About Me

My photo
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! :-)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

How'd we get here?

It always bothered me when I heard stories of kids in custody situations not of their own design. One of the lousiest to my mind is a person who nurtured and raised them- be it a custodial parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or even an unrelated foster parent- who usually did this for years, suddenly got shoved aside by a court order and a judge with an axe to grind. The child had a home, a good home, stability, and there was no promise or expectation of the same with the parent. But because the parental tie is allegedly so strong, the child HAD to go live with the parent, even if the parent has not seen the child in years. In cases where that new custodial parent has harmed or even murdered the child, I wonder how judges sleep at night. 

There are such stories. Simply Google and you will see Lulubelles and Juniors bearing the title of Dad and Mom who, after promising protective services and a judge that NOTHING will ever happen to the kid again, he drove into traffic in the wrong direction, killing himself and the child. She took the kid out of the country, and it takes money and years to see that kid again. He got in a drug-induced snit, lost patience and beat the child beyond recognition.  The voices in her head told her the child was possessed by Satan, so she drown/ dismembered/ choked/ poisoned the child. He decided he didn't want to live anymore, and when his children were on a supervised visit in his home (a stupid idea if ever there was one), he shoved the case worker outside the door and blew himself and his children up. One fine day, protective services received one too many reports on a person, and went to investigate. There, among the filth, were little children of varying ages and sizes, without food, without clothes, without supervision. Take your pick.

You will also see plenty of stories where protective services has blown the load and taken away children for no darn good reason. I think of Illinois, because I am from Illinois, and the case of a family who lost their children for weeks on end because of a young teacher who imagined more than there was. I think of the family who ran a daycare, whose young daughter was accused of being a child molester, for no reason other than an odd parent among the daycare clients. I think of a family in another state, who lost their children in their later childhoods, because another child said the father was molesting them; no proof, but there was protective services, butting in and taking them away, until they turned legal age and went back to their parents. One guy almost lost his children because he couldn't speak English. So, I would be the last person on earth to support anything protective services said. 

So when it comes to the Lulubelles and Juniors of this world, I like grandparents to have a way to think out the situation for themselves. Judges have their own political party and theories. His or her spouse might have custody obtained in a bitter divorce, as an example. Case workers are overloaded with complaints, client children, foster parents, and may not have any background in child psychology or social work, but need a job. You know what's going on, and you know the facts. One of the best ways is to reflect on where we've been, and where we are today. How'd we get here?

Often, when the kids are placed in your care, there's little time to think about what's going to happen. You don't know what you're going to do next, it's all moving quickly. You barely have time to call the school, fill the fridge, and borrow a folding bed.

Then, there is a lull. Maybe the errant adult child straightens up in a few weeks or months, and the kids go back. Maybe not. I'm here to tell you from the reports I've received as well as my own experience, "maybe not" is what's likely to happen. 

Regaining custody takes work on the part of a person who has already proven that his or her favored way to do things is the easy way. Therapy sessions take time. Visitation takes time. Legal work takes time. Lulubelle and Junior simply have no more time for such things! There are people to date and bed, drugs to take, legal drugs to skip, booze to drink, video games to play, horses to race, bets to make.  It's so much easier to just skip it "this once" and show up at the extended family gathering, bearing whatever in the way of gifts and bragging on the clean, well-mannered child Lulu and Junior have not raised, as if he or she did in fact do all the work.

And let's face it, we probably indulged the adult child, what's known as "enabling" a person. We love our adult children, no matter how it seems now. We wanted to help them.  They were once our babies. We ignored the falsehoods, the downright lies, the hidden agendas, especially when bullied with "the grandkids" and their welfare. We are not guilty of what our adult children have done, by any measure. But there might have been times when we should have put on the brakes and said NO, in big bold letters. There were times we should have questioned the story we were being told. There were times we squashed down that instinct in our gut that somehow, we were being deceived by our very own children. We gave them money we shouldn't have, time we shouldn't have, leisure and material goods we never should have given them. 

So, there came the day when we opened our eyes fully. Maybe a local or state agency opened those eyes for us. Maybe we walked into a situation that was sufficiently horrific to wake us up. And there was a child, our grandchild, our grandchildren, who were in harm's way, who have had no real parenting, who were hungry, who were being raised in filth, left alone for who knows how long without adult supervision, who have been injured but pulled through- and they need us. They are children, after all. There might have been a phone call, a knock at the door. Our Lulubelle or Junior might have simply left the kids for a brief visit or overnight, and slipped out into the world. 

We might be older. We might have just sent our last off to college, and looked forward to an empty nest. We might be on social security and a pension, and have been for years. We might still have kids at home, the siblings of the adult child in question, who are doing their best to be their best. We might have a significant other or a spouse. We might still live in the same place where our adult child grew up, or a condo, or even a trailer home. 

But we decided to choose, even though it broke our hearts, and we chose the grandkids. Then we rolled up our sleeves and got busy. We hired experts. We did some fact-checking. We called on teachers and daycare providers to fill in some blanks. We took pictures. We got a therapist and an attorney. We checked to see if the pediatrician we used 15 years ago still practices, ditto pediatric dentist and orthodontist.  We went to court. The judge was impressed with our evidence enough to give us custody, or even allow an adoption. In our case, we had the intervention of the Servant of God Vincent Cappodano, along with the best attorney money couldn't buy. Many, many people prayed for us for years, living on Earth and in Heaven. 

And yes, we miss how things were! We didn't stop being parents to our adult children. They will always be our children! We would like to have a better relationship than visitation drop-offs, than family therapy, than always suspecting our adult child of lies because we discovered we'd only known lies for so very long, and that adult child has yet to earn our trust! We didn't like having to move to get away from abuse, manipulating or bullying at the hands of our Lulubelles and Juniors. We didn't like getting orders of protection, restraining orders, supervised visitation orders, guardianship, custody agreements, and the most final of all, adoption decrees. But we had to make choices, and we were given very little leeway. 

So here we are. Here I am, almost seven years from the time the Mister and I took action. I have to say, the grandkids have given us much, much more than we have ever given them. How we are raising them not only reflects new methods learned, but things we didn't want to see happen again. They are bright stars, now and in the future. 

I miss both my adult children, for the brother has taken the side of my Lulubelle, without really knowing the whole story. I am sure he's afraid he's going to somehow lose his children, and I don't blame him for that, even though he seems to be a hard-working guy who takes care of his family. I wish our son every happiness, and every good thing in his life.

But if I had to do this again, take custody and adopt this set of grandkids, YES, YES, YES, I would do it again! There is so much I've discovered over time that they were spared because we did this, on both sides of their DNA. 

As a good example, I don't think anybody would have tested them for academic giftedness. I know my Lulubelle wouldn't even consider interrupting her daytime nap to take Belle to speech therapy as a Kindergartner. I know my ex-son-in-law's present wife can barely spell, and at one point, wrote by typing one long sentence in caps, no punctuation, until she had a paragraph. I could easily see where Belle and Baby would have become permanent baby-sitters for their various biological siblings without breaks for silly interruptions such as school, especially Belle, who my Lulubelle simply hated and showed it.

So YES, I would do it again, and I bet there are many of you who would do it, as well. Nobody else is patting us on the back, and there's always the naysayers who think we've done something against nature. So, let's be glad we got here, and pat ourselves on the back.           

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Open to Interpretation

So we went to a wedding shower this weekend, an almost exclusively female event, except for a cute little toddler boy, the groom, the Mister and an uncle.

Uncle asked the kids if they had any boyfriends, a usual uncle thing. And Belle replied, for herself as well as siblings, "Well, my mother doesn't allow us to date until we're in college. Personally, I don't think I'll date until I'm finished with college. I have too much to do."

Now then- This makes me look as if I'm Simon Lagree, "Toys in the Attic" crazy, bundling my kids up until they live in a cave, without any socialization. Lest you think I keep them confined to the house, you should know what I actually said, Belle's mindset, and how all that applies to her reply. 

  • I told them they should not even think about having a baby until they have finished college, put enough money in the bank to have a cushion, had a decent place to live on their own as well as good transportation, and had a husband. I also told them that, should they get pregnant before they were 18, that our state considers the grandparents financially responsible for the infant, so should they decide to do that, we would be in charge of their child. Finally, I said I don't like teenage dating, that it did Lulubelle little good, and that I wanted it limited. I said I didn't consider a group of people, such as youth group, an actual date, and would make exceptions for such reasons as proms and banquets, where an escort was required. 
  •  I've always told my kids, if you think in order to stop peer pressure you need to publicly blame me, go ahead. This didn't mean that Lulubelle could blame her adult life on me, by the way.
  • Belle already started taking college courses, and has in fact completed a college math course online. She is excellent at Math, not merely OK or good at it, but excellent.  She might start dating around sixteen, which is about when she should be in college full time.
  • Belle is upset with Lulubelle's young adult behavior, making babies out-of-wedlock, of which Belle was one.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Defending My Right to Say It

Even the eldest of us these days have an account on social networking sites. One aunt has several (but she is a young aunt, only 65). We Facebook, Tweet on Twitter and Pinterest with the best of them.

I have found both outlets helpful in educating the kids, keeping up with extended family and old friends, and a good place to connect with others, both those who think as I do and those who don't. It's opened my world.

I think we older folks bring the voice of reason to a world gone loco with yelling, screaming, diatribes and soapbox grandstanding, all through the use of keyboards and DragonSpeak. I'd like to think we bring a level of calm to a world that doesn't appreciate calm, that finds fault in every little thing said on social networks, and can get rowdy-nasty in a hurry.   

I've recently had to "unfriend" a few people. I've had to put others into "groups" where I don't want them to be, so that they will not be offended by my opinions. I don't do this lightly, as I look upon a friend as just that, a friend. However, the accusations against me make me feel as if I don't agree exactly and precisely with some folks, I am somehow WRONG. And they let me know how WRONG I am- stridently, shrilly, demanding I accept their way of thinking about things, without reason, without civilized discourse, simply because this is what THEY believe.

My Facebook page carries a caution for those who can see it: I believe and practice what I believe and practice. You don't have to like it. You do have to accept it. Within the confines of the Terms of Service, I can place whatever I choose on my timeline. My wall, the former nomenclature of the timeline, is just that, mine. 

In turn, I don't go to the timelines of others and tell them what they can and cannot post there. I may not agree with it, but that's no reason for me to type away on their space with feelings of hurt, angst, rejection or umbrage. Hey, we all have our ideas and ideals.

I will say there have been people who have had differences of opinion, and they have shown that difference with good manners, grace, their facts neatly and coherently displayed, elegantly displayed in fact. Our discourse did not make me unfriend them; quite the contrary, it made me value their friendship all the more. We can all agree to disagree, and state our reasons for doing so in an intelligent way.  

I won't go into what exactly started what I consider a big loss. I will state, for the record, that if you are a friend of mine on one of the many social networking sites, please be prepared to follow my rules:

  • I get to state my opinion, and that includes memes, photographs and "likes". You don't have to like them, too. You don't have to look at them. I am very willing to put you into a group where you won't see them. That's why the groups are there.
  • Please don't imagine things into my postings that aren't there, or read into what I've written. This type of media is not the place for deep ideas, but a lot of quick postings, even if there is space. I try not to write long diatribes, or esoteric theses. Again, there are groups for that. We all know what "assume" does. Please don't assume. 
  • I am Catholic, not a Cafeteria Catholic. I stand with the Church on Her doctrine, which can't be changed or altered; indeed, it hasn't been changed or altered in 2000-plus years (so if you're hoping it will, save your time and hope no longer). I understand there are Catholics who do not, for whatever reason, agree with the Church, as they are the ones who complain loudly, while our Separated Brethren tend to be calm and open to discourse. Don't expect me to agree with you, allow you to post things on my timeline that disagree with Church teachings, or allow you to use your keyboard to yell and scream outrage at me, God or the Church. I can explain them to you, if you want. We can politely discuss them. But, as an example, you don't get to come on my timeline and tell me you plan on doing unspeakable things to the Creator of the Universe, when if you said you were going to do those things to a human being, you would be locked up and charged with at the least attempted assault and harassment.
  • Please don't use vulgarity. Please. There's no point. Social media is VERY public, and it's just trashy in my mind.   

Oh, and lest you think all the folks who've been unfriended were young and hot-headed, making demands against God and Country- I've eliminated several seniors for out-and-out vulgarity. I don't care if a person IS the son of a female dog, or for that matter, the female dog in person.

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Tale of Two Campers

We went to pick them up from camp. From the comments, we were wondering if they transported one of them to another camp:

BELLE: It was so much fun! I can't want to go back! I got a green cap in swimming, and we camped out in pup tents for two days even though it rained, and the food was AWESOME!!! I met so many new friends, and they signed my ballcap, and I have their emails and phone numbers so we can do things during the year, then plan when we are going back. I want to be a five-year girl. Can we afford for me to go three weeks next year? Last year and this year, I only went one week. I earned a badge, and parts of another.  I just love camp!!!!

BABY: Thank goodness you're finally here! They made us sleep in pup tents for two days, and it rained! The food tasted like leftovers, except for the corn dogs. Yeah, I made friends. We're all going to complain to the Girl Scout council. Don't ever make me go back there! Can we stop on the way for real food? Oh yeah. I got a green cap in swimming and earned a badge.