A continuation of The Greatest Gift –part 1.
My time at the next home was short. I can’t say they were horrible foster parents, but they weren’t Melrose. I quickly noticed the differences.
I no longer got to go on shopping trips, no longer got to pick out what I needed or balance my ledger. There weren’t moments spent laughing together at Golden Girls, or singing country music songs. No moments learning about cooking, sewing or finances. No moments just talking. I sat on the edges of this new family’s life. Not really a part of it, just there, more a watcher than a participant.
My new foster mom shopped for her girls. For us, the fosters, she picked up a bunch of random items from the Walmart clearance racks, dumped them on the bed and told us to pick through them. It didn’t take long to see that she did for her girls first. We got what was left whether it was food or clothes. Maybe if Melrose hadn’t been my first mom, I’d have been okay with that. I wouldn’t have known things should be different.
I started keeping the clothing tags, calculating the costs, comparing them against what I knew she should get paid for three foster girls. It didn’t add up.
“Where does a 13 yr old gets the gumption to confront an adult regarding finances?” Too much time reading, I bet. Too many stories about rebellious heroes making a difference. I liked to imagine I was like Pippi Longstocking, Anne of Green Gables, Huck Finn, Robin Hood, or D’Artagnan from 3 Musketeers.
I don’t know the answer but MANNNNNNNNNN red and purple splotches instantly covered my foster mom’s face, and she barely complete a sentence. Have you ever seen a person try to talk when they are that angry? How they don’t even notice they are spitting and drooling while they talk and their face contorts and looks less human? She was that mad. I bet most adults could relate to her anger though. We lived in the deep south. Kids and teens just didn’t disrespect adults that way.
We argued. I said some very horrible things that no 13 yr old should say to an adult, and I stormed out of the house.
This was before cell phones or even pagers. Back then if you didn’t to be found, it was easy to get lost. I went to a friend’s house and stayed there for two or three days. When I finally decided to go back home (or when my friend’s parents finally realized that my parents didn’t know where I was), my foster parents couldn’t let me back into the house.
This is when I learned that if a foster child goes missing for more than 24 hours they must be reported missing and the child will usually be placed in a new home.
The next couple to take me in was in their late 20’s or early 30’s. Too young, I think, to take on troubled teens. Not that I was too troubled yet, but I wasn’t their only teen either.
They had a big house with a spare apartment. It something like a mother-in-law suite. The Foster dad ran an auto dealership. There was a new car in the drive every other week. I remember being impressed with how wealthy they seemed. I remember thinking money meant “good home.”
Foster dad worked a lot, Foster mom tried to hard to be our friend. I remember her letting us have a party in the apartment. There was a mix of teens there ranging from 13 to 18 yrs old. I remember seeing people making out, I remember drinking–too much. I remember people getting sick. I remember it was just us. Alone. That life seemed cool at first, but it quickly became chaotic.
All my life, I preferred working outside. I’d rather shovel out a horse barn all day than wash a single sink of dishes. One of the things I enjoyed at this home was helping Foster Dad detail cars out in the front yard. It’s possible that I clung to him because I’d not seen my own dad since I was 4 yrs old. Maybe I yearned for a father figure. I don’t know, but I spent a lot of time out there helping him. I was always eager to help.
Foster Dad was never inappropriate, but his wife got it in her mind that I was flirting with him. She called me a whore and a little home wrecker. She accused me, well, she accused all of the foster girls of having sex and being sluts. I don’t know what caused her to go so far off the deep end, but I didn’t do any of the things she accused us of, and it hurt deeply to be accused of it.
To prove her point, she decided she was going to have us all checked by a doctor to make sure we were still virgins. I’d never talked to her about my private issues. I wasn’t a virgin. I’d been raped when I was seven. I couldn’t tell her about that. She was crazy. She wouldn’t believe anything I said anyway.
I ran away again.
The next six or seven homes were a blur. They weren’t bad, but if they even looked at me wrong I disappeared, waited 24 to 48 hours, then went out and flagged down a cop car.
“Hi, I’m in foster care. I’ve been missing for a couple of days.”
The sheriff’s department would usually call DFACS, and I’d get placed in a new home. I was playing foster care lotto, but suddenly my luck ran out.
Time seem to slow down. As sat in at the Sheriff’s Department, afraid, waiting to see what would happen next. Would they find me a new home? Would I have go to another county and switch schools? Would they just send me to Juvie?
Concluded in “The Greatest Gift-part 3”