December 12, 2007

Bah, Humbug!

I do not feel particularly festive this year. In fact, I feel downright surly and uncharitable. I am all for a modest, "heimish" Hanukah celebration, but does the entire burden of supplying eight little treats fall solely on me? My job, year-round, is supplying toys, clothes, ice skates, vacations, summer camp and unconditional love to two less-than-grateful recipients!

The week prior to Hanukah, I drove back and forth daily to the hospital. Nothing puts a damper on holiday shopping like frequents trips to the psych ward. Now we are all back together, back to the usual high jinks, but with some new jinks thrown in. Hart and Jeff have always been extremely hyperactive, impulsive and socially inept, but now they are extremely hyperactive, impulsive and socially inept, aggressive and argumentative, too.

I had two gifts from relatives to present on Days One and Two. On the third night of Hanukah, I presented two items I'd gotten for them--a toy car Hart has been pining for, a new lunchbox for Jeff--thus exhausting my entire stock of presents. "Mom bought that for you at a rummage sale," Hart sneered. "Hart, you were with me at the shop when I bought it. And even if that were true, you can see that it's brand-new with the tags still on it." "Mom got that at a rummage sale." Two minutes later, "Mom got that at a rummage sale." Hart was so thrilled with the car he has been begging for that he traded it to Jeff, who smashed it the next day.

The next day, our mailbox still empty, I went out to buy some edible treats for the evening. As a preface, I said, "I bought something fun to eat tonight." The boys were not about to take that lying down. "I know it's something healthy," declared Hart. "Healthy, healthy, healthy!" "Who's the healthiest mom? You are!" chimes in another voice. This went on for a while, until I said, "This is something new for me. I never heard anyone complain about a gift BEFORE he got it." Then I asked the respite caregiver to handle both boys, so I could go upstairs and sulk.

On the following day, still empty-handed, I had to concede that this was the lamest Hanukah ever. "You guys have been pretty disrespectful to me lately," I said. "Not only does that make me feel bad, it just doesn't put me in the mood to buy presents for you, either."

I used to feel that I understood the underlying causes of Hart's frequent complaining. But now, at age fourteen, it just feels like a familiar habit. Incessant talking, all of it negative. Jeff is preparing for high school next year by working on his 'tude. "Jeff, Jeff, did you hear my question? Please answer." "Shut up, dork." Not the response I was waiting for.

Luckily, we are Jewish. Otherwise, Santa would bring lumps of coal this year.

December 8, 2007

Kvell Korner

I am so impressed, too. It's amazing what can happen with a bit of review before the test.

December 6, 2007

Happy Hanukah! (photo)

Inky got a new cat tree for Hanukah.

Dreidel face-off.

December 4, 2007


While waiting for the ladies' room recently, I started talking to another woman in line. As these things happen, it turns out that she also has adopted twins. Come to our table and meet everyone, she encouraged. Grandma, Grandpa, Dad, Mom, adorable four-year-old twins and their new baby brother, also adopted, were enjoying a (loud) sushi dinner.

We chatted a bit. Her twins also have had language delays and they are very attached to each other."The first eight months were hellish," she told me, "How about you?" "The second decade seems to be going more smoothly than the first," I mused.

On the drive home, I thought about that family. That's what MY life was supposed to be. Intact marriage, a third child, perhaps a girl, after the twins. A nice family outing now and then. We were warned about developmental delays; I expected a few rough months with the boys.

On the glossy pages of the adoption agency are photos of families like this one. There is no mention of dealing with the local police, DCFS, special educators and therapists.

Two days later, I made a late-night drive with one of the boys to the psychiatric hospital. Without even looking in the rearview mirror, I could feel the usual tight grimace of resigned determination. But inside my head, a voice was screaming, "I did not sign on for this!" Pediatric psych wards are not in adoption promotional literature either.

What did I expect? That woman in the restaurant! I anticipated her life for myself.