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When I was a case manager in Pensacola, I had a big office all to myself. I would collect small toys at different thrift stores and flea markets, and kept them in said office for the children on my caseload. 2 years later, I still have bags full of toys. I had a home visit scheduled this evening, to see a three-year old on one of my cases. I brought my bag of toys for him, and the other foster kids in the home, and the foster mother’s grandbaby, with the plan that each toddler could have 2-3 toys. At my arrival, the “gang” and I do mean gang included my three-year old *Bubba, siblings *Peanut and *Bean three and 1 1/2 years old, and the foster mother’s granddaughter *Atari, 4 years old. All were observed to have snotty noses.
The five of us got down on the living room floor and I dumped the bag of toys out. They all started grabbing and pushing. Bean sat down right in the middle of the pile. I tried to help Atari pick out the few girls toys, but Peanut snatched up a My Little Pony and a Strawberry Shortcake, causing Atari to start screaming and trying to kick Peanut, who smartly remained just out of reach. His little brother Bean wasn’t as lucky. He was intently slobbering and putting toys in his mouth when Atari hit him over the head with a Triceratops, hard, and he started screaming and crying. I tried to explain to Peanut that he didn’t want girls toys, but his foster mother (who is ancient, older than her own mother, and whose voicemail jumps right into quoting scripture without so much as a hello) shrugged and said “Peanut be likin’ girl stuff, that’s how he do.”
Bubba was stockpiling toys behind him, and Peanut and Atari started grabbing again. Peanut put poor Boots up his nose. Atari was trying to be sneaky and was hiding toys underneath her, looking off into space so she wouldn’t have to make eye contact with me. Bubba and Peanut started grabbing up toys and running them to their bedroom, in the back of the house. Old Mother Hubbard didn’t say shit. Atari refused to stand up, because she was sitting on several toys, including Stitch, Eor and Oscar the Grouch. She never stood up until I left, furtively watching me with her little thievin’ eyes. As soon as I had three or four toys in front of one of them and thought I was good, the others had grabbed up more, except baby Bean, who needed changing, BADLY 😦
All three of the older gremlins got 5-6 toys each at least, and when I started putting the remaining toys back in the bag, all four of them started screaming again, yelling No! Stop! Mine! Peanut even started crying. As I made my exit Bubba and Peanut were wrestling and screaming over a giraffe, Atari was nesting on her stolen loot, and Bean was gnawing Miss Piggy’s face off.

* Not their names

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