Foster Care Day 380: They’re Just Kids… They Can’t be Diagnosed with psychological Issues!

It has been nearly a year since my wife and I received our first foster child into our home. Since that day, we have had a total of six foster children come into our care. Currently we have a three-year-old girl and a 12-month-old boy.

One of the things I do not think my wife and I were fully prepared for is the level of psychological trauma young children deal with. I am not running the full Eugene Marathon because of the trauma level of two former foster kids… which resulted in me getting physically injured.

On television and the movies, children are not always accurately portrayed as dealing with trauma. Sometimes they are shown as being quiet, or that they don’t trust strangers… but I have not seen kids who express trauma on television the way that children in our home have expressed trauma. Real life is certainly not the Disney version of child trauma.

  • Have you ever had a two-year-old in your home who won’t stop talking? Sure, maybe. But have you ever had a two-year-old in your home who won’t stop talking because the noise of words helps distract the kid from how shitty his/her life is?? Whenever that two-year-old stops talking, the kid gets sad or angry.
  • Or… have you ever had a three-year-old talking about suicide and drowning himself in the river?
  • What about a three-year-old who is obsessed with fire and talks about burning the house down?
  • Have you ever known a three-year-old who is not afraid of strangers… because strangers are the only people that provide food?
  • Have you ever not slept at night because you were afraid the four-year-old might stab you in your sleep?
  • Have you ever known a child with eyes that changed color when angry?

Our twelve-month-old foster kid seems okay enough, considering he is in foster care… but he was so dehydrated when he came into foster care that the doctors could not take a blood sample (not enough blood).

Television shows are short… and movies generally do not have time to fully develop characters. But child trauma is a lot more than just a quiet kid who doesn’t like strangers.

Every child in foster care is different… but the last three kids we have received who were older than twenty-four months have all been diagnosed with psychological issues. You might think–“They’re just kids… they can’t be diagnosed with psychological issues!” But you would be wrong.

Kids (toddlers) in our home have already dealt with lots of trauma… and by the time they have reached our home, they have the angst of teenagers who hate life.

High school kids, sure… maybe a high school kid can be aware that his/her life is shit… life is unfair… and that life with his/her parents has not been equal to other kids because of the drug or alcohol problems the parents have/had. But by the age of three or four … to hate the world because life has fucked you over… it’s still hard for my brain to fully comprehend even though I myself was in foster care.


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Physical pain.


I am probably not running in the Eugene Marathon at the end of July. If I do run, it is unlikely I will run the full marathon. Most likely I will run the half marathon and barely manage that. This is a far cry from my December triumph in the 2013 Seattle Marathon.

We had two foster kids who were emotionally and physically destructive.

Both kids were under the age of six, but I was afraid of the younger one. The explosive anger of the younger one kept me on pins and needles 24/7. When the younger one was asleep I worried about the younger one waking up. In addition… the younger one’s eyes sometimes changed color whenever angry. My wife and I found something online that said when some people get angry, the blood vessels in their eyes constrict, causing it to appear as if their eyes change color with mood changes. Super freaky.

My wife had toys thrown at her head! I was repeatedly kicked in the knee! I had my feet repeatedly stomped on! This was not the Disney version of foster care. Thankfully it was not the Quentin Tarantino version of foster care, but my home was not a safe place to live. Add to that, running is one of the ways that I burn off stress… but I couldn’t run because of repeatedly getting kicked in the knee or having my foot stomped on.

I am still emotionally recovering from this placement that my wife and I had. The two kids are gone… and I have been able to start running again. Finally.

My foot and knee are healed from having foster kids. But emotionally I am still off a little. The Eugene Marathon is the last week of July… and I am currently only running four miles (slowly).

I spent Father’s Day sad, and relieved, that there were no children in our house…

The system failed these two children. The kids have had a shitty life. I get that. But there had to be a better way for these kids to process their emotions… than for me to be a punching bag for their rage…

Foster Parenting and “Grace”

How do you define grace? For my wife and I, grace is an act of unwarranted favor or mercy toward our foster children. By the definition of foster parenting itself some might consider my wife and I to be showing grace. But for our two foster kids we are definitely displaying grace.

I am not germaphobic. But having foster kids definitely adds a new level of yuck to our home. On Sunday… I watched the two boys (age 3 and 5) all day. At 6 p.m., one of them “accidentally” fell off the toilet… into the bathtub, and deposited poop in the bathtub and on our bathroom mirror. My level of anger was probably a 9 on a scale of 1 to 10–with 1 being everything is awesome… and 10 being Mount St. Helens. I was so mad I could barely speak when I saw the natural art in the bathroom.

What happened next? My wife said she would take care of it, and she graciously allowed me to go to the living room while she cleaned up the natural art in the bathroom.

Then the day after the impromptu art show, we took the boys to the Oregon Zoo. It was my first time taking children to a zoo. It was fun to watch them observe many of the animals Monday. While I watched them enjoying themselves, I thought to myself my wife and I are gracious to the boys for taking them to the zoo the day after the bathroom fiasco.

Today (Tuesday) the three-year-old had a meltdown. An impressive two-hours and 45 minutes, screaming for half of the time… kicking the wall… and calling us names. The young one actually hit/kicked my wife repeatedly, and my wife will most likely have bruises from the meltdown. This was after we took them both to see the movie: The Nut Job.

As soon as the three-year-old calmed down and started to eat dinner, the five-year-old melted down. He took the books on the bookshelf and shoved them all onto the floor. He then screamed and yelled for several minutes. It was insane.

My wife calls it “passing the baton”… because it is difficult for them both to be good at the same time. But it is also very rare for them to both be mad at the same time. Typically one displays bad behavior… and the other displays good behavior.

Tomorrow I expect we will do something else nice for them. Grace is being nice to a person when someone else does not deserve it. Grace is not always easy… especially with two high maintenance kids who lie, punch, kick, throw things, and poop/pee in their underwear when they are angry. But my wife and I are still gracious toward them.

How gracious could you be when two people who are angry at the world take it out on you?

Curing the Pathological Talker

One of our kids rambles. If there is a moment of silence then he must break it. He is almost six. The ramblings are very similar to this:

“The sky is blue…”

“Hey… why is the sky blue?”

“Did you know the sky is blue?”

“I think the blue sky is blue…”

“Look over there… the sky is blue… blue sky over there…”

“What color is the sky? Is it blue?”

“The sky is blue… I think… did you know that the sky is blue? I knew the sky is blue.”

And on, and on. He knows the answer, but has to keep talking about it. It’s not just that he is talking without stopping… it’s that he stays focused on the same topic, but doesn’t even seem to pay attention to what he is saying. Many times he answers the question that he asks in the next sentence.

Today on the way to the grocery store…

“There’s rain… hey… it’s raining…”

“It’s rain out there…”

“The trees are wet… there’s rain on the trees…”

“The ground is wet… hey, there’s rain on the ground…”

“The trees have rain on them…”

“Look, rain on the trees… because it’s raining, so there’s rain on the trees.. the trees are wet…”

I’m not trying to impede Freedom of Speech… But is this pathological talking a problem? What do you think? What would you do (other than buy earplugs)?

Marathon Training Day 524: The kids keep kicking me in the knee

Training for a marathon is a challenge. Tonight I accepted the challenge, officially, by registering for the Eugene marathon. Last December I had to walk a lot in the Seattle marathon because of the hills and my injured foot. Therefore I want another crack at a full marathon to see what I can really do. Thus… the mostly flat 2014 Eugene Marathon.

As if training for a marathon (and to finish under 4 hours) wasn’t a big enough challenge… I also deal with two foster kids who kick me in the knee. It is the right knee. Always the right knee. One of the kids is almost four, the other is a little over five. Both have anger issues which means they deal with their emotions in a physical manner. They don’t always intend to kick me. Sometimes they are angry and just kicking/flailing… and my right knee is unfortunate enough to be in the way of the tantrum. But other times they intentionally kick me. Whether it is on accident or on purpose they kick me in the right knee.

Does that mean I am not in a mentally healthy position when I wish someone would occasionally kick me in the left knee?

Anyway, the next price increase for registering for the Eugene Marathon is February 28th. That meant I had to figure out if I was committing to the marathon now… or waiting and paying a higher price later. The decision has been influenced by the right knee. I have not trained much because my right knee is normally a little tender from the kids’ kicking. My guess is most marathon runners do not factor kicks to the knee when they decide whether or not to run a marathon. Anyway, I did register for the race tonight.

And that is where I am. I am a foster parent… and a marathoner. It never occurred to me that I might not be able to do both. But it never occurred to me that someone in my home would kick me in the knee on weekly basis. Yes the kicks hurt… but not enough to cause serious damage. The knee is tender but not swollen.

I have also been mule kicked in the right ankle by one of the kids… and that hurt like #%!!

Anyway, overall things are going well in my world, and I hope you are not getting kicked in the knee! Thanks for reading!