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Archive for July, 2004

 
|| July 23, 2004 || 11:41 am || Comments (2) ||

“Will you wipe my butt?”

How on earth can I justify sending my five-year-old off to kinnygarten in three short weeks when he still asks this question with regularity?*

This small matter only came to my attention two weeks ago when Scout met me at the bathroom door saying she needed to talk to me.

Pulling me to the side, and with a wry look on her face, she said, “Don’t you think it’s about time you taught him to wipe his ownself, seeing as he goes off to school in about a month?”

What a terrible parent I am. The thought never even occurred to me.

But –in all fairness– the prospect of having to clean Mathias’ ass until he is thirty-eight never did, either. I’ma get right on that: I’ll be ordering Maxim to ‘…take care of this!’ post-haste.

*triple points to me for poop-related pun without ever actually typing/saying the word ‘poop’ or any of its clever euphemisms….it’s good to be queen.

 
|| July 21, 2004 || 1:29 am || Comments (8) ||

Of Celts and Coincidence

I saw this photo over at Clayton’s just before I settled in to write all this down. It made me say, “Oh.”

I just sat and stared at it for a little bit.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

Once, when I was twenty-one, I had three dollars in my pocket. Just three dollars, and I was going to the store for a specific item; I can’t recall just now exactly what it was.

What I can recall is that I was still married to Biff and we were new parents. We were a young military couple, struggling to get our lives fixed between the boundaries that a one-income household set up. Sam was maybe two months old and we had not yet adjusted financially, my job pre-mommyhood having been a fairly lucrative one, especially for one so young.

What I also recall is that I was in a state of disquiet, as we were in need of the supplemental formula that Sam required, we were in need of diapers, we were about a week from payday. It never crossed our minds to ask for assistance from anyone; we had both heard stories about the military families that required food stamps just to get by and it made both Biff and me wince. The military is a proud occupation; proud people do not take handouts.

But in a practical world, people cannot eat honor for dinner. People who refuse to dine on their pride nibble on worry, and that is what I did.

I pulled into the commissary parking lot, Biff having opted to stay at home with our sleeping infant. There, as I killed the car engine, I sat still and quiet for a moment. I began to talk to God in my head.

“Just twenty dollars. That’s all we need: Twenty dollars and we can absolutely make it to payday. The baby needs a little formula, a pack of diapers by this time tomorrow.”

I sighed, opening the car door, and put my left boot down on the ice. As Alaskans are wont to do, I glanced down to be sure of my footing before shifting my weight and rising. There on the ice, so precisely parallel to my rubber sole that it looked painstakingly placed, was a crisp twenty-dollar bill. I smiled to myself, a tucked-in mouthcorners kinda smile, and retrieved the bill.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

I’ve lost twenty dollars before. More than once, if memory serves correct. What is remarkable about this is not that I lost the cash for whatever reason, but that in all those times, I never remember losing twenty dollars that I really, really needed. Funny that.

But –and I’d make bank on this one, baby– I’m betting that on more than one occasion the person that found it couldn’t say the same thing. Yessir, I’m betting that my lost twenties found their way into hands that had a need.

Same as that twenty that lay there alongside my boot.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

Scout is one of the bravest people I know. And the girl is adventurous. Bold, as well, but not stand-on-the-hilltop-and-shout kinda bold. She is the kind of bold that sees a need somewhere and says, “I will fix that.”

It doesn’t take someone bold to utter platitudes and good intentions. It takes someone bold to utter them and then, realizing her own limits, stepping in on the other person’s behalf and asking. She is unafraid. Or maybe, she is indeed afraid and says, “Fuck you,” to fear in spite of herself. Even though I am her mother, I am unsure, but I think it may well be the latter.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

Last year, Scouty took scuba diving lessons with her father. It was something he wanted to do with and for the kids, but Sam waffled and finally said, “No way, man.” He is fearful, my Sam, or maybe he just hasn’t found the impetus for his courage yet.

Even though her dad proposed it for fun, Scout immediately tied it in to her future career plans; she thought it might aid her in her quest to become a Navy pilot (the wings are seen as a vehicle with which to get her in to space faster, as her ultimate goal is to be an astronaut).

So Scout got scuba certified. She did it unblinkingly, and was the only female in her class of eighteen. She was the only person there under twenty years of age. Despite the fact that she gets seasick, she completed the deep sea dive and scored one-hundred percent both on paper and in performance.

Maxim and I fully acknowledge that she is the most even person in our household. Perhaps the most driven, as well. Last year, we caught her waking at three-thirty ay emm and showering, because, “It gives me more time to study, to read, to prepare for school.”

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

We are a family big on ‘treats’: Little surprises that make a person’s day a bit more pleasant. The kids knew early on if they came to me and said something along the lines of, “Kevin’s been getting a hard time from some of the guys in class and he feels really bad, can we make up a treat bag for him?” that it would be so. I keep a couple shelves in the storage closet piled with neat things that I find impossibly cheap (I am blessed with a Bargain Fairy, what can I say?) for last-minute birthdays, rewards, pick-em-ups.

Sam utilized this most often, as not much in the way of the human spirit escapes his attention. He, above all else, wants everyone around him happy and relaxed. He loves to smile, to laugh, and believes others’ faces are best draped with pleasure as well.

Scout came home one day during her first grade year to tell me, “Noen is my buddy, mom.” She spoke incessantly of Noen in the next couple of weeks, telling me that she had sung songs to and made up silly rhymes for him. She liked the boy so much that she would walk to his classroom to retrieve him and another girl named Laura every day for the first-grade lunch period. Eventually, she asked if she might take Noen a treat bag, just because he did not have many friends and therefore was probably not the recipient of many gifts. She very carefully selected five or six things from those available and went off to school with them tucked in a bag. It had an extra-large flower with a ridiculously-smiling face emblazoned on it.

One afternoon, I was picking up the kids from extended day. As I signed them out, the teacher on duty asked who I was there for. I called out Sam’s name and his homeroom first; the teacher called for him via radio. There was a boy in a wheelchair four times bigger than him sitting to the left of the teacher’s table. He was still and quiet, and from his appearance I surmised that he had the most severe case of Cerebral Palsy I’d ever seen. He was drawn up, dystonic, and his head pulled far to the left.

I gave the teacher Scout’s first and last name, and the boy in the wheelchair began to move, restless at first but then seeming more purposeful. He smiled, his head swung, bobbing with effort. As Scout came up the hall, he began to hoot gleefully. She came at a light jog, her blue dress bouncing and matching Doc Martens thudding. Such a big noise for such a measured, birdlike person.

“Hey mommy!” and she turned away from me, toward the boy in the chair.

“Hey, Noen! Did you meet my mom?”

My heart nearly fell out of my chest.

I met Laura about a week later at one of the kids’ football games. She was three years older than Scout and had Down Syndrome.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

Faith is not something I’ve ever had trouble with. That in and of itself is a gift, I know. I’ve never had trouble believing that if I put my best heart and effort into an endeavor, that everything will come to rights no matter how backward and upside-down it is (or appears to be). I’ve always just known in my heart of hearts that there is a God and that He has his finger on me.

Even in those times when I was mired in the ugliness that life offers up (and many times, admittedly, I voluntarily stepped up and held its hand) I was aware of His presence. Frankly, by this point I should be dead many times over.

I’m not, and that says much.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

“I envy you your faith,” Melly said to me a couple days ago.

“It seems that some of the most important people in my life have a strong sense of God, even though they’ve been hurt in His name.”

“I don’t think that’s a coincidence, Mel,” was what I replied with.

She was told –just as I was– at a young age that the Almighty has a great and grand bone to pick with all carbon-based bipeds sporting opposable thumbs. She bought it, just as I did (I have since had a cocktail of epiphany spiked with divine intervention).

“I always thought that he was The Great Punisher.”

“He ain’t my punisher, Melliloulou, He’s my redeemer. He loves me, and He loves you, too.”

“Oh, I love you for saying that out loud, Bethy.”*

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

There are times that I am moved to do or say things that make absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. I have learned to do them. I have learned to say them. I have learned that there are greater things than me working at any given moment and if I do not follow these seemingly silly impulses, people miss out. They miss out on something they desperately needed, and I miss out on the blessing of being able to facilitate something for someone.

It’s been trial-and-error, this quiet obedience to the Something That Prods Me. Which, truth be blatantly told, is a dumbed-down way of saying God.

There, I’ve said it, mockable as it may be to some. I get a little push from God to do or say something to someone –many times complete strangers– and I just do it and it turns out to be exactly what they needed at any given moment.

This is how I justify such silliness (and that’s technically the wrong word, just so you know) to myself: What if, in times of my own desperate physical/emotional/spiritual need, someone had not heeded their own urgings? I’ve had more times in my life than I can count where miraculous things occurred. Things that went beyond mere happenstance. Things that were seemingly impossible without precise orchestration. Things that quite literally saved my beans, my goat, my life. Spared on many counts, that’s me.

In short, you don’t have to be a Christian for God to use you. Hell, you don’t even really have to be consciously aware of Him. But He is certainly aware of you.

So, yeah, where were we? Obedience. I’ve learned to be obedient to that call. Ridiculous, pride-sucking things like getting out at midnight (in my jammies, no less) to take somebody a pair of shoes because they need them and it simply can’t wait till the morning. Ludicrous things like turning to a complete stranger that I no more know than Adam’s housecat and saying something like, “I feel like I’m supposed to tell you that in spite of your despair, your joy is being restored in increments, even now as we speak. You can let go.” There are many others. There are returns on most all of them, and those are (maybe, maybe not) stories for another time.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

If I were to sit down and list all the places that I’d love to travel, Scotland prolly wouldn’t even make the top ten. It’d fall maybe at twelve or thereabouts. Italy, oh Italy is tops on my list, followed by Spain and Australia and Portugal and Greece.

Yep, despite the fact that I am told that Scotland would feel like home to me given my propensity for sealing certain matters with a hearty cry of “FUCK!” and a Glasgow Kiss, my spirited nature, the battle call that looms just beneath my breastbone, my outspoken tendencies….well, it’s never been a prime source of interest for me (my swoony love of the Scots’ accent, well-documented here, notwithstanding).

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

Some six months ago my pastor and another man from our church went on a mission trip to Scotland. Their purpose there was to aid in the renovations of a castle that the local county had leased to a ministry for one dollar a month over the next hundred years.

This ministry, when fully up and running, will provide community outreach –primarily to youth and children– in an area where unemployment is better than fifty percent, where the average age of sexual activity startup is eleven (ELEVEN! and I want to choke), where the average age for teen pregnancy is thirteen, where mothers are set up in an apartment by the government only to have their beaus move in with them and make more babies and perpetuate the cycle.

The area has been drowned in a spirit of religion (i.e., the aforementioned, “God is maaaaad at you, and boy are you gonna get it!”) for ages now, and most people are apathetic toward the notion of God.

Lead with love, that’s what the missionaries stationed at this castle believe. That, and a good pint every now and again ain’t gonna send you straight to the mouth of the abyss, all the more convenient for when God flicks you in.

Coincidentally, that happens to be my philosophy as well.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

I have this friend that I call every Friday, or damn near. She’s okay if I miss one every now and again, because she too has kids and business and is a Chaos Magnettm. She understands.

Usually when I call her, she is halfway into her workday and swearing at people and machinery with great aplomb. Coffee is her sustenance, ire is her desert. Some of us are more effective that way.

So, on Fridays, I call her and yell, “HAPPY FRIDAY!” into the phone. Sometimes this is ironic, sometimes it is sarcastic, sometimes it is gleeful….but it’s always heartfelt.

She unburdens herself to me, this friend, and I’ve just about broken her of apologizing every time she does so. Everyone needs a sounding board, and you’d be a mighty shitty friend to someone if all you ever expected from them was sunshine and roses and perky nonsense like that. I seek remuneration for my counseling services in two ways: Sometimes I make fun of her yankee accent (this always confuses her, which makes me laugh even harder) and sometimes I call on her to help me brainstorm. She is a creative-type kinda gal, and has been known to think outside the box a time or two in the past.

About a month ago I approached her for a different sort of way to raise some funds. I told her what for, and she said, “I liiiiike that! Lemme think. I’ll call you back later today.” Something that was mentioned was somehow bringing it to my audience here; I told her that I didn’t really know about that, I’d have to think on it (“Ohhhhhm,” teehee).

Sometimes your friends drag you into the spotlight, squinting.

Sometimes you have friends that heed the voice, too.

This is in spite of the fact that you yourself are maybe straining so hard to hear that you tire yourself out before you can hone in on the transmission.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

After our pastor got back from Scotland, he took an entire service to tell about the experience; he outlined the work they’d done, the people they’d met, the work yet left to do. At the end of the service, while we were in prayer, he said to the smallish congregation, “Those of you that think you might be called to Scotland, please stand.”

It was clear and it was immediate.

You go, I was told, You go and leave all the boys at home. Take Scout.

I stood, head bowed, steady questions in my heart:

How will we pull the money together? Two-thousand dollars might as well be two million! The money will be there.

Scout? How will this be received? She is earnest and hardworking, sure; but SHE IS eleven. She’s supposed to go.

You sure? Ayuh.

School! I’ll be in the middle of a semester! Two weeks away from my math-based courses will KILL the mathtard [ed. note: I am indeed said mathtard]. The earth spins like clockwork on its axis without your conscious thought….who you think does that? I got this one, too.

There are bills. I know that; didn’t I say the money will be there? Listen.

You know I’m gonna go. You know I can’t NOT go. *chuckle* Now you’re getting it.

And I spent a week praying on just this one thing, this trip, the machinations of it, the improbability of all the factors, the hows and wherefores. The why’s a given, pretty much. My two three big concerns:

1) Is Scout really supposed to go?

2) Where on earth will I get two-kay?

3) Is this just me wanting to go to Scotland, or am I truly being called?

The last one, by careful and reasoned thought, was stricken down with a no pretty quickly. There are two-handsful of places I’d go first. Besides, we’d be there working; it wasn’t to be a sightseeing trip replete with ribald pleasure: No ‘personal’ motivation except for the kind that really counts.

The first two were answered cleanly, coincidentally enough, the following Sunday. Scout, having gone to church with her father that morning, called me excitedly that afternoon. Seems she had told her grandmother about the trip, what we were to do while we were there, and asked her if she could help Scout think of some clever ways to fundraise. Scout’s grandma then anecdotally told one of the other ladies in the women’s class and by the time Scout left church that afternoon she had what turned out to be enough money to cover our passports in her hot little fist. Only five people had donated; they had been moved by my Scouty’s earnestness and eagerness to do whatever she had to do to bankroll this mission trip.

They answered their calls and provided confirmation in one fell swoop.

We were locked in to going the minute someone handed over one thin dime.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

Although I’m not big on humanity as a whole, I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for the kids. Always worked with them in one form or another as far back as I can remember. Children are fabulous creatures. A little rough around the edges these days due to a prevalence of faulty, slipshod parenting, but still pretty amazing and wonderful.

I hope I never lose this heart-connection with the four-foot-and-under set; it’s one of the most fulfilling and human aspects of me.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

So I don’t know where the money is coming from, only that it is coming in here and there and has been over the past few weeks. We are still woefully underfunded, and while I am concerned about it and have done a myriad of things to pull together the dough (yard sales, house painting, personal errands), I’m just trusting. That, and bouncing ideas off of a few close friends and family members.

Asking prayerfully, at every turn, “Is this how I’m supposed to be doing it?”

And, in one instance thus far, not knowing if it’s right until it’s already underway. There you go. I have ‘Damn-the-torpedos’, proactive friends.

If you pray, lift me and my kid up with regard to this situation.

If you just like to get behind someone who is trying to do something that seems very right and good to them, then wish Scout and me well in your hearts. We are on a mission. My daughter is a person of strength, compassion and will. I expect that it was not she who was called to be my companion, but the other way around. And like a good steward, I will serve in whatever fashion I can.

*she is the only person in my life I’ve ever allowed to call me this; the whole lot of you take note!

I’m on my feet, I’m on the floor, I’m good to go…

Maaaaan, I don’t know who hit me up from this domain, but I gotta fuckin’ thank you. The wedding singer version of ‘What A Girl Wants’ made me squeeze tears.

Lord knows I love a good laugh.

 
|| July 17, 2004 || 8:05 am || Comments (5) ||

Midwifery

Watching someone –especially someone you love– veer drunkenly across and back over the line that separates the land of the living from the land of the dead is surreal. The one thing that is remarkable, however…the one thing that quietly astounds me is how no two deaths really mirror one another. Sure, clinically, there are the similarities, but…

Just as our births have their own personality and our lives are possessed of a grouping of individual subtleties, so too with dying.

I have attended the bedside of more than one person drawing the curtain and the questions do not get any fewer or less complex. I am of the ilk that likes to have straightforward answers, clean-cut resolution, a basic timeline by which to map events. Death affords me none of these things, and that is the only aspect of it that truly seizes my heart and shakes it.

I spent much of last night watching and trying to assist someone usher in their own end, in their own way. It was not so much literally as metaphorically, as I don’t feel I have the right to put a period on a sentence I didn’t start in the first place (some people say they feel that is their duty, and that is a decision best left to them). Me, I’m the glorified head-caresser, ice-bringer, tube-disentangler, pillow-adjuster. She is strong and hangs on, falling in and out of lucidity with the errant grace of an accidentally-dropped ragdoll. I can only hope to make this time as comfortable as possible while praying fervently for God to rain down a spirit of peace and “…just get on with it, will ya? Pull her on over into Your embrace.”

Long days, in shifts of this, are anticipated, but I hope it won’t come to that. I hope she is afforded the grace to not have to suffer much more.

Send cash, and I’m really not kidding this time. Really.

So yesterday was my four-year bloggiversary. FOUR! YEARS!

We’re not going to count this year’s lengthy ‘redesign’ against me, as I have not taken a serious, serious break in all that time, and also because of a few facts (according to this place):

~To date, I have written one-thousand, five-hundred and sixty-two posts (of wildly varying length, content and quality).

~This makes the average number of posts per week seven (there’s that number again!).

~Total number of words? Three-hundred eighty-five thousand, seven-hundred sixty. On that one, the mind boggles (or wobbles, whichever you prefer): Nearly one-hundred thousand words cranked per year. Or, if you’re all about being precise, two-hundred seventy-six point six-six per day.

What a loser I am!

But I prefer the term ‘writer’.

I am, however, still not a technophile.

JettSuperior: Help me!

The Dane of 5683: whatup

JettSuperior: I’ve done something to my keyboard

The Dane of 5683: uhm

The Dane of 5683: let it dry out first

JettSuperior: okay, it’s not tequila-coated this time

The Dane of 5683: color me intrigued

JettSuperior: I mashed a button, and now I’m getting
all these strange characters like

JettSuperior: I dunno, things I’m not supposed to
have.

JettSuperior: I’m trying to open and close tags and
getting something else instead!

JettSuperior: WAAAAAH!

The Dane of 5683: Uhm, have you tried restarting
your computer?

JettSuperior: No, no I have not.

The Dane of 5683: try that

JettSuperior: It’s easier to log on to AIM and whine
to someone smarter than me.

The Dane of 5683: that’s alwasy the first thing

The Dane of 5683: restarting often restores defaults

JettSuperior: Let me explore something here…

The Dane of 5683: get your fingers out of there!!! this
here;s a children’s program!!!

JettSuperior: *snort*

JettSuperior: (not)

JettSuperior: It must be this post

JettSuperior: every time I try and work on it,
something happens

The Dane of 5683: it must!

JettSuperior: Like the POWER WENT OUT last
night.

JettSuperior: and then, before I hit ’save as draft’,
blogger fully went down for maintenance!

The Dane of 5683: hm

JettSuperior: (I have a bone to pick with them about
not caching unsaved posts anymore.)

The Dane of 5683: they don’t?

The Dane of 5683: dang, that’s a bummer

JettSuperior: and NOW, now I have a goofy cyrillic
keyboard!

The Dane of 5683: dude, that’s awesome

JettSuperior: (yes, for future ref, that feature is
requested for your decablog publishing)

The Dane of 5683: you didn’t take my advice did you

JettSuperior: I’m STILL HERE, aren’t I??

The Dane of 5683: i guess

The Dane of 5683: i wasn’t paying attention really

JettSuperior: *devastated*

JettSuperior: (no, really)

The Dane of 5683: aw

The Dane of 5683: *pats head*

The Dane of 5683: good boy!

JettSuperior: (okay, not really, playing for reaction)

JettSuperior: (got one, so histrionics are over)

The Dane of 5683: *hits with paper*

JettSuperior: I’m pissing on the carpet.

JettSuperior: THAT’S IT, MISTER.

The Dane of 5683: fine. it’s your carpet

JettSuperior: I get a semicolon when I try to close a
tag.

JettSuperior: What is going onnnnn?

The Dane of 5683: im not gonna tell you if you ignore
my advice

JettSuperior: You said shut down.

The Dane of 5683: yup

JettSuperior: I just don’t see how that can help when I
can be poking around in this machine, fucking more shit
up in an effort to learn!

The Dane of 5683: oh yeah. nevermind then

The Dane of 5683: (all southerners are retards)

JettSuperior: You come from Southern stock.

JettSuperior: OFF WITH YOUR KNEECAPSES!

The Dane of 5683: we were shipwrecked on our way to
California from Denmark

JettSuperior: riiiiight.

The Dane of 5683: so didja learn anything excited
from my women tips? now you too can Win Some Ladies!

JettSuperior: is this a new post?

The Dane of 5683: vidblog

JettSuperior: ahhh, yes!

The Dane of 5683: did you miss this weeks?

JettSuperior: I learned that you speak spanish with a
rather odd dialect.

The Dane of 5683: i take it back, you’re not retarded.
you’re drunk

The Dane of 5683: I speak english with a weird dialect
so it follows

JettSuperior: (and my keyboard isn’t doing that thing
here in chat….<> SEE?)

JettSuperior: not drunk, just overwhelmed

The Dane of 5683: RESTART YOUR EFFING COMPUTER

JettSuperior: Ha! That’s all I needed! You swore!

The Dane of 5683: get outta here you lousy tramp

 
|| July 15, 2004 || 12:09 am || Comments (5) ||

Evening Vignette

Maxim and Jett are piled up together on the couch. Jett is giggling madly at something Maxim just said.

MAXIM: I love your laugh; it makes my heart glad. I’ll do anything to hear you laugh.

Jett turns to Maxim, eyebrows raised.

JETT: Oh…then go get a spatula, some duct tape and take your pants off.

 
|| July 13, 2004 || 8:20 pm || Comments (11) ||

Like bailing water with a teaspoon.

Most people find the reams of paperwork and red tape the most frustrating part of their jobs. Not me. During a supervised visit today a father asked me today if I ever caught a break (and didn’t my wrist hurt?), as every time he sees me I am shuffling papers from school and/or work. I looked at him and laughed.

“No, Wayne, I got more paperwork than God.”

But it doesn’t bother me, this sort of tedium. The most frustrating and taxing part of my job is the sense of futility and disappointment that seems to be just around the corner most days. It waits to hit me during the moments when I am giddy with a client’s successes, or reeling from some silliness.

And there are moments of silliness. Take, for instance, the call I got from a worker a week-and-a-half ago.

“Um, I need to tell you something…you know the kids that you were hauling around in your car for five hours yesterday? [ed. note: three under five, school enrollments and a lengthy supervised visit some two counties away]

“Welp, it seems they have a pretty gnarly case of headlice.”

People, I have ten fucking miles’-worth of hair and three children of my own. I sprayed my car and my bedding down no less than five times, and the children (whom I have since seen/carted around on several occasions in the interim) had their heads cleaned up within twenty-four hours. No traces of lice rearing their ugly little transparent bodies within my sphere of living, but I have itched continuously for the past ten days. Like now? Sitting here at my machine, pounding at the keys? I have paused no less than seven times in the space of fifteen minutes to examine the source of a ‘crawly feeling’ on my right leg and the back of mine cranium.

That’s pure comedy, folks. Distracting and time-consuming, but indeed funny as all-fuck.

And there are the moments of shining optimism; a quiet, soaring hope resides in my chest when I see someone scrambling to get their lives and homes back in order. Because, you know, there but for the grace of God.

I’ve got this one client who may well be my first success story since I’ve started working in this field. Oh, I’ve had a couple of them come close, only to drop the ball at the last (and I mean the last) second.

This gal, however, is fighting like hell for her kids and her equilibrium. She’s been doing everything required of her. An eighth-grade dropout, she gets up at six-thirty every morning to attend GED classes. She finished her parenting classes determinedly and quickly, she found good, suitable housing for her little family. A couple of weeks ago, after countless applications, she got her foot in the door and landed an interview with a neighboring county. Said interview went well, and she was excited about the prospect of starting work. In the two weeks since she landed this job, she has been nothing but smiles and good words; she is empowered, and that is a feeling that she has not been able to wag around in her chest for most of her life. I know this, because I can see it in her eyes.

Last week she put Mister Good-For-Nothing, her verbally (and I believe at one point, physically) abusive husband out and asked for –no, DEMANDED– a divorce.

“It’s been eight years wortha hell, and he ain’t doin’ nothin’ to help me get these kids back in this house. He had to go.” He had missed his parenting class the night before (not the first by a longshot) and taken the television, VCR and kids’ movies while she was away at work; he pawned them and more than likely went off to toot up on the proceeds.

Today at one of the twice-weekly visits (one supervised, one not) with the babies, I noticed she looked uptight, sorta sad and fidgety all at the same time. I asked her what was wrong, only to find that she had been served with an eviction notice this morning. Seems that Mister G-F-N had not been paying his share of the subsidized rent he had assured her that he was paying.

To some people, two-hundred and twenty-three dollars might as well be two million.

I told her to enjoy her visit with the kids, I was going to talk with the landlord, “Don’t! Worry!” This woman is desperately trying to land on her feet and I for one am trying to help her find some solid turf. Mister G-F-N is sitting up in a trailer somewhere, waiting on her call begging him back and that doesn’t need to happen. After a ten-minute conversation with the property manager, a handful of phonecalls and a couple forms filled out and faxed back and forth, arrangements were made to catch up the arrearages and even pay her electric bill this month. Next step is to make ole G-F-N eat his parting words: “Once I hittat door, you ain’t gettin’ no help from me with them kids.”

I was happy that one less thing to worry her was in the way; we ended the visit, she went off to work and I loaded up the children to return them to their foster parents’ home. As I drove toward the entrance of the complex, their heads quickly began to nod in anticipation of the nap that a long drive most always induces in wee ones. I pulled up to the highway.

There, standing dead-center on the yellow lines, was a two-year-old boy.

Cars were busily whizzing past; whether they didn’t see him, didn’t have time to react to seeing him, or didn’t care, I dunno. I was going for the door latch when a lady in a green SUV (and here is where I tell you drivers of SUVs everywhere that you have received a Stay of Utility Vehicle Ire from me as a result of this woman’s actions) quickly pulled over, jumped out and pulled the baby toward the safety of her vehicle.

I rolled down my window, explained who I am and who I work for and then told her I’d get turned around post-haste. I pulled out of the apartment drive, hung a U-ey and pulled up in front of her vehicle. She was already on the phone to the police.

In my line of work, I have found through trial-and-error that it is best to have an ‘emergency kit’ in my vehicle at all times. It contains snacks, boxed juices, a handful of toys and a package of baby wipes. Due to the fact that it was hotter than four hells out today and to the aforementioned busy traffic area, I thought it best to leave the carseated minions in my air-conditioned back seat precisely where they were. I passed out snacks and juices, explained that I would be just behind the car, and that I’d look in on them in just a minute. They were happy.

The lady from the green SUV was most assuredly not. Tall, slim, fortyish and attractive, she held the baby’s hand loosely as she spoke with the police dispatcher and looked as if any minute she might turn into an emotional brickpile right there on the pavement. She was shaking and very near tears. Throughout the ensuing conversation, she kept saying, “All I could see was that baby getting mowed under a car,” over and over.

I was on the phone with the on-duty intake worker from my office while we were waiting on the police to arrive to make the requisite reports; it was then that the mother came swirling up, snatched up the baby, asked where he was found and then went back from whence she came with nary a ‘thank you’, much less the emotional display that hearing your baby was playing in the midst of a (busy, so busy) highway should elicit.

It was then, when the baby was away from her and couldn’t see, that the woman let out a wolf-wail and began to cry. I comforted her as best I could given the circumstances.

An hour later I stormed into the office, found the work coordinator and drug him behind a closed door.

“I fucking hate this fucking job!” I growled, voice gaining volume.

“There I was, feeling really great, because someone is going to make it. Happy, you know? Very near -–so close to!– being a part of delivering three wee ones back to their momma, then I end up having to start the process for the removal of two that live four!…fucking!…doors!…down!

“For shitsakes, it’s like bailing water with a damned teaspoon.”