One of those days

Today was just one of those days.

The girls decided that again they didnt need an afternoon nap. Yesterday it was because I (foolishly) told them that we were going to visit daddy after their sleep. Like they were going to go to sleep when they could be going to daddy’s work. What was I thinking?!? Today….I have no idea why they didnt nap.

So, it made for a long afternoon with two tired liitle girls.

While I was preparing dinner they were playing quietly and giggling away together, so I was happy listening to them from the other room while peeling the potatoes. I really should have known better. Toddlers playing together, giggling? I really should have run as fast as my legs could go to them to see what they were up to, but the sound of their laughter was so beautiful, I kept on with the veggies.

Until…..

“Mum….I cant stand up..I all slippery”

Yes…she said slippery.

There was one bag of groceries left in the hallway from when we had been shopping. I thought it was all non-perishable goods and would wait until they were down for their nap to put away. Well, there was a bottle of dishwashing liquid in there. Do you know how far one bottle of dishwashing liquid can spread? Both girls had been happily covering themselves, each other and the floor and really, slippery was an understatement. They couldn’t stand up for all the goo on themselves and the floor.

When i went to get some paper towel to start the clean up, I called MM to tell him what the girls had done. He was on loud speaker as i was cleaning them up. Laughing when I said ” hold still while i unslippery you” to Bonnie. His giggling helped difuse the situation and helped me see the funny side of it a lot sooner.

Once, the gooey clothes were removed and a safe pathway made to the staircase (including getting a splinter as i cleaned up the goo from along the skirting board) I took the girls for a bath to get cleaned up…..before dinner. Sigh.

The girls hate getting OUT of the bath, so by the time i got them out and in their pyjamas, i had burned the potatoes. So, in tears, I call MM who says, call for pizza. But it was now 6pm, and by the time pizza would arrive, it would be almost 7 pm, and with9ut having had a nap, there was no way that was an option. So dinner was chicken and peas, carrots and corn. They didnt seem to mind, but i was feeling like a mummy failure. So, when they had declared they had finished, I offered them yoghurt. Another Sigh.

I was hanging up some washing on the clothes airer  while they had their yoghurt and turned back to see Tyla with yoghurt on the wall, all over her face, her hands were covered in it as she had been finger painting the table with her yoghurt. After cleaning her up, the girls left the table and while i cleaned up that mess Tyla came in to tell me Bonnie had done a poo. Really?! Another mess.

At this point it was just all feeling a bit much and with MM away, as i changed Bonnie’s nappy I had a little cry and gorgeous Bonnie stands up, puts a little hand on each side of my face and says “Don’t be sad mummy.” Then she gave me a hug and said “I miss Daddy too.”

What a beautiful girl. The same words and actions she gets from me when she is sad that MM is away with work and misses Daddy.

Now more tears from mummy, but now because of her beautiful little soul comforting mummy and showing me that while I was feeling like it was a mummy fail day, that one sweet gesture from her let me know, in the things that matter, caring for others and empathy, she is doing so well.

So, at the end of a long day, because of a little 2 year old girl, I can sit here and count my blessings. One MM and two little girls who all love me, even on my mummy fail days.

I am one lucky mummy.

The itch continues

How long does it take to get rid of head lice?

Well, it would seem over 2 months.

9 weeks ago we found that Kelly had head lice, again.

We found out after she had gone home from respite when we found lice in the hair of Bonnie and Tyla.

6 weeks ago we found that Kelly had head lice, still. We sat her down on arrival and checked her hair. We treated her hair on the Friday night, spent an hour Saturday afternoon combing her hair to remove eggs and another hour that night combing again, and then sent her ome early Sunday morning instead of the evening.

3 weeks ago she had no lice, but….so many eggs. We spent hours over the weekend combing her hair to remove eggs, but, there were so many, we didn’t get them all, but we made a dent in them.

This weekend, on arrival, head check again. I would love to say poor Kelly was clear, but she still had eggs. Not as many as before, but, still there. Heart breaking. That poor girl.

I messaged her carer and asked him to come straight back and get her. Not a happy man. But, this has gone on for long enough. We had made the decision to cancel if we found any lice or eggs on arrival. Our thought being that the only way we might get him to fix this properly is to inconvenience him. Sad that the ones who miss out are Kelly and the girls. Bonnie loves Kelly visiting and Kelly really seems to enjoy coming here, but it’s not fair on the little ones to get headlice, again, from a Kelly visit.

We’re hoping that SOMEONE will talk to him about the best way to get rid of head lice. He wont listen to us. We’ve tried. All the people we’ve spoken to about head lice, the advice is always the same. Treatments might get rid of the lice, but to get rid of the eggs, the best treatment is comb, comb, comb. Yes, time consuming, but it gets the job done.

How long does Kelly have to put up with this? She can’t do it herself, and she shouldn’t have to. We even wonder if she ever actually got rid of the lice from back in October. We made it clear then that respite would only continue if she was clear. It was 3 months before we saw Kelly again, so we assumed that all was well, but it was only 7 weeks after her return to respite that we found them again. Could she be that unlucky to get them again so quickly? Or were they never really gone?

There are several things about this situation that make me sad.

Sad that Kelly has this as an ongoing problem.

Sad that Bonnie and Tyla have to have their hair combed and combed and combed after a Kelly weekend to treat them for “itchy hair” as Bonnie calls it.

Sad that all of the girls miss out on spending time together. Kelly seems to enjoy being the big sister and watching the girls grow and learn new things and Bonnie loves having a big sister to play with and chat to.

Sad that Kelly’s carer doesn’t seem to be doing just that….caring for her.

We are due to see Kelly again in a couple of weeks. Lets hope that her social worker visits her in that time to check her out, have a chat with her carer and get this sorted out.

Itchy and Scratchy

Back in OCtober Kelly came for a respite weekend.

The morning after she arrived I found *gasp* an head lice in little Tyla’s hair. I was mortified. How could my little bubba have headlice. Then, I was brushing Bonnie’s hair and *gasp* found she had some too. What!? I went striaght to David and went through his hair. Nothing. What? Where had they come from? How did my gorgeous little girls get head lice?

Sitting at lunch I found the answer to my question.

Kelly had them. I could see them from across the table. How I didn’t see them Friday night I’ll never know. Her head was literally crawling with them. Thousands of them. It was the worst case of headlice I’ve ever seen. I took Kelly for a walk and we had a chat about the situation.

I was furious. Not with Kelly. By no means was this any of her fault.
But with her foster dad.
Kids get nits. It happens, but, how could he let them get this bad without proper treatment? How could he send her to respite without any consideration for us or more imortantly the other children in our care? How could he not bother to tell us in advance so we could decide if it was ok for her to come and also be prepared to deal with them.

Needless to say, EVERYONE in our house got nits. No one was spared. The following weeks were filled with hours of conditioning and combing the girls hair to remove the little critters and checking and rechecking everyone to make sure we were rid of them. Kelly wasn’t allowed back for respite until we were all clear and so was she.

It was 3 months before we saw Kelly again for respite.

3 weeks ago Kelly was here for respite and a few days later I found more head lice on the little ones. *Sigh* I couldn’t say for certain it was from Kelly, it could be from day care, but, I had a feeling it was Kelly.

I reported the nit problem to my support worker and we agreed that when Kelly was due again for repite I would check her hair, treat it if necessary, keep her the following day to comb those eggs out and send her home early Sunday morning, instead of the evening.

She came.

I saw.

I treated.

They haven’t been treated since she was here last, you can see that by the number of them. According to Kelly her dad knows she has them as he treated his bio-ddaughter during the week but told her to treat herself, which she can’t do because she has mobility issues. If that’s correct, and he knew, he sent her anyway, without checking to see if it would be ok, and again didn’t tell me at drop off.

We have on many occassions talked about stopping respite for Kelly because her foster dad is so difficult to deal with and has no consideration for our family. Knowing we have small children in our care he has sent her ( numerous times now) with head lice, a couple of times with gastro, and also with terrible head colds. It means we often cancel our plans for the weekend and then have sick small children to care for after Kelly has gone.

Kelly deserves so much better than the care she is recieving.

Our girls deserve so much more than the fallout from a Kelly visit.

This weekend the girls missed out on going to our foster agency Easter picnic and also to visit my parents. Why should Bonnie and Tyla miss out because of Kelly?

But, if we don’t provide respite for Kelly who will? Respite carers are in short supply. I know of carers who have waited years for respite, and being 15 makes it even harder to find someone to provie respite for her. If we don’t provide respite for Kelly, who is going to make sure she’s ok? Who’s going to advocate for her?

I’m torn between helping Kelly and keeping Bonnie and Tyla free of whatever bugs she brings with her.

My priority needs to be the little ones, but, how would we explain to Kelly we can’t provide respite for her anymore?

 

 

Saturday Morning sleep ins

Do you remember a time BC?
Before Children?

When the promise of a Saturday morning sleep in kept you going through the second half of the week.

Apparently this concept is lost on little Tyla. The last few weeks this little poppet has woken at 4.30 am on a Saturday morning and decided that a bottle just isn’t going to cut it, but she needs a play and a cuddle and then maybe, just maybe she’ll go back to bed.

This morning she passed out again at 5.30 am, and I thought about going back to bed, but odds are that Bonnie would be up at 6 am so was it really worth it?

No. Except, it’s now 6.30 am and still no sound from Bonnie, so I could have had an hours sleep.

What’s funny is that upstairs asleep in the spare room is Kelly and she has the Saturday morning sleep in down pat and somehow, she can sleep through the little ones being up and playing. When I say she can sleep through it, I mean sometime she stays here and by the time she gets up and organised Tyla has been down for her morning nap and up again or sometiems Kelly has brunch when the little ones have lunch, and then they go down for the afternoon naps. It’s so strange having the two extremes at the same time.

I know, one day in the not too distant future the girls will be old enough to get up themselves and play in their room without needing me. So for a while longer I will be the tired mummy having cuddles on the couch because a little person just needs to play at ridiculous o’clock. And right now, I must go because I can hear Bonnie stirring and I need to run interference so she doesn’t wake Tyla back up, and if I can, I’ll get Bonnie to sneak downstairs so MM can have a much earned sleep in this morning, seems silly for both of us to be up early.

 

B.I.A.S.

B.I.A.S.

Brains In Arse Syndrome.

Who says that to a child with trauma and dyspraxia and learning difficulties?

Apparently Kelly’s foster dad.

That poor girl. Even in jest that’s a horrid thing to say to someone much less a child who has problems telling if someone is joking of not.

We reported this back to her case worker via the appropriate channels. I know they are working with him to help him understand trauma and it’s impact on children.

Kinship care is so difficult because there’s so little training and resources available for carers. Is it any wonder that 30% of the emergency placements we have personally had have been kiinship placements that have failed?

As foster carers we chose this path. We appilied to do it. We did the training and assessments, the home visits and interviews. We got into this with our eyes open, more or less, because all the training in the world sometimes can’t prepare you for this journey. But we chose to do it.

Kinship carers get a call, often out of the blue, to take in a relatives child, and sometimes it’s not a close relative. A cousin. A second cousin maybe. There is a mad scramble to get a background check done and a home safety check, but there’s no time to go through all the training. I’m sure in many cases there’s a cartain ammount of guilt that accompanies a kinship placement. It’s a relative, someone you feel obliged to help. They are innocent children. But, they are also traumatised children.

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if the department recognised that just because a child is placed with family, it doesn’t mean that the family instantly know how to deal with these children and what they have been through. In David’s case, he went to an Aunt that hadn’t seen him since he was a baby. When she asked for respite because she needed a break it was unavailable. Would that placement still be going if she had been able to get respite?

Kelly has been with her carer almost 8 years now, and to try and keep the placement going the department is FINALLY doing something with her foster dad. Giving him help and support and teaching him about trauma and how it’s affected  her brain developement and why telling her she has Brains in Arse Syndrome is adding to her trauma.

But why should things get to the point where everyone is ready to throw in the towel before something is done? Wouldn’t it be far better to earlier in the placement provide help, support and training? Wouldn’t it be better to try to prevent problems in the placement early on, rather than trying to repair it?

 

 

 

 

David came back

A little over a year ago we had brothers Trevor and David come into our home.
Trevor just for a week before the department moved him because of his toxic relationship with his brother.
David stayed until the end of the school year and then went to live with a family member.

7weeks ago we got a call. We were on the “don’t call us at the moment list” as I was about to have 2 crazy weeks with work and taking in another child at that time was just not going to work. As it was I wondered how we were going to get through it. The previous 2 years we had little babies (Jade and Harry) and each time we had placed them in respite for the 3 busiest days so I could focus on work, but this year was going to be different. Bonnie and Tyla are very attached and struggle with strangers and I just couldn’t bring myself to put them into respite. It was hard enough with the babies, but, babies are amazingly adabptable, and if their needs are being met, they will generally settle in well. But, Bonnie and Tyla are older, and I just couldn’t send them off to strangers. Maybe it’s I’m very attached and couldn’t cope with sending “my girls” to strangers?

So, the first day of my busy 2 weeks the phone rang and I knew it was important for them to be calling with a placement. It was David. Aunty couldn’t care for him anymore. We’ve always said that if any of the children we’ve cared for needed us again we would do our best to be there for them, so we said yes.

What a crazy time we had. It was the start of school term and we had to enrol him in a school, get uniforms, buy clothes, and organise after school care. We somehow got it done and in a few days he was in his new school and settling in well.

Next, music festival time for me and to try and find out what the plan for Daivd was.

How long were we expecting him to stay?

How was the reunification with his mum progressiing?

Were there any other family memebrs that could/would take him?

The joys of emergency care.

All the unanswered questions, and some of them we never get answers to.

Oh Happy Day

Sunday was a special day.

It marked one year since the beautiful little Bonnie arrived in our home.

I remember the phone call on the Firday afternoon about taking her and Clyde in.
Could we have Clyde for a week (standard request for an emergency placement) and could we have little Bonnie over night as they had another carer that could take her the next day.

I said we were happy to take them both for the week. And here we are now, 52 weeks later with both Bonnie and her little sister Tyla.

What an adventure the last 12 months has been.

We’ve had first words and steps, tantrums, watching her little personality blossom and seeing her little sense of humour grow.

She is on her 3rd court order and we are (not so) patiently waiting for her social worker to be able to tell us formally what the next court order they apply for will be.

Will it be yet another 12 month order to persue reunification or a long term order, meaning the girls can stay with us forever?

I can’t beleive we have been so lucky to have this little angel in our home.

So many people tell us that she is lucky to have us, but I can tell you, it’s the other way around. I never thought anyone would ever call me mum, and now, almost every sentence that Bonnie says starts wtih “Mum…” Truly a blessing for me.

I wish someone had told me sooner how much fun toddlers are.

Ok, there’s tears and tantrums on occassions, but for the most part, Bonnie is just delightful. Watching her with her sister often brings a tear to my eyes. If Tyla cries, normally Bonnie is there with an arm around her asking “matter? matter?” or she’s racing out to me “Mum…issy crying….bottle”.

There’s the fun to be had in deciphering Bonnie’s new words. I often act as translator for MM but sometimes, when she’s trying out a new word we both are left scratching our heads. Funniest had to be one day she came to me with what appeared to be a blank sheet of paper saying “Bactis Bano”. I repeated it and asked Bonnie to show me what she wanted, she took me to the piano, turned over her piece of paper to reveal it had music on it and repeated “Bactis Bano”. How could I have not known that was Practise Piano?

Bonnie is still very wary of strangers, in particular men, but with MM….she is a real Daddy’s girl. I love when he gets home from work and she hears the shed door and runs as fast as her little legs will carry her out to meet him. Such a joy to watch.

I can’t believe it’s been a year already. Our little girl has grown up so much, and regardless of what the next court order brings, we know that at the very least, it brings another year of time with Bonnie. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings.

 

 

I’m Back

It’s been a while.

MM has been (not) so subtly encouraging (pushing) me into writing again.

I strated blogging as a sort of therapy for me, and then one day I wrote something that upset someone. It was uintentional. One of those times when you know what you mean to say and someone else reads it differently.

For the hurt I caused I am sorry.

But, as MM reminds me (at least once a week), this blog is for me. My place to debrief. My space to vent. My safe place as I don’t use any of our names and very few people that we know, know about the blog.

So, the time has come for me to get back to it and do I have some stories to tell.

 

Visiting Raj

What a lovely afternoon we had last week.
We went out to lunch with the not so little Raj and his beautiful new parents.
So much love in one room.
Boy has Raj gotten big in the last three months.
My lap was a little bit happy when I handed him over to MM, I think my leg was going numb. But, that said he is so round and squishy and snuggly, it was just lovely having a cuddle with him, even though he had absolutely no idea who we were.

It was lovely to hear that they have followed the routine we had him in and that it’s working a treat for them. They are still wrapping him for sleep, but he has grown so much they need to use a cot sheet….had a big giggle over that. Raj was only waking once a night for a feed when he was here, and is doing the same for them, and sometimes sleeping through the night, so they are super happy with that.

We have received a photo every month on his ‘birthday’ and the occasional phone call and chat. It’s probably he hardest part for us, not knowing how much we can/should message them. We don’t want to be a pest but at the same time we don’t want to not appear interested. So we wait patiently for the next month photo to come along and then have a catch up chat.

They are just so happy together. Raj is  happy and content and both of his parents just glow with the love they have for their little man and are already talking about a second.

It has been such a blessing to be able to care for this special little man while waiting for the process to do it’s thing and it’s even more of a blessing to still be able to be a part of his life with this lovely couple.

Being Unique

Being unique is great. Embracing  you’re own special traits and standing out from the crowd is something we should encourage our children to do. Isn’t it?

What if being unique meant that you were the only teenage girl at school with your school top tucked into your track pants and the pants pulled up so high you can’t help but think of Steve Urkel from “Family Matters”? What if being unique meant that you were the only teenage girl wearing a school uniform that was at least 2 sizes too large for  you? What if being unique meant that you go to school reeking of garlic because your parent put so much garlic in your food it takes 2 days for it to get out of your system? What if being unique meant your school jacket was so big it fitted a 6 foot tall man and you were only 5 foot 3?

Kelly is that child. We try to help her, but we can’t buy her new school uniforms just because her foster dad buys the wrong size. I know he means well by buying something she will grow into, but Kelly is 14, so doesn’t have a lot of growing left to do, and her uniform is so big she would have to put on about 30 kilograms to fit it properly. Her school jacket fits MM perfectly and looks like she borrowed it from her dad and then tonight she arrived for respite with her shirt (which is so long it comes halfway down her thighs) tucked into her pants, so you can just imagine how that looked, all that extra fabric shoved into a pair of track pants.

Last respite she arrived and smelled so strongly of garlic you could smell her from the opposite side of the table, and it was 2 days before she didn’t smell of garlic. Imagine being the kid that has to sit next to her in class?

I have no idea to help her. I mentioned the oversized school uniform to her social worker, but I don’t think there’s anything they can do about it either. When she shows up with greasy hair I suggest she wear it in a pony tail. She’s just the kid in class that’s standing out for all the wrong reasons.

Sigh.
I wish I knew how to make it better for her. The saddest part, I’m not even sure if she realises that her clothes are way too big for, other than that I comment on it. Her clothes have never really fit her in all the time she has been coming to respite. We’ve taken to buying her clothes to wear when she is here so she has clothes that fit and are age appropriate. Yes, some of her clothes look like they came from her grandmothers cupboard.

What’s the most frustrating part, is her foster dad’s biological daughter never looks like that. She has trendy clothes that fit correctly and there is a clear double standard going on in the house.

I wish I knew how we could help her just be a normal teenage girl, but sadly with her foster dad and her disabilities she is never going to be that. She will always be unique, for all the wrong reasons.