Testing and a Bit of a Progress Report

Today, ‘A’ and Eli have Taekwondo testing. Eli will be going for his Green Belt and ‘A’ (or as I now call him, Big ‘A’) will be testing for his Camouflage Belt. This is fairly significant because after the last testing we were not sure if ‘A’ would be staying in Taekwondo.

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Black Kids Belong With Black Families

Sorry folks. This one is a slight bit of a rant. I’m sure it is going to rub some of you the wrong way, and for that, I apologize. But I need to write about something we’ve been experiencing and find a bit frustrating.

‘A’ is ten years old. As it is, he has always had some anger issues that he’s had to deal with. From his point of view, the only real emotion that is acceptable is anger because anger does not show weakness. I get it. Don’t like it but I get it. We have been working with him for some time time on this by showing him that a range of emotions is acceptable and teaching him that he will be much happier once he learns to be in touch with all of his emotions. And that yes, anger IS an emotion and it’s totally allowable if channeled correctly (also that we all can do better on channeling it in the right ways).

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N & J 1One of the Benzakein family traditions, since Eli was barely old enough to do so, has been to have frequent impromptu dance parties before bed. In the early days, it was Eli in the basement of the old house, just running around in circles and as he got older, he would throw in an occasional break-dance move. It seems that we would go through stages where these parties are several times a week to once every couple of weeks, depending on our schedules, how we’re feeling and general moods.

When Brenna came along, it was twice the fun. She loves music and loves to dance, although many times what she *really* just wants is for her old man to pick her up and spin her in circles. I’m usually happy to oblige until I get tired or dizzy, or both. And I should really point out that getting tired or dizzy usually happens before a single song is over.

Adding the three new kids has not changed the tradition. Both ‘A’ and ‘N’ love to bust a move or two and it’s always a lot of fun when everyone gA - 1ets involved. Being the one with the fewest moves (and by fewest, I mean that I have somewhere between negative 1 and negative 3 legitimate dance moves), I usually “dance” with the baby while Jessica does her thing with the kids.

The other night, when ‘J’ was over, we had another dance party and she got into it with the rest of ’em. We had a house full of kids dancing, with the exception of Eli who was off playing Minecraft with his cousin who lives in Washington (an aside here: how cool is it that cousins in completely different parts of the country can talk and play with each other every night? Sometimes I really appreciate technology!).

The cutest thing, though, was when ‘N’ and ‘J’ held hands and slow danced with each other. You can tell they have a genuine affection for each other. It’s always fun to see the kids together and appreciate the moments when everyone is getting along, because we all know that it can all turn on a dime!

From Five to Six to Five to Four to One to Two to One to None

Some days, our lives start to feel like one of those word math problems that everyone loves in elementary school. You know, the ones that generally go something like this: “You’re the bus driver. At stop A, you take on five kids. Stop B, you take one on. Stop C you drop off two kids, Stop D is three kids and then at Stop C, you pick up two kids, Stop D you drop off one, Stop E you drop off one. Question: What color is the hair of the bus driver?”

Such is the way things are shaping up. Last night, as I mentioned, ‘J’ spent the night. Fact of the matter is that the little girl is starting to win me over a bit. She was really in good form yesterday and quite charming and cute as well! She interacted with me quite a bit (something she has not done much of in the past) and we had fun together. We had a dance party before bed time and with only one small incident where she stepped on Brenna, the hitting and kicking that she’s been known to do in the past were non-existent.

When she crossed a line, there was no battle of wills for her to apologize and she even went to bed and to sleep somewhat on schedule.

‘A2’ woke up at about 2:00 or so and, as my head cold seems to have tried to make a rebound, I had taken a double-dose of NyQuil before going to bed, waiting until about 12:30 AM for it to kick in (I did not want to wake anyone up with a coughing fit). This left me super groggy when the baby decided that he did not want to go to sleep, but none the less, I was able to reluctantly (as Jessica will attest) take him downstairs where I sat with him and caught the latest episode of “Suits.”

This morning, Eli had his first run-through on stage-crew for the school play. Sounds like he’s going to be doing lighting which he is totally excited about. Jessica ran him to the practice at 8:00. Then, at 9:00 ‘A’ had to be there since he is in the play and they had rehearsal. Jessica then had a meeting with the moms to talk about costuming for ‘A’. Then she came home, took ‘J’, ‘N’ and ‘A2’ to see their mother, came back in time to get Brenna and herself ready for a wedding they’re going to (CONGRATULATIONS ASHLEY!). By 1:00 they were out of the house for that.

At 1:30, I am picking up Eli and ‘A’ from practice, will be driving ‘A’ to see his mother and then Eli and I will have a couple of hours before he is to go roller skating with a friend of his. I think at that point, I may have an hour of “me” time before Jessica gets home with Brenna.

Have you been following the math? In case you haven’t, here’s the answer:

It’s a trick question. The bus driver no longer has any hair. But that hour’s gonna be great!

From Five to Six

I have mentioned that typically, on the weekends, the boys go over to their mom’s to stay. This, on one hand, breaks the routine, but on the other hand, it does give us a little break. In our ideal world, the kids would never leave because we do believe that they need consistency and stability in their lives. However, the one condition of the guardianship was that we allow for “reasonable” visitation. What constitutes “reasonable” is, of course, subject to interpretation.

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When we decided to take on the responsibility of more kids, one of the things that I never took into consideration was the fact that with more kids comes more sick kids. And with more sick kids comes more sick adults.

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It’s Been a While Since I’ve Updated

One of the issues with having a blog is that you actually have to (wait for it) . . . BLOG!

The truth is, I’ve started about a dozen blog posts, but none of them have much of a conclusion and most of them are not even finished to the point where I could HAVE a conclusion. This is not because I don’t think the posts might at some point be valid as much as, frankly, I just have not felt much like writing lately. A lot has happened since we were granted guardianship of the kids and yet, not much reportable has occurred. You know, kind of like real life.

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Congratulations. It’s usually something you say to someone who earned something and achieved their goal. It can be something you say when they won something. It’s even something we say in online gaming when someone levels (although it might be more like a “gratz!” than the full-blown “congratulations”).

Ever since the kids came to live with us, we’ve had people congratulate us and, frankly, it’s always sort of bugged me. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always taken it in the spirit with which it’s intended, but the reality is that we would not have these kids if they were in anything less than an ideal situation. And that makes it more of a tragedy than it does something to be congratulated for. When people congratulate us, I have to admit, my first thought is to question exactly what they are congratulating us on. Congratulations that there are three boys that are displaced from their homes because their living conditions sucked? Congratulations that we are lucky/blessed/in a position to have a place to take them in? Congratulations that the fates brought us together for whatever reason?

Don’t get me wrong. I (I say ‘I’ because I have not ever really even spoken to Jessica about this to get her feelings on it) really *REALLY* appreciate the sentiment. And further, I’m not even sure what the appropriate thing to say is in this situation. You want to encourage your friend and “congratulations” does seem, on the surface, like the thing to say to let me know you’re happy for me or I have your full support should I need something. But ‘Congratulations” just feels sort of off to me.

What are your thoughts? If anyone has taken in foster kids, I’m curious if you’ve had the same reaction or if it’s just me being my usual, old curmudgeon-y self.