Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happier Kid Without a Dad

Followup to the boy who broke my heart. I've seen him every Wednesday for the past two weeks. And learned more.

He stays from 6:30 am to 8 pm four days a week with the young woman who brought him. She has a really healthy, two-parent home with three sons who love each other and are rambunctious. It is a very good place for him to be.

Turns out he is four. Very limited ability to play or interact with other kids. His mom calls him a loner. At four. His father is an alcoholic who told his son these damaging words in a pity party when his wife told him she could no longer support the family and his habit and he had to leave. The boy seems happier. He still doesn't know how to play with other kids, or much about play at all.

I am new in this community. And most folks just think all he needs is stability and love, which he is getting. In my professional (ret) opinion, he should go to the play therapy clinic with sliding fee scale at the nearby university. I will suggest it. I doubt the outcome. But he has his mom three days a week--hopefully--and a healthy, happy family with three boys around his age four days a week.

As I say, I would like to make it still better. But I am glad it is as good as it is. And his mom was brave to do what she did.

Mistaken Identity with Cell Phones

Do I believe safety issues exist when drivers talk on the phone or text while driving? Oh, yeah.

Funny thing is, 97 per cent of Americans, in a recent poll, think the rest of you are dangerous. A majority, on the other hand, thought they personally were safe.

Not me, by golly. I wasn't polled, but I would be one of those saying, "I'm about as safe behind the wheel with a phone to my ear as I would be in rush hour traffic with three shots of Wild Turkey on an empty stomach."

So I always pull over, and if a pullover place isn't immediately available, I probably won't answer before the phone quits ringing. Which creates a distraction of its own. After trying several times to snag it out of my purse while driving a stick shift in rush hour stop'n'go a few years ago, I wisely decided not even to try till I was safely stopped. Even though my current vehicle is automatic.

Oh, I have coordination, of sorts. I can walk and chew gum. The problem is when I try to talk and do--almost anything else. When transporting foster kids all over creation and North Texas on often unfamiliar byways, I missed so many exits while in conversation that my kids expected my cheerful rejoinder to "you just missed the exit" that we were again taking the scenic route. I am pleased that it became a point of camaraderie among us. At least, I thought so.

And that was with an actual person sitting beside me.

Cell phones, however, factor more than just on the road.

I play Yahzee with three friends every week, where we play all six games at once. This results in scores usually over 7,000, and I prefer to use my calculator. (Two of us add in their heads faster than I can with my calculator but I forgive them, and they forgive me.) I got a telephone call on my cell the other day and after the call I brought it back to the table with me. My cell and my calculator are approximately the same size. I was talking to my friends while deciding to add a column, and had punched two musical digits before it occurred to me I was trying to add on my cell phone. Yes, I know I actually can do that, but I wanted to use my nifty sun-powered calculator which I've had since the 80s. They didn't notice.

So of course, I confessed. And was ribbed unmercifully. And then a friend confessed she had been watching tv last week when she decided to make a call and absentmindedly picked up the TV remote and tried to dial. Wasn't she good-hearted to share that?

I'm the woman who had to train myself to hang up my car keys each time I entered the house after one nerve-wracking morning when it took us 30 minutes to find the keys in the refrigerator. And when we did, I remembered how that happened. But when I am thinking about something else, my hands do things I hesitate to take responsibilty for, although ultimately I must.

I once knew someone who could read while driving 80 mph down the highway, simultaneously carry on a conversation, watch tv and read--although with delayed reaction times--and never miss a lick.

Me, I can walk and chew gum. Oh, and I can cook and talk at the same time. Definitely not write and talk. Drive and talk a little bit--although I can listen with better driving concentration.

Fortunately, the computer and printer have discrete functions. Else I might never post.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

When a child breaks your heart

I took my grandchildren to a midweek church function. A young woman I know showed up with a little boy, about 3.

He was clingy. She left him with the kids who were playing games. And he began to cry. Someone who didn't know him asked if his mom or dad was there. He cried harder.

"I don't have a daddy anymore," he sobbed. He's only 3.

I asked for him. Hugged him. Whispered he was safe, and he was loved. He cried.
He cried with all his heart, full force. Kids do that, when they stub their toe, when they bump their heads or when they are so sad they can't find any comfort.

The woman came back and said this was his first day staying with her. I whisperered what he had said. and she said yeah, that was the truth pretty much. She offered him a chance to go talk to his mom, and he nodded and went with her. He came back with her, having talked to his mom at work, and somewhat relieved.

I've separated kids from toxic parents numerous times. I've offered comfort. When parents are so toxic, the grief is less for the kids. But I held this boy, and as he cried, I began to cry too.

Is his dad really gone? or is this what a furious, hurting mom told her baby boy? I don't know. I just know a baby told me, "I don't have a daddy any more."

He's safe. He's cared for. But at 3, he hurts. How does he deal with it?

I am older now. I really feel the pain. Literally.
I wish I could make it better.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

When Different Can Mean Happy

Visiting a friend in the hospital recently, I approached the volunteer desk to double-check the room number. One of the women was about my age-in her case with smooth, lovely skin, pretty features and simply cut silver hair. Pretty. Not pretentious. Not particularly conscious of her "presentation", wearing her volunteer jacket and serving her shift. Oh--and her clothing? Ordinary.

We fell into conversation, and she mentioned her husband is 97, blessed with good eyesight hearing and an active mind, but with declining knees.

"We are blessed," she said.

I grinned. "He must have done some cradle-robbing to get you," I said, because this lady was nowhere near her 90s. (Although lately, I've been fooled a few times).

She gave a rowdy laugh. "He sure did! He's 31 years older than me. We've been married 33 years."

Here smile reflected contentment and pleasure at the unexpected longevity of her marriage.

There's a story there. A good one. She was in her 30s, he in his 60s when they married. A love match. She may have been dropdead gorgeous, but she just doesn't have the moves of a woman who counted on it or traded on it. She still loves his personality, sooooo? Maybe he was, or is, very rich. But she was out in public not dressed like it.

I remember the couple I approved for an adoption where she was 26 years older than he. I remember neighbors with the same dynamic. In both cases, the relationships involved equable relationships. Really good ones. Like this woman and her much older husband.

Individuals still defy the cookie cutter systems of categorizing.

I'd love to know the story of the hospital volunteer. I don't need to, though. It's validation everytime I hear about folks who are leading good lives outside any mass demographics. The more we get along with different lives and voices, the better. In a chorus, it's called harmony.

"They" don't all have to be like "us", thank gooness.