narrated by: Kenzie
It’s May, and school is beginning to wind down, for many parents it begins the discussion of what to do with the kids that are out of school for the summer while they work. I don’t have this issue as Tyler stays at home to work on his next big novel. It wasn’t until recent years that he started bringing a real income in, and now my career is peanuts to his. I say that if I didn’t love it so, I’d quit in a heartbeat and live the fat life with him. But I can’t even say that I truly love living the social worker life, all these years into it, and I feel jaded.
This particular day, Tyler has a meeting with his publishers, so he has to drop Dean off at the office to spend the afternoon with me. It’s hot and stuffy in here, the air conditioner doesn’t properly work, and Dean hates being stuck here.
It’s already two o’clock, and I just had cold pizza for lunch fifteen minutes before Dean arrived here. I don’t have time to have a properly warmed lunch, let alone the time to entertain my son.
I regretfully send him out in the waiting area to play with the water cooler and thumb through government propaganda magazines.
My next appointment is already here, and I can tell that they aren’t comfortable with this meeting.
Part of my job is helping parents make decisions that are in the best interest of the children, after all that was my entire goal when I quit being a Jazzercise instructor, and went into social work. It’s heartbreaking work though, there isn’t always a clear answer, and there is no crystal ball to hold my hand.
Julia and her father want to be anywhere but my office, asking about their options. What can I do for Julia if she keeps the baby, is there aid available for school and housing? And what can I do for Julia if she decides to give the baby up for adoption? These are weighty questions, and I try to give my answers as legalistically as possible.
It doesn’t seem to be going well though, and I try to lend encouragement. I explain how I had my son, Zeke at an early age, and though it was difficult, things still worked out.
Julia hesitated to ask questions, always look to her Dad as if she might disappoint him. She asked about Open Adoption, and choosing birth parents, and the process. I explained that she had time to decide, and even after the baby was born, she had three days to still back out if she felt that was what she wanted to do.
She wanted to know if she would have access to how wealthy a family was, and she wouldn’t. If she decided to do adoption, she wanted to know that the baby was financially supported, because her family has money. I told her that situations can be set up, that if she felt that money was important for college, that they could look into setting up a college trust for the baby.
When she asked me what I would do, I didn’t really know how to answer. Instead I just restated how I had raised Zeke without his Father, and that I was a Grandma now, three times over, and wouldn’t change it for the world.
I had hoped that it would be encouraging, no matter what she decided to do, but she just started crying instead. After she calmed down, they both thanked me for seeing them, and headed out.
Julia has the type of family support that I think no matter what decision she makes, she will do alright, unlike some of my households that lack support.
She had received a financial grant for buying a home back when she first found out she was pregnant, and it meant that I was involved in her life for at least one year after the birth of the twins, or longer. She doesn’t know that I am coming over, and I feel uneasy parking the car. I can hear a baby crying inside, and I take a deep breath to gain composure before I knock.
Annie isn’t happy to see me, behind her little Manuel is on the ground crying, his diaper full, and my heart hurts a little.
I lean down to pick him up, and she makes an excuse about how she was just going to make him a bottle. It’s as she walks off that I spot Ella on the ground, looking exhausted. I already know how her grades are, sold C’s, which is an improvement from the varying degrees of D’s that she had the last time I visited.
I hand Manuel back to Annie when she approaches with the bottle, and she stares at him hard, putting all her focus on him. Likely she wishes she had cleaned up the dirty dishes in the kitchen, which I spotted immediately.
When I ask Ella about school, she’s proud to share her improvement, and I act like I didn’t already speak with Ms. Miriam over her grades. When questioned about the other kids, she hedges about an issue with the other kids about not having a Dad. It’s a difficult situation, I’ve been made aware of her father’s identity, it was necessary to start Annie’s aid, but Ella doesn’t know, and I’m not sure Annie’s decision to hide this information is a good one.
I take a tour of the house, and find that there is only one crib for the twins. Annie explains that she only has $234 in her account, and can’t afford the second crib yet. The twins are on opposite sleep schedules, and she admits to being exhausted. There isn’t a person in this household that doesn’t look like they lack sleep, and I regretfully make a note of it on my clipboard.
The shower in the bathroom is leaking, water is pooling all over the floor, and Annie makes an excuse about Cesar wanting to repair it, but not having the time. I already know she can’t afford to have a plumber come to fix it, so I have to take her word that Cesar has dropped the ball on this.
Ella’s room is acceptable, but she’s still sleeping in her Mom’s bed because of nightmares, or so she tells me. She can barely keep her eyes open though, and seems to doze off in the middle of conversation.
Annie leaves to tend to the crying twins, and I meet her back downstairs, stepping over the dirty plate on the floor to take a seat at the table. There are no swings, or bouncy seats, or even blankets to make the rough wood floor more comfortable for the babies.
“It’s not good,” I don’t have to look at my sheet to know, but I do anyway, wishing that there weren’t so many check marks and notes. Then I put it on my lap, I don’t need to use it as a reference for this evaluation.
Annie hangs her head, she had to know this wouldn’t go well as soon as she saw me on her doorstep. Her breathing is ragged, but she’s not crying, maybe if I weren’t here she would.
“Listen,” I want to find good news, and while there is hope, I’m not sure Annie is up to the task. “You still have time to get your family in order. You have three months before my next visitation, you need to provide for the twins properly, from cribs, to clothing, to a house that passes the health codes.” Her shoulders are dropping more, and I try to level with her, maybe scare her into action. “Annie, if you do not pass this next time, then I will be forced to look into foster care, and reaching out to the children’s biological fathers.”
She looks toward the living room, only the babies are in there, I imagine Ella has climbed into her Mother’s bed. Still, Annie leans forward and whispers, her voice taking on a desperate edge, “You can’t send her to Matt, he doesn’t want her.” She’s almost shrill as she finishes the sentence, her eyes wide with panic.
“I am aware of the situation, and if it came to the point of foster care and looking to Matt, it doesn’t automatically mean that he would be considered the best for Ella. It is a long process, Annie, one that I really hope you do not have to venture down.”
The urgency seems to have left her, and she looks defeated, and I’m feeling frustrated at trying to help her. “There’s still time, please remember this. Nothing is set in stone, it is my obligation to inform you of your rights.” I sigh, and try to think of someway to put a little fire under her, and decide to break the rules a little. I know as well as Annie does that Ella wouldn’t be well-matched to live with her Father, bringing a child from an affair into a marriage is a sure fire way to end a marriage, and damage a child.
“Listen, Annie, I know that Cesar is not financially hurting, if you accept some help with the twins, with cribs and bedding, diapers, and supplies, then that is one area that is covered. It’s not difficult, get the bathroom repaired, and maybe get yourself some help. Three kids is a lot for a couple to handle, let alone a single Mom. Maybe if you brought Cesar in to live with you, it might lessen the burden.”
Marisol begins crying, and Annie grabs the extra bottle on the counter and goes to feed her.
“I know I’ve given you a lot to consider, just know that I will be back in 2-3 months for another surprise visit. If you find you need help, try and reach out to your loved ones, and see if they can help you get on your feet.”
I don’t feel good leaving Annie, Manuel started crying as I shut the front door behind me, and I’m not sure what the best decision is here. Would it be better for the kids to live somewhere else? In the end, as I drive home, I just desperately hope that Annie gets her act together.
Tyler’s waiting for me when I get in, spaghetti noodles boiling on the stove, he follows me upstairs to hear about my day. It’s not traditional having a man that stays home, but I like having him here.
He’s waiting to hear back from his publishers, they’ll email him with their offer on his newest book. He wrote it in honor of Dean, just like he did the Lullaby book for Lorelei when she was younger. A portion of the royalty check will go straight into Dean’s college fund. This has made him even more interested in the writing business, and how much money his account might get into it.
After dinner Dean corners Tyler while I’m cleaning up the dishes to beg if his friend Milo can spend the night. Originally we had been concerned that he would have a difficult time adjusting since Lewis had left the Grammar School, but he’s done well making a new friend.
The boys are a little wild, and I’m glad that my children are so far apart, that I didn’t have to handle two small kids at the same time.
As much as Dean likes to pretend to be a tough guy, he’s actually sensitive, so I have to intervene when they get out of hand, and direct them to a new toy.
I get them distracted with a video game, and give Lorelei a quick call to confirm our plans for Saturday morning. We haven’t met her boyfriend Marshal yet, and she’s finally invited us out with them.
I’ve been warning Tyler all week to play nice, I’m hoping that everything goes flawlessly at the lunch, because she seems rather fond of him. They’ve been dating since January of last year, so more than a year, and this is the first boy we are meeting of Lorelei’s, ever, so it’s a big deal.
It takes me over an hour to get the boys to calm down when it’s time for bed. Some of the parents let the kids stay up until midnight, but with the lunch, and my own sanity at stake, I get them to bed at ten thirty.
The Londons come to pick up Milo early the next morning, and we get ready to go out. We tried to discuss what topics we would not approach, but we couldn’t agree. Tyler thinks that asking Marshal his intentions is the job of the Father, but I think that a twenty-five year old daughter, doesn’t really need that question asked.
Lorelei and Marshal arrive an hour before our reservations, and we all drive together as neither of them have a car. Tyler’s stiff, and I can tell that Marshal is also nervous. I slide in the backseat with Lorelei, hoping that this outing goes without a hitch.
I charge myself with the task of breaking the ice, and every time I get Marshal to loosen up and start talking about his career, as the owner of a gaming business, that’s when Tyler interjects with something off topic.
He wears a big grin, and then asks questions, such as, “Where do you see yourself in fifteen years? And do you have a retirement plan? And how’s your parent’s health, any diseases?”
I feel for Lorelei and Marshal, but there’s really nothing I can do to save them from this embarrassment. My own Father was quite the boyfriend-breaker, and it’s apparent now that I married a man of the same cloth.
Despite Tyler’s attempts at making Marshal sweat and squirm, I found Marshal to be a wonderful guy. Just watching Lorelei interact with him made me happy, she’s been single for such a long time, and hung up on that one boy back in the dorm. She basically wasted her college years, and it’s nice to see her with someone who notices her.
After the lunch, Tyler agreed grudgingly that Marshal didn’t seem awful, and that it could have gone worse. Unfortunately, Lorelei didn’t allow us to meet him sooner, and waited until their relationship was rather serious, because it hasn’t given Tyler time to warm up to Marshal.
A few days after the lunch, Marshal called to invite himself over to speak with Tyler, and I knew exactly what he was coming by for. Tyler was in denial, saying it had to do with writing, and that Marshal had mentioned needing a writer for the sequel for his next game. But I knew.
Marshal had come over to talk with Tyler about asking for Lorelei’s hand in marriage. I wasn’t home to witness this meeting, stuck at work, but I would have liked to have been there. I imagine Tyler sputtered some, he doesn’t like to think of his little girl as old enough to get married.
He said that he had a difficult time wrapping his mind around it at first, but then he laid into some heavier questions. He asked if Marshal had ever cheated on a girlfriend, if his parents were cheaters, if they were still married, what he felt marriage was, and if he would walk out if it got tough. He told Marshal about how my parents had died, and how it was one of the most difficult times in our marriage with me recovering from that loss, and was Marshal willing to be a strong supporter in that situation.
Tyler of course couldn’t remember any of Marshal’s answers to these questions, but they must have been good responses, because Tyler gave his blessing. Though he told Marshal that there was no rush in proposing and that if Lorelei couldn’t wait a year or three, then there was no point in asking in the first place.
To top the good news, Tyler’s latest book sold for $13,000, and while we put five of it in an account for Dean, we are saving some of it to help Lorelei with her someday wedding. Unlike Tyler who thinks Marshal took his suggestion seriously, I don’t think it will be three years before he proposes.
It might just kill me though having to wait for him to finally pop the question, and in the mean time, I hope I don’t spoil the surprise.
Notes: I knew that Kenzie was going to have her hands full this spring, but I hadn’t expected Annie to fail so miserably at parenting the twins. I should have I suppose, because she was awful with Ella. Dirty diapers, plates, and flies galore. I loaded her lot, and that is literally what it looked like. Dirty plates, bottles, diapers, crying babies, sleeping Ella on the floor, her motives were dangerously low. And Annie doesn’t have enough money to buy a crib.
Annie received a grant for buying her house, which automatically put Kenzie into her life, and I didn’t expect anything to really come of it. But it was too bad to ignore. Likewise, if you receive aid in the states, and the father of the child is not in the household, then you required to receive child support from them. So if she doesn’t get her act together (get off aid) then she will have to file child support against Matt. Cesar on the other hand would be very pleased if Annie would accept some help from him and his family.
I do not know what Julia is going to decide to do, I’ve played ahead a bit, and am even more confused. I thought I knew at the beginning of all this, but I really just don’t know. This post just finished May, and Julia is due at the beginning of July, so I need to get this figured out.
Tyler’s royalty check:
And this was the first time Marshal got to meet the Goss family, and Kenzie loves him, Tyler not so much, but then Lorelei is his only biological child, and a daughter at that. Both Lorelei and Marshal have the engagement/marriage want, so they are pretty serious. When will he propose? Haven’t decided yet, but baring from anything absurd happening, I imagine it will be in the next round.
Thanks for reading!
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