Easter was my and Jacket’s big holiday. We spent three years having an Easter egg hunt. Two of those years were post-reunification (after she was returned to her mom). I miss her a lot. Also, she turns five next week.
It’s been six months since I’ve heard from her mom or seen her. The last time I saw Jacket her mom had left her at my house to spend the weekend and then she came back ten minutes later having changed her mind. Jacket lost her shit and it tore my heart out.
ACS followed-up with Jacket and her mom until December (2012). A few weeks ago Logan and I rented a car and went early one Saturday morning to see if we could catch them at home. The apartment was unusually quiet. I asked a few neighbors and they all said that they moved out at the beginning of the year.
Asia saw Jacket’s grandma at the foster agency last week. Not being able to place Asia, grandma gave a full report on Jacket and her mom. Asia called me and handed the phone to grandma but she refused to talk to me and instead told Asia that they have moved to Florida. I’ve never been worried about her moving that far because I know her mom’s not capable. I’m pretty sure they are in Queens. Let all of your public school elementary Ed folks know to be on the look-out come kindergarten in the fall. All I want is for someone at her school to promise to keep an eye out for the booger.
Ara came over today and helped out (a TON) and said that Harriet still considers Jacket her best friend. I really hope it won’t be too long before they see each other again.
It never crossed my mind to pass through Jacket’s Upromise link (here) before doing my taxes online but a few of you have and about $4 a person is going into her account. Just thought I’d share!
Repeat blurb from previous post:
Essentially, this is just a shopping link. Start on Jacket’s guest link here and free money will build into her college fund. It’s actually the opposite of “You Promise”, it’s more like “You Might, Maybe, One day Click Before You Shop If You Can Remember Where You Put the Damn Link”.
I’ve also attached a permanent link at the top of the blog under “Forum and Links”. Do you see it?
So, no credit cards and no funny business. Rebecca Katz, a D.C. attorney, has offered to be the public overseer of the account. Meaning, I’ve given her the username and password (and my address, birthday, first grade teacher’s name, etc) so she can monitor that the money stays in the account and isn’t being used for the collection of gangster tattoos I dream of accumulating across my face. Rebecca Katz is a real, live, cool person and I’m tremendously humbled that she reads the blog. You can check her out on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/rebecca-katz/10/29/173
- Brian: I was catching up on your blog. Oops, you did it again.
- Me: I know, shut up.
- Brian: No word from the girl [Jacket]?
- Me: No, nothing.
- And you're going over there creepin'...
- Fuck you.
- Hiding in the bushes.
- Fuck you.
- With binoculars.
- Fuck you. I only went once.
- So far.
- You're right. If it didn't cost me $16 an hour to rent a car I would definitely be going over there every day.
It’s been 2 months now since I’ve heard from Jacket’s mom. It was a relief at first but now I’m constantly thinking of her. Worried that she thinks that I abandoned her, even though I know her 4 year-old mind is actually on Barbies and candy.
Some of you have asked how I expect Jacket might respond to Sandy and the answer is, she would adore her. She’s totally into babies now. They are like dolls but they move, and make noise and there are real diapers to change. Ara’s always said that Jacket is really good with Clarkie, Harriet’s 1 year-old brother. She was very proud that she could help with him. Another friend has a newborn and she loved to gently rock her in the swing, looking back for verbal praise again and again.
Two years ago Jacket would have screamed bloody murder if she saw me holding Sandy but now I imagine inviting her into my lap to help me hold her. I’m the one with the hang-ups now. I feel like I’m somehow cheating on Jacket. There’s really nothing else I can do now except save for her college, finish her lifebook and get Brooklyn Public School teachers to promise me that they’ll find her when she enters Kindergarten next year.
Just reserved a zipcar and am going to stop by Jacket’s apartment. Public transportation is being shut down but the storm is not really coming until tomorrow. Now seems like a pretty good time to try to see them and check-in before the hurricane hits.
I’m not sure I’ll even get into the building, but I figure I’ll try.
I was just about to make my first purchase using Jacket’s Upromise Link (click here) and to my surprise, there’s already $11.45 in her account! That is seriously so cool. Thank you, thank you.
There was an interesting article in the Times this week about the “middle class trust fund” that illuminates all of the extra costs involved in transitioning into adult hood.
Ok, not really. But, so far the magical Internet, and the real people attached, have raised Jacket. I’m incredibly grateful. I wish I had time to draw a diagram (mad college senior project or independent study idea alert) of all of the connections and benefits that have come to Jacket via the web.
Anyway, request #2,977- start sucking up to anyone you know at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. I purchased an annual family pass and the first time I take Jacket and her mom, I want her mom to be treated like the fucking QUEEN OF SHEBA. I want her to think and feel that she is the SUPERSTAR MOM of the museum so that she takes Jacket
Is there a staff snack machine? I’ll give you all the quarters you need to take her there. Do any backstage VIP tours? No? MAKE ONE UP. Show her the fucking air conditioning ducts- IT DOESN’T MATTER. I’m finally getting it through my thick skull that one of Jacket’s mom’s major motivators is being associated with important people (as defined by her). INTRODUCE HER TO SOMEONE IMPORTANT. Like the DIRECTOR of membership. What is that? They only have a couple of staff people in the membership department? DOESN’T MATTER. Words like “Director” and “Supervisor” and “President” count for big brownie points.
Need some more ideas to “serve a diverse audience” and “increase public access” (this goes for all museums with such a mission)? :) Oh, don’t you worry. In case you haven’t noticed, I can blog about this kind of shit FOREVs. Here’s more- Have someone, ANYONE, write down their name (business cards are even better if they have them) and emphasize that Jacket’s mom can always ask for them (how demanding can she be- and really- how awesome would it be if her time was spent causing a raucous at a Children’s Museum as oppose to a foster agency or prison?) Baby steps, yo. Ask to take her picture to put on a special board (so-and-so’s cubicle = special board from now on). Provide her with some sort of certificate of attendance. Birth moms who have jumped through hoops REALLY APPRECIATE HARD-COPY DOCUMENTATION of being a good mom. Any microsoft publisher certificate will do. Tell her the best day/time of the week for her to come to get MORE ATTENTION (aka when the museum is least crowded). Have the local bus schedules and offer to read them (remember illeteracy is common among birth moms). Still not sure why she won’t take trains.
And of course, free metrocards (I’ll let another social service professional explain this in the comments section if they want). It’s the culture. Choose your battles. I’ll slip staff a stack during our first visit.
I can offer in return unlimited staff trainings on disability accessibility and etiquette, supporting individuals using an augmented communication device, managing crazy behaviors and anything else you can think of! And look at all of the awesome PR they’re getting already (they are a non-profit, right?). Hell, maybe they want to create the FIRST EVER “Family Reunification” museum program? All they’d have to do is get a funder to pay for admission and try out a couple of ideas above (or better ones!)- or something like that- there are people who know about these things and I’m not one of them actually. A little liaison with a foster agency or two and voilà, how INNOVATIVE of the Brooklyn Children’s Museum!
I can’t believe that this past time that I had Jacket was longer than the entire time I had Eaglet. So weird.
and the detective is crazy pissed at Jacket’s mom and wants to be alerted the moment Jacket returns home. So perhaps the door will be knocked-down one way or the other.
I was thrilled to hear that Jacket’s mom had called the detective when ACS allegations first came in (this time around). Having the detective involved is a huge feeling of security for me but I didn’t want to be the one tattletaling. Apparently, the detective didn’t like the story she was hearing, said as much, and Jacket’s mom changed her phone number.
Do not try to play around with an NYPD Brooklyn detective on the verge or retirement. With ACS is business, with the detective it’s personal.
- Jacket: David got in trouble.
- Me: At preschool? Someone got in trouble?
- No. He asked for cheese. I had cheese.
- Were you not supposed to have cheese?
- No. That's not what I said.
- David got in trouble?
- No, I said he wanted cheese. So somebody gave him cheese. He asked for cheese.
- Oh, that's nice. Did you ask for anything?
- Yeah, I asked for cheese.
- Jacket: I'VE GOT SOME GARBAGE HERE!
- Me: Okay, just put it in the trash can.
- Just come get it!
- Uhm, no.
Dear East Village Moms,
Allow me to cross one worry off your list. Your child could never be kidnapped from the neighborhood. No way, no how. In just 10 minutes, a total of 7 people came up to Jacket and asked her if she was okay as we left Harriet’s home and she tantrumed. They didn’t ask me, they asked Jacket. I’ve discovered a big difference between the way the public responds to a 2 year old’s tantrum verses a 4 year old’s. As in, “It’s okay, I think I saw your face on a milk carton last week, I’m here to save you- just say the word, give me a look or a hand-signal or something.”
You know how you’re supposed to teach children to kick and scream if someone tries to kidnap them? Well, Jacket’s giving lessons. And she’s improvising too- “I WANT MY MOMMY! I WANT TO GO TO MY MOMMY’S HOUSE, I DON’T WANT TO GO WITH YOU!!!”. My poor girl, what can I do? It’s only been happening at the end of the day, usually during some sort of transition.
First good samaritan was a police officer. She stuck around for a full 5 minutes, held Jacket, wiped her tears, told her she was too pretty to cry… I think the only way we didn’t end up at the precinct was because Jacket eventually lunged into my arms demonstrating that I wasn’t a stranger. I also fibbed and said she was “foster care”. Kind of true? Kind of the easiest way to explain without explaining…forgive me cosmos.
Second was a laundry delivery man. He spoke to Jacket in Spanish. I have no idea what he said.
Third was a group of children who left the local playground just to check on the scene.
Add four elderly ladies who came out of their apartments (all separately).
Lord have mercy.
- Me: Hey Sweetie, let's talk about when you were screaming last night.
- Jacket: I was crying.
- You were. Do you remember why?
- Well, we were at the store and we gave money to the man to buy the doll. Do you remember that?
- Yes. I have a pocket, LOOK!
- I see your pocket, very cool. And the man put your doll in a bag with a bunch of other stuff and you wanted you own----
- That's right. But he couldn't do that because there were people in line waiting and what did you do?
- I cried.
- Uh huh, and screamed and laid down on the-
- GROUND! Look, I'm wrapping my legs around YOU!
- I see, that's such a nice hug.
- BEAR HUG.
- Ok, grrrrrrrrr. Now, I wanted to give you the doll last night, but I couldn't because you were-
- But not just crying, SCREAMING. It's okay to cry when you're sad, but I can't give you treats when you're screaming.
- But my mommy would have given it to me.
- Glad you mentioned that. Your mommy and I do things differently, and that's ok. *I* cannot give you anything when you're screaming. Got it?
- Got it.
Last night Erika called me after reading about one of Jacket’s tantrums. I didn’t answer because, well, Jacket’s tantrum and all. After a few minutes I thought, fuck it, she’s calling about the tantrum I’m going to let her hear the tantrum.
We talked while Jacket sat literally 2 feet away screaming her freaking head off. Looking back it’s sort of humorously surreal. We discussed strategies in a very calm, matter-of-fact way for quite a while. I rubbed Jacket’s back and then only after about 15 minutes did the sensory load kick in and I had to get off the phone. Erika would have stayed on for hours if I wanted her to.