6. Unexpected Challenges

6. Unexpected Challenges

A Chapter by Craig2591
"

Chrissy finds out that being a foster parent is a lot harder than she had anticipated.

"

Chrissy's first month as a foster parent was a little more hectic than she had anticipated, but otherwise it went well. The Monday after Emily moved in with them Chrissy stopped by Emily's school and introduced herself to her teacher, Ms. Russo. Chrissy could easily read the woman's mind by the look she gave Chrissy as they shook hands - Good God! They'll let anyone become foster parents these days! But Ms. Russo quickly changed her initial impression about Chrissy when she realized how serious she was about Emily's grades.


She informed Chrissy that Emily's grades were very poor and that she would most likely repeat fourth grade if they didn't improve dramatically. “Not while I'm her foster mother!” Chrissy replied with determination.


Together they outlined a plan to get Emily's schoolwork back up to par with her classmates. It included tutoring, extra credit homework and lots of extra studying at home. Chrissy went over the plan with Ian later that evening and divided up the responsibilities with him. Chrissy would oversee Emily's math and science lessons while Ian took history, social studies and language. Emily whined and complained about all the extra work, but Chrissy remained firm. She set out strict rules that all homework had to be finished and checked for accuracy before any TV or video games or other activities.


It was during Emily's second month with them that she began to seriously rebel. And not just about her homework. She started to fight with them about bedtimes, junk food and chores, too. At other times she became very 'clingy', following Chrissy everywhere and constantly demanding her attention. Her behavior took Chrissy by surprise. She had always been so sweet and well behaved before, unlike so many other kids. To make matters worse, Ian's employer began piling extra overtime on him so that Chrissy was often left to deal with Emily's behavior alone. It was starting to really depress her and even causing her to doubt her abilities to be a good foster parent. Ian tried to reassure her but he didn't have much luck.


He came home one evening to find Chrissy sitting on the sofa watching TV with a dour look on her face. He immediately knew it had been another rough day for her. “Where's Emily?” he asked, glancing around the living room.


“In her room, probably plotting my death!” she replied sullenly.


“Uh-oh, what happened?”


Well, I picked her up from after school day-care on my way home from work. As soon as we got home she whined about being hungry and wanted something to eat. I told her she could have some grapes to tide her over until dinner. She gobbled those down and practically demanded more. I said 'no' and told her to get started on her homework. When I came out from the kitchen a little later I caught her watching TV! I turned it off and told her to get her homework done first. Then she threw a tantrum and kicked her books across the room. That did it! I blew up at her and sent her to her room! She started crying and accusing me of not loving her. Ian, what's gotten into her?! She wasn't like this before. Why is she turning into such a brat?!”


“She's just finding her boundaries,” he explained, “finding out how far she can push us. All kids go through it, especially when they're in a new situation like this. She'll settle down eventually. They covered it in those child-rearing classes they made us take, don't you remember?”


Chrissy sighed. “I guess. I just didn't expect Emily to pull that kind of stuff. I thought she wasn't like other kids.”


“There's something else,” Ian added, “I'm no child psychologist, but she might be testing our commitment to her.”


Chrissy furrowed her brow. “What do you mean?”


“She's been bounced from foster home to foster home. She's probably feeling pretty insecure. She might be testing us to see if we'll love her even when she's at her worst.”


“Do you really think so?” she asked thoughtfully.


Ian shrugged. “Like I said, I'm no expert. But it wouldn't surprise me if that was the case.”


Chrissy sighed again. “Well, dinner's in the oven,” she said, “Sit down and I'll go get her.”


Ian sat down at the kitchen table. Chrissy came in a few seconds later with Emily in tow. “Hello, Buttercup!” he said cheerfully. He had started calling her that because of her blonde hair. She smiled, but it was easy to see that she had been crying. Chrissy got their dinner out of the oven and served it.


“We really need a bigger kitchen table,” she said as she sat down.


“Well, with all this overtime they're piling on me we should be able to get a nice one soon.”


Ian began telling a funny story about something that happened to one of his co-workers as they ate. At one point, Chrissy turned to Emily and asked, “Do you feel okay?” Emily nodded. “Then why aren't you eating your dinner?”


“I guess I don't like it,” the child replied meekly.


Chrissy looked dumbfounded for a few seconds. “You said you liked macaroni and cheese. That's why I made it,” she said with a sharp edge to her voice.


“I guess I don't like it like this,” Emily answered.


Chrissy stared in disbelief. “It's macaroni... with cheese! There's not a lot of variation on the theme, Emily!”


Ian could sense that Chrissy was getting angry and decided to intervene. “You know, when Carey was little, the only macaroni and cheese she liked was the instant kind.”


“You mean that crap that comes in a box?!” responded Chrissy with a look of distaste, “That stuff's awful!”


“I like that kind,” said Emily hopefully.


“Well, you can just forget it!” Chrissy answered angrily, “I'm not making that. It's garbage!”


“That's okay,” said Ian, trying to lighten the mood, “Emily and I will have it some night when you work late.” Then he turned to Emily and said, “But in the meantime, Chrissy went to a lot of trouble making us this dinner and we owe it to her to at least give it a chance. Okay?”


“Okay.” Emily replied despondently.


“No, don't lay a guilt trip on her,” said Chrissy, “If she doesn't like it, she doesn't have to eat it.” She turned to Emily and said, “Just finish your carrots and your milk. Then get to work on your homework.” Emily didn't dare mention that she didn't like carrots either. She forced them down and then finished her milk. As she got up from the table, Chrissy said sternly, “No TV and no computer until your homework's done.”


“But I need the computer to do my assignment,” she said.


“Okay,” responded Chrissy, “You can use mine. But if I catch you playing any games, you're grounded!”


Once Emily had left the kitchen, Chrissy looked at Ian and said with frustration, “I can't do anything right by her. I can't even make macaroni and cheese right. Leave it to me to f**k-up something as simple as macaroni and cheese. I don't even like it! I made it for her.” She shook her head despondently and sighed.


“Relax, Bittersweet,” said Ian in a reassuring voice. “You'll get the hang of being a parent. There's bound to be an adjustment period. For what it's worth, I think this is delicious.” He smiled.


She stared at her plate for several seconds before she said, “Ian, I'm starting to think this was a mistake. I'm no good at being a 'mother' to Emily. She deserves better.”


Don't say that, Babe!” he replied sternly, “That little girl adores you! And you're doing a great job as a parent for her.”


“Maybe,” she sighed as she leaned against the table with her head in her hands. “But... I just don't know.”








© 2013 Craig2591


Author's Note

Craig2591
Suggestions and constructive criticisms are welcome.

My Review

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Featured Review

There's a lot of exposition in the first paragraph. I'd like to see the teacher conversation, it feels like awhile since Chrissy tore into someone. However, the exposition works in the next paragraph regarding Emily's study plan, unless you can make that conversation interesting. (I wouldn't want to try.)

It sounds like you have a bit of experience with kids. I do not, but I hear tales of child-rearing angst that sound just like this chapter. Great job capturing that feeling in the child, and getting the parental doubts in as well.

Posted 11 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

There's a lot of exposition in the first paragraph. I'd like to see the teacher conversation, it feels like awhile since Chrissy tore into someone. However, the exposition works in the next paragraph regarding Emily's study plan, unless you can make that conversation interesting. (I wouldn't want to try.)

It sounds like you have a bit of experience with kids. I do not, but I hear tales of child-rearing angst that sound just like this chapter. Great job capturing that feeling in the child, and getting the parental doubts in as well.

Posted 11 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Great chapter. The "honeymoon" period, if you will, in the relationship between Chrissy and Emily is wearing off, and now they're both trying to fit together (with Ian, of course!) in the daily grind. I also love how this immediately precedes the Mother's Day chapter, where Chrissy and Emily sort of kiss and make up in a pretty special way.

Posted 11 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Craig2591

11 Years Ago

Thank you. They still have an adjustment period ahead of them, but I think the worst is over.
It shows what parents go through, whether foster or birth. I liked hwo you showed both Emily and Chrissy's frustration.

Posted 11 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Craig2591

11 Years Ago

Thank you. I wanted to show that being in a family doesn't always come easy.
A strong chapter but a very sad one.

Posted 11 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Craig2591

11 Years Ago

Yes, Chrissy has some difficulty adjusting to parenthood. Thanks for the review.
Tina Kline

11 Years Ago

You're very welcome. Chrissy is a cool character and I enjoy reading about her.
You are really great at dialogue, both between people and a person's inner dialogue. Your characterization of Chrissy is fantastic. This book has held my attention chapter after chapter and I don't see that stopping until I've finished it. Great work!

Posted 11 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Craig2591

11 Years Ago

Thank you for the wonderful review!

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Added on April 6, 2013
Last Updated on April 17, 2013
Tags: romance, love, humor, parenting, foster parent, adoption


Author

Craig2591
Craig2591

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I am a visual artist with no formal training in creative writing. I get stories knocking around my head and sometimes I write them down. I decided to join this site to share them with other writers .. more..

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