Saturday, September 22, 2012

Bell Stone, Professional Grandmother

In my line of work more than one grandparent has given me a line of questioning:

1) Are you married? A) No.
2) Do you have children? A) They are all grown.
3) Do you want my child? B) Um……

The truth is if I had my foster care license I would collect children the way I collect cats. It’s a no-can-do for me. At the heart of the issue is the fact that I do great with these children on my case load when I spend an hour or two with them two to three days a week, but if I had to spend twenty-four/seven with them they’d probably drive me nuts. In a way that makes me a professional grandma. When I babysit either of my grandchildren I get to spend a few hours with them, spoil them, have them believe I’m the most wonderful person in the world—and then I give them back to mom and dad to terrorize.

And, that is in alignment with my blog title: The Mind of No Mind and Pursuing Impulse Control in the Collecting of: Really Cool, Antiquated, Ancient, American Made Relics -- Is there really anything else worthy of my devotion? Obviously the children aren’t relics, though they are all American made. Most of these children are adorable, yet unique. They all have unique problems. The usual crux of their problems are rooted in the parents’ parenting skills, or rather a lack thereof. I think I work with the parents more than I actually work with the children. Of course, my heart breaks, my gut wrenches, and I am devastated when our program comes to a painful end and I can no longer visit these children and their parents, grandparents, guardians. I know that twelve to sixteen weeks is not going to fix the problems plaguing these children. My program is nothing more than a stabilizing band aid for the moment providing nothing truly lasting for the rest of their lives.

I get a referral; spend a month visiting and evaluating the children, the home environment, the family; I create a case management plan; spend a month implementing the case management plan; then spend a month wrapping things up for the transition from intensive in-home intervention to long term case management and out patient therapy. I have to remind myself each and every day this is a stabilizing program, something intended to keep the child in the home avoiding placement in a foster home or institution. Sometimes I truly think outside placement would be best for everyone, especially the children. However, that would be inconsistent and in conflict with the goal of the program. So, I do what I can, which usually isn’t enough and often seems a poor substitute for what’s right.

I could get a foster care license, a part of me wants to. I visualize these wonderful little souls in my home; smiling faces, bear hugs, fresh baked cookies, dinner at the table, group activities. And then, I realize I would end up with twenty little terrors setting fires, torturing small animals, on-going instances of incontinence and encopresis, uncomfortable meetings with principles, teachers, probation officers and judges; at least one visit per child per month to the therapist, one visit per child at least every three months to the psychiatrist, and depending on the psychotropic drugs involved there could be one visit a week or one visit a month per child to the nurse for medication monitoring; endless soccer practices, dance lessons, piano recitals, and karate lessons; me laying in a hospital bed after having a massive coronary, or me painting watercolor pictures in the psych ward with an endless lace of drool spilling out of the corner of my mouth and pooling in my lap for the rest of my life. And, with my luck, it would be a long life indeed!

Practicing impulse control in the collecting of….American made, troubled children.

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