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A Weekend With Mr. Curfew

June 30, 2010

This was an eventful weekend.  I had a new kid stay with me.  Mr. Curfew is 16 years old.  Although I was a little nervous about having a teenage boy in the house, the staff at the agency assured me that he is harmless.

Friday was smooth sailing with Mr. Curfew, if bumpy sailing elsewhere.  MC remained calm and good-natured through running out of gas (my first time ever!  but fortunately in my driveway so fairly easily rectified), getting kicked out of a free outdoor concert because Chloe was not allowed (hmmf!), and then driving all over Mt. Washington looking for an ATM so we could at least salvage the night with a cold treat.  By the time we got to Tropicool I told MC to order whatever he liked.  He really had been a trouper.

Saturday started off well.  We slept in and then headed to a picnic for foster kids hosted by the agency.  MC was happy to attend because he was going to see his friend and former housemate D.  Once D arrived I barely saw MC.  They were playing basketball and football all afternoon.  Then D’s foster dad offers to take MC home with him so the boys can continue to visit.  I was a little wary, but decided to allow it.  MC was going to be brought back to my house at 8pm.

Around 7pm I get a phone call.  The boys want to go to the skating rink that evening, do I mind?  Not knowing the rink or the neighborhood, I call MC’s regular foster mom on her cell.  She says it’s fine, he’s been there before and it’s my call.  I decide to allow MC to go with the caveat that I will be picking him up at 10pm sharp.

9:50 Chloe and I arrive at Skateworks.

10pm No sign of MC.

10:05pm I begin to wonder how much grace I extend MC before consequences kick in.

10:10pm I call D’s cell phone.  D says that MC is walking to the front now. (Note: I later discover that D never made it to Skateworks.  He was totally lying!)

10:30pm I walk up to the front and ask the security guards (what?!? we never had security guards at my skating rink!) whether they’ve seen MC.  No dice.

10:40pm I call D’s cell phone again.  A girl answers and tells me “Wrong number.”  Yeah.  And I’ve got a bridge in Arizona.

10:45pm I have MC paged.

11pm I have MC paged again.

11:30 Leaving Chloe in the car, I walk into Skateworks.  No sign of MC.  The security guard helpfully says, “Oh, he’s probably in that room.”  You mean the room with music pumping? 

Oh my gracious.  That room.  The first thing that hits you is a wall of heat, humidity and smell.  The smell of sweaty hormonal adolescents dancing like it’s 1999 and Prince has told them the party is almost over. 

The second thing that hits you is the fact that these kids are dir.ty.danc.ing.  As bad as you can imagine.

I have security throw the lights on.  The music comes to a screeching halt and while the DJ is calling “MC! Your mom is looking for you!” I stalk the dance floor.  Take a minute to visualize that: A room full of sweaty dark bodies unflatteringly lit by fluorescent lighting.  Kids glowering at a middle aged white lady interupting their fun.  Good times.  I was just thankful that I had decided to wear street clothes instead of my pajamas and robe.

My efforts are for naught.  MC is nowhere to be found.  I’m told that the building shuts down at midnight, so I go back to Chloe and my book and I wait.

Lo and behold, guess who shows up at midnight? That’s right, Mr. Curfew.

I am livid, but I have spoken with KK who has wisely counseled me not to speak (or punish) in anger.  MC gets in the car and I turn the key.   

My battery is dead.

I guess that’s what happens when you leave the light and AC on for 2 hours.  Did I mention it was deathly hot?

Security gives me a jump and we head home in silence.  As we pull into the neighborhood I tell MC that he needs to brush his teeth, shower because he stinks, and go to bed.  We’ll discuss this in the morning.  (Yep, I probably should have done a better job of controlling my anger.  Lesson learned.)

And MC says, “No.”  He’s not going to shower, he’s just going to go to sleep.  And things spiral downward from there.  At 1:30 in the morning I’m sitting outside my home on the phone with the agency telling them to come pick this kid up. 

The agency worker tells me that she has no other options for MC tonight.  He has some extenuating circumstances that mean he cannot be placed in a home with other children.  So we’re stuck.  And she tells me a little more about his background in the hopes that it will help me work this out with him.

The upshot is, her counsel worked.  I gave MC a few minutes, approached him in a different way and all of a sudden he broke.  He admitted to lying to me and apologized for missing curfew.  He blamed it on peer pressure.  I invited him in the house, told him that there would be consequences tomorrow but that we needed to get some sleep now.  Let’s hug it out.  (Gingerly, because I don’t want that boy-funk on me.) And by the way, could he please shower before he went to bed?

Ten minutes later I have a kid in the shower and I’m back on the phone with the agency to let the on-call worker know she can sleep easy.

I won’t drag out the story but after church someone was at the dining room table copying some key verses from Psalms and Proverbs about lying.  Then I had him copy one of my favorite verses, Proverbs 26:11

As a dog returns to it’s vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.

We talked about the folly of peer pressure.  Then I had MC write a list of things that he had foolishly done because of peer pressure.  I told him this list was just for me, that I would not share it with the agency.

That was eye opening.  I won’t go into detail, but it was much more than I expected.

I asked him to imagine all of those things as dog vomit.  Does he really want to keep going back and eating that? 

I don’t know if I made an impact, but  hope I did.  Please keep MC in prayer.

Oh, and we still had the curfew to rectify.  Let’s just say that today my kitchen floor is spic-n-span.  It’s amazing how clean you can get it when you scrub each tile by hand.  I worked with him to get him started and then let him finish the last section by himself.  And we listened to opera the whole time.  Because MC had mentioned that he really didn’t like opera.

Too bad.  Maybe next time you’ll make your curfew.

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. June 30, 2010 10:30 am

    Wow. What an impact you are making on the human race, one kid at a time. I’m betting MC learned a lesson he will not forget. He may make the same mistake again, but he’ll remember and maybe won’t make it again and again and again.

  2. sparkles permalink
    June 30, 2010 10:39 am

    holy mama! i can’t even believe that story! i sat here and read this out loud to my friend, and we were both like “wow. way to go!” you’re awesome! you have courage, and patience, and so much to offer. i am beaming with pride and feeling grateful that you’re my friend! and also feeling grateful that i know my limitations, i could never do what you do. love ya! xo

  3. debby permalink
    June 30, 2010 10:59 am

    OH. MY. GOSH. Makes my worst day with Noah seem like dreamland. I am definitely not suited to foster-work.

    But I am so impressed with what you are doing. And LOVE the verses and the discussion and the kitchen floor scrubbing. Hey, I like THAT part of foster-care LOL!

  4. June 30, 2010 11:21 am

    You. Are. Awesome.

  5. June 30, 2010 12:09 pm

    You did a good job. Will you see him again, do you think?

    • Juice permalink*
      June 30, 2010 12:35 pm

      I’d be willing to take him again. He is a great kid when he is not under the influence of friends. Not sure if I’ll have the opportunity or not…

  6. Brooklyn_Friend permalink
    June 30, 2010 12:48 pm

    Wow. Wow! WOW!!!!!

    That was truly headache-inducing and I felt my jaw get all clench-y just reading it. TWO THUMBS UP to you Juice!

    The part I loved best? “MC! Your mom is looking for you!” Hahahahaha!!!!! 😀

  7. June 30, 2010 2:23 pm

    Thanks for checking out my old/new coffee table! The table is about 17 inches high; those chairs are toddler sized. I edited the post a bit to clarify. 🙂 It’s just the right height now for kicking up.

  8. June 30, 2010 6:02 pm

    Good job… but when I asked you to tell me how your night went (the next morning) you omitted so many details! Glad I could catch up via blog. Clearly I haven’t been there yet with T & C, but they may just be coming to live with you in their teen years. I’m jus’ sayin’…. 😉 XOXO

  9. June 30, 2010 8:01 pm

    I have a feeling I’m going to be coming back and reading this blog when my kids are teenagers. Which will probably be sometime next week, the rate they’re growing. How do you actually get him to do the thing he needed to do to rectify breaking curfew? I have a feeling I’m going to need consequences other than “time outs” someday.

    And that verse…so vivid! Especially for a former dog owner. Our Bela was a lovely dog, but the nasty things she would eat…*shudder*.

    • Juice permalink*
      June 30, 2010 9:35 pm

      Pubs, not sure why it asked me to moderate this one. You must have looked shady to WordPress!

  10. June 30, 2010 8:21 pm

    Well, bleep. My comment appears to not have posted.
    (Do I need to scrub your bathroom floor now? 😉

    I’m going to come back to this blog when my kids become teenagers…which, at the rate they are growing, should be next week. How do you get reluctant kids to actually follow through on the consequences? I’m going to need something beyond time-outs someday.

    And that verse! I hadn’t come across it, and it’s so vivid. Especially as a former dog owner. Our Bela was lovely, but the stuff she would eat repeatedly? *shudder*

  11. June 30, 2010 11:08 pm

    Scrub the kitchen floor? That’s GENIUS!!!! I’m soooooo going to use that when my teenager starts acting all teenager-y!!! 🙂

  12. June 30, 2010 11:09 pm

    And I really like it that you had him copy Bible verses – very effective! You rock, Juice.

  13. July 1, 2010 9:06 am

    You are amazing! There is no way I could have handled this!

  14. July 2, 2010 11:47 pm

    oh man, you handled it great!

    i love that verse, i’m stealing it…

  15. Jennifer Lehner permalink
    July 5, 2010 9:29 am

    Wow. This definitely brings to mind the old adage: Little kids, little problems; big kids, big problems. I am going to enjoy every day with my three little pains in the you know what and am not looking forward to navigating the teenage waters!

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