Really Full House
We are living aross the street from Granny and Grandad. Daniel and Fritz have just been placed in our home as my first foster sons. Billy is staying with us for an indefinite period of time. It is the second or third week in December and it is cold and rainy. I get a call from Shari, another previous foster child who is 19 years old and has a one year old infant. Shari is in trouble. Her boyfriend’s sister has locked her out of the house she shared with them and she is in a phone booth outside a convenience store. I leave Billy in charge and get Shari who is about ten minutes away.
Shari sees my van pull into the parking lot and she opens the door and climbs in with a year old baby on her hip and a diaper bag slung over her shoulder. The baby is not wearing shoes and Shari has no coat. I ask her if she has access to the baby’s things, like the safety seat or shoes. Shari says she thinks she can get them. I think about where everyone can sleep. I still have Nina’s crib and there are twin beds in the room Nina and Billy are using. I do not want people sleeping in the family room or living room. I tell Shari that Billy came to stay with us about a week earlier and I tell her about the boys. It will be a full house.
As we enter the house, Ivy and Lea let me know that Daniel would not do what Billy said so she poured a soda over his head. Daniel seems fine, not the slightest bit upset. Billy will not be in charge for a while. I ask Ivy and Lea if they are set for school for the next day and they are. I tell Daniel to take a shower and wash his hair and get ready for bed. The boys ask for “Chips Ahoy” and I tell them I will get them out when they are ready for bed. I ask Lea and Ivy if they could please get Nina ready for bed while I find places for everyone to sleep. Billy, Ivy, Lea, Shari and Nina are all happy to see each other and even though there is chaos, there is happiness.
The bedroom that Billy, Shari, Nina and the baby will sleep in is very large so I move the bookcases more to create a large area and a small area. One with twin beds and one with a crib and an airbed on the floor for Nina and the baby. I find bedding for all and I direct Shari and Billy to make up the beds. Before I leave Billy and Shari to settle and arrange, I remind them that it is a school night and there are five children that need to be at school in the morning.
In fact, the boys have not yet started school, there are some complications with enrollment and I plan on dealing with that tomorrow. There are only one and one half weeks left before school is dismissed for the holidays but I want to get them enrolled. When I took the boys to the elementary school in our neighborhood to be enrolled, we were told we had to wait for their files to arrive from their previous schools. This had not happened to me before, but in the other school district I had been a trustee. As the boys and I are leaving the school site, Fritz starts weeping and says he cannot attend this school because he has never had to wear a uniform. Daniel thinks uniforms are “cool” but he does not convince Fritz.
I learn that Fritz has been attending a school for extremely disturbed children and cannot enroll in a regular public school without a long process. Daniel will be accepted by the school in our neighborhood after an interview with the superintendent which is completely unexpected by me, but we cooperate. Fritz does not want to return to his old school and I explain to him that there are not many options but if he wants to change schools, I will go through the process with him. Fritz tells me that if he returns to his old school, he will have to do many “word searches” and he hates word searches. I agree to call his teacher and see what we can do. “Word searches” are word puzzles which have words hidden in a block of letters. The words can be vertical, horizontal, or diagonal, even backwards in some puzzles. Some children love “word search” puzzles, and some hate them. The reality is that “word search” puzzles have no proven academic value and some kids cannot do them even if their vocabularies are advanced. I call Fritz’ teacher and explain to her that Fritz is new to my home and I ask her if he can be excused from the “word search” assignment considering the recent upheaval in his life. Fritz’ teacher replies: “Fritz is a very lazy boy and he has had these word searches for two weeks, and he will not be excused.” Fritz has a packet of at least 30 puzzles stapled together he must complete. I call all the girls and Fritz to the kitchen table. When Shari, Billy, Lea, Ivy and Fritz are seated at the table, I distribute the puzzles equally to each child with a sharpened pencil. The puzzles are completed within a few minutes, I collect them, staple them together and hand them to Fritz. “Sweet!” he says.