Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I Just Don't Get It

As much as I try to not read about "OctoMom" and her various litters, she is difficult to escape. The more I read about her, the more frustrated I get.

You see, I didn't grow up in the most wonderful conditions. My mom died when I was six and my dad raised me all alone. Since he worked a lot, I was left home alone quite a bit. I got myself ready for school and a I brought myself home. We lived with my grandparents for the first year following my mom's death. Then I had a daycare provider for another 6 months to a year, but was taken out of there after some scandal with the woman's son. I then stayed with the elderly landlord of the apartment building we lived in. But that only lasted about another 6 months. After that, I was by myself.

I took care of myself, but I will admit, I did take advantage of my parentless solitude. I skipped school. A lot. I got through 1st and 2nd grade okay. But by 3rd, I just decided I would much rather be at home watching Nickolodeon. So, I stayed home. Or I left school early. It didn't help that we lived right across the street from the elementary school I attended.

This pattern continued all through my school years. Every new school year I would enter school with a new hope. I would go everyday and get good grades and just be an awesome student. But by December, my ideals would change. I was still getting good grades. I was a straight A student when I attended. I just didn't want to go. I liked learning. I'm an intelligent person. I just didn't want to go to school.

Eventually, social services was brought in. A woman named Joy was given my case. She went after my dad full speed. She assumed he must abuse me. Why else would I not go to school? She went on and on about how my dad and I were too close and wanted nothing more than to keep us apart. One day when she called my dad at work about me missing school, he went off on her on the phone. She called the cops and had them show up at work and take him away in handcuffs for making terroristic threats. I had to bike the 8 miles to the jail with his checkbook in hand to bail him out. I was in and out of court for my truancy all through junior high.

We moved to a new town the summer before my freshman year. I started September off with the same promise I always made to myself: I will go to school everyday. But, as usual, December rolled around and I had already missed a lot of school. The only difference is, this time I had a guidance counselor who saw my potential and wouldn't let up. He called social services.

Once again, Joy was in our lives.

She had me pulled out of school and sent to a group home over an hour away. The kicker: I spent 2 weeks in that group home and never attended school. How the hell does that make any sense? I spent my days watching daytime television and reading Stephen King novels. She made it a rule that I was not allowed to speak to my father. For two weeks I couldn't talk to him. They had pulled me out of school against my will and without him knowing and drove me over an hour away and dropped me off and did not let me speak to him once. About a week in, they let me talk to one of my older sisters. All because I didn't go to school everyday.

My dad fought this and won (surprisingly) and I was brought back home. I still didn't go to school everyday.

They threatened to send me back, but my sister-in-law stepped in. She had taken in foster kids before and had an 'in' with the local courts. She asked them to let me live with her and my brother instead of sending me away. The courts agreed. So, the final 6 weeks of my freshman year of high school, I moved to another town and started another school.

I still didn't go. But no one noticed this time.

By the next fall, I was back with my dad. I decided that regular high school just didn't work for me. A friend of mine attended an alternative school. I thought maybe I should enroll there. So I went to enroll...and got arrested.

The cop that patrolled the school was good friends with my social services counselor. He knew of me as a "truant" and decided to take me in. Yes, I was arrested for not attending school while I was enrolling for school. How the hell does that make sense? I was taken to the county jail and placed in a solitary holding cell for 3 hours (I had just turned 15). My dad had to leave work and attend my hearing that afternoon. In the end, they sent me home with him.

After speaking to my counselors at my original high school, they placed me in their alternative program. I completed the necessary credits for graduation in a year and a half and I was done. The whole mess was done.

So what does this have to do with OctoMom?

I just don't get how a woman with 14 children who she openly admits to not being able to care for, who she does not have the money to raise because she doesn't work, who will soon not have a house to live in....how have social services not stepped in and taken these kids away???? How is she going to afford to feed all of them? How will she afford their health care? I was repeatedly yanked from my home for not attending school on a regular basis. I was arrested for this! My dad was arrested for this! Even though I still passed every year and managed to get good grades.

My dad kept me clothed, fed, and healthy. Yet I was repeatedly taken from his care.

This woman has 14 kids and absolutely no way to take care of them. Why isn't anyone stepping in? Has society become so scared that the courts fear a law suit if they are taken away? If I can get taken away for only going to school 3 out 5 days a week, how come these kids are going to be allowed to stay in such an unhealthy, unstable environment?

It just makes no sense.

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