Can the Grandparents’ House Be Home?

 

Photo by Kha Ruxury from Pexels

By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. Proverbs 24:3-4

 

My granddaughter turned twelve this week. As I looked over pictures of her, I was struck at how much she’s changed, especially in the last year. She prefers sitting in her room listening to music or watching YouTube over spending time with us. Her voice has a sharp edge to it that we’re trying to help her soften. Hormones are raging. She’s obsessed with a boy band.

The images of her past reminded me that she’s spent a large portion of her twelve years living with us. I don’t recall whether I’ve spoken about this here, but this is the third time Victoria has lived with us. It’s Amari’s second.

When my daughter was pregnant with Victoria, she violated her probation. Eventually, it caught up with her, and the probation officer gave her a drug test. When they discovered her pregnancy and drugs in her system, she went to jail. We’d refused to bail her out for her legal mistakes in the past, so, she remained in the detention center awaiting her hearing. After several months, this changed because her cellmate became violent toward her. She feared for the baby and begged us to help her. She, also, only ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches because she’s a vegetarian. After hearing these stories for several months (to this day, I can’t verify their truth) , we broke our rules and bailed her out solely out of concern for our unborn grandchild.

For once, she stuck to her promises and steered clear of the wrong influences. We got her into an outpatient addiction treatment program and helped her find a job. When her hearing came around, the only reason the judge didn’t put her in jail was me. I told him why we’d broken our resolve to not bail her out and confirmed that she was in rehab and working. He put her under house arrest. She was allowed to go to work, medical appointments, and church. Nothing else.

My granddaughter began her life in my home. She and her mother stayed with us until she was 18 months old, but, even after that she visited with us a lot.

When Victoria was five and Amari eighteen months, they came to live with us again. This time their parents were getting evicted and didn’t want to raise them in a motel room. We took the children in, but not my daughter and Amari’s father. We knew we could never have our daughter live with us again after the previous time. She disrupted our household too much. Amari stayed for six weeks, but without custody, I couldn’t handle his medical needs. Victoria stayed with us for five months since she was enrolled in K5.

The last few weeks Victoria lived with us, I became sick and could not get better. I hoped and prayed when she went back to her parents that we wouldn’t have to do this again. For awhile, things went well. We thought they might make it, but three years later, social services contacted me about taking the grandchildren.

If you add it up, Victoria has spent half of her life in our home. Amari, too, for that matter. You would think they would see this as their home. I’m not sure that they do, though. Their mother wasn’t always on drugs. She might not have been the kind of mother I’d prefer, but she wasn’t always messing it up, either. They miss her. Victoria, who at first had nothing positive to say about Amari’s father, told me the other day, “It’s weird, but I miss him sometimes.”

Amari knows where his dad is, but his dad hasn’t bothered to contact him in three years. I’m pretty sure this is the only home he remembers. It’s not the only one Victoria remembers, though.

I wonder if she’ll ever see this as her home without wondering about the one she missed out on?

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We Are Wonderfully Made

I’ve hesitated to write this post. I suggest you don’t read it if you’re eating or about to eat because I will be talking about bodily functions. Unfortunately, this is where I am this week, in fact for the last few months.

When the grands came to us, our grandson was not fully potty trained. He was four. He knew how to use the bathroom, but his parents had not helped him practice going regularly. I guess they didn’t have time to worry about it but had time to clean him up afterward. Like that makes any sense.

Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; Galations 6:8a

When a child isn’t properly potty trained at the right age, they experience problems down the road. The muscles that control bowel movements lose their ability to sense the need to go. What happens? The child doesn’t go. They don’t know they have to go. Then they become constipated. Then the body tries to get rid of it. This means leakage. This means accidents.

We didn’t immediately understand this. We knew our grandson wouldn’t go but within a few months managed to get him settled on a schedule. Then we hit K-5. He did ok the majority of the school year, but eventually the leakage started. When he first came to live with us, we always carried spare clothes. I started doing that again. I warned teachers about the problem and asked them to try and notice any signs or odors.

That summer he had a day when it flooded out of him. He was attending a summer day camp, and I had discussed his problem with them. When I picked him up, the poor little guy had it running down his legs. He stank. His pants were full. Flies were swarming him. I smelled him from a good twenty feet away. In fact, before I could see him, I asked about the smell. The camp counselor said it must be something in the air because she’d been smelling it for hours. THEY MISSED IT! I was livid. I wanted to cry for him.

Needless to say, I pulled him out that day and filed a complaint.

When I filed the complaint, the director asked me, “Why didn’t he tell us?” A valid question, but I felt like he was trying to shift the blame. My response was, “How did they miss this?”

I’ve learned a lot about the ramifications of not training a child to use the potty at the correct age. If you don’t take the time when they’re young, you’ll spend a large part of their childhood dealing with it.

We go through periods when everything is fine, but the older he gets, the harder it is to know if he’s gone or not. He’ll say he did, but he lies about it. If he hasn’t, the problem starts up again.

Let’s face it, the last thing a seven-year-old boy wants to do is sit on the toilet for ten minutes a few times a day.  Which is what he has to do if he’s having troubles.

The body can relearn how to handle this. I learned that this week from a psychologist who works with our gastroenterologist. To learn after three years of frustration that we can retrain the muscles is such a relief! I have hope thanks to this tiny bit of information. I don’t know why I didn’t figure this out. Even, the Psalmist knew:

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
Psalms 139: 14

 

We are wonderfully made. God doesn’t make junk. Our bodies are amazing, but children need to be taught the basics of living. Parents need to take the time to help them learn. That’s really the reason for this post. Please train your child to use the potty.

And for those of you who work with children daily, I’m guessing you see this more than most people realize. You can be a big factor in helping these children and their families. Advise them to see a specialist. Be kind and compassionate. Let them know they’re not alone. Don’t let your disgust show. That’s what these children fear the most.

We’re still dealing with this problem, but the psychologist has given me more practical advice than anybody in the last three years.

I, actually, have hope that he can live a life without humiliation and embarrassment.

 

Finding a Focus on God When You’re Busy

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles, freedigitalphotos.net

Whew! 2019 exploded into my house! I feel a little like Martha in this passage from Luke:

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

In the last two weeks I’ve

  • celebrated and visited a new grandchild (yay, our seventh)
  • said goodbye to my eldest as she returned to LA
  • dealt with bladder and bowel issues with one of the grands while traveling and continued afterward (not sure it’s over, either)
  • waited anxiously for school to start back on Jan. 7 only to have one child stay home sick
  • tried to get my office (which served as a guest room for 10 days) back into working order
  • talked with a potential publisher for my manuscript and started putting a few tweaks to it before I submit it
  • wrote and sent out a newsletter and a blog post (not this one)
  • took the kids to counseling
  • met with one of my coaching clients
  • interviewed with a potential instructional design client
  • developed a specific portfolio for the instructional design client
  • set up materials for a current MBTI® client
  • put together a proposal for another MBTI® client
  • ran a writing critique group
  • ran a women’s retreat meeting including finalizing the budget
  • picked up materials for a class next week
  • visited the site for a different training workshop to check out the equipment
  • discovered I need someone to figure out how the equipment works in the above training facility
  • took the dog to the veterinarian for surgery
  • took the dog back to the veterinarian when she pulled out her stitches

And I paid bills, compiled the last of our medical flex requests, grocery shopped, updated my 2018 tax records and tried to keep an eye on the dog so she doesn’t hurt herself, again.

When I met with the other ladies on the retreat meeting, I had to ask one of them to pray before our meeting. I didn’t have it in me, I was so overwhelmed. The meeting grounded me and gave me hope because I can see God moving in our plans, but I needed that time to slow down and see His hand in the world around me.

I can’t eliminate any of what happened over the last two weeks. I wouldn’t want to. But I need to remember this:

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. I Cor. 10:31

So, yes, 2019 has overwhelmed me, already, and I’m trying to regain my focus on why I do all that I do.

It’s a bit late, but here’s wishing each of you a Happy New Year!

Note:  MBTI stands for Myers Briggs Type Indicator ®