“an instrument for doing arithmetic by sliding counters along rods or in grooves” (Merriam-Webster Children’s Dictionary)
USE IT IN A SENTENCE!
How should I know the answer to that math question? Get your abacus!
Luc and I arrived home on Friday to find about 15 bees angrily buzzing around our kitchen! Another one was in the den! Another in the living room!! AND the rest of their mob was outside trying to get in! I swear I saw some tiny pitchforks and torches.
I closed all the doors to all the rooms and we barricaded ourselves upstairs. Unfortunately, it was the first hot day of spring and we were sweltering. We ordered Chinese and picniced on the bed.
Then, just like that, the bees were gone! Asleep? Elsewhere? Hiding? Who knew?
The next morning, they were back in force! We called a bee dude who said he has been called to several houses in the neighborhood. He explained that the previous day had probably been the scouts, and now they were back … with the queen! Zoiks! He said there were likely THOUSANDS of bees!!!
But, they seemed to be mostly gone again. So I guess the queen was like, “We are not impressed.” They don’t seem to be back today.
It’s hard to know that our future son or daughter is going through terrible abuse or neglect right now, and we can’t do anything to help. I pray that God will work in the child’s heart and let them know that there is hope. I pray that God will work in us so that when the child comes to us, He will use us to strengthen, heal, support, love, encourage, and lift the child up.
Instead of thinking about how I wish I could change the unchangeable, I am trying to focus on becoming a Mom who can teach my children to use their pain to grow stronger.
We had our first meeting/homestudy for the Foster to Adopt program. I started this post the day of the meeting. I wanted to talk about my feelings. Almost a week later, I am opening it to find that all I wrote was the title. So, the feelings are pretty big and scary.
I think my biggest fear is doubling my work as a Mom. Two kids? Am I ready for that? Will #2 be as strong-willed and energetic as Luc? Because Luc gives me a lot of grey hairs. On a daily basis. A lot.
Of course, there are the questions about the mental state of a child in the foster system, but we all have our issues. And there are risks in every method of bringing a child home, including bio kids. Plus, there are so many books and resources for fostering that I feel confident that we’ll be able to handle those types of issues. I suppose there is less fear in this area because it’s a type of parenting I am a little more familiar with. I think. Not sure how foster parenting is different from adoptive parenting, but I do know that this area of parenting is dramatically different from bio parenting. Pretty much opposite.
The day of the meeting, I ran around the house like a mad woman. I cleaned and tidied and ordered and fixed. I grocery shopped (Instacart of course!) and prepped food. When you come to my house for dinner, you can tell how nervous I am about having you by how much dessert I provide. This night I had two pies, ice cream sandwiches, cookies, fig newtons, and fruit. For five people.
We met a woman at church through the new Foster/Adoption Ministry that we are all starting. She works for a non-profit that holds the hands and helps parents, like us, who are going through the foster process. So she came over along with the super nice, awesome guy from the agency we are going through. It really helps when the people are so encouraging. And I can’t believe that an agency actually exists to help us through the process, alongside the foster/adoption agency!
They asked Luc how he was feeling about the process. They were gentle and clearly knew how to listen to his replies and conversation. They were glad to see that we have talked about the idea extensively as a family and that Luc is on board, and thinking about the reality of it.
We even walked around the house and did a first check for what needs to be changed or added in order to pass the inspection. Since then, I’ve been on Amazon Prime buying fire extinguishers, first aid kits, a fire ladder, fire place screens, etc. If only they did these inspections for birth children. So helpful! I even had to buy a drawer organizer for my knives b/c they have to be locked up.
The next step is an hours long psychological review with a clinical psychologist. We would be able to get on that right away, but for a small hiccup that will cost us about two weeks.
About four years ago, someone reported me to DCFS for parenting my son “aggressively.” I have since learned that the majority of foster and adoptive parents have been accused like I was. The problem is that even though my case was ruled “unfounded,” it remains on my record for all eternity. Even though “unfounded” means it was baseless and never should have been reported in the first place. It was a horrific experience. And it is the gift that keeps on giving.
Our process will resume in a few weeks I guess. I’m using the time to buy the supplies I need and fix the stuff that needs to be fixed.
I’m excited. I think. Nervous and excited.
These notes are from a few weeks ago. I keep trying to make time to finish the post, reread it, yadda yadda. Anyway, I give up on that. This is the raw notes. Well, half of them anyway…
– – –
Yesterday, Delta Sigma Theta sponsored a viewing of “Dear White People” at the Jackie Robinson Community Center. It was an interesting movie that left me with a lot of question. After the movie, they had a panel for some Q and A time.
I figured they’d have a lot of interesting things to say. So, I took notes…
What are everyone’s initial thoughts after the film:
Andre Coleman liked how every character had an arc. He wasn’t rooting for or against any one of them. They all had strengths and flaws. (I have to admit I noticed the same thing about the movie. I really liked that.)
Anthony Samad said something interesting about the introduction of the wealth/class dynamic, but Siri autocorrected and I can’t figure out what I typed. He started with something about a 21st century prism. And then I have “splash was that this is critique of white price ledge most people don’t want to deal with.” I think “price ledge” is supposed to be privilege. Mr. Samad talked about how he thought the film was brave because it tackled not only the race issue, but the wealth and class discrepancy intrinsic to racial inequality.
Derrick Garland Coy liked that the movie was about intelligent college kids. No gang bangers or “‘hos” or other typical stereotypes. Intelligent, educated, young black people are struggling to find their identities, and how “we as Americans” (I think he meant black Americans, not American people as a whole) struggle with identity, especially when others mistakenly think we are in a post-racial period.
(I thought Mr. Coy made a really good point. I noticed a lot of assumptions (mistaken sometimes) about motivations. And that’s hard right now because some people do date a black guy to make their parents mad, but others date a young black man because he’s handsome and smart and funny. How is that poor kid supposed to learn the difference?)
Barbara Avery wanted to note the age of the movie’s creator, Justin Simien. And all the panelists agreed that the movie could not have been made as well by a creator of any other age. Ms. Avery was pleased to see the biracial and gender stories, and she noted that they are different from what we saw twenty years ago.
Lloyd Ferguson complained about often hearing people declare that we are living in a post-racial society. He noted the disparity in quality of life clearly indicates that we are not. The movie touched on this idea lightly. Mr. Ferguson added that it is important subject matter for discussion.
Is there a shift between generations in subject matter of discussions?
Samad said there is the same dynamic of wanting to push the next generation forward. He said the Civil Rights Generation “was so much more intense.”
— This statement made me bristle a little. And a little later, Avery commented on it.–
Avery called the current situation for college kids “death by a thousand cuts.”
The Real Rock ‘n’ Roll Movers showed up at the condo right on time on moving day. I introduced myself as I hopped in the car to take some supplies to the house.
While at the house, I noticed an odd looking couple with troubled expressions watching their dog frolic in my yard. The people seemed hesitant to enter and retrieve their dog. So, I went outside and told them they were welcome to come get him.
“No, no, he’s not our dog,” the man said.
“He’s a runaway,” explained the woman just as the little dog shimmied under our picket fence into the driveway and trotted down the road. I wished them good luck and continued my prep work.
On my next trip to the car, I found a plate of food carefully laid in the grass next to my open tailgate. Odd placement, I thought as I stepped over it to get to my supplies. I considered moving it, but didn’t want to upset the new neighbors. Maybe there was a specific need for the plate of food to be exactly in my path.
After fifteen minutes and several trips to the tailgate, I was ready to leave. As I closed the back, I noticed the woman walking toward me with a very serious expression.
“Didja find him?” I chirped.
“Noooo,” she almost whispered, “He got hit.”
“Wha?? The dog got hit by a car??”
“Yes, he made it to the highway and then he got hit and died.”
“Already?!?!” I callously wondered at the speed and finality of it all.
“Yeah, the driver didn’t even stop,” the woman said. Then she bent down, picked up the plate of food from my grass and crumpled it into a ball. I was impressed because the design of the plate made it look like a real plate instead of like a paper plate. I looked up from the ball of paper plate and ?? to find the man storming up the street. His right arm was shaking a lot, left arm not so much, and, I now realized, he was wearing black socks and no shoes. The woman followed my eyes and noted, “Oh, there’s my brother.”
“NEVER GET IN THE CAR WITH A STRANGER!!!” he hollered as he got closer. I started to explain that I wasn’t trying to abduct anyone. But, frankly, I was speechless.
“NEVER! NEVER GET INTO A CAR WITH A STRANGER!! THAT IS SO DANGEROUS!!” he hollered more, “I RAN AFTER THE CAR AS FAR AS I COULD UNTIL I ALMOST HAD A HEART ATTACK!! I COULDN’T RUN ANYMORE!”
“She wanted to help the dog too,” the woman’s voice was disproportionately quiet in response to her brother shouting at her.
They went back and forth about the likelihood of psychosis in an unknown woman who stops her car on the highway to help a stranger help a dog. I quietly imagined him screaming and running, in black socks, on the highway after a car that was chasing a small dog that was running on the highway.
I wondered which of these two was the caretaker and which was the patient. Was the brother a paranoid, anti-social comics fan type who lived with his sister because there was no hope of him ever holding down a steady job? Or was the sister an overly trusting schizophrenic poetry fan type who lived with her brother because she practically had “scam artists welcome here” written on her forehead? Or were they both a couple plates short of a full set and their parents willed them the house so that they could have shelter and look after each other?
And then they were quiet. Just staring at each other.
“Okay, well I’m gonna go…” I volunteered.
“I’m Allison. My little family is moving in today.”
Silence. But now they were both staring at me.
“I’m really sorry to have brought death to the neighborhood and all…”
“And I’m Susan. Welcome to the neighborhood.”
I was a little dazed after my bizarre experience at the house. So, the death metal music blaring from the retirement community seemed acceptable. The music got louder and louder as I walked toward our unit. The Real Rock ‘n’ Roll Movers movers were strangely quiet as they hauled an armoire down the walkway. I guessed that maybe they were studying the harmonies? Were there any harmonies in death metal?
I found my husband and told him what happened with the dog at the house. The death metal scream-groaned, accompanied by a sound that must have been someone repeatedly hitting a baby calf with an electric guitar.
One of the Real Rock ‘n’ Roll Movers movers popped his head in to say we were welcome to change the music if we wanted to. We politely declined and said we were happy to listen to whatever they liked.
Then another Real Rock ‘n’ Roll Movers mover with a dolly full of boxes also noted that we were welcome to change the music. So, I asked which band they would like to listen to. They suggested Journey, Fleetwood Mac, and Led Zeplin.
Confused by the contrast, I asked who had picked the currently playing death metal (at this point I think we were listening to a microphone being violently digested by stomach acid, but I’m guessing). The Real Rock ‘n’ Roll Movers movers informed me that my very own Brooks Brothers shopping, Volvo driving, penny loafer loving husband had picked the Death Metal iTunes channel. Why? They did not know. What they did know was that the current playlist was scaring them a little.
So we changed to Fleetwood Mac and enjoyed a fully productive and musically pleasing move day.
Whose boxes these are I think I know.
My house is in the suburbs though;
My husband will not see me stopping here
To watch the boxes fill up with crap.
My little plant must think it queer
To stay without a sane person to water him near
Between the park and busy road
The forgetfulest woman of the year.
He gives his saucer rocks a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of the puppy’s leg and furry shake.
The boxes are many, tan and deep,
But I have a mannie pettie to keep,
And miles of boxes to go before I sleep,
And miles of boxes to go before I sleep.
— by Allison AABA Garwood
(Inspired by Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost)
But seriously. I hate living here. As nice as our next door and upstairs neighbors are, 2 people can’t buffer the wrath of an angry mob of geriatric curmudgeons.
After the new fart yelled at my son (see below), we started looking for a new place to live. We discussed it with trusted friends and found we all agreed that our son should not be exposed to this environment any longer.
The world is such an awful place these days, Baby Boomers complain. No community, they moan. But when a young family moves into their neighborhood, they practically run us out of here with pitchforks.
Who in life gives me the most grief about being a helicopter mom one day and a neglectful, self-indulgent primadonna the next? Answer: The Boomers! Who made fun of me for standing with one foot in the door of the mens bathroom by joking that a man walking in was a convicted pedophile. Blame yourselves, you short-sighted Boomer jerks. You are the ones paying your mortgages with books, articles, and news programs shouting at me that someone is going to crawl through my second story window and steal my child.
There was a split second (that is literal, I’m not exaggerating an hours-long window of bicycle neglect) between Luc dropping his bike in the walkway and me hollering at him to move it before someone tripped over it. Copy of Association rules delivered and scolding administered.
The puppy barked for 45 min in the middle of the afternoon as we are crate training him. Copy of Association rules delivered and passive aggressive scolding administered.
Washed a new puppy blanket in the machine. Copy of Association rules read aloud to me.
Used the pool while other tenants used the grill. Two copies of Association rules delivered and three scoldings administered.
My son played with his friend in the common area at 6:30 on a Friday evening. Shout scolding administered to him by a man who repeatedly hosts guests on his balcony until midnight.
Waved at IT John b/c he is a jackass for not speaking to us (we didn’t scratch your car, you idiot!). He purposefully drove too close to my 6 year old son who was holding our puppy. I had to shove them out of the way and body block.
WHO ARE THESE LUNATICS?!?!?!
Yesterday, my son saw The Count driving into the parking lot. His face fell as he turned to me and groaned, “Oh boyyyy.”
When we told HOA John that we are moving in 3 weeks, he smiled and agreed that leaving is probably best. “It’s just not a good fit,” he smirked.
You old jerks should be horrified by your rude, offensive, hurtful, selfish, spoiled brat performance. How can you people smile and pat yourselves on the back when your conduct is causing a young family to have to move in the middle of a school year?! We do not have the time, energy, or money that this move will take from us. However, your behavior is so off-the-charts horrible that we have no choice.
And you smile and nod that it’s probably best.