Please welcome Scurvy Platypus to the Ink Quills. I’m currently setting up the website so the posts will be here for now. If you’re interested in writing for the Ink Quills, contact me.
My wife says that my inner child is a 13 year old Japanese school-girl, trying desperately to get out. I grew up poor and all over the western side of the U.S.; the rest of my upbringing is messed up enough that you probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you. I lived for the past 9 years in New Zealand, along with my wife of 20 years, 3 cats, and 2 newly adopted children. I suffer from depression, and a sense of humour that my wife informs me I’m too poor to call “eccentric”. My interests are geeky, nerdy, wordy, arty, and musical; for anything more, read my bio.
Tonight is day five of my captivity; I hadn’t expected to ever be uttering such a phrase before [about poo-covered bums that is], but honestly that’s probably more a failure of imagination on my part than anything. And I’ve got quite the imagination. But, I guess maybe I should back up slightly and explain why I’m captive, and staring at a 3-year-old poo-butt being vigorously waved at me.
…You know, it turns out to be a little bit more difficult to start than I’d thought. The difficulty isn’t really starting, but trying to figure out where to start. Starting at the very beginning would cover some 40 years, a disturbing amount I don’t actually remember, and a whole lot of exposition that would bore the shit out of you.
So, I guess we’ll start in the middle, much like you’re at a cool party and while wandering by, you overhear some lunatic going on about who knows what and you stop to see if it’s an interesting train-wreck that’s happening or just some random ranting. And really, I view my writing much like a conversation; my hope is that someone will actually talk back to me at some point, so I quit being that lunatic talking to himself and instead become the much more socially acceptable lunatic that’s talking to others. Note: You can decide if “others” means other lunatics, or just other people; I’m generous in how I share my conversations and don’t insist on dominating the conversation at all. Unless I actually do and people are just too polite to tell me. I do ramble though, so be prepared for some non-linear conversations and thinking. I like to think of myself as a Salvador Dali of conversations.
At the beginning of April this year, my wife and I received news that we’d been waiting for over two years for… we were being considered as a home for kids. We’re from the U.S. but live in New Zealand as Permanent Residents. We haven’t been successful conceiving, and we’d both agreed that we weren’t willing to do something like IVF. So, we went to Child, Youth, and Family [NZ’s child services] to see what our options were. I’ll skip the details and just note that the way things are done here is really different from what I experienced as a foster-kid and the way the U.S. still does things; I feel like I got the Dark Ages treatment, only without the cool clothes. So, after two years of our lives effectively being on hold, out of the blue we’re told, “We’re considering you for placement and would like to interview you…”
They show up [three social workers], we talk, they show us pictures of a pair of brothers [ages 5 and 3] and they want to know if we’re still willing to take on more than one kid. As the eldest of three brothers that wound up getting split up, I was already committed to that. A few days after the interview, they ring up and go “Everything seems fine, so we’d like to talk about how we transition the boys into your home. We’re thinking July; we’d rather do it sooner but with the end of the school year approaching, it’d make more sense to do it then. Plus, it’ll give a bit more time for the boys to adjust to the idea, since they’ve been with their current caregivers for a year now.”
First thought: Dude, are they really talking about giving me kids?!?!?
Second thought: Holy shit!! They’re talking about giving me kids!!!
Third thought: Oh shit…they’ve already been in foster care for a year with the same couple…
Fourth thought: I’m not gonna be able to say “shit” anymore. And Gretchin [not my wife’s actual name, but the name her dad called her when she was a kid] is going to have to figure out something to call me besides “asshat”.
We met the kids for the first time in May, a week before the older one turned six. They were living an hour and a half north of us, so each Saturday we’d drive up and spend the day with them. June, they started staying over the weekend with us. After three weekends, the kids were finally told that they were going to be coming to live with us as their “forever home”.
Five days ago, their social worker dropped them off with all of their baggage; that’d be the physical baggage. The emotional baggage is still arriving. It includes an intense sibling rivalry, fear of showers/baths, and attachment issues. Oh yeah, the birth parents are also still involved in the boy’s lives and they’ve got supervised visits with the separated parents every three weeks or so.
Today was the first day of school for the six-year-old [Dee] and since the social worker didn’t get the forms filled in for him [or the forms for kindergarten for the three-year old, Jay], I had to rush around to get him into his new class, get forms filled out and money paid, and then take Gretch to work; I’m taking leave from work right now, so we’ll be switching places come November. Other than the fact that she doesn’t drive, so I’ll still be doing all the transportation…
Weekend visits and a few days of everyone being together still does not prepare you for what I am confronting right now…two formed personalities that I barely know, cultural identities I’m still trying to sort out with adults [I thought baseball was boring until an NZer tried to share their love of cricket with me, which has less happening in it than baseball and can take days for a single game to complete], and a language [English] that I’m only mostly familiar with in comparison to my own [American] that’s filtered through the mouths and brains of children.
All of this is encapsulated by the naked crap-covered butt, currently being gleefully waved at me by an otherwise disgruntled three-year old. After loud protestations that he didn’t need his nappy changed, demands and tears for “grandma” [his previous caregiver] and a glare that could dominate the world if it were weaponised, we make it into the bathroom.
“Alright, assume the position…” Jay wears trainers instead of diapers; so ‘the position’ is hands on the bathtube and legs spread, as if I were a cop searching him; instead of needles and knives, I’ve got to worry about diaper blow-out.
“I dun need a new nappy!”Jay declares grimly, like a hostile teen. The smell, and I’d swear what was an orange mist wafting towards me, indicated otherwise.
“Right. Ok, first come down the pants, and…HOLY?!?…uhhhh…Ok, Houston, we have a problem. Let’s stand nice and quiet for a second while I figure this out buddy…”
“I made a yuck” he announces. His attitude has changed now, shit covered pants around his ankles. He sounds like someone admitting that he was in fact carrying drugs, after a cop finds the stash and shows him. Only nobody would be wanting to buy this particular smuggled package. “I wanna do it myself!!!”
“Yes, you certainly made a WHATAREYOUDOING?!?! FREEZE! Do NOT lift that leg any higher mister!” I’ve caught the offending limb in question and try to delicately extract it from the pants without disturbing the mass. It looks like someone has tried to inexpertly plaster over a wall crack, only featuring a butt instead of a wall and poo instead of plaster. I manage to do the deed and quickly drop the weapon into the rubbish bin outside, just a few steps from the bathroom.
I step back and am confronted by the sight of Jay, giggling like a lunatic and looking over his shoulder at me, as he gyrates and dances in place, hands still firmly gripping the side of the bathtub, and chants “Poo-bum! Poo-bum!” to the beat of whatever internal drummer that boy is marching to.
“Don’t wave your poo-covered bum so hard!!”I’m both amused and aghast.
“Why?” He seems genuinely curious.
“Uhhh….” Oh god, so many reasons…”Because it makes it more difficult to clean your bottom?”
“Ok!” Butt waving immediately recommences.
So now, it’s 02:30 in the morning as I write this and the kids will be awake around 06:00. I’ve got a needy cat trying to walk on my keyboard, a traumatised kitten eyeing me from the couch, and another cat that would like to smack the stupid out of everyone in the house, cat and human alike. It’s winter [Southern Hemisphere y’all, means opposite seasons], I’ve reluctantly concluded I’m probably not going to be able to drink the coffee I made myself this morning [the morning I got up, not in the last couple of hours], and my foot is still sore from the Lego I stepped on earlier.
Holy shit. I’ve got kids…and I am SO unprepared.