Tuesday, May 30, 2006

How an iPod saved my sanity

"shut up!" "WHERE ARE YOU KAYLIE?" "I told you to get the hell over here (followed by smacking sound)" "momma, I can't wait till we go home 'cause I am hungry for dinner"...."Shut up, we'll go when I am good and ready"

I hear this stuff everywhere I go. WalMart is especially bad for hearing parents yell and cuss at their kids. It is a place, like many others, where you can spend 10 minutes and learn just about every "don't parent this way" lesson ever thought of. I watch the angry parents, and see their children's faces fall everytime the parent screams. I see the hurt wash over their faces--sometimes only for a second (then the child has learned to toughen up, cuss back, run away, etc.) and sometimes for long, painful moments.

Maybe it is because of what I do for a living. Maybe it is because I see what happens to children when they've been abused, or even just treated badly. I see the kids whose parents just want them to be "fixed." I see the teenagers whose parents waited too long to decide they needed to do something about their relationship with their kids. I attend meetings with teachers and parents, about kids who are so violent that it is dangerous to keep them in their classroom--their preschool classroom.

That's no joke.

So strapping the iPod around my neck and blasting the headphones as loud as needed to drown out the parents, the crying kids, the pain and hurt that is tossed back and forth like a baseball, so that I can survive a trip to Wal Mart, or the mall, or the dollar store is how I survive a shopping trip without leaving with a despair too deep to describe.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Oh how I needed a holiday!

I was more than a little relieved to not have to spend this holiday driving to T-town for a short visit with the parental unit. It is a pretty quick drive--especially since they raised the speed limit to 75 on I-44 in Oklahoma, but it is still six hours, give or take, there and back. And even with a great audiobook, it is a damn long day. And to add insult to injury, the toll on that road is $3.50 each way. I just keep thinking that for my $7.00 I could've gone to see a movie!

But I didn't have to go. I got to plunder through Name Brand Clothes (tons of stuff for $1.50!), check out the paint at Lowes, and eventually wind up on Ye Olde Couch watching Sandra Lee and Rachael Ray make all kinds of fancy grilled stuff.

So for my tribute to all the good cocktails Ms. Lee created, I too will load up the grill. No fancy skirt steak for me, though. Bring on the hamburgers and onions!


Thursday, May 25, 2006


First, Tim Drum did not interrupt the Lost finale. I could do without the obnoxious warning tones they sound before running a weather alert crawl, though. And while I am whining--why can't KSPR run their alert crawl at the bottom of the page? The crawl cut through a lot of important facial expressions because they ran it at the top.

All whining aside though, the weather junk didn't stop the joy of being lost in Lost. Maybe that is the true addiction: The fun of being involved in something that doesn't require much emotional response. Actually it doesn't require much of anything in terms of brain effort, and that is just peachy keen with me.

So my Young One thinks Locke and Eko are dead. I am not so sure about that--it seems that Terry O'Quinn is a pretty big player in that show. I think maybe the magnet "wiped" Charlie's memory or jumbled his neurons, I mean why else was he so giddy when he got back to the beach? And hey, was it my contact lenses, or did he come back with clean clothes, face, etc.?

I do wonder if Locke is heading for a breakdown. First he has the competition with Jack, then Boone dies under his watch, he's stuck pushing buttons in the hatch, Henry gets him all confused about his role on the island and the Other's perception of him, and he injures his leg. Then to really get the straps ready on the straight jacket, he thinks he's been a lab rat in a psychological experiment. To tighten the buckles: he practically destroys the world just by trying to prove a point. Can the magic of the island heal psychosis like it heals paralysis and cancer?

How many hours till next season starts???

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Potential for overdose

Check it out... Not one, not two but THREE hours of Lost tonight! Pull out the 12 steps fast because this addiction is growing rapidly.

Of course the first hour is just a review for the upcoming final exam, so to speak, but hey, what good student ditches class during finals week?

With the current forecast, however, I will need more than the 12 steps to remain coherent if Tim Drum interrupts the season finale for irrelevant weather updates . Of course if it is a real "weather event" then there's always iTunes or abc.com for commercial-free downloads.

Hot diggity dog.

Monday, May 22, 2006

What I've learned

When I see what my clients endure:

On my worst day, I am so incredibly blessed.

I have a home. I have food. I have a job. I have an education. I have a child who is a wonderful person--a joy to watch as he grows. I have a husband who cares about us. I have hope.

How can I possibly "fix your kid?"

I can't count the number of times a parent has brought their child to me for counseling and said, in so many words, "fix my kid." Usually that means "fix my kid and leave me out of it." The sad truth is that in most cases, the kid can't really be "fixed" if the family isn't involved. By the time a child is brought to a counselor the family is pretty ingrained in some not-so-great patterns. Until you change the patterns, you can't change the kid.

There are cases, and I have known more than a few, where even when the parents don't want any part of it, the kiddo pulls through and makes something out of nothing. There are some mighty strong children out there who, in spite of abuse, neglect, poor parenting, a system that focuses on punishing mandated reporters over the perpetrators, etc. etc. manage do really do some great things.

These children amaze me.

Take the little girl in a rural county whose mama tries so hard to do the right things. This mom was horribly abused as a child, and is really bound up in her own issues, and to make matters worse, she can't read. Even though she's tried and tried, this mother can't seem to learn how. The little girl can read though, and reads to her mom. After we get this girl's ADHD treated, we see her just blossom. She begins to read so much that her mom worries that maybe she's reading too much! She starts to think that maybe she will graduate from high school some day (she'd be the first in the family). Once she finds out the library is walking distance from her trailer, she beats a path there in the summers.

Governor Blunt's horrific changes to Medicaid and entitlements for the poor may make it so that this girl, who is now a teenager, may have to actually support the family since mom can't work. So now she may not be able to graduate high school. She wants to. She could even make it to college with her grades, but family comes first for them, and they depend on her. There are lots of great programs to encourage kids to go beyond high school, but the kids who are needed at home the way this child is needed will fall through those cracks. She lives too far from a community college to commute...and with gas at 2.85 a gallon that isn't likely to change. Outside of the chicken plant and pizza hut, there's not too many places to work in her town. She'll survive though, and maybe she'll keep her library card up to date, too.

I admire them for their strength and courage. They hang on day after day, they survive, and sometimes, they are happy.


Saturday, May 20, 2006

This time it is not about Lost

it is about CSI. Yeah, yeah, yeah the Lost episode was good. Can't wait for the two hour finale. But what is deal on CSI? The whole thing with Brass being shot was fodder for a good cliffhanger, but they leave us with Grissom and Sara in an "intimate setting?" I am not really objective here--when I heard someone was going to be shot I was hoping it would be Sara (I am a little sick of her whining) . A few seasons ago a grissom-sara hook up would have been cool, but now?

Hmmm, guess we'll have a few months to let it sink in. Or not.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Would someone please tell Darrell Moore...

...that just making hotline calls doesn't do jack. Just look at yesterday's News Leader. Two kids in two different counties recently died from child abuse and neglect. Both of the those situations had been hotlined, probably numerous times, but still the kids were killed. They were killed in terrible ways--one was a malnourished mentally disabled 18 year old with severe hypothermia. Previous mandated reporters had noted that the boy was on a urine-soaked mattress in a room with a bucket of dried feces. The other child was a toddler whose "step dad" punched her so hard in the gut that it killed her.

People made mandated reports in both cases. Get that Mr. Prosecutor? The hotline was called and called and NOTHING was done. Now two more kids are killed. Calling the hotline is an exercise in futility almost everytime. Darrell Moore is in the news again threatening jail time and criminal records if you don't call the hotline. So believe me I call a lot. So do my colleagues--we have to. But we don't have to pretend that we think it will solve anything. In fact, it usually makes things worse.

Here's a perfect example: (names, places changed to protect confidentiality) mentally challenged mother of four kids, all under 5 years old, living in government housing. Has several different do-gooders in and out of the apartment trying to help. The oldest child has very poor language skills and it is hard to understand her, but she is bright and at 4 years old can communicate many ways. She communicates that she has been sexually abused. She communicates that she is being physically abused. Social worker calls the hotline THREE different times. All three times they say sorry, we suspect something is up, but there are no visible bruises and she can't talk well. So oh well, right?

Well, said social worker keeps going to the home. Keeps trying to help the mom (who also is worried her daughter has been abused and wants help--get that, she WANTS help). Social workers calls hotline again. This time also mentions to the hotline worker that, along with the molestation and abuse, the apartment is pretty filthy. Dirty diapers have been rubbed on the walls of the stairway. A broken glass lamp sits on a table easily accessible to four sets of little hands. The kids are passing around a filthy baby bottle and sharing the milk. The mashed potatoes from God knows when are so thick on the floor you have to skate to get into the kitchen.

This time the children are removed from the home. Was it because they were being molested you ask? No. Was it because of the possible physical abuse by a relative? No. It was because the house was dirty. Yep. The house was dirty so they took the kids. As far as I know she never did get them back.

I don't have a better solution really. And I know the social workers investigating these calls have their hands totally tied in terms of what they can and can't do. And I also know that the push to force mandated calls is causing folks to make lots of calls. And I also know that it doesn't matter. It just doesn't.

I am glad that the prosecutor's office is concerned about child abuse and neglect. I just wish they would focus on the parts of the system that could actually make a real difference. Scaring people into calling the government everytime they hear a child say they don't like their mom is not efficient. But that is what he is focused on. Please, we need to focus on what can be done to help the families be better parents, to keep the children safe before someone dies. If we are going to insist that the government respond to these problems, then let's empower them to really do what needs to be done.

Maybe we need to also focus a little more on family planning, too. But that is a whole other blog note now isn't it?

What do social workers, nurses and cops have in common?

Had a long conversation with the office nurse yesterday about the horrors we've seen. I guess if you're on the outside looking in, it would have seemed pretty morbid. But, from the inside looking out (so to speak) it is a coping skill. The nurse talked about how social workers, nurses and cops see stuff no one else does, and that no one else can really comprehend it. She told of staying over shifts to wait for a patient to die; of families bringing in bedridden relatives-like the one with bedsores so deep the maggots were eating her guts. She's seen too much, so she's working with preschoolers now-making sure their immunizations are current and seeing to them when they're sent to school sick.

Of course with the economy the way it is (I don't believe the conservative media who insist that things are looking up--they don't know any "real" people obviously) people can't afford to stay home with sick children unless it is an emergency. So they come to school really, really sick. I hate it when parents get mad at the school, though, when they have to come pick them up--like freaking out over the rule that a kid with a 101 fever and green gunk literally running out of an ear has to go home.

So anyway the nurse, like me, chose to lower the stress level a teeny tiny bit by changing to the whole preschooler thing. Social workers, at least some of us, see some pretty horrid things. Kids who live in trailers with roaches so thick you think the walls are moving. Kids whose dogs are defecating everywhere in the house and no one cleans it up. Kids who parents work two or three jobs just to make ends meet, and have to leave the kids home alone in trailers with no heat. Oh the things you can see. After about 10 years of going to people's homes to do "therapy" I just couldn't take anymore. The poverty is overwhelming. The way the underclass is so easily ignored is overwhelming. The parents who just want you to "fix my kid" but don't want to do anything beyond that are beyond depressing.

It is way too easy to pick out someone to blame for the way these children are treated, but it is very, very difficult to really figure out where it begins. I suppose it is impossible to find out where it will end.

Friday, May 12, 2006

My Lost Wish Came True!

I solemnly swear that this blog will be more than just nattering about Lost, but I just can't let this one go by. I got my wishes: Jack acted a little like a doctor (dosing Lilly with heroin--or was he euthanizing her???) and less like a big bully alpha male. Locke went back to being jungle boy in spite of the crutches and leg brace. And to top it off Ana Lucia is history. She just bugged me. Maybe it was the jeans that were so beyond "low rise" that I couldn't help but think about the cost of her bikini waxes. Maybe it was just that she didn't seem to have many redeeming characteristics. Who knows. Who cares. She's gone except in Eko's dream. I kinda liked her better as a ghost.

Okay, enough Lost till next Wednesday. (119 hours to go)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

It is about time...

It is really about time that I actually post something on a blog. This is probably the third blog I've started, but I have yet to post a word. I have written lots of drivel--and fortunately I have had the impulse control to not publish. But here I go--this is drivel and I am going to hit the publish post button anyway.

Of course I read a lot of blogs, and most of them are drivel. So I guess I am not alone.

Tonight is "Lost." I haven't been hooked on a currently-running TV show since Northern Exposure and Twin Peaks. I usually get hooked on re-runs. That's how I found China Beach (the best show ever), LA Law, CSI, Felicity...see, it is a long list. I think it is some form of passive aggression-I am sort of proud that I haven't watched popular shows when they're on the air. I never saw Mork and Mindy. I never watched the Muppets. I didn't even watch Sesame Street as a child! I did watch Pufnstuf, though, which says a lot about me I know.

But anyway, tonight is "Lost." As a new convert to the show (I just finished watching all the Season 1 DVDs, and am reasonably caught up on the story line for Season Two--props to Dads on a Rant Again blog) I want Locke to be a jungle boy again. I want Jack to chill the heck out! He was much easier to watch when he was busy being a doctor. Now he is just a jerk. He and Ana Lucia would have been a perfect pair, but happily, Ana Lucia is history. It seems I am not a big fan of the tailies. I kinda wish they'd stayed on their own side of the island. Hey, maybe they are the real Others...hmmm.

The real question for tonight is: Is there a new Mythbusters episode, too? Decisions, decisions.

Okay, here goes the post button--here comes the drivel.