To my readers... few though y'all are... sorry for this interlude, but this is driving me crazy and has to be said. (And since Sarah doesn't even know this blog exists, it's a safe place to do it.) This was last week, and I'm recovered enough to actually say something now. I know she'll never see it, but it'll make me feel better. They were dumped here early Friday morning and snatched back late Sunday afternoon.
Once again, I survived your kids. I survived you dumping them on us at the last minute with me having two others to take care of. Geoffrey and Jared were both gone Saturday at the Georgia Tech Football game and Joanna was working so Saturday, I had all four. Mom has some nerve damage in her leg from the chemo that's just shown up five years after she finished treatment and is on meds for that which knock her out, so I had to manage on my own. Spending time with them was... interesting. Are you aware that Ricky, at four, is still sticking random things in his mouth? He happily chewed on some of Nikki's teethers and a good many of the other toys. I must have missed washing one, because she's sick now. And that's another thing. What part of immune compromised do you not understand? Because you dumped two sick kids on your elderly mother and handicapped, immune compromised sister for three days with less than 24 hours warning. And you could have said thank you. You didn't. You snatched them and their new stuff (which you also didn't thank us for) and left. Thanks to us, who are barely making ends meet, your kids have new clothes and shoes. I find it sad that the only reason they have fairly nice clothes is because your retired mother and handicapped sister spent their savings on buying them. That money was earmarked for covered gutters on the front of the house and your kids are now wearing my covered gutters.
And don't poormouth me. You and Shane are upper middle class. At the very least, you could buy them decent clothing that fits instead of the ill-fitting cast-offs I see them in. You could take them to a real shoe store and buy shoes that fit instead leaving it to me and mom to do it. Payless' measuring system is crap, and the quality of their merchandise is poor. There's a reason why I haunt ebay to buy the good stuff. You two have screwed up priorities from my view. The kids should come first, not the poor third or fourth they seem to come now. I know they don't meet the legal definition of neglect, but I also know that you could do better. I know that you only left them here because Shane's parents went to this conference you two attended. I also don't understand why you've taken all of Shane's ideas and opinions as gospel truth. We were raised by the same parents and they taught us to think for ourselves, yet you seem content to let him do all your thinking for you and treat you like a 50s housewife. I hate that you only call when you want something or come visit to get something out of us. I hate that you seem to think that we owe it to you.
I'm aware that your husband doesn't like us. I know that he was afraid of having children because they could be Autistic like the older two siblings (they have Aspergers) or overweight like I am or have lymphedema like me. I know he hates us because in his view not only are we different, but in his mind we're a drain on society. I wish you'd kicked him to the curb the first time he insulted your family. It may be clannish of me, but my family is the most important thing in the world to me and I don't get why yours isn't. We were raised by the same parents, taught the same things, and even shared a room growing up. But I don't recognize you anymore. You seem to have forgotten almost everything our parents taught us. Lately, when you've called, it's been to complain that you didn't like what I bought for Lizzy or Ricky. I somewhat resent having to clothe your kids as it is, and your complaints make me want to tell you where to get off. Momma taught us manners. Marrying that damnyankee of yours seems to have erased yours.
You seem to think that we owe it to you to take care of your kids because we take care of Gracie and Nikki. We don't. If you'd drive from Stone Mountain to here to visit more than Christmas (and part of me is convinced you only come for the gifts) I might love your kids more. Mom might, too. But ours is a distant, dutiful kind of love because we don't know your kids. At best, I see them once a year unless we have something you want.
When Jared was in school, Joanna was working to put him through. They couldn't afford child care, so we volunteered to take care of Gracie. This has been her second home since she was three months old. The same with Nikki. They're both working full time, but with school debts, and what they make, they still can't afford child care, so Gracie and Nikki are here. I couldn't love them more if I'd given birth to them. I'd die to keep them safe if it were necessary. They're my kids, and I have full permission to claim them. You say that they're spoiled, I say that they're loved and know it. Mine aren't even mostly given their own way and have set rules that they follow. Yes, even 18-month-old-Nikki has rules. They know what the consequences are for breaking the rules, and they also know that afterwards, they can always expect hugs and kisses and forgiveness.
Yours I'm not so sure of. I don't know what to think of your kids, Sarah, but at the same time, I know you. You're stubborn. Anything I say to your face will cause a rift until you manage to rewrite history in your own head to make it your idea. You claimed that you knew Ricky had wide feet, but when I suggested that might be the problem three months ago, you told me that I was crazy that there was no way. I've watched, and you tend to treat them as if they're older than their age, but you tend to baby them with certain things, too.
Some of the behavior you complain about is your fault. It's one thing to limit your kids' sugar intake. It's another to deny it entirely. That's why Ricky will stuff any sort of sugar loaded thing he can get down as fast as he can, even if it makes him puke. It's the same with television. By not allowing it at all, you make it to Ricky and Lizzy are immediately drawn to it when it's on and turn into zombies. Mine take it or leave it because they've been exposed to it, and I swear the idiot box saved my sanity when Nikki had colic. I could count on one blessed hour of no crying when The Fresh Beat Band was on. Control what they watch, fine. Mine watch educational TV when they're allowed to see it. They also have no problems with turning it off to go play, do a craft, or go outside. Yours throw tantrums. I don't know how to end this letter. Gracie, Nikki, Joanna, Mom, and me are sick now because of exposure to your kids' germs. I still love you. I just don't know what to think of you anymore. All I can do is keep communication lines open so that if something happens, you have someone to turn to and somewhere to go. And despite the fact that your kids have a complete wardrobe of new or nearly new clothes that we gave them, and we took them in and I had to give up my bedroom so they'd have a place to sleep, you still haven't said thank you.