The Epic Homework Battle of 2016…and 2015

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Like many kids who have come from the system, El Oso is an enigma wrapped in a mystery wrapped in stubbornness wrapped in self-esteem issues wrapped in a rabbit hole of baggage. We have been working with him on no short of 20 bazillion issues all at once. Ok fine, maybe a little short of that. I digress. It’s been rough, no surprises there. He has been improving on so much, though! He came to us with the maturity of maybe a 10 year old, and I’d say he’s up to 13ish now, which is huge! He’s getting better with his social cues, his knowledge and understanding of wrong and right, his acclimation into a normal family life in general, and a crap-ton of other things.

The big problem right now?

Schoolwork. AKA the bane of my existence.

It’s an interesting concept when I have to sympathize with my parents and all they had to deal with when raising me and/or my siblings…only 8 years after they were done doing it. It helps that they are still in the thick of the child-rearing with my sister, but still, it’s super weird to talk teenagers with them when I was one a mere 6 years ago.

We were/are brought up to believe that school was an important key to getting to our goals in life. We wouldn’t fathom not turning in homework or not studying when we needed to or not participating in class or any other things that we could control in regards to school without fear of lengthy lectures followed by some form of punishment. Ahem, discipline. Sure, I didn’t always study, but I didn’t always need to study, and I knew that and had the wherewithal to regulate and manage my own crap. My brother forgot to turn in homework all the time in high school and was usually punished for it. He is also smart enough to where he could literally be on his phone the entirety of a class period and then ace a test on what was covered. Stupid smarty pants. This is why he is in med school though. Glad one of us can buy that retirement beach house my parents have always dreamed of, I guess.

The point is, we had 14 full years of of parenting before we reached high school. My parents had 14 years to teach us how to be responsible and how to care about our grades and how to expect the best out of ourselves. We weren’t always perfect of course, believe me, (I once spent a good 2-3 solid months grounded. My siblings have been in similar predicaments, but they read this blog and one of them still cares about the world knowing this stuff. So if you want to private message me…just kidding) but it went a long way. So what do you do with a kid who has been told his whole life that trying in any capacity at all or that doing even a small amount of the work in any shape or form constitutes “him trying his very best?” My anger and frustration fades to sympathy when I realize that this is truly not his fault. He doesn’t know. Sweet Oso. (Or Oso Dulche, as the creator of his nickname would say it.)

So this is where we are. The past week, or more maybe, I try to lose count, we have had a blow out every single night about the stupid schoolwork. I’m exhausted. Bryan is exhausted. El Oso has to be exhausted.

The problem, and I say “the problem” like it’s the only one or like I even fully understand “the problem,” is that he has never had the expectations that he has now with us. He all of the sudden has people checking up on his crap and calling him out on it and he is acting like the freaking apocalypse must be nigh.

Now let me be clear. This is NOT a situation where he is truly only capable of his current output. He is not lower functioning and hasn’t had even HALF of the experiences that most kids in the system have dealt with. He has experienced very little movement during his time in care and has managed to not only NOT fall behind one to two grades as is common in foster care, but has maintained being a year AHEAD of where he should be according to his age and the cutoff date. This has been accomplished via years of skating by. He has had it drilled into his head that if he can just stay below the radar, everything will be fine. Don’t excel, don’t fail too hard. As long as other kids are falling on their faces harder than I am, everything will be ok. And this has of course laid the groundwork for a whole crop of laziness to grow as well.

My reaction to this has been very mature and understanding. I always speak in soft tones and refuse to let my frustration translate out of my brain and into a vein slightly protruding from my forehead, or, Heaven forbid, a snarky comment…or two.

I’ll let you decide whether or not that is fact or crap.

On the real though. This ridiculousness continues to be HARD. On Monday we opted to order take-out so that I could spend the entire evening walking through his homework and studying with him. We made leaps and bounds of progress! Developed a new system! It was wonderful! And then while I was still patting my own back for a job well-done Tuesday evening, we found him fallen asleep mid-homework with almost zero of the Monday’s knowledge having transferred. Cue another lengthy conversation about responsibility and listening, and selfishness, and rebellion and blah blah blah blah blah.

Can you see it? ALL OF THE MATURITY SPEWING FROM ME, THE PARENT?

Sometimes, I want to declare responsibility bankruptcy too, kid. Do you have room in the center of the universe for me as well? Does this sound a bit harsh? Just wait for the annoyingly hard lesson that always comes after I get too wrapped up in someone else’s problems.

During my epic tantrum is usually when God comes in all High and Mighty (<– see what I did there?) and is like “You see it don’t you? How ridiculous you’re acting about something that you do as well, but on a bigger scale?” Ugh God. You and Your logic. The theme continues: I learn more about myself and my bratty, ungrateful, selfish nature by getting mad at someone else for doing it to me. God: “El Oso’s stubborn and refuses to see the logic and do the right thing for the hundredth time? Hmm sounds like someone else I know.”

God: Infinity.

Alex: Still zero.

I’m glad someone’s got this, because I sure don’t.

Love, Alex

For fellow foster/adoptive parents: This is not news to you and I would love to have coffee with you. Everyone else, I welcome your comments and encouragement IN LOVE.

 

Why I Suck Lately.

My life is boring. I say that not in a negative way, but more in a neutral way. As a person who thrives on control and knowing the plan, and who fails miserably in change and chaos, boring is good for me on most days. Sure, I like excitement in life too, but I like to know when that excitement is happening so I can plan for it. Are you catching what I’m throwing out?

Lately, my life has been the opposite of this. My life has been chaotic and messy and unplanned and unpredictable and I’m failing. Miserably.

Although I rarely use this blog to share what’s been going on in my daily life…because it’s boring most of the time…I’d like to let you in on my chaos.

We had someone living with us for a few months who was close to my family when their relationship went south. Although Bryan and I had very little to do with the relationship ending, the situation was taken out on us because we were the roommates. We’ve had a monstrous time getting this person’s things moved in order to be completely out of the relationship, and it has taken a gigantic toll on us. Forgiveness for hurts alone feel out of the question right now, so I won’t divulge more details in efforts to not be tacky, but trust me there are plenty. This entire situation has been very straining, and is not over yet.

My grandmother was diagnosed with Lung Cancer in April and also has a tumor in her brain. We found out it was already in stage 4 when she was diagnosed, and was not curable, but hopefully treatable. She started chemo and radiation, but because she was already so sick, her body couldn’t handle such harsh treatment and she was getting weaker as the masses just kept growing. This past Friday, her oncologist decided to stop all treatments on her and send her to hospice. The whole family was up there Friday night until very late because the hospice nurse didn’t think she’d make it through the night. It’s Tuesday now and she is still with us, and we’ve been up there almost every second of the day we weren’t sleeping or working. We of course are praying she will get better, but it’s not looking likely, and we would almost rather her just go ahead and go so she won’t be in pain anymore. Plus, selfishly, it just feels so wrong to essentially be sitting and waiting for someone to die.

(Please don’t smoke. At least not around me. As stupid as this sounds, it will hurt my feelings-not to mention the fact that I’m pregnant and don’t need to be around that anyway. I take it personally now when I tell people about Grandma and they say they don’t care and do it anyway. That may not make a lot of sense, but I’m sticking to my overly sensitive guns on this one.)

**UPDATE** My wonderful grandmother: Iris McCurdy-Grandma-died around 4 am Wednesday morning. She was the most wonderful, hilarious, selfless, caring woman, and I was blessed to be her grandaughter.

PLEASE DON’T SMOKE.

Sound hectic yet? Good time for an emergency root canal huh? Last Saturday night/Sunday morning I woke up in terrible, terrible pain in my jaw. I had known I needed a root canal for a while now, but having not had one previously, I didn’t realize that left untreated, it would eventually blow up that side of my head. I haven’t been in so much pain in a long time, all the while feeling so stupid BECAUSE ALL THIS FOR A TOOTH. We called everyone we could think of to avoid a hospital visit but they all told us to go to the ER since it was a Sunday, so we finally did…on Fathers’ Day no less. They gave me pain meds and antibiotics for the time being, which knocked me out and caused me to miss most Fathers’ Day activities and miss work for 2 days. This seems like a good time to remind you that THIS IS OVER A TOOTH. After a dentist appointment Monday, it was determined that *surprise* I needed an emergency root canal scheduled for 6:30 am Tuesday morning. Because I’m pregnant, they could numb me, but not knock me out or give me nitrous. So I was completely alert and awake the whole time. As someone who gets nitrous just for cleanings, they probably could have extracted information from me in that chair. I sure acted like I was being tortured anyway. I’m such a fun patient.

There is another thing going on in the Fittin family as well that I am not at liberty to share on the interwebs just yet, but email me, text/call me, or ask me in person and I’ll be happy to give you details on that as well. As if you’re just on the edge of your seat to learn more crazies from my life.

All of this while being pregnant. Please see my last post for news on that. I’m so tired of being pregnant right now I could scream. We are so in love with our baby and can’t wait to meet him or her, but right now it is causing me to withdraw from plans, relationships, and appointments and I’m sorry.

I say these things not to receive sympathy or “I’m sorrys,” but more to explain myself. I’m bad at feeling like I’m bothering people. I may share part of a problem or one of the problems or nothing at all with people. Very rarely do I just unload everything going on. It’s hard to go from having nothing to report usually to having to ask how much time someone has for me to fill them in. Plus I just don’t feel like making everything about me. I’d love prayers and understanding and forgiveness, if anything. And to all of the people who I have cancelled on, especially last-minute because it just slipped my mind, I’m so truly sorry.

I’m hoping life settles down soon, I really am. I’m tired of being a bad friend. I’m tired of  not knowing what’s headed my way. I’m so tired of canceling plans and missing work and cleaning up after someone else and being angry and not knowing how better to handle situations. I’m tired of feeling like I can’t adequately explain my flakey-ness because I don’t want people to write me off as a drama queen and because Oh gosh something else is going wrong with her. I truly believe this is just a season and that everybody goes through times when it just seems like it can’t get much worse.

I’m so sorry you guys. I’m ready to be a good friend again and not have to focus so much on my own stuff all of the time.

Thanks for reading this loooong and probably boring explanation.

Alex