We became the proud foster parents of two girls a couple of weeks ago. R is eight years old and MR is ten. Both are moderately retarded, R being in worse shape than MR. We are doing respite for their usual foster mother, who has been in the hospital with pneumonia and will require several weeks to get back up to speed. To say it's been an interesting couple of weeks would be an understatement. Both girls have had a bit of adjustment to make, being in a house with four boys, plus both of these young ladies are, to put it nicely, big for their ages. MR is almost a foot and a half taller than J, and J will be thirteen in a few weeks. Can you say intimidation?
The Better Half has had a time of it with these additions. Usually, she would have said no if the agency had asked us to take them in, because we deal with medically fragile infants almost exclusively. However, not having a placement in almost five months makes her crazy. If she's not busy with children, she'll find other things to make her busy. Unfortunately, the other things she finds usually end up costing us a buttload of money. Just the other night, The Better Half and I actually had a short conversation about the kids. It went something like this:
TBH: Now I remember why I prefer to take babies instead of older kids.
Me: Let me guess . . . babies can't talk back?
(Sounds of World War III waft down from upstairs bedrooms)
TBH: (wearily) How'd you guess?
This, however, is not always the case. Take our smallest one, KC (please!) (Sorry, couldn't resist that one). KC is the three year old with extensive brain damage (caused when his mother's boyfriend decided that he would make a good football at three months of age). KC can't swallow, so he was being fed through a G-tube (for the uninformed, a G-tube is actually two parts: a "button" inserted into the stomach through the abdominal wall, and a bag/pump/tube combination that pushes liquid food into the stomach) up until about a year ago, when his reflux developed to the point he couldn't have anything on his stomach. So, the doctors inserted a J-tube (same as a G-tube above, except the J-tube is inserted into the small intestine, thereby bypassing the stomach). It must have worked, because the little bugger has gained almost 18 pounds in the last year. Anyway, KC has decided that he doesn't like the J-tube, so he keeps trying to grab the tube leading to the button and pull it out. This usually makes a mess, because when he pulls on the tube, he loosens the button and milk spills out around the button stem. (I'll explain how the button is inserted some other time.) This in turn soaks the bandage around the button, which necessitates changing the dressing, which in turn drives The Better Half nuts, especially after the third time in a day this happens. The discussions we've had about how to keep the little snot from disengaging his food source have been interesting, to say the least, not to mention nauseating at times. Not much progress yet, but something tells me I'll get home one night and find out that The Better Half has encased KC in a suit of armor. Wouldn't surprise me a whole lot.