December 20, 2010

Knocking at icicles

Sled run

On Saturday, Little Biker Boy called to see if we could babysit him all day. “Ponytail is here too,” he said. We hadn’t seen her since the kids moved.

We had some nice moments: the kids were excited to see the Christmas tree all decorated, and Little Biker Boy bragged about how he had picked it out. We unpacked the Christmas village that goes under the tree: they loved playing with the houses and trains and little figures. They sat at the kitchen table and colored Christmas pictures for the front door. “Just like last year,” Little Biker Boy said. He loves traditions even more than I do.

But it was also a long day. The two kids acted out in the ways that they always have when they are under stress: Little Biker Boy had fits of rage, while Ponytail kept bursting into tears. The two kids kept yelling at each other. My own kids were out doing errands, so I was thankful my husband was here to help out. At one point, we just had to separate the kids: he took Little Biker Boy upstairs to read comic books while I stayed at the table with Ponytail.

It was pretty clear that Ponytail has had a tough few weeks. She cried and clung to me. She avoided my eyes when I asked questions. She kept saying, “I’m not used to living with my Dad.” Later she said that he’s mean, and that he yells at her and hits her. At her new school, there are four girls who are mean to her. She misses her mother. She wishes she still lived down the street.

My husband came up with a project: he needed the icicles knocked off the building he works in. So we climbed into the car and drove to his workplace. Little Biker Boy threw himself into the project with gusto and spent a happy half an hour whacking at the ice with a shovel. Ponytail didn’t want to help but she stood in a snowbank with me and cheered as ice came clattering down. She kept picking up icicles to suck on.

Back at home, Little Biker Boy helped me build a fire. The kids went outside to sled on our front hill, but kept fighting so much that I wanted to toss them both into the snowbank. Finally, Ponytail came in to sit with me, while Little Biker Boy grabbed the shovel and cleared the edges of the driveway. When he came in, he said, “I feel better when I shovel.”

By suppertime, we were all tired. We stopped at a pizza place. “Can we call you Mom?” Little Biker Boy asked. They love that game. They took my hands as we walked in, and kept calling me “Mom” the whole time. They managed to fight over the pizza: I can’t even remember what that argument was about. Little Biker Boy told me about the fight he’d had with his mother that morning: she’d slapped him in the face.

As difficult as the kids were, it was even more difficult to take them home, to drop them off and return them to what can’t possible be a good situation.

I wish I had a different story to tell.

18 comments:

Zach said...

oof. Would you consider getting licensed as a foster parent so that you could be a potential placement if it comes to that?
thank you for being there for those kids, and for posting about it here.

rented life said...

I'm so happy you are there for those kids. They won't forget that. My thoughts aren't just with them, but you as well, you are am amazing role model.

Leslie F. Miller said...

Gosh, what a sad story. Breaks my heart.

Ianqui said...

You know, I'm not really that demonstrative a person, but I cry every time I read one of these updates.

Kimberly said...

I wish you had a different story to tell as well...

Today Wendy said...

I love the part of the story where they get to spend the day with you - both of them. These posts make me cry too.

Digger said...

<3

BrightenedBoy said...

I wish they were yours.

Of course, in a way they are.

I'm also glad that you portray not only the touching moments you have with them, but the taxing ones as well.

Too many people view abused children as angelic little churbim suffering in saintly silence, and the truth is that the kind of treatment they've received leaves some very ugly scars.

Often those scars are mistaken for signs that the children are somehow bad.

It is a gift to them that you see past that.

liz said...

Sobbing.

Lilian said...

I wish the story could be different too. :(

P.S. thanks for the anniversary wishes.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

Ooof.

Kyla said...

It is something, though. They know there is kindness in the world, something beyond the tiny sad world they live in most of the time...they go back home knowing they are loved. Hopefully, that provides them some warmth and light in the darker times.

kathy a. said...

yep, they sound pretty stressed. poor babes. this was not just a break from their bad situations, but one long therapy session.

they have so much trust in you. things are pretty scary and unsettled, but they both confided in ways they probably could not to others.

they're so young to be managing such big confusing feelings, and they do not have any role models at home to show them ways of coping. you demonstrated some good techniques: separating them when they go overwhelmed; staying busy; talking things out with someone safe. LBB had a great insight when he said he feels better after shoveling!

Musey_Me said...

I am in awe of the time and love you and your husband show these children. Their story is so sad.

Psycgirl said...

+1 to what Zach said. Have you ever considered being available to foster these kids if they need it? I'm wondering, if one of them tells someone else (a teacher, for example) that they are being hit, they could get removed from the home and you might not know where they go :(

I'm so glad they spent the day with you, even if they tried your patience joe(e) (of which it sounds like you have buckets!)

ChrisinNY said...

In honor of Biker Boy and Pony Tail Girl my family just donated new sheets, towels, clothes, blankets and Christmas toys and treats to a mother and her 8 children (that were just referred to my friend's church by the DA's office). We think there was probably some spousal abuse as the DA was involved and the woman had nothing. She asked for soap and food and blankets. Just like you wrote, we can't all help Biker Boy and Pony Tail Girl, but we can help someone.

Elaine said...

Although a stranger to you, I send love and a warm hug.

I find your willingness to participate with such intimacy in these children's lives a testiment to a community of souls in which I work to believe.

I find your participation, even while knowing that outcome is uncertain and that your heart will ache, another testiment to a life being fully lived.

While the most I have to offer is the support of my spirit, know that you have it fully.

jo(e) said...

Thanks, Elaine. And thanks ChrisinNY (and other readers as well) who have donated time or money to help families in need. It helps a lot to know that readers are helping out all over the country.