at the end of the day…

The combination of nuances necessary for a successful day are significant. After lunch we bounced on to the path to hell (a term not lightly applied).

Almost without exception these forays come about when  I have an agenda or something I need/want to get done. Today it was gardening. Since I will be away for two weeks in June, the pressure’s on. My new house didn’t come with much landscaping – just a string of Rose of Sharon bushes and a couple of lilacs (my favourite!). I have grand plans – which, owing to a roof that needs replacing, are being modified for this summer. However, I did want to get some flowers in and a small vegetable garden. Sabrina built a box for the veggies the other night (which ended in disaster, but at least it got done).

The rain held off today. So I made the most of it. We were up and out of the house by 8:40am. It was the final day of the plant sale at Sabrina’s school – everything half price! We were there when the doors opened. With two extra kids this weekend, it was no small feat. After a chaotic trip through the green house and the stroller loaded with plants, we stopped by the park. It wasn’t long before Sloane was kicking and screaming at me because one of the other children wanted to sit beside me on the bench.

Weekend additions tend to upset the apple cart. The agency I work for provides a weekend of paid “relief” every 6wks (or 3wks if a child is particularly challenging). There are three girls, from another foster home, who come on a regular basis. It provides me with a bit of extra money and a chance to socialize my own kids. The downfall is the amount of trouble it brings.

Sloane’s tantrum continued. As we left the park, she was screaming about being in her stroller. I did get a sympathetic smile from a young couple out walking their newborn. “You don’t know the half of it,” I wanted to say. And, thankfully, they probably won’t. It’s impossible for a child to land in foster care without any behavioural issues. My agency caters to some of the most challenging cases.  Having your own kids is bound to be astronomically easier, though I can only speculate.

By the time we got home, Sloane managed a degree of composure. We were off running around town – picking up milk, dropping off craft supplies for Sunday school, getting movies from the library, buying more soil and plants. Home. Lunch. Out we went into the hot sun. Sabrina begged for things to do….but every assignment frustrated her. It was too hot. It was too hard. Me in my giant, floppy, black sun hat and gray full length dress with four children trailing after me. Repeatedly I recommended Sabrina excuse herself from the adventure. In stead she kept asking for jobs. I kept giving them. She kept complaining. At one point I found myself lying on the patio stones with my hat over my face. “What are you doing?” one of them asked. “Dying,” slipped out of my mouth.

It’s a theme Sabrina’s now running with. When her hostility towards me continued to grow, she was sent to her room. It’s nearly bedtime and she’s threatening to jump out her window and die. It’s been a while since Sabrina’s had a breakdown of this magnitude. She’s kicking the walls and screaming about how horrible her life is.

The trick is getting her to stop so Sloane can fall asleep. With this little one bedtime is a very precise formula. Even when it all comes together perfectly, I leave the room with her saying “I don’t like bedtime.” When it doesn’t come together, I leave with her screaming – which happened two nights ago and has left her hoarse. In the hallway, to my right, behind closed door, Sabrina is shouting death wishes. To my left, Sloane is twisting the spindle of her bed. Recently she discovered it can make a blood curdling squeaking noise.

Downstairs the two additional children are fighting over a remote control car. It isn’t long before the older is sent to bed. “That’s not fair!” she screams repeatedly – the foster child’s mantra. And it’s not. There’s nothing fair about the situation they’re in. But, in this case, the problem is Sloane’s still not asleep so I can’t send the younger – who is sharing a room with her – to bed. The older makes a good show of slamming doors upstairs. Sabrina, out of her room to brush her teeth, joins in the fun. My knitting is tossed down and I’m up in a flash. The visitor gets a good piece of my mind with a repeated explanation of why she was sent to bed first even though she’s older.

Now what? After peeking on Sloane, it’s clear she’s no where near sleep. And there are a couple of screaming children in the rooms opposite hers. One child remains downstairs in the living room. Believe me, that’s one too many!! So, I pull  the second guest’s mattress and blankets off the bed and drop them in the hallway. It’s against regulations, but I’m not about to work overtime tonight. Come 8pm I’m off the clock. Considering I’ve been going since 6:30am, it’s completely reasonable.

At the end of the day: one’s in the hall, three in rooms. None of them like me. Not the best of days, but I did get everything planted. Pushing through…today I managed to. In the midst of all the screaming, I can’t help wonder, “Am I trying to do too much?” Probably. But what other choice is there? Should I succumb to their moods and demands nothing will ever get done. At this point, there are dirty dishes in the sink and laundry, clean at least, is piling up in the basement. But at the end of this day I’m sitting down to a foreign film with a glass of wine.

3 thoughts on “at the end of the day…

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