Becoming a foster parent overnight means you have to do a lot of basic things very quickly. We are nearing the one month mark with the girls and I believe I have set a new personal record in school documents completed and doctor offices visited. Let me give you a run-down of a recent day:
1. Get the girls up and ready to leave the house early.
2. Go to dentist for one of the girls.
3. Get a flat tire as I pull into the dentist office.
4. Stand in the rain with man from AAA as he tries to put my spare tire on.
5. Take oldest child to her school.
6. Take youngest child to her new pre-school.
7. Fill out registration paperwork for new pre-school.
8. Go to kindergarten round-up and fill out the exact (I mean, literally the same forms) paperwork I had just filled out at the pre-school.
9. Work eight hours.
10. Fix dinner.
11. Meet with case worker for two hours.
12. Give baths.
13. Curl up in bed with 200+ pages of medical documents on one child and begin reading through them so I can understand the medical history.
(And do you know what? I LOVE IT. I am so fulfilled by the basic things: getting them dental care, getting them registered for school, making sure they take their daily multi-vitamin. I love every bit of it, even the days when it seems impossible to accomplish everything that needs to be done in that one day. To be able to provide basic care for children who desperately need it motivates me in a way I can’t describe. I love doing their laundry because it means they have clean clothes. I love fixing them meals because it means they are going to gain needed weight. I love wrangling dentist and doctor appointments because it means less daily physical pain for them.)
After my marathon day, I knew I needed to get my flat tire fixed. So, I headed to Chattanooga to the one auto place that had a matching tire in stock. They told me they were behind schedule and that I could choose to walk around the mall for a few hours if I wanted. I took them up on it and, as I walked into the mall, I began giggling like a schoolgirl. Outside of work, it was one of the first times that I’ve been on my own without the girls since they came to live with us and I couldn’t figure out what to do first. Get a pedicure? Have a half hour massage? Window shop for clothes? It didn’t matter what I did because I WAS FREE. AND MY CAR COULDN’T BE DRIVEN. SO I WAS FORCED TO STAY IN THE MALL. WHILE PAUL HAD THE GIRLS ON HIS OWN.
Before I could do anything, I needed to use the bathroom so I popped into a department store and headed for their women’s restroom. As I walked in, I noticed I was the only person there but didn’t pay much attention to it. I heard someone come in after me but never turned to look at them as I walked into a stall. A few minutes later, when I walked out of the stall, I came face to face with a teenage male employee cleaning the bathroom sinks. I yelped and he said “Oh, no worries — I’m just here to clean.”
Gentle readers. GENTLE READERS. What would you have done?
I just stared at him literally in shock and then finally whispered “But I was in here? The whole time? You were in here? The whole time?”
He shrugged and went back to cleaning the sinks like it was no big deal. Meanwhile, I was just in shock. I washed my hands in record time and left the restroom. Right outside the restroom was a group of three store employees just standing around chatting. One of them asked if they could help me find something and, still in shock, I said “You know, the craziest thing just happened. I just went to use the restroom and one of your male employees came in behind me and began cleaning while I was using the restroom.” They just looked at me and one finally said “Well, ma’am, you could have used the other women’s restroom on the ground floor of the store” as if I had purposely gone in the restroom when a “closed for cleaning” sign was posted.
(I feel like this is the most boring story ever.)
Anyway, I left the store with my left eye twitching, a phenomenon that began the night the girls arrived in our home and seems to be most prevalent when sitting at the Health Department trying to get a birth certificate copy or, you know, when a teenage boy cleans a restroom while I’m using it. I decided to go grab some face wash because it turns out that, along with left eye twitching, instantaneous foster parenthood also brings acne along for the ride. I spent the rest of my free time walking around stores looking for items the Easter Bunny might like to leave in a couple of baskets this weekend and was unable to find anything that did not contain a peace symbol or unicorn emblazoned on it so I left empty handed promising myself I would never forsake Target again.
I finally gave up and took my eye twitch and face wash back to the auto repair waiting room where I joined a man who had been waiting over five hours to have his flat tire fixed. I know desperation when I see it so I settled myself in a nice plastic chair and placed a crisp dollar bill in the vending machine so I could have a delectable dinner while staring at the two repairmen trying to work on nine cars. As fate would have it, my car got fixed first which caused me to offer a heartfelt “May the odds be ever in your favor” to the man in the waiting room as I left.
For the record, he did not seem amused.