It’s been a year since our foster girl first pointed out she could kill me with a steak knife–and it wasn’t the last threat on my life. Each time she casually mentioned killing me I casually responded that I had no fear of death and if she wanted to kill people she’d end up in a jail for evil kids who all wanted to kill each other. I said, “Go for it if that sounds like fun.”
It occurred to me today that those threats ended some months ago. She hasn’t picked up string beans off the floor of public restrooms and eaten them in a long time either. My big fear before picking up M last year (the week of the all important county fair) was that I’d find her unattractive. Yes, I’m that shallow. She was cute but a wreck. She was eager to be taken home (by just about anyone including two men she pleaded with the day before on the golf course after escaping the first group home). The group home director told me not to feel bad if the placement didn’t work out since no one expected it would. As she helped load M’s stuff into our car she said, “Oh, and by the way, don’t let M near babies–she wants to strangle them. Okay, bye!”
Think of abuse.
Think of all the different ways in which a person can be abused.
Think a thick stack of reports.
M had seen it all by age 8.
She came to us highly medicated and had a visit with her mother in a public park that first week where her mother asked her to pole dance in the park. This triggered M and put her in the children’s mental ward for two months where they drugged her even more.
Think soulless zombie slobbering and shuffling.
We took turns visiting her a few times a week. We visited her daily once her mother surrendered her rights and her sisters were set to be adopted by a family who decided they couldn’t take M (fair enough–they’d done all they could do).
Let me just say that cider donuts and coffee got me through those autumn weeks of endless travel to the very depressing hospital.
Halloween stands out as a low point. M begged us to come see her in the Cinderella costume we got for her, but by the time we arrived the staff had blackened her eyes with zombie makeup. She was angry, crying and “unstable” (the word they use in such places when someone is beside themselves with sorrow). M wanted her real mother. She wanted us to leave. She hated us. The staff took her to the padded cell–in her princess costume– and escorted us out. Later that night M called and asked if we’d come visit the next day.
The young, hipster therapist thought she’d intimidate me with big therapy words. She didn’t like me questioning the crazy meds (some of which are actually marketed as “foster kid drugs”!!). BTW, I knew what the big words meant. They meant money for the institutions housing the foster kids. One day the therapist saw me coming and ran outside. I kid you not.
It’s been a journey. Therapists, mental wards, group homes, sibling visits and evenings spent with cops looking for M. Last year M came to us taking about 10 different meds. Now she’s on none. She was afraid of open spaces and small places. Last week she sat in the quiet field with the sheep and goats for an hour with me in silence. At the end of the hour she turned to me and said, “You know, you’re right. The crickets’ singing is relaxing.”
M rides her bike, feeds the dogs and walks them, cleans her room and weaves pot holders like any slightly bored 10 year-old girl in summer. She’s still goofy but I don’t think she deserves the label she came with: low functioning. Who wouldn’t be low functioning after the life she’s lived? I think she functions fairly well these days.
When she comes back on Friday from sleepover camp (we can’t believe she’s actually still there!), we’ll go to the fair and eat fried dough. She’ll probably still make a mess of it–but this year she’ll know how to clean herself up! We’ll visit her sisters who happen to be adopted by a farming family we’ve become quite friendly with who show cows at the fair. Soon, if all goes according to plan and we adopt M we’ll practically be family. I hadn’t expected a new family. I hadn’t expected to love this weird kid, but that’s yet another reason why blogging has to wait.
It’s hard to write with a chatty girl over your shoulder.