March madness has nothing to do with basketball. In my house the mayhem this year beats all others. Marcus* and Flora*s mother is expected to regain custody of them March 18th. The kids are excited but with that comes heightened anxiety. For Marcus it manifests in toileting issues and a need to control. Perhaps in anticipation of being back with an often absent mother, he’s attempting to parent the children in our home. That doesn’t go over well with me. I like being the boss. When I tell 4yr old Elise* to pick up a banana she dropped on the ground Marcus need not reprimand her for being off her seat at mealtime. What he really needs to do is start using the toilet.
Added to this excitement is an ornery 3yr old. His foster mom is on vacation this week. That’s what people do over March break. As a rule I’ve always taken in extra children. It’s not much of a break. The social worker described this little boy as, “well behaved but very shy.” His foster mom agreed, adding Eric* doesn’t have much of an appetite.
Monday night Eric was up until 10:30pm. His bed time is 7pm. “He has no trouble going to sleep,” his foster mom assured me. That’s not been the case. Since his arrival Thursday evening the earliest he’s slept has been 9pm. For reference, I’m an introvert. The time after 8pm when all children are in bed is something I deeply covet. It helps keep me sane. Five nights with little to no alone time is not making me a happy camper.
Tuesday morning, Eric was up at 6:30am. I must add that Sunday the
mainfloor toilet became clogged. Contents from Eric’s diaper refused to flush. Despite a few attempts I’ve not been able to fix it. This necessitates me hustling everyone into the upstairs bathroom to pee before I shower in the morning.
At the breakfast table Eric’s muffled speech became crystal clear as he shouted repeatedly, “I hungry!” Since arriving he’s hardly left the table. All day long he demands to be fed. His foster mom mentioned he generally won’t eat meat. But he’s definitely a carnivore here, gobbling up second and third helpings of meatloaf at dinner on Saturday. He has toast while Elise, sitting beside him, has cereal. When Eric’s done he shouts for more. I’ve not yet served the other children. He must wait. This doesn’t go over well. He becomes enraged. Eric whips his cup of juice at me. This isn’t the first time he’s thrown dishes at me because I’ve given him something he doesn’t like or don’t move fast enough for him. I decide it better be the last.
“That is not allowed,” I say. Picking Eric up, I take him to his room. He screams. Better there than at the table. Downstairs I have a hard time pulling myself together. I’m annoyed and letting everyone know.
Somehow I get us all dressed and out the door for a 10am dentist appointment. Marcus assures me his pull up is clean and dry. But my nose says otherwise. The stench furthers the bad mood I’m already in. Since we’re in the area, I stop by WalMart with five children. There are a 1,000 things I have to say no to. All I really need is something to unclog the toilet and butter. I buy an excessive amount of frozen pizzas for dinner. Then remember I must feed them lunch. Back home that becomes overwhelming. Marcus really has soiled himself. He refuses to change his pull up. Eric needs to be changed. Children are arguing all around me.
It’s a beautiful day. I should take them to the park. Another snow storm is due tomorrow. Marcus has again soiled himself. We go through the usual routine. Just before lunch I discovered a recently discarded pull up under his bed. Again he denies needing to change. I insist pointing out the incident before lunch. Marcus is not convinced. This exchange goes on far too long. Time is getting away from us. The lawyer is due at 3:30pm to meet with Flora and Marcus. I give up.
Sloane*, Elise, Flora, and Eric go into the backyard. I try to rid Marcus’ room of the horrible stench that’s settled upon it. Sloane’s hardly out the door before she’s stirring up trouble. I give a warning from Marcus’ window. Then I have to go downstairs to bring her in. It’s not without a fight. I win but am covered in mud. With her squared away in her room for some “quiet time”, Eric decides to come inside. I get his boots off, but he isn’t happy.
Flora comes in. She pretends to go the bathroom, but it’s already too late. She leaves wet undergarments on the floor and goes back outside like nothing happened. I find the items. While debating what to do, Eric lets the dog in (did I mention we’re dog sitting this week? Let me also tell you the dog keeps waking me up at 3am for no apparent reason.) Eric retrieves his muddy boots from outside. Eric and the dog run about the mainfloor making parallel tracks of mud.
Sloane decides she can “really fly” with the wings from her butterfly costume. She’s climbing on tables and attempting to jump off. “Maybe I’ll try from on top of the house!” I don’t have time to explain why she can’t. The answer is simply, “No! And get off the table.”
I mop the floor. Marcus then Flora shower. They’re not fully dry when the lawyer arrives. But I do have the other kids quietly watching a movie upstairs. I’ve bribed them with chips.
Eric comes down wanting more to eat. I give him a banana. He devours it. When I refuse him more chips he throws the bowl and banana peel, narrowly missing the lawyer. “He’s a visiting foster child. I don’t know what to do with him,” is what I’d like to say to everyone who encounters us.
When the lawyer leaves I lay on the couch for 5 minutes checking facebook hoping to find something interesting in someone else’s life. Giving Eric another banana and a piece of bread I tackle the toilet. Locking myself in, I ignore his cry for more food. Eric throws shoes at the bathroom door. He overturns chairs. He continues to shout, “I hungry!” I continue working but to no avail.
On a brighter note, Eric was asleep by 8:40pm! Mind you, it wasn’t in his bed. But I did get him there. Thank goodness there’s an end in sight. By this time next week, it could be back to just Sloane, Elise, and I.