Tuesday, February 14, 2012

"Risk" can be a very long game.

I hate homework.  No, not my homework.  I'm not taking college extension classes, thank goodness.  I'm complaining about what every parent of school aged children grapple with, that's right...I won't even go into the detail.  It's too painful a topic. 

I don't remember these battles with my parents growing up.  I was a happy, lovely, wonderful little girl (cough, cough) who always went right to my desk and completed this nasty business when I got home from school.  I had no other recourse.  Homework and then playtime.  Besides, I didn't want to face Sister Mary Agnel in the morning and tell her I didn't have my writing assignment completed.  Those of you who went to elementary school with me and experienced this Catholic Nun in the 5th grade know exactly who I'm referring to.  She could be terrifying.

Last night and this morning it wasn't the gunfight at the O.K. Corral but instead the Potts' family kitchen table:

"Austynn, this is a mess.  You need to re-do this paragraph and complete these sentences."

"No!  You can't make me.  I don't have to do that.  That's not what my teacher wants me to do!"

"I know exactly what your teacher wants you to do, she explained it to me while I was standing in the office."

"Well then, you misunderstood her.  And by the way, I'm not going to school!"

Deep sigh.  I hope I never reach the point when he calls my bluff and I have to call the police intervention number.  Before my children came to live with us, I had no idea there was such a thing; a team of police officers assigned through cities or counties trained to deal with troubled youth.  It makes sense.  With the problems that adolescents and their families face, it seems logical for specific people to know what to do and how to handle these firestorms as they erupt.  I've come so close to calling - so many times.  In fact, I'm certain that by the time my boys are young adults, the Thornton Police Department will know our home address fairly well.

Yesterday, I met with William's personal therapist and he's concerned that my oldest seems to have become more aggressive in the time since he's last seen him.  Surprise!  Yes, he has!!  Welcome to my scary world of, "where are the kitchen utensils" and "stop telling us you want to hunt down small animals for the sport of it".  I realize that this doesn't have anything to do with homework, but it does in a way.  It has everything to do with my own.

Eric and I are in constant overdrive.  If a razor is missing, we're looking for it.  If we can't find our inside house keys, everything stops until we know where we've placed them.  If a battery has been removed from something, the house is torn apart until it's located and then kept safe until disposed of when Austynn isn't looking.   If William makes a physical threat, we have to determine immediately how it was made.  Oftentimes, it's a joke but even his jokes have a subtle reality to them and are extremely violent.  We're constantly reminding him of how inappropriate they can be. 

Our homework is never done.  It's exhausting.  It's keeps us awake at night.  Eric and I stay up talking about it.  We discuss plans, alternatives, strategies.  It's almost as if we're playing a never-ending game of Risk; matching rolls against two very clever and battle-scarred children.  I never expected parenting to be like this, neither had Eric.  When we filled out the Fos-Adopt paperwork asking us what we could handle as far as behaviorally challenged children, we didn't check off these many boxes, I'm certain of it. 

What happened?  A picture.  Ah yes, I remember...a picture of a sweet, over-weight little boy missing a front tooth with wire glasses.  He was wearing a paper crown and smiling from ear to ear holding a kindergarten achievement award.  His name was William and he needed a home.  His younger brother, Austynn wasn't far behind.  He was in another foster placement - one of 13 to be exact.  He would show up on our doorstep asking for parents and patience later.

Deep breath.  There will be more homework tonight, and tomorrow, and the next night, and for a very, very long time to come.   

No comments: