Thursday, April 28, 2011

Yes...I'm talkin' to you

At some point, I might wonder what forces in your life have made you the pathetic excuse for a mother that you are.

I suspect you'd tell me you were a victim too; that being helpless is so deeply ingrained in your being that you're no more aware of it than you're aware of having to breathe.
Your victimhood just happens.

It's a reality that, for some, precludes any other path, especially the possibility of being able to choose a healthier way of life for yourself and your children.

But, honestly, your brokenness isn't mine to worry about today; not when I've had your 8 yr old daughter sitting in front of me for the past hour, describing all the ways your partner has been sexually abusing her.
Your daughter is beautiful; from the colorful beads in her carefully tended extensions to her luminous brown eyes.
She teased us, laughed with us and, ultimately, had the strength to tell her story in excruciating detail.

Do you know what breaks my heart?
You knew!

She told you - and your response was to tell her 'not to worry about it'.
Do you remember that?

It was right before you bought a 'noisy' bed in the hopes that if/when he got up in the night you could wake up and ask him where he was going.

It was right around the time her older sister promised she could sleep in her bed -with a sheet pulled over their heads, trying to hide them both - as if K-Mart cotton was armor.
Only her sister knew nothing would work - because she'd been through it too with another one of your boyfriends.

All your girls know what it's like - because you've not protected a single one of them.

Four girls - 9 reports of sexual abuse between them in the past 6 yrs.
3 men serving time in prison because of their depravity and, in order to get those convictions, the state made plea agreements for your cooperation, a condition of which was that the kids were returned to your custody...
all so you could sell them out to the next offender who crossed your radar.

I know there are a lot of perverts out there but your ability to pick a rotten apple out of any barrel goes beyond uncanny. Police might not be able to prove that you're deliberately pimping them out, but there's not a single person in the ER who would find it hard to believe.

She wanted to believe you.
As the baby in the family, she wanted to believe that you meant to protect her; that you'd tried and, still, your perceptions are the ones that matter.

When told she couldn't go home, her first response was "My mom was right; I should never have told anyone; my family is going to be ruined and it's my fault. I'm so stupid."

I'm a stranger.
No amount of saying that whoever told her it was her fault was a liar was going to counteract her need and her willingness to take on the responsibility for all the changes facing her family.
You've brainwashed her well.

Drug dealers and sexual predators have 'three strikes and you're out'...
Failure to protect - again and again and again and again - should also be a felony.
You don't deserve another chance.

In all the tales of terror I hear, I try to find one sliver of humor.

It occurred when your daughter was asked if Carlos was your boyfriend.
She replied "NO, he's her husband; he put a ring on it in IL and then she made tamales".

How innocent is that?
Despite all she's been through, nothing says love and marriage like a ring on a finger and homemade Mexican food!
A girl after my own heart.

It would have been more amusing if I hadn't been trying so hard to hold back the tears.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

All that's missing is U

It started out innocently enough.

The kid was clearly VERY motor driven, climbing all over the room- on chairs, the bed, the counter top -and all this with a broken leg.
It was a totally believable story that he had fallen and gotten injured at home.

If only they had left it at that.

But no...mom had to go and say, "Can you hurry up, please? We have to be in court at 2pm!"
And, when the doc asked conversationally, why she had to be there, she said, "So DCFS can close my case; I just got the kids back from foster care. They've been gone for 2 years."

Really?? Did you think that would get you a medal for honesty?
No...it got you a Social Service consult!

But, by that point, she was on a roll and the words came spewing out.
As I asked her for the name of her state worker, the father threw his keys across the room, in my direction, screaming, "Now, we're really fucked."
Mother, in her wisdom, told him to leave the room, saying "I can't have you making things worse."

Surprisingly he did without uttering anther word.
(Guess that's what happens when you're in a relationship and you're nearly a decade older than your partner; you get to be HIS mother too!)

When I asked mom about the circumstances of why the kids went into care in the first place, she said. "The usual; first it was environmental neglect because the house was like, you know..hoarders; then my mother complained about me and their dad doing drugs, so they had us pee in a cup and, of course, we dropped dirty."

OF COURSE!
THAT usual!
Don't you hate it when THAT happens!

Oh nuts!
Mom further 'explained' that she would be in a LOT of trouble, since there was a court order saying that Dad couldn't be anywhere around the kids, so she'd really appreciate it if I just didn't mention it when I called DCFS.

So, I replied honestly, "I'm sure you would".

What Mom and I didn't know was that, by the time I contacted DCFS, they were already at the court house with the police, telling a judge that mom and dad were in clear violation of the last court order. They had been seen 'begging' around town, using the kids as bait; police found drug paraphernalia in the house, along with crack cocaine and the oldest two kids had loop marks all over their backs.

All the kids are back in foster care.

Don't you love a story about the power of honesty that has a happy ending?


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I'm flattered

I 'borrow' all the time, right?
So I can only say 'thank goodness' someone had the sense to 'borrow' one of MY ideas.

I'm grateful he has a bigger venue to get the idea across...any little bit helps.

This cutie recently expressed ideas about not dressing girls up as sex objects - in a totally brilliant way - found here - which should be required reading in all nurseries right along with the information about NEVER shaking a baby. (Not that THAT campaign has been all that successful, but you get the drift.)

The concepts HE expressed are really the same I espoused back in Nov of last year...parts of which I've decided to re-post below. (OK...I've figured out snarky is for blogs...eloquence gets you on the opinion pages of Huffington and CNN!)

Personal responsibility
I know it's an old fashioned concept, but I really think its time for a comeback!

I don't want to play the game of 'blame the victim' - although that's a trend that's been around since Puritan times - even if the phrase was coined in the late 70's by William Ryan in his book of the same title.
(The phrase originally summarized his theories about intergenerational poverty and the attempts, subtle and not so much, to divert responsibility away from the complex societal factors which promote and sustain wealth inequity to the more simple concept of behaviors and cultural patterns of the poor.)

We contemporary humans tend to be like that...we prefer our difficult issues reduced to simple ideas and ten second sound bites.

Two recent cases brought home these thoughts which, in my mind got crystallized into the simple "what the hell were you thinking?"


I'm sorry, Ma'am, but when you take your 11 yr old daughter to a rock concert dressed like a 'ho' in 5 inch fuck-me- now heels, a see through white mesh skirt with black bikini panties underneath, a tube top (whose 'tube' is about the size of a travel tube of toothpaste) and makeup applied with a trowel, don't be surprised when some guy, jacked up on concert hormones and god knows what else, takes her up on at least one of the mixed messages she's sending!

See idea expressed above about reducing complexity and, for males, ratchet it up a thousand percent - subtlety and nuance aren't exactly in their wheelhouses, ya know!

If you DO decide that's the way you, and she, want to express her individuality and your cultural identity (although I didn't realize there was a Prostitute Nation, excuse me) then the least you could do to safeguard her is to keep her on a leash!

Likewise, kiddo...if you don't want to be perceived as a thug, then I suggest you stay out of stolen cars in which large sums of cash, drugs, three other gang members and weapons, including a submachine gun, are being stored!

Your protestations about how you're a 'good kid' didn't fall on deaf ears, but IF the worst you're guilty of is having lousy taste in friends, that's still gonna buy you time in Juvenile Detention - where, no doubt, you'll meet more of the same.

You might also want to reconsider who you accept a ride from next time you're just "going to buy some clothes." You might want to rub two brain cells together and ask yourself -If your friend didn't own a black Escalade this morning, how the hell do you think he ended up with one tonight?

There's another old fashioned phrase which springs to mind here...

If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and walks like a duck...it's a
I'm just sayin'.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Blatantly borrowing

I told y'all right at the very beginning (see here) that I rarely have an original idea...but I borrow from the best of them.

So, I was just waiting for a rainy day so I could try this:
and Mother Nature cooperated one day last week.

The pictures aren't as charming as Katie's - but I had a blast nonetheless!

I discovered it's tough to take pictures... in the rain... on the parking lot... at work...in work clothes... on a busy clinic morning... without risking life and limb... and getting stopped by Security guards, asking what the hell I'm doing and why I'm littering the premises!

(Perhaps people who wear uniforms have too little magic in their souls; how sad. Maybe they need a duck more than most!).

It was a great experience - and the ducks were all snatched up within 10 minutes - by kids who LOVED an excuse to play in the puddles!

I'm calling this one a WIN - and, since I have some ducks left, I'll do another 'installation art project' on a rainy day in the future too!



Monday, April 11, 2011


A lovely quote from sara ban breathnach combined with one of my images from the weekend...and some time playing in Picasa - when I should be getting ready for work.
Can you say, postponing the inevitable?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Beatrice

I was surprised by how much it bothered me...

I mean, I'm not even sure I believe in cemeteries.

I think land should be utilized for the living and, while I can appreciate a cemtery as an oasis of calm and 'other worldliness' in the midst of teeming urban life, I am too much a child of my family, and the generations of people before me, who have been cremated and had their ashes returned to the Atlantic Ocean at the end of 'our' block on an island off the coast of New Jersey.

But I can appreciate the artistry and beauty of old cemetery monuments and markers as well as the plantings and profound silence to be found while walking around on a beautiful spring day.

And, truth be told, I had many thoughts to process and things to feel accumulated from the past few weeks.
No one gives a second thought to an older woman crying in a cemetery; it's not just the dead that are invisible there.

I had been there before; many times, actually; not only for 'pleasure' if that concept doesn't sound too incongruous, but for more funerals of children I've worked with than I care to remember.
There are two graves I always look forward to seeing though of children I never met or knew; children who died more than a century before I started walking around in their final resting place.

The Church sisters: Carlotta, the oldest, born in November 1899 and died in June 1905 and her baby sister, Beatrice, born in Jan 1905 and died in April 1906.
"Lottie" only knew her baby sister for 6 months.

I can't tell you how many times I've wondered about their deaths - what were the causes? - and how their parents, especially their mother, withstood losing two little ones in such a short period of time.

I'd even sewn a sampler in honor of Beatrice... a young girl who would never know the joys of sewing or creating something lovely through her own efforts.
It hangs in my bedroom and I think of her every time I see it.

Her 'angel' was one of the most beautifully carved statues I've ever seen and I've often wondered if the artisan that created it used an image of her as his model.

Lottie's is very different and it IS lovely, but there's no denying I liked Beatrice best!

As I got to the bend in the road, I began looking for the side by side markers and the sight I found instead literally took my breath away...
and a wave of sadness swept over me.

I know I'm just a fanciful old woman. I suspect the relatives of these long dead, forgotten children never come to visit at all...but the nerve of people for whom nothing is sacred, nothing is 'set apart', sickens me.

I can only hope Beatrice is in the gorgeous garden of some mansion (not a McMansion, please God, I'd hate that; let it at least be someone with taste!) surrounded by life and beauty; it's owner oblivious, hopefully, to the reality that she came to them stolen by a grave robber.

It's one thing to have time and natural erosion destroy the markers in old cemeteries; it's quite another for the destruction to be at the hands of greedy, small hearted thieves or mere malcontents.

Lottie shoulders on, standing her post...at least, for now.

As do we all.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Better than Chuck E Cheese


The next time I'm tempted to feel sorry for myself on my birthday, bemoaning the fact that I didn't have a big party or receive as many cards and presents from friends and family as I wanted, I hope I'll remember how I spent my day.

Three kids were brought to the ER by ambulance this morning, accompanied only by police.
They had been taken away from their mother, not only because they were living in a car (due to their house being so 'trashed' it was uninhabitable), but because one of the kids had been targeted for abuse.

He was covered with bruises, scars and was unable to use one of his arms because of a clavicle fracture.

Mother was in police custody being interrogated downtown. She was making a confession about not only injuring her middle child but about breaking the littlest ones leg several months ago.
During the course of the work-up, staff noticed that it was the youngest ones 2nd birthday.

True to form, staff sprang into action and within an hour, had gathered a bag full of presents, most for the birthday girl, but gifts for all the children since no one wanted any of them to feel left out.
Meal trays were ordered and, when they arrived, the kids indicated this was the first food they'd had in days.

A birthday cake also made its way to the ER and, as staff stood around serenading them with a rendition of Happy Birthday, the kids were beaming and, among the staff, there wasn't a dry eye in the house.

After they ate, as I was wheeling them around the ER in a wagon, waiting for their foster mother to come get them, the oldest one said to me, "This has been our best birthday EVER... can we come back here next year?"

Think about it... what did YOUR best birthday look like?
I'd be willing to bet, it didn't resemble this!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Final Scenes from a weekend

One more look at my trip last weekend...and at the folks who make up the beautiful patchwork quilt that is my life.

The oldest teenager - a busy senior and designated driver for his mom, aunts and cousins who go 'clubbing' to biker bars!! LOL...

The youngsters...

Moms and daughters...

Girls with attitude...

Love this one of Art Boy talking to his aunt - w/his reflection in the mirror...

totally unintended capture.
GI Joe and fiancee with cousin.
California bound brothers.

Sassy girls...
Brothers and sisters.

Birthday boy turned teenager.


More moms and daughters.
Girls gone wild.

Girls who miss their Daddy - and always will.

Wishing for better luck...

Girls who remind me that some hair days are better than others - and all mine since shaving my head have been a piece of cake!

And these two who I love SO much I think my heart will explode in gratitude - for shoulders to cry on and conversations in cars that prove beyond doubt they are the better parts of their father and I , with all the magical qualities and attributes that are theirs alone.

Family faces are magic mirrors. Looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present, and future. ~
Gail Lumet Buckley