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Saturday, October 7, 2017

Judgment passed


Years and years ago I learned the meaning of phrases like “There but for the grace of God go I.” So today a story about a Trailer Park, and I live here. There probably is no finer place in the world for meeting America. Every skin color you can imagine. LGB and T (“Oh my God, don’t tell anyone I told you I’m trans!” Still fear attached to T). Every degree of poorness to poverty.

The children are wonderful. They have no idea they’re poor, up to age two or three anyway. They play their games in the street, ride their bikes faster than we drive our cars through. Mom’s come home from work and herd a child or two or three into their home. Dad’s come home from work and come back out and fire up the grill and the neighborhood smells wonderful from dinner cooking.

Then, a mom who threw out a cat that Cathy and I re-homed. She may as well throw out the three kids as well, for all the good that roof does the three of them. Cathy started out watching just the three year old while mom cleans houses, through a service. It’s morphed into feeding all three breakfast, taking the boys to the bus stop, bringing the boys in at night until mom gets home. All for the same twenty dollars a day. If mom manages to get to work.

They boys do homework in the morning because mom wouldn’t let them in until dark. The boys get physically sick at school, and Cathy goes for them. Maybe because breakfast at Cathy’s was their first meal since lunch yesterday. Maybe because they like Cathy.

I’ve drilled Cathy in “No.” “No, I won’t take you to the gas station for cigarettes." We haven’t figured out “No, I won’t watch your kids while your drug dealer is here.”

Mama smokes, cigarettes and weed. She drinks with her boyfriends. She has new fingernails every week. I am such a cat, aren’t I? I cannot bear the thought of involving children’s services—yet. The police aren’t interested in marijuana—it’s penny ante.

The other day I found Cathy crying, holding a pair of flip flops that belong to one of the kids. Cathy has taught the little girl her colors, how to count. She takes her on the fall hiking spree in the metro parks, every day. “Look at what the child has to walk in,” she yelled at me, waving the flip flops. After supper Laura and I went to the shoe store.

Cathy was happy, and upset. “How can I explain these. They know I can’t afford them!”

“Say they came from Good Neighbors”; (a locally known charitable organization).

We’ll keep an eye on the kids this winter. Their grandma got shoes for the boys. We’ll see what we can do with her. And, I am calling the health department. The mom needs to quit smoking indoors. Other than that, I really don’t know what to do.





40 comments:

  1. You are most definitely a Good Neighbour. And the small person looks delighted with her shoes. I hope you and Cathy do find a way to help the entire family.

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  2. Jesus fucking christ.....call cps. These kids are doomed unless they get some permanent actual parenting. And you and yours are not equipped or should do that. CPS ain't perfect, nor are the foster care system. But it sounds better than what they have. The 'village takes care of the children' only goes so far.
    Just my opinion.

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  3. Tough one, i almost agree with SFM, except for the horror stories I hear from the foster system. He is probably right, could not be worse and it is more than you or your friend can handle despite good intentions. Very sad and not that uncommon.

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  4. Yet another life lesson for Laura. Poor kids. This reminds me of teaching days in the Housing projects in Dallas, A second grader in my class whose mom would regularly lock him and his little brother out of the house while she was doing drugs with "friends" inside! And the question was was Why did that child have such a temper? If only all kids had a responsible "somebody" to turn to. Somebody like Joanne.......... I would hope those kids' grandmother gets involved!

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  5. Hi Joanne,
    I appreciate your title. I know you don't take that lightly. I keep wondering if there is just more neglect in this country or whether there's more awareness. One good, one not. It's heartbreaking to think of any kid in need. I read Glass Castle over the summer and one thing that struck me is how those kids were in a different world than mine and how they stuck together and acted in some very adult ways to make it out. Kids are smart, creative and resilient. That's what I have to remind myself of sometimes.

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    1. My middle two grand kids, Hamilton and Emily, were the functioning unit that looked out for the other two, until I had them. Glass Castle reminded me of them.

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    2. I read The Glass Castle recently. It has haunted me ever since. Not that the children stuck together, but that they needed to. So badly needed that solidarity.

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    3. The Glass Castle; another book for me to find and read. Who is the author please?

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    4. Jeannette Walls is the author. It's a "one sitting" kind of book.

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    5. Joanne-it must be hard for you to see knowing what your grand kids went through. I'm glad they had you.

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  6. It's hard, are they better off with or without her, close call.

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  7. You are doing so much already, Joanne. The mom deserves a chance. I pray she takes it

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  8. We already know one grandma who stepped up to the plate . . . I hope these kids' grandma can do some good too. There are no easy answers, but Joanne, you are the kind of person who will do the best that can be done, because you are smart and knowledgeable and compassionate.

    How can mothers do such things to their babies? I find it so hard to understand.

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  9. I'm going to be thankful that God, or whatever power saw fit, put you and Cathy right where those kids needed. I think you are doing the right thing contacting Children's Services and talking to the grandmother. I hope they get the help they need sooner rather than later. I may start calling you Saint Joanne.

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  10. Bless Cathy and bless you for her and your (and Laura's) involvement in the lives of these 3 little ones. Its so hard to know what the right thing to do is. I'll just share 2 examples from recent people at church when they read their testimonies before they got baptized (don't worry, it isn't preachy). Both single moms, both involved with drugs. They said their wake up call was when CPS came knocking on their door and took their children away. It made them realize their lives needed to change if they wanted their kids back. Both got sober, did what they had to do, and eventually reunited with their children, drug free and able to take care of them. Maybe CPS truly would be the wake up call that this mom needs. At the end of the day, as wonderful as Cathy is for them and the help you provide, along with the grandmother, none of you have any legal rights to those 3 precious ones. Better to help them get the protection they need and then hope they get placed together in a loving family. Such a sad situation. Keep us updated.

    betty

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    1. Hari Om
      Am tagging on here instead of 'new comment' because Betty has come very close to my own thinking; the mother is quite possibly falling into her own pit simply because there is an 'safety net' in her 'hood... and that in fact some tough love would be just the catalyst required. But bless you for being the good neighbours I know and love you for being; the wee lass will always - ALWAYS - remember those gorgeous red shoes. YAM xx

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  11. You are a good person Joanne, the world needs more like you.

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  12. If they take children away here you never get them back.

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    1. My experience with CPS- this is SO true. And the reality is, that they may be better off with you as a friend then in a system that seems friendless. School counselor is a better starting point- IMHO

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  13. You did the right thing buying the trainers. And best not to get the authorities involved unless there is real real harm. Many people manage to survive parents with problems if there is also love there, even if the parent can't really cope.

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  14. It is difficult to stand by watching children suffer or even not eat for 24 hours, but I would have to ask myself if more harm would come in the long run from them being split up and taken into care.

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  15. You are very good. Your dilemma is complicated. My mother neglected two of her three children. We would have loved her to be reported, but don't know how it would have all turned out. Difficult.

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  16. I imagine the mother didn't even question the appearance of the shoes. new fingernails every week but can't/won't feed her kids. it's a dilemma for sure, not fair to you and Cathy or the kids but don't know if CPS is truly the answer. could be the fire after the frying pan. bless your big heart and Cathy's too.

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  17. I hope that the grandmother can get involved...nomatter how neglectful a mother they have, better they are together and with her than in the hands of the authorities.

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  18. I can't help but imagine how much the little girl loved her new, red shoes. So moving.

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  19. I will sound harsh. I know what I am saying and the repercussions. It comes from a degree of experience. Call whatever agency is designed to protect those children. They are being neglected by the person who is supposed to be caring for them. In most cases the children will stay with their mother so the family will not be separated. Once a case is opened the mother is on notice that she is being watched. Those children are being neglected and they could be seriously hurt. The report an be done anonymously if you don't want to deal with the woman. It sounds like Cathy is totally overwhelmed by raising (yes I said it) the children alone. She needs the peace of mind of knowing that someone is seeing to it that they are safe and cared for. I do hope you will update this story from time to time.

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  20. Once again, thank you all.
    I have a small plan to move forward.
    Summit County cps has an awful track record, from as small as not keeping track of children to as heinous as abuse and murder of their wards. There is another young mother here who has been sober the year I've lived here, and doesn't have her children back.
    My immediate plan is to visit the elementary school counselor next week. If nothing else, Hudson is so effing snobbish they will move mountains to protect their reputation, and that includes feeding kids and helping with homework and after school daycare. You just need to make the alternative crystal clear, like when I visited the high school principal and explained what would happen next to the young men who harassed and abused Laura.
    Sadly, we are dealing with the father of the little girl, the grandmother of one little boy and no known relative of the last boy, except his mother. Cathy is attempting to Dutch Uncle all of them. My involvement won't go beyond shoes and such, and involving the school, and the health department. If any of them want to take it farther, their call.
    This trailer park business is a new world to me, and I find I am more clinical about it than invested. Cathy is going through what I went through years ago with the grands. I do not understand these idiot young women whose world revolves around them.

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    1. If your CPS is not doing its job, can you contact the state agency that licenses it? They need to know what's really going on.

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  21. What to do in these circumstances? It is a difficult one Joanne and I am sure most of the neighbours feel it too. You sound to me as though you are making their lives happier = that is perhaps all you can do. And they will remember you in the years to come.

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  22. I am sitting here ready for TG dinner. JJ went it his first hockey game of the season this morning. We aren't exactly rolling in clover, but we have much to be thankful for. They may not know it, but those kids are fortunate to have Cathy and you in their corner at least. Kudos to you both. I know its not your TG, but it is mine, and it seems appropriate.

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  23. A difficult situation for sure. Joanne your heart is so big it's a wonder you can fit in that trailer.

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  24. You need to call child welfare, or what we call it here in California, Child Protective Services. Those children need a better home.

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  25. BTW I read your post to the family at TG dinner. Thank you.

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  26. First Joanne my admiration.
    Second, no easy answers. Any two peoples can have a baby. Therefore the female half can be more focused on her fingernails than the needs of her children.
    Third, safety net. You are a smart woman and know this is a slippery slope. Whatever you provide, they don't have to.
    Being an advocate is exhausting but I would suggest that is the right path. This is Hudson???? Oh my yes, hit them where it hurts, in their pride. I have had great luck emailing Governor Kasich. Twice he solved a serious problem for us. Once we had propane delivered the next day, from a shady company who would not return our calls. And it's free. Good luck.

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  27. God bless you and Cathy. I like the plan you outlined in your response to the comments. It's painful to see children who are mistreated.

    Love,
    Janie

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