Wednesday, March 21, 2018

This week.

It's already been quite a week, and it's only halfway over. Yesterday I had to take a personal day off from work, because there was a court hearing I was required to attend in the morning and afterwards I had to make a trip to the seventh circle of hell  DMV to renew my driver's license. I'm not sure which was worse...

....actually, I'm kidding. The court  hearing was worse. It was for the two kids I went to meet on Saturday, and for my court report I felt compelled to share some concerns I had for the childrens' physical safety. They were unattended in an upstairs bedroom for at least 40 minutes while I waited in my car for their father to arrive home, and there was a space heater on the floor surrounded by piles of clothes and rubbish. Space heaters are notorious for causing house fires, and children ages 5 and 7 have no business shut up in a room alone with one. The Guardian ad Litem attorney told the judge of my concerns and the father had to answer for it. I felt bad turning him in, simply because he was too poor to afford to heat his house any other way, but I couldn't have lived with myself if I had let it go and later heard about a house fire on the news. He still gets to keep his children, but DSS workers will be periodically checking in on him for a few more months at the very least.

I ended up getting on the elevator with the father after the hearing and he said, "I'm sorry you think I shouldn't have a space heater, but if I hadn't had some kind of heat you would have complained about that, too." And then he turned away from me before I had a chance to respond. That was a really uncomfortable elevator ride! I could tell that he was hurt and offended and I didn't know how to answer him, so I didn't say anything. I wonder what he would think if I had told him that I actually lost sleep over whether to report it or not? It's a grave thing, telling the court about issues that may separate a parent from their children. It's not something I take lightly, at all, and I wish he understood that. I'm not trying to make life harder for anyone; on the contrary, I'm trying to do good things. Visiting families, phoning and emailing caseworkers and school personnel, writing monthly monitoring reports for the court, and taking time off from my "real" job isn't exactly my idea of fun. And I'm not making a dime from it, either. Oh well....I should have waited for the next elevator! The good thing is that since the court decided that with proper monitoring he can keep custody for now, and the boys won't be going to foster care, they no longer need a GAL and I'm already relieved of this case. I won't have to see that man again...although I'm sure there will be plenty more just like him in the future (and worse).

After my uncomfortable half hour in court, I went and got my license renewed. It expires on my birthday, which happens to be the day after tomorrow.  I had waited until the very last minute to do it because the DMV is the worst. But now that's done, too, and I can enjoy the rest of the week and this weekend! Tonight is book club, where we will be discussing Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward. That's the book I kept promising to post a review of here, and still haven't had time to finish. Sorry!  I loved it, though, and I think tonight's discussion will be fun. Even better than that, though, will be seeing all my book club friends for the first time since last month. We always have a good time!

Since my birthday is Friday, I have all sorts of plans for this weekend. I may not be back here until next week, but I'll try to get some pictures of the fun.

Have a good one, everyone!


20 comments:


  1. Sad news the Dad did not understand. Too bad you couldn't say why the heater was bad but you had his children in mind. I think (hope) he was just stressed over everything and will understand.
    Yea ! for your Birthday and Weekend.

    cheers, parsnip

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  2. They were left unattended for all of that time? Oh god. And with a space-heater?
    Well. I think it would take King Solomon to decide some of the things you deal with. And even then...
    I'm glad you got all of the hard stuff done and that you can have a beautiful birthday weekend. Happy birthday, sweet woman! Happy birthday.

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    1. Funny, one of the boys is named Solomon! I truly worry for their well-being but at least DSS will continue to check on him.

      Thanks for the birthday wishes!

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  3. Don't get too involved with the dad's feelings.If he cannot comprehend the dangers he put his children in, he'd better start. I have the feeling he's on the wrong road to effective parenting and this won't be his first encounter with the custody issue. And if I'm wrong, hurrah for him.
    Happy birthday. We Aires are tough! Happy birthday.

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    1. He was originally arrested for riding the 5 year old on the front of his moped without a helmet.....he's making really poor judgements re: their safety. I'm thankful DSS will continue to monitor him.

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  4. That is a very hard job you do and I am sure you do not feel appreciated - but you are. We need more people like you who put themselves out to help distressed families. You are a very kind and empathetic person and you did good.

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  5. Hmm... my first comment disappeared mysteriously. Trying again now.
    You did well in addressing the issue. If the father of the two boys was an excellent parent, there would not have been any court hearing in the first place. I am glad he can keep the children but will be monitored for a while longer, it may help him along (and be good for the kids).
    Enjoy all the activities surrounding your birthday, Jennifer! Mine are starting tonight and spanning the entire weekend, too :-)

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    1. "If the father of the two boys was an excellent parent, there would not have been any court hearing in the first place." That's so true, Meike.

      My birthday weekend won't be nearly as exciting as yours! I wish I was there to help you celebrate. Happy Birthday, my friend!!

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  6. I've told you before, I don't think I could cope with the issues you deal with as a guardian ad litem. As for the DMV, I'm now beginning the process in Spain. My last California DMV visit was at their Laguna office to correct an error THEY made. I waited in line for 2 hours and when I reached the customer service rep, she was wearing a T-shirt that read, BITE ME. And she deserved to be bitten.

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    1. "BITE ME"....omg! Hahaha!!! That should basically be the uniform of every DMV worker I've ever met. They seem to be a truly miserable lot!

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  7. You did the right thing, even though it was the hard thing. That speaks to your character. I must say that I believe your empathy for the father's situation (i.e., poverty) was also the right thing to feel. Shutting oneself off to the humanity of the family or their situation might make your decision easier to make, but it would diminish you as a person. Life is so much more complicated than a simple right or wrong. You amaze me.

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    1. Thank you for the words of support, Colette.

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  8. You did the right thing with regard to the two young boys. The court and GAL should not be allowing you to exit the court building in those circumstances. It sounds like the father was irritated but at least he didn't lash out at you physically. You should not have found yourself in that position and this was definitely not your fault.

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    1. Exiting the court right after the father was my own fault, Neil. I was allowed to leave as soon as my case was heard, but I could have waited a while longer. I was hoping I could talk with the father on the elevator and explain my reasoning for including the space heater issue in my report, but he didn't seem interested in talking about it. I can understand that.

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  9. I can't help but recall my childhood where we were left unattended all day, but played around the country neighborhood with the local kids, even walking the mile to the Red River through the woods to fish. We also had space heaters, but knew we'd get our ass whipped with a switch if we put ANYTHING near the heaters. We all 6 grew up just fine in spite of the switchings & space heaters. I realize today things are different and kids can't just hang out in the neighborhood due to predators, meth-heads and pedophiles everywhere. I would not want your job for anything. Life is hard for the poor, very hard, as I recall. I hope you have a wonderful birthday weekend!! xo

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    1. Yes, kids were much more free when I was growing up, too. We learned to be self reliant and responsible at much younger ages, I think. But as you say, things are so much different these days.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

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  10. I was allowed to leave as soon as my case was heard, but I could have waited a while longer. I was hoping I could talk with the father on the elevator and explain my reasoning for including the space heater issue in my report, but he didn't seem interested in talking about it. I can understand that.

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