Saturday, February 28, 2009

Breaking News...

The former Richard Cranium award contender wrote a lovely apology and has removed the offending post.

I figure I'd be a real dickhead myself if I didn't do the same. :-)

Hope you guys have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

We Interrupt Our Programming....

I know I've been totally off the grid this week, but things around the Attila house are happening much more quickly than anticipated.

It looks like we'll be getting THD within a few weeks instead of a few months. So, I've been running around like a doof who lit a fart on fire trying to get everything in place. Paperwork, paperwork and MORE paperwork.

Will fill you all in during the next day or two. :-)

In the meantime...

If you're in the east, have a little extra room in your house and a little bigger room in your heart to host a child---the Fresh Air Fund people sent me this and asked me to post it on the blog.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Asshat of the Week

This week's Asshat goes to Gilbert Unified School District superintendent Dave Allison.

Kevyn Barton is an 18-year-old student who has disabilities in the Gilbert School District. This May, when his peers walk down in their gowns for commencement, Kevyn won't be with them. Why? Because he's in the transitional program for special-needs kids and will receive services until he's 22.

What a crock of doody.

Here's how it works. Although Little Guy "could" have graduated with his peers, the state offers transitional services until he is 21. With those he is learning life skills such as money management and job training. Although he still goes to the high school, he doesn't participate in regular classes any more except for choir (which entailed some extra finagling on our part).

He goes straight to the transitional room and from there either to his apprenticeship job or to the van that takes him into the city to life classes not offered in our particular district. In the transitions room, he is usually working on things like meal planning, balancing his checkbook, navigating the transit system, etc. He has very little interaction with other high school students at all.

They are not his peers.

At any time, we can accept his diploma. When that happens, we are telling the state that their job is done and that Little Guy no longer needs educational services from them. It will be over. Ta-da.

Even though we refused his diploma, as a senior, Little Guy was allowed to participate fully in graduation with his class. The only difference was that the diploma case he received was empty. He got to walk down the aisle with the students and friends he was raised with---the ones he shared birthday parties, school dances and even chicken pox with.

When his name was called, all of these blessed children gave him a screaming standing ovation, sharing their love and recognition as one of their own.

Tomorrow they are going away to college and jobs and their new lives. Graduation night is their very last chance to celebrate as a class.

Gilbert School Superintendent Dave Allison has the discretion to allow Kevyn to participate in this magical rite of passage. But he has refused.

He is "upholding a board policy that exists for consistency's sake and often is enforced with students who, for example, have failed a final exam or a course."

"It wouldn't be fair to say 'yes' to Kevyn and 'no' to the other kids."

So what? What do you think the term "special" in "special needs" means? It means there are extraordinary circumstances.

And who gives two poops about "fair"? Do you think that it was "fair" for Kevyn to be handed these extra challenges in his life that necessitate his participation in a transitional program?

Kevyn will never have another opportunity to experience this rite of passage with his peers.

And yes I say his peers, because these are the kids he has grown up with----not the kids who will be graduating 3-4 years from now. When he is "allowed" to participate in graduation exercises then, who of them will know him? Who will recognize or care about how hard he has worked to get to that day?

Who will be there to give him his ovation?

That's why you, Mr. Allison, are this week's Asshat.

Anyone want to share their feelings with the Gilbert District, you can do so at

I'm going to go kick something now.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Bundle of Joy

Well, believe it or not, it's looks like I'm going to become a mom again.

Yep. That's right.

Didn't think I had it in me, did ya?

Now that you've picked yourself off the floor, I just have to say one thing...

It's not what you think. ;-)

I used to write about my nephew, The Happening Dude. If you click on the tag you can read what a neat kid he is.

To make a long, convoluted and ugly story short...

THD is my older brother's son. He and his ex-wife adopted THD out of foster care when he was about 6, shortly before they divorced. She got (my brother didn't fight it and had a sh*tty lawyer) sole custody of all of their children and promptly moved them to another state with her new boyfriend. My brother saw them about once or twice a year.

I love my brother, but bless his heart (or damn his soul---take your pick), he is not a very responsible parent.

Anyhoo several years later, ex-wife and new hubby had a baby, and decided that they just didn't have room for THD any more. She called my brother and said, take him or I'm returning him to foster care.

See. I said it was ugly.

So that's how THD came to our family. I'd only ever seen him twice in his life before that and he'd just been a little guy.

At the time, my brother had moved back to our state and was living with our parents, trying to "get back on his feet". THD lived with all of them for the next 3 years, and the majority of the child rearing fell to my mom. To give her a break, Hubby and I would have THD on school breaks and the odd weekend.

We all adore him. He's a delightful kid.

Almost 3 years ago, brother's ex and her new hubby got divorced. Ex decided to move back to her home state, and while her new ex hubby would pay child support, he had no intention of financing the lifestyle to which she wanted to become accustomed. She wanted THD and his adoption subsidy back. She promised him things would be different and that he could come visit us in the summer.

And he wanted his mom and missed his siblings, so we didn't fight it.

It didn't last a year. He stole some cash from her and ran away. I wrote about it here. He was running away to us.

The police picked him up 3 cities over at the bus terminal a couple of days later.

That is the very last we heard of The Happening Dude. Seriously.

Ex refused to come and get him, and demanded that he be in a juvenile center until his case came up (she pressed charges for the theft of money). As his sole custodial parent, she also demanded that none of us be allowed to have any contact with him whatsoever. The only information we've had about him in the last year and a half is that he's been in a juvenile group home. We weren't allowed to write, call, pass on messages or even know what city he was in.

Until now.

Apparently the state has been trying to work on reunification and ex has been resisting. They finally basically told her to "sh*t or get off the pot" already and she informed them that she never wanted THD back. She just didn't want any of us to have him. She'd rather he stay in foster care instead of being in a family if it meant coming back to us.

Nice, huh?

The state told her that if she had no intention of reunification, they were going to contact the rest of the family to see if anyone wanted him. She signed over her rights.

My mom got a call from them 3 weeks ago. They said, "is there anyone there who is willing and able to care for THD?"

And Mom gave them a big resounding YES!

Unfortunately, at her age, my mom doesn't feel up to parenting an active 17-year-old full-time. My brother doesn't have a fixed address and travels with his work. My younger brother and his SO work full time so nobody would be home after school (not a really good idea).

So that leaves us. I'm home, we have a good disability support system up here (THD was born with FAS and has some learning disabilities), and we already have medical caregivers in place, so we wouldn't have to hunt one down to sign him up. THD can spend breaks and the odd weekend with his dad and grandma to give US a break if we need it.

We had a family meeting about it to see what the guys thought. Hubby, was of course immediately on board from the beginning. Little Guy was ecstatic.

I explained it all very carefully to the Big Kid. We're all still adjusting to his move, and I didn't want him to feel like we were replacing him.

"You have to go get him, Mom. We can't leave him there. You should give him my old room."

That's my boy. Coming through when it's needed most.

We have a meeting (phone conference) in about 10 days. If all goes well, we might have THD by May.

I got to speak to him for the first time in almost 2 years a couple of days ago. Told him that we hoped that he knew that we wanted to reach out to him but weren't allowed to, and that all of us---his dad, grandma, uncle, me and my guys loved him and missed him terribly. He would always have a place with us.

"So does that mean I get to come home?"

I hope so, Kiddo.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Young Love aka Gak! Hormones!

Around a year ago, I wrote about Little Guy and his girlfriend Hot Cutie. Even though he's not actually in high school any more, he attends their transitions program and sees her there a few times a week. Twice a week they are in an apprenticeship program together so they get to spend a little time together. They also see each other out of school.

Hot Cutie's mom and I have had to get on them a bit because they make plans without consulting anyone and spring it on us at the last minute. Both of Hot Cutie's parents work down in the city, so sharing driving duties is often inconvenient for them.

Anyhoo, last month, Hot Cutie's mom and I were confabbing about their most recent plans and she suddenly said, "We're only going to be able to have Little Guy at our house on weekends now. I don't think they should be alone here without supervision."

Oh no. Did something happen?

Once in awhile Little Guy goes to Hot Cutie's house after school and hangs out for an hour or so. As far as I know, they walk her dogs and play on her swing set. She also serenades him with her bongo drums and he dances for her. Did they decide to make fondue and set the kitchen on fire? Break into the wine cabinet?

"Hot Cutie told me that Little Guy tried to kiss her. And that she told him that she was going to wait for marriage. If he's at that stage, I don't think they should be alone together."

Ok, to be perfectly honest, my first reaction was of indignance. I sort of felt like she was practically accusing my son of being a rapist. I politely assured her that as always, they were more than welcome to socialize at my house, where I would be with them every minute and keep a close watch on her daughter's virtue. Not.

Little Guy is 18, Hot Cutie is 19. They've been girlfriend and boyfriend for almost 3 years now. They are legally adults. What's the harm in a little kissing fer pete's sakes?

What could be a problem is if he was trying to force kisses on her. Or if the bongo drum dancing was done nekkid in their front yard and alarming the neighbors.

So I tried to investigate. Had a talk with Little Guy and tried to impress on him that if he wanted to kiss Hot Cutie and she said "no", he had to respect that.

He looked at me like I was insane.

Hot Cutie came over to hang out last week. As usual, they played pool up in the loft, and watched Judge Judy (she's the boss, applesauce!). Then they went into Little Guy's room to listen to music and dance.

After a while, feeling like a sneak, I crept down the hall to do my due diligence and make sure there wasn't any panty-grabbing going on. I mean the door was open---as always---but I felt that the whole "checking up on them" thing is invasive and shows a lack of trust in Little Guy's ability to be independent.

When I was a couple of feet from the door, I heard Hot Cutie.

"But why can't I kiss you, Little Guy?" she asked plaintively. "You're my boyfriend!"

"Because we're supposed to be married", he answered crossly. "My mom said if I say no, you have to respect that!"

I snuck back down the hall, and went directly outside to the front porch. Where I just about laughed myself into a stroke.

I simply couldn't help myself.

Boy is HER mom going to be in for a big surprise!

After this incident I realized that I am in way over my head and contacted the Independence Center. Luckily, they have a social relationships class starting next week, and the school will provide transportation. Sign us up!