I wish all my readers a happy new year. We had a good holiday, and although I only took one week of leave, that week was well spent with Megan and Aishah who came to visit Josh and I.
The time spent with them was not without its problems though, and this brought some things to my attention. Maybe on some level I knew that something was wrong, but I didn’t know how wrong it was.
The time spent with them was marred by Josh’s poor behaviour. Not only was he jealous of his sister and the attention she received from me, but he was mean, selfish, and spiteful. His behaviour was so bad, Megan and Aishah ended up leaving and I had to drive them to the airport on New Year’s day, even though the original intention was for them to stay a week longer. Megan wasn’t blameless herself… It felt like she spent too much time on her phone, such that she didn’t spend enough time engaging with us. It’s the little things… when you are present and engage with the people around you, you talk about things, you relate to them, you have a relationship with them. When you don’t, you’re almost not there.
I’ve described myself as happy, even until recently, and now I question that. I was happy three years ago, when Megan arrived in the month that Aishah turned four months old. I was able to quit my meth habit, and have not resumed it. (And never will.) Aishah was a pleasure to raise for those first two years when they lived with us, and she made me happy. She’s intelligent, inquisitive, and a joy to be around. Having her here again for a short while brought all that back, and having them leave took it all away again.
I still have Josh, but he is a difficult child. He’s moody, always complaining that he is bored, and seldom appreciates anything. But he was fine until a couple of months ago. It wasn’t this bad for most of the year, and in fact things were going rather well, which gets me to what appears to be the root of the problem…
Just the last couple of months, Abbi, his former foster mother and my former sister-in-law, has been visiting every Wednesday. She took it upon herself to collect him from school, since she stays just down the road from the school, and this allows him to spend time with his cousins. Then she brings him home so that his cousins can spend some time with my mother – their grandmother. But this is when his bad behaviour started and now it is out of control.
I have a few problems with this: Firstly, I know that she would not be comfortable if I collected her children from school and drove them anywhere, yet she started picking Josh up without consulting me, and assumed it would be OK, just because he stayed with her for a few years. That sets a double standard. And near the start of last year, she once called me to say, “Josh’s schoolbag is looking raggedy and some of the other parents are complaining. It would be awful if somebody called welfare.” So without saying a word, she is giving the children a message, telling them a story that I am unstable, cannot be trusted to drive them, but she is fine. I take things like this very seriously.
Secondly, there is the psychological aspect of this on Josh. By seeing them so often, he is reminded that he used to stay there. It makes him miss them more. That’s how it works. When you don’t see someone so often, you forget. This is also something that makes my getting him back commendable. The psychology of having a child removed normally leads you to forget them, rather than make you try harder to get them back. I got him back in spite of the effect removing him had on both of us. So having him see his former foster mother too often makes him miss staying there. It makes him remember that she was his “mother” for a while. It undoes all the progress that I have made with him. I think mostly it is this that is affecting his behaviour. He was fine until these weekly visits started.
Thirdly, on other occasions when he sleeps over at either Abbi or my brother, he is forced to say his prayers every night. This is also undermining the progress I have made removing him from religion, and is causing him confusion. No doubt they would say that he is not forced to pray, but the fact is, when there, he feels compelled to behave as the other children behave.
Now Josh refuses to listen to me or my mother. If he wants something and I say no, he complains that, “You say no to everything. I want to live with Abbi because she doesn’t say no to anything.” That’s not true, of course. I don’t say to everything, and she does say no as well. Also, whenever I go there, I can hear her voice even from outside the house, shouting at the children, all the time.
And over Christmas, Josh not only got his one gift from me, he received several from Abbi as well as her friends and family members. This, after he already has been spoiled rotten by them. He has hundreds of toys, far more than most people… so many that he does not appreciate anything. I was not brought up like that. On top of that, he was mean to his sister and wouldn’t let her play with his toys.
Back in October when we went to his former foster mother’s house for a Halloween party, I was reminded just how different her and her friends are to me. As a few of us sat outside around her swimming pool, a couple complained about the #FeesMustFall movement, saying some dismissive things about the people who are trying to get affordable fees. It’s easy to be dismissive of people who don’t have anything, who live in poverty, as you sit around your pool on a property that you own. (Or someone else’s when you also own property, but you get what I mean…) It’s easy to dismiss others who have to fight for equality and call them entitled when you have plenty. Those people, those Christian people, are the epitome of white privilege and that is not how I want my son brought up. I always feel totally out of place around such people. I do not belong there, and neither should my son.
It’s OK to have stuff. It’s not OK to think that you are entitled to it. It’s not OK to be dismissive of underprivileged people. I would prefer to give most of his toys away to the needy, but he seems to be too attached to them at the moment. Attached, and yet ungrateful.
Another interesting thing happened at that party… At one stage the children were splashing too much in the pool. Then Abbi threatened them (light-heartedly) and said that all the children could get a hiding just like her children. Interesting, because at court when I got Josh back, my brother tried to prevent it, by claiming untruthfully that our mother, who stays with me, is abusive. He even told Josh and me that if ever our mother hits Josh, he will call the police and get a restraining order, because spanking a child is illegal, and get Josh removed from me. Double standards much? Josh has told me that both of them spanked him, and when he got a demerit at school, Abbi’s father once made him choose between being hit with a belt or wooden pole.
I think I have to put a stop to those weekly visits. They are causing chaos.
But more than that, there is my feelings, my feelings of loss and despair after Aishah left. It brought everything back, the heartache of losing her after initially raising her for those two years. She isn’t even my biological daughter, but I love her just as much as Josh. She is very special to me, and this has brought my lack of happiness to my attention. I thought I was happy. Now I’m not so sure. I’ll have to see how things go, if my feelings improve in a couple of weeks. If not, maybe I am clinically depressed, and maybe I need help.