We took a respite last weekend. Respite is like someone else babysits the kids for a weekend. My husband and I went out of state to go to a Magic: The Gathering Tournament. Well, he went to the tournament, and I enjoyed a day in a hotel with no responsibilities.
One great thing that happened that weekend was my husband won the tournament. His prize was airfare and entrance into a bigger tournament-in Spain! He only got one plane ticket, but we're scraping enough dough together so that I can go, too. I'm so excited-I've never even been to Canada!
Something interesting that happened that weekend. The kids had an awful time at the respite lady's house. Awful. They complained that she was mean. That her food was bad. That her house was weird. That her rules were too much. On the ride back, I got an earful about how much they disliked the lady, and the whole experience. (Incidentally, I'd also heard from her about how difficult they were. Apparently the foster agency completely ignored what I said were common behaviours with the kids-the respite home was told that there were minimal behaviours and no meds.)
While we were talking with the respite lady, she commented how obvious it was that the kids respected us. The girl would say things like "At my foster house, they do this and that with us." "At my foster house, I have to xyz." It's odd because the girl is the first one to scream "I hate this house!" When I mentioned that the foster agency said these kids were low-maintenance, she said that they have a history of being dishonest, and in this case, these are not family-level care kids. (Family level is the least intensive).
I feel validated for a lot of different reasons. First, because I've thought the kids hated us (me). I thought they were unhappy here. Second, because the lady acknowledged that these were hard kids. I have been so down on myself because I'd been saying that these are easy kids, and if I can't manage easy kids, then I'm a terrible mother/person. When she said that our current kiddos are really difficult, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off of my chest.
Yes! The kids are difficult! There are tons of behaviours I have to deal with everyday! I'm not alone in my struggling with them! In fact, she'd been fostering for 10 years, and struggled with them. I've been fostering for 2 months. I feel so much better about myself, and about this situation.
We had a serious talk about their actions over the weekend. I told them that they know how to behave, and their actions were unacceptable. I let them know that the respite house will send a summary of their actions to their caseworker, and it will have bearing on the upcoming reintegration court case. I wasn't trying to scare them, but to let them know that there are consequences for their actions.
I think it registered, because, since they've been back, their behaviour has been so much better. Less arguments, less fighting, less bratty nonsense.
Maybe they just realised that there are worse places to be than with us. Whatever the reason, I hope the lesson sticks.