This blog was initially set up as a means of communicating with my son's team. Since then, I've heard from other parents with similar stories. If you are living with challenges or journeying alongside someone who is, you are not alone. There are many of us. I'm a single adoptive Mom ( of a young man who lives with many abilities and many diagnoses. We have journeyed together through many challenges and a few adventures over the years as my son has tried to find space in this world that makes him feel more comfortable, an attempt made especially difficult when living with Attachment Disorder, PDD-NOS (Autism), Developmental Coordination Disorder, ADHD, prenatal substance exposure, etc. Some of the strongest elements used in this journey have been music, visual arts, therapeutic parenting, team-connection, boundary-setting, boundary-setting, boundary-setting, communication skills, community-building, continual lifeskills training, and elements of Theraplay. (Click here for some written resources.) On this journey, there is laughter and tears and growth and hope. The greatest of these is hope.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hugs and Food and Foster Care

October 20, 2010

We've had a nice evening.

When Chef came home, he handed me a card he'd made for me at school. This is the third piece of art he's given me since school started. I told Chef that I felt like giving him a hug, and I know he doesn't like hugging but I wanted him to know that I felt like giving him one. Chef looked down at the floor and said, "Oh." I asked why he was looking down at the floor, and Chef said that he likes hugs. Well, this was news! There have been many "issues" with hugging over the years and Chef has stated that he isn't comfortable with hugs. When I said I was surprised to hear he likes hugs because he's said and shown that he doesn't like them, Chef said he doesn't remember saying he doesn't like hugs and stated again that he likes them. Well, well! Hugs it is then!

Chef had his usual rest when he got home from school, then immediately worked on dishes. He and I talked for a bit before supper. I told him I'd been hearing that he has the possibility of foster care on his mind, and that he seems to think that if he's in foster care he wouldn't have to do any chores - two people told me that today, so I decided I didn't need to discuss specific names with Chef and that it was enough to say that I'd been hearing it from folks. Chef's initial response was, "Yeah, I said that a long time ago when I was angry because I didn't want to do chores." When I said that I'd heard it recently, he said that he hadn't said it recently, then repeated that he'd said it a long time ago when he was angry because he hadn't wanted to do chores. I said I wondered if there were any other reasons he might have talked about foster care. Chef said, "Just chores cuz I didn't want to do them. And I wanted some new stuff." "New stuff?" "Yeah, sometimes kids get new stuff if they're in a foster home and maybe I'd get some new stuff." "Or you could go through the appropriate steps at home and use allowance to get new stuff, or take care of things so people want to buy you new stuff, or behave appropriately so you don't miss out on opportunities where you could get new stuff." Chef nodded, then repeated that he'd said that a long time ago when he was angry about chores. I asked Chef if he felt like I might place him in foster care. "No, I don't think so. You did that one time, I think, but that was a long time ago." We talked about some of his experiences in that foster home (I'd placed him for a short time when he was in grade 5 because I was exhausted from not sleeping at night after discovering Chef had been climbing out his bedroom window to get candy from the corner store), and I was shocked when Chef started talking about chores. In the past, he'd said he hadn't had to do chores there. Tonight he said everyone had to take turns cleaning up different parts of the kitchen after supper and no one had to clean up the whole kitchen and no one ever had to do any other chores. So I explored that with him. As I asked questions, Chef seemed surprised to realize that the other/older foster children (in jr high, according to Chef, when Chef was in grade 5) in that home were actually doing supper dishes for six people compared to him doing supper dishes for two. He'd apparently been focusing on the fact that the kitchen chores in the foster home had been divided among 4 children (dishes for family of 6 plus bigger kitchen), whereas his kitchen chore involves the dishes plus wiping the counters/stovetop plus sweeping (dishes for family of 2, tiny kitchen). Chef then pointed out that no one there had to do any other chores. I asked if they had to keep their rooms reasonable. "Well, yeah, but that's it other than helping in the kitchen." "Did they have to get up in the morning and wash up?" "Yeah." "Were they expected to wear clean clothes?" "I don't know." "Hmmm, so you're thinking they had it easier because the kitchen chores were divided up, even though they had to clean up after more people, and they didn't have another chore to do on the weekend?" We talked a bit more then had supper.

Chef worked on dishes again after supper and was done in half an hour. Unfortunately, about a sinkload needed to be "re"washed, and there weren't any clean teatowels available; some had been tucked away in different places in the kitchen closet and hadn't make it into the laundry, so the rewash will need to wait til tomorrow.

Food: At supper tonight, I asked Chef if he could get out a leftover meatball that was in the fridge. Chef initially said, "OK" and went to the fridge - then he stopped, looked at me, and said "I ate it last night." "Oh. I didn't see you eating it in the kitchen or living room or anywhere." "That's cuz I snucked it." Honesty! No games, no lying ad nauseam. Honesty! I told him to go think about the appropriate ways of having food and gave him kudos for being honest about sneaking. After finishing his supper tonight, Chef asked if he could have an orange! I'd just bought a box of Christmas oranges that was on sale, and I knew I'd be having one later in the evening and figured Chef would want one then as well, so we talked about some other options and I told him he could have baby carrots for now then have an orange with his popcorn during his free time once he was finished his dishes. He ate the carrots, then worked on dishes - see above. He started popping popcorn and peeling an orange, but was reminded that free time comes after dishes and dishes hadn't been checked. Chef accepted that. I went into the kitchen to check the dishes and discovered the popcorn popper was sitting in a puddle of water beside the sink; plugged in and turned on. After removing it and drying it off, I reminded Chef of the importance of not having appliances in water and not having water all over the counters. Chef cleaned up the water, said that he would get his laundry done tomorrow so he could finish dishes, brushed his teeth, said goodnight, and went up to his room in good space.

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