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If you think this is about YOU, maybe you should go reconcile with your parent and work to get back your kids instead of continuing to be a jerk. If you think I am you, or similar to you, welcome! :-)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Jive Turkey Winnings & Golden Corral

I have become the Meat Mogul of the Midwest.

It started innocently enough with an invitation to Turkey Bingo. I don't like Bingo of any sort. I am too young for Bingo. It is long, it is boring, and it causes me to eat way more than I need to eat. The friend was desperate for companionship. I went. I had to buy cards. I won not just a turkey, but a 24 pound turkey with a pie (I chose frozen key lime), a box of premade stuffing, 2 cans of green beans, a can of mushroom soup, a can of fried onions, and a can of cranberry sauce. My friend would not help herself to any of the bounty.

I apparently bought the most food besides the food pantry at food co-op. I won a spiral ham (22 pounds), a turkey (12.4 pounds), 2 cans of green beans, a box of premade stuffing, a premade pumpkin pie, a mini container of premade Jello, a can of pumpkin, and a can of cranberry sauce.

I offered the bounty to family. Why? My husband was really enthralled with Golden Corral last year for Thanksgiving.

My dearly departed aunt and best friend had just gotten out of the hospital, and the usual suspects for Thanksgiving either didn't feel up to the turkey meal, or didn't feel up to much of anything besides broth. We took the girls to Golden Corral, thinking we could have everything we usually have without clean-up or a lot of fuss. Our family of four is small, and most people, we thought, would be with extended family and friends.

Golden Corral was filled to the brim with extended families and friends. Some had matching Thanksgiving sweatshirts. Some were dressed to the nines. Some brought board games. Some brought cards. Golden Corral had football on four TVs.

For those who wanted it, there was Thanksgiving goodness, with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, rolls, cranberries, and pumpkin pie. And mac n cheese. And steak. And fried fish. A full salad bar. A full dessert bar, which included red velvet cake, carrot cake, brownies, sugar-free chocolate layer cake, and bananas foster. Tacos could be had, as well as nachos and Asian offerings. The baked potato bar was also open for business.

People prayed out in the open without fear of embarrassment. Kids played together, even those not in the same families. Even Islam was represented as a family of 20 or so, ladies complete with hijab, husbands at the other end, children and teens scattered between them by gender, decided to celebrate the day without having to cook.

A good time was had by all: White, black, brown, tan, Christian, Muslim, Jew, or just plain turkey connoisseur. Friends who spent a rather lot on their meal and were not as pleased begged to know the location of the Golden Corral in question, and what time it opened on Thanksgiving this year.

Our Thanksgiving regulars were kind enough to extend an invitation for another year. This was not anticipated, and I told them I did not give them the meat simply to prompt an invitation. I was told that I was being silly, that we were family (and we are, by blood and marriage), and were expected, with or without the meat.

Hubby did have a request. In addition to the ham and turkey, I am bringing roast beef. Seems he acquired a taste for it at Golden Corral last year.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Fallacies and Just Plain Myths

People presume. It's in our nature. And those adult children we cherished spread their own rumor and innuendo. So, let's examine, in no particular order, the crazy ideas people have as to why we would want to be retread parents and how that's going to work.

1.) Grandparents steal their grandchildren because they can't expand their family on their own, and want children who are related to them, rather than adopting strangers.
FACT: I have yet to meet a grandparent who did not want to stay a grandparent. But, for whatever other reasons, out of love for these grandchildren, they took them into their home.

2.) Grandparents want to raise their grandchildren because it makes them feel young again and restores their vigor.
FACT: I know only one guy who wanted to do this. I guess he is the only guy who wanted to make grandchildren and steal them. He purposely left his young teen daughter alone with boys and left, hoping she would get pregnant. He got angry when she did not. His daughter eventually left because of his abuse, to live with her mother's family, her mother being dead. This so-called gentleman eventually "bought" a child from one of the neighborhood girls in a family way, after my baby sister turned him down on the purchase of one of my beautiful nieces and nephews.

Otherwise, raising a grandchild does not make one feel young. You are all advised to eat nutritionally, exercise regularly however you can best afford to do so, and get plenty of sleep (Take a nap every day if retired). Those kids are going to keep you busy. This is not a sprint, but a marathon.

3.) Grandparents are critical of their adult children, and took the children based belittling and controlling the adult child.
FACT: Let me introduce you to Grandma Jane and Grandpa Jim. They live in the suburbs of San Francisco. They raised four children. Good members of the LDS, they raised their children in the tenants of their faith. The kids joined Little League, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, went to parties and dances, had friends to the house. All the children grew up, save one, married, had families, live all over the country, but still go to see Jane and Jim. Jane and Jim looked forward to an empty nest and grandchildren when they wanted them to visit.

Then there was Peter.

For whatever reason, Peter decided he preferred drugs. Jane and Jim did their very best to see that Peter did not feel loathing for his drug use, but that he did have opportunities for rehab. Instead, Peter chose to have sex with a young woman who was also a drug addict.

The result of that union was Robby. Robby has lived with Jane and Jim since he was six months old, because Peter and his ex-girlfriend did not feel compelled to care for Robby. Robby is now 13. Grandma and Grandpa do right by Robby.

Jane and Jim, good Californians, still feel maybe it is good for Robby to see Peter and his mother, when they can find their way to Jane and Jim's door. They don't want Peter or his ex to feel they are ever intrusive, ever an inconvenience or just plain a problem.

4.) If the adult child turned out badly, that is the fault of his or her parents, and the grandchildren will also turn out badly. They should be placed in foster care.
FACT: Foster care is jammed with kids. In most states, children's protective services welcome grandparents and other other relatives who will take the children.

More importantly, it is a fallacy to believe that every parent who has an adult child who has chosen to do evil or wrong caused it. There comes a time when a person has to stand on his or her own two feet, and make his own decisions, accepting the consequences for his or her actions.

Besides, many of these families have siblings who have gone astray also have teens and adult children who are making it in college and high school. They are not doing drugs, going on drinking binges, or sexxing it up with their peers. They do not rob banks, sell drugs, or lock themselves into their homes threatening to kill themselves and their children. These aunts and uncles have been known to help out with their abandoned nieces and nephews.

5.) Grandparents have plenty of money in retirement savings, and can easily afford more children.
FACT: Grandparents may not have enough money to retire themselves, let alone raise grandchildren.

6.) Grandparents who raise grandchildren will spoil them as a matter of course.
FACT: Grandparents raising grandchildren bend over backwards to avoid any mistakes they made with their errant adult child.

7.) Grandparents are too old to raise grandchildren.
FACT: Not always.

Some people are made grandparents as young as 33. Some sixty-somethings and seventy-somethings run marathons and do Ironmen competitions. It's not cast in stone.

8.) There are plenty of resources out there for grandparents raising grandchildren.
FACT: There are maybe four books out there, and not very helpful. Government agencies either write at the fifth grade level and skip information, or write as if they work for Microsoft and explain in too much detail. Grandparents.com is filled to the gills in its fora with grandparents looking for more info on raising the grandkids. There is not much to offer.

9.) Parents always have precedence in court over grandparents, and can come get their kids any time.
FACT: To a degree. Parents who hold down a regularly paying job, keep a clean home, have friends and normal life should be raising their children. Parents who do drugs, drink to excess, have flashbacks, have bipolar episodes and don't treat their symptoms, who molest their children, pimp their children, run off with the first bozo or floozy that comes along abandoning their children- See you in court. Your best bet is to sign over your rights to Grandma or Grandpa now. Save your time, money and energy for the pursuits that got you in this mess in the first place.

10.) Grandchildren will grow up to hate their grandparents for raising them and not giving them back to their parents.
FACT: I have been interviewing adult grandchildren raised in their grandparents' homes. I have talked with a few who feel little toward their parents. A few are downright angry with their parents. None have expressed a desire to contact parents who have abandoned them.

They love their grandparents. They are appreciative for being rescued and given a chance in this world. Some have said their grandparents saved their lives.

Somebody else makes you a grandparent.

I never expected to be a grandparent raising grandchildren; in fact, I never expected to have to adopt my grandchildren for their own safety and security. Yet, here I am, joining too many of you on the journey into retread parenting.

For some of you, this is a little bump in the road. You have a child proudly serving in the military who has been deployed, and either does not have a spouse or the spouse is also deployed. You have as an adult child a single parent with custody who needs to go get job training or even a college degree away from home. This will be over for you in a matter of weeks or months, God willing. So, you will experience again the joys and heartaches of report cards, soccer practice, sibling rivalry and nightmares. Your adult child is paying his or her own children's way in the form of support, which is a very big deal. Still, if you are over 40 and haven't done the little kid thing in a few years, your midsection or your keester may not respond the way it used to respond when you're running out to the garage to do carpool. It's still an adjustment, no matter how temporary.

There are those of you, like me, for whom this is permanent. You are retreading because despite your best efforts to raise them correctly, one or more of your own children, now grown, flew the nest and for whatever reason decided not to be a parent, having first created children. Perhaps it was alcohol, drugs or organic but treatable illness such as bipolar disorder that causes you to do this again. Perhaps there was a tragic accident (please accept my sympathies on the loss of your beloved child). Whatever the reasons, we now have one, two, three or even a whole brood for which we are now responsible. That responsibility will not end when Mommy or Daddy comes home, because Mommy or Daddy, maybe even Mommy and Daddy, are not coming home. The ball has been dropped into our laps; sometimes with a very hard thud of neglect and abandonment, other time almost a gentle game of Catch, with a gradual binding and loosing to the point where it just becomes a permanent situation.

With this permanent retread state, there are some who cannot afford to raise the grandkids without some kind of assistance. Kids need some sort of education, clothes, food, beds, a place to put their stuff, medical care. I am not an attorney and I am not a case worker for my state. I will try to get you as much information as I can, and let you supply what you've found through your experiences as well.

So we will be here for each other. We will remember that our grandchildren did not ask to be born, even when they demand, whine, stomp their feet, and drag the puss on their face down to their knees to try to get us to do their bidding. We will look for help, as we realize that sometimes we are our own best resources. We will be resolve when we know that it is better for these grandchildren to stay with us, and look for the best legal and emotional options for these children when Mom or Dad tries their hand at reclaiming them without the work necessary to reunify functionally. It might also mean looking at the possibility of placing these babies for adoption, or going through a reunification process. It might also mean taking the steps toward adoption of our grandchildren.

We did not make ourselves grandparents. Somebody, a child of ours, had sexual intercourse and created a child. That first child became our grandchild. We had no control over the matter. God has blessed us with life through our children. Though I'm Catholic, it makes me want to yell, "Mazel Tov" and "L'Chaim." Congratulations, to life!

I might go off the beaten path a bit. I have more about which to write than grandkids who are now the younger of my own kids. My opinions are my own, sometimes uniquely my own. They are from my viewpoint. Don't be surprised in the next couple of entries when you read about the Jolly Old Elf and his enterprise. Don't be surprised if I tell you the story of my late, great aunt, or recent memory. Don't be surprised if ethics or politics sneaks into the entry. Yes, we are retread parents. We are all also human.

As you read what I write, and participate through comments, please be aware: As the chief-blogger-in-charge, this is my story, and my information. You can comment. I want you to comment. I want you to have the opportunity to give suggestions to each other. I want not only retread parents- grandparents, aunts, uncles, other friends and relations- to participate. I welcome those in intact families, people in blended families, single people, people looking to adopt, young people, old people, and everybody in between the age range. I even welcome the parents who have given up their children to their parents.

All comments will be screened. I do this not to be an evil troll and censor, at least not that way. I do this because I have been flamed, allegedly by family members. I am not talking about "I disagree with what you wrote." I am talking about attacks on my sanity, my parenting, my memory of how things were. I am talking about "You have a loose grasp on reality" and other hurtful comments.

I don't care if you have a PhD in Psychology from an Ivy League university with post-doctoral work at a top think tank. God bless you for your diligence and effort to obtain your well-earned laurels. You still have no right to be rude, obnoxious and to condescend to my bloggers or to me. You have no right to question a person's sanity, mine or any of the bloggers who participate. You have no right to flame, because flames burn a person's soul and heart. Go open your own blog if you feel the need to tell your version of the story or offer your advice. Leave mine alone.

I hope you know that I will never use real names. I hope you have the same common sense. There are too many rude, and even harmful, people out there who would like nothing better than to prey on grandparents raising grandchildren. Be on guard! Evil exists in the world, and takes many forms.

So, let's begin!