The set up there is that large windows are in the back of the chapel. A long hallway runs along it and the sound is piped out there. So even if you are not in the chapel, you can still participate fully. It was the ideal situation for what we were hoping to accomplish. We signed the guestbook and stood out in the hallway. Of course, the whole time we were having to watch to see if anyone was getting up to leave (it was amazing how many bladders suddenly gave out when the pastor stood up to give his message!). Because, if it was someone to be avoided we were going to have to duck out of sight! It felt so cloak-and-dagger-like and really, this should not have been the case.
It's not a huge secret that some of the members of Paul’s family have been very angry with me since his death. My efforts at mediation have been rejected. It’s been hurtful – agonizing at times, really – but the more time passes the more I’m ok with it. I am realizing that some relationships won’t ever be restored until Heaven. It’s not right, but when sin is in the picture, it’s just the way it is. Because of that I wasn’t sure what to do about the funeral. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought that I really ought to go. I had three reasons, really. Paul loved his grandmother and it kind of felt like I ought to be there in his place. His grandma had always told Paul that she wanted him to sing at her funeral and I know he had every intention of doing so. I think I mentioned that in my last post. So, after his death I had sent her a cd of his songs that Marcia had burned for me and I told her that now, if she still wanted, Paul could still “sing” for her funeral. She told me that she already picked one out. I wanted to be there to hear that, And, I was hoping that once people realized I had taken the effort to go (probably when they saw my name in the book) they might realize that I truly do still care about all of them.
At one point, Paul’s brother’s wife did come out in the hallway. She spied me and gave me a big hug. I’ve never had any problem with her. In fact, she is one of the reasons this entire situation grieves me so much. Paul’s song was the last one played. The pastor then prayed and as he did so, Will and I slipped out and walked to the van. We had done it! I was just thanking God that everything had worked out the way I had envisioned, that no scenes had occurred (not that Will not I would have caused one), and that I had been able to hear Paul sing again.
And all was fine…until three days later when I received a nasty, nasty note from Paul’s sister. At first I was discouraged. Here I thought I was doing a good thing by sacrificing my time and gas money to go and it had been completely twisted around in her mind. But, it didn’t take long for me to realize her complaints were very convoluted and non-sensical. Will pointed out to me that if we had not gone, I probably would have received a note, too, blasting me for me being callous and non-caring. I just can’t win with some people. My responsibility is not with her. It’s to do as I feel led and I really felt like I was supposed to go – so I did.
And that’s the end of that. I realized as I stood in the back of the funeral home, watching the funeral that I am more ok than I realized with no longer being part of the Heywoods anymore. Unless hearts soften and reconciliation occurs, I think that was my last funeral of theirs that I will attend.
I read an article in the Register Sunday that still has me upset. A few months ago a DM teenager died after her parents starved her to death. Her brothers were also abused. Within a few days of announcing the parents’ arrest, I read that the kids had been adopted out of foster care. My first thought was, “These people were dealing with RAD.” And then Sunday the front page article was about a family in Urbandale who had adopted a handful of siblings, in addition to have several bio kids of their own. The parents were arrested last spring for all kinds of alleged abuse and now the details of the allegations are coming out. Sure enough, these children were also diagnosed with RAD. What’s scary is that this family homeschooled all their kids. They were involved with the Network where Will took a class in high school. At one point, the family was attending a local, Pentacostal, church and the pastor and his wife were so concerned about the mother’s harshness towards the oldest daughter that they approached her with their concerns. The family quit attending after that. Eventually, the oldest daughter was able to run away (as she was being forced to run laps barefoot around her house) and get help. She now lives with this same pastor and is attending the same college that Will goes to.
Both arrests hit home for me, obviously. I find that I am upset for a couple of reasons. One, it should have never happened. Abuse is wrong – obviously. But I understand too well how a parent can be driven to that point when they are dealing with Reactive Attachment Disorder. When a parent is being battered over and over again by a child who simply does not care and cannot function in a way that they should – particularly now that their circumstances have improved – it is very frustrating to a parent. It is so easy to think that the child is just bad or comes from a “bad seed.” It’s frustrating because you have poured your time, energy, and money into this child and they don’t care. They seem to hate you at times. Any love you feel for the child can get buried under all the hurt. It’s so easy to envision the future and not see any hope of things changing and a trajectory of misery for the child if they don’t make better choices. It’s hard when they don’t respond to discipline like your bio kids do and it’s easy to think that well, it just needs to be more frequent and more harsh – maybe that will get through to them and make them want to change. It’s hard when you seek help and nobody believes you (this hasn’t happened to me, but it’s a story I’ve heard repetitively from other RAD parents). It’s easy to feel helpless and hopeless. It hurts to lose the dreams you had when you first contemplated adopting these children. It’s easy to begin to actively dislike a child. That dislike can then slip into outright abuse and the people who initially rescued a child from abuse end up hurting the child even further. I’m not saying it isn’t the parents’ fault. They’re the adults. They need to have self-control. They need to keep asking for help until they find the right people. They need to at least pretend to like their child even when those long-ago feelings have been completely battered into oblivion. There’s not an excuse and those that hurt their children need to have them removed and face the wrath of the court system. But, I do understand. RAD children are not like other children. It is HARD to parent these kids. And so, I find myself conflicted between horror that these parents allowed themselves to become abusers and empathy because I understand their never-ending struggle to parent these children.
And now, because this latest family was a homeschooling family, social media and the news are abuzz with suggestions that maybe the state should be taking a closer look at homeschoolers. Maybe homeschooling is just a way to hide abuse. Maybe all homeschoolers are starving and beating their children. It makes me mad and it makes me roll my eyeballs. If a parent really hates their child, they’re not going keep them home all day long when the local school is willing to keep them for 8 hours a day. But I also know that some homeschool families operate more from a sense of obligation and long-buried ideology. Some have a hard time recognizing that something that once worked well and was a great fit is not that way any longer. And so they keep their kids at home and resentment, on top of everything else that is already going on, continues to build.
And, speaking of RAD, Ellie, who has been doing so awesome, slipped the other night. I knew it was coming, but it still made me mad. They had really nice-quality funeral brochures for Paul’s grandma’s funeral – colored, nice paper, tri-fold. Included in it were several pictures I had never seen before of a young Dorothy. I brought one home, thinking I’d save it for the kids. It’s part of their heritage – the boys’, anyway. And that rotten Ellie took my scrapbook slicer and sliced right through the brochure in several places. And then she lied about it. It wasn’t until I threatened to have Will not come to her classroom this Friday for the father/kid morning at school that she finally admitted that yes, it was her. I already knew that. I was able to tape the brochure, but tape yellows in time. If only fixing Ellie was so easy…
Well, I heard today from the insurance company. They are not going to total out my van. That means I have to put up with the rust. Rats. But, it also means that I don’t have to go van shopping this week, either. So, I guess I’ll just keep spraying over the rust spots and when they finally start putting actual holes in my van, I’ll go buy something else. I may have it back in a week or so, it sounds like.
Lizzie seems to be doing better today. I kept her home again, but she’s spent the entire day on my laptop. I thought Ellie would be home for sure today, too. She came home yesterday, complaining of a tummy ache. I finally asked her if she wanted to take a nap and she immediately crawled into her bed (very unusual). And then around 3 this morning I woke up to her crying in the living room. She was on her knees crying that her tummy hurt. But this morning when I got her up for school, she seemed just fine. So, I don’t know! I kept thinking the school would be calling me, but no news is good news, I guess. Maybe this is the worst of it for everyone. I hope so!
Well, Sam and Ellie are home from school. Ellie made it the entire day but now that it is time to do chores is complaining that her stomach hurts and acts like any movement at all causes excruciating pain. I wish parents had a “truth-meter” they could wave over their kids at times like these.
David’s car needs new brakes. I thought I heard something this morning when I took the kids in. Driving in just now I was left with no doubt. I know what that grinding/airplane-like sound means! I just hope they can wait until next week when I get my van back.
And, finally, another reason I love Sam’s teacher: I picked the kids up and he told me, “Boy, do I have a surprise for you!” He got in the van and pulled out of his backpack a brand new copy of “The Diary of Anne Frank.” His teacher went and purchased a copy of the book for her classroom after Sam expressed an interest in reading it last week. How amazing is that?! Sam said, “I was thinking maybe you and I could read it together.”
I think we can manage that!