“I Am Getting Real Sick Of Your Crap”
By: Lorri Stiles
I am a foster-mom. Now before your mind fills up with images of a grandmotherly lady, baking cookies while wearing an apron and welcoming dirty faced, skinny elementary school kids into her loving home, I should explain a few things. I am a bleach-blonde (natural color, unfortunately) ex-semi-professional football player with piercings, tattoos and a deep love for breaking things. The last time I wore an apron was when I went to a costume party as a ‘sexy, 1950’s house-wife’. Oh, and I don’t take kids under the age of 14.
Being a foster-mom for teens is tough. Raising my own 16 year old girl in the process is even tougher. All of this while working at a university and completing my masters and being an intern at a ‘behavioral school’ has driven me over the edge a couple of times. Way over the edge.
My kids are rough. These are kids that have been placed in foster-care for endearing behaviors such as feeding a kitten to a pitbull, throwing rocks at the elderly, bringing a gun to school, and my personal favorite, stealing a check to buy a horse. The check only paid for half of the horse, and I am not sure where the horse was going to be hid in my suburban neighborhood.
I try to only have one foster-kid at a time in the house. This allows me to devote the time and energy required to them. For anyone who doesn’t know, fostering (even the good kids) requires about ten to thirty hours a month in appointments, at least one stranger in your home every month, being at court cases, and defending your every move. It is exhausting. By the time you have done it for a year, your whole life has been turned upside down in ways that you can’t imagine. Seriously, I never imagined some of the rules I would have to follow and precautions I would need to take. Locking up ALL the medicine in the house is an example. I know, those of you with young children are saying, in your heads, “well, I do that anyway”. To clarify the extent of this, all the vitamins, cough drops, aspirin, and even the throat sprays have to be locked, in a box, with a key, that only I have access too. This means that when my daughter has a migraine, she has to tough it out until I get home, which can be 20 minutes, or it can be 13 hours, depending on the day. This also means that every so often, I have to meander through my home and find the rogue bottles of ibuprofen and Midol that the girls have bought on their own after becoming desperate for relief from the pain of being an adolescent female.
HAVING TO STEAL YOUR CHILDRENS’ PMS MEDICATION AND LOCK IT UP IN A METAL SAFE = WHITE TRASH.
Many kids come into foster-care from neglectful or severely impoverished homes. I have to deal with a lot of food hoarding. Sometimes it is little things, like a kid storing up packaged fruit snacks in their dresser. Sometimes it is more severe, like two loaves of bread, canned ham, cranberry sauce, cans of vegetables and a box of Twinkies. That is when I need to intervene.
HAVING TO TAKE A FULL EASTER DINNER OUT OF ONE OF YOUR KIDS ROOMS = WHITE TRASH
There are good times through all of the insanity. Though I am beginning to believe the good times are just a sign that I am slipping over the edge into crazy land. A couple of years ago, I had five children living with me. They were 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18. Privacy and patience were commodities in the house that we all begged to have more of. On one of the days where I actually had a chance to leave the house without one child or another weaseling their way into going with me, I got in the car and drove away, off to the store, I went. Now, somewhere in the back of my mind, I questioned whether this was a good idea. I was leaving two teen girls and three teen boys to supervise themselves and each other in my home. I shrugged off the nagging worry, reminding myself that I had homeowners insurance and went on my way.
When I got home, the children were amazingly well-behaved. The house wasn’t burning, it wasn’t missing any major structural portions. The kids were cooperating and playing a video game together. While this tripped my MOMDAR (that weird radar mom’s have when something just isn’t right, but we can’t figure out what it is), I decided that I was being paranoid and went about my business putting away groceries. About the time that I had most of the food put away, I realized that I had to go to the bathroom. I opened the ‘powder room’ door and flipped on the light. Something wasn’t right. Was that corn? And why does the seat have brown….Oh… oh no. My bathroom was covered in a brown, chunky substance with little pieces of corn floating around in it. It was on the walls, it was on the toilet, it was on the floor, and it was on the mirror.
I lost it. The edge of sanity came and went in a blink of an eye. I was fast approaching screaming lunatic that needs shock therapy. I stormed out to the living room where my children sat, playing their game and I screamed words I never imagined I would have to even think while living with teenagers.
HAVING TO SCREAM THE WORDS “WHO POOPED ALL OVER THE BATHROOM AND DIDN’T CLEAN IT UP” TO KIDS WHO ARE WELL BEYOND POTTY TRAINING YEARS = WHITE TRASH.
My kids erupted into laughter. The fact that I didn’t have an aneurysm, a stroke, a heart attack or a psychotic episode at this point obviously speaks to my mental and physical strength. I was dumbfounded. I lost it again and said the words that would ultimately be my downfall… “This CRAP is NOT FUNNY”. My kids fell on the floor laughing. Finally, my princess, my angel, my 16 year old demon looks at me and says, “Mom, it is chocolate” before she falls back down laughing so hard she couldn’t breathe.
HAVING KIDS MAKE REALISTIC POOP SMEARS AND CHUNKS OUT OF BAKER’S CHOCOLATE, COCOA POWDER AND CORN = WHITE TRASH
Miss Lorri, as my kids call her, is my lovely babysitter's (Pi) mom. This woman has a heart of pure gold, and it gets bigger with every kid she meets. She's an expert at loving those who can be hard to love. Not only is she a foster mom, she is also the person responsible for the remarkable breakthrough of our autistic son, Jagger. She was his very first TSS, and she spent 5 hours a day, 5 days a week, for years working with him. He started out non-verbal, and God bless her, she had to sit through tantrum after tantrum, but when she was done with him, he was able to be mainstreamed in Kindergarten. I know my children are not the only kids who have become better individuals because of her influence. Jagger may scream, "I'm not your boyfriend!" every time he sees her, but I know he does in fact love her. Just like the rest of us!
Thanks Lorri for being brave enough to air out that dirty laundry!