Sunday, January 30, 2011

Teenagers and a kosher kitchen

I got a request for more blogging about kashrut (kosher-ness). And since I just came back from the grocery store with kosher beef and a package of frozen shrimp (not to mention some other very not kosher frozen items) now seemed like as good a time as any to do so.

In eleven months, I never really figured out what Sabrina would eat. She was only with me for 4 dinnertimes a week, ate lunch at school, and ate cheerios for breakfast. Plus, she was hungry when I picked her up from school and then when we got home at 6:15 post-snack and I still needed to cook dinner, she was no longer hungry (thanks to the snack).

But I actually need to feed Odessa. Like, multiple times a day. She won't eat school lunch and is with me every day including weekends (this confuses my friends who got used to Sabrina being at her dad's on the weekend--they now think that all foster placements are for weekdays only). And she's old enough to fend for herself.

This last is really the problem.

So I've given over the microwave to her. She can have whatever she wants heated in the microwave, as long as she uses paper plates and plastic silverware. (I'm just hoping that my complete freak-out when she used a real plate in the microwave made her understand the severity of not following that rule.)

Even so, she complained to her social worker that she doesn't like what I cook. She eats what I cook, happily, so that was news to me, but it was more that I don't cook what she wants. I explained to the social worker that yes, there are rules about what can and can't happen in my kitchen and that is why Odessa isn't allowed free rein, but that I let her use the microwave, etc etc. I think that satisfied the social worker.

Well, Friday night Odessa started in on one of her mumble-the-same-thing-over-and-over-until-I-want-to-tell-her-that-if-she-says-she-wants-XX-one-more-time-she'll-never-get-it patterns, this time "I want shrimp." After about the 15th time I apologized that we can't have shrimp in the house. She got pissy, as she does frequently (she IS a teenager, after all!), and I don't want to reward that behavior, but...

I told her I would buy some not at all kosher frozen items for her and while I was in that aisle, I noticed that one of the shrimp things was on sale, so I bought it for her. I can't imagine that microwaved frozen shrimp scampi is any good, but I think that if I can get her to realize that I DO do things for her, she might be more willing to ask me to do things for her, which will make me better able to do things for her.*

*Earlier today she was on the phone with her cousin and said she couldn't go to her cousin's son's birthday party because she didn't have money to get there by public transit. (She was sitting next to her allowance, but setting that aside...) She told her cousin that she wasn't going to ask me for a ride. I was sitting right there to hear the conversation. When she got off the phone, I asked: "You're not going to ask me for a ride?" Odessa: "No." Me: "Is that because if you ask me for a ride and I say yes, then you'll be mad because you can't say that I never do anything for you, and if I say no, you'll be mad because I'm not giving you a ride?" Odessa: "Yes." The conversation then turned to how I need to be psychic. Not gonna happen. So she needs to get more comfortable asking me for things.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Language suggestions, please!

Yesterday was the first day of new classes for Odessa (block scheduling). She came home with some things that I needed to sign but she got home rather late (evening credit recovery classes plus public transit problems) and was very tired and said "I'll give them to you in the morning."

It turned out that one was something I needed to sign (fine) and two were page-long "parent/guardian survey"s. As in, lots to fill out.

And it turned out that one of them was supposed to be done by today. Odessa had given it to me maybe five minutes before she needed to leave for school. So I filled out the basics (contact information) and said that I would email her teacher.

Here's the question: I don't want to completely throw Odessa under the bus for not giving me enough time to fill it out, but I don't want to place all the blame on myself because if she had given it to me last night, I would have finished it.

What should I tell her teacher?

Friday, January 21, 2011


I really ought to be blogging more about my experiences with Odessa. I'm taking a few moments right now to do so, even though I yikesreallyneedtobegettingreadyforwork, because there's no way I can vent/record this morning's interaction in only 140 characters!

Yesterday morning we had this conversation:
Odessa: Do I get my allowance today? or tomorrow?
Me: You get your allowance on Sundays.
Odessa: Well, I'm getting my hair done tomorrow so I need money.
Me: You get your allowance on Sundays. You need to think about whether you are going to have money before you make plans like getting your hair done.*
Odessa: She can't do it on Sunday because she won't have time to do it all.** [Walks away in a teenager-y huff.]

Last night I got home from work to be greeted by this conversation:
Odessa: Can you take me to the beauty supply shop?***
Me: Not tonight, I'm sorry. You have homework due tomorrow and I need to go to the grocery store and cook for tonight and tomorrow.
Odessa: It's just extra credit; I don't need to do it. I just want to.
Me: I'm sorry but I don't think we have time tonight.

a few moments later... Me: I'm happy to take you to the beauty supply store on Sunday.
Odessa: You don't need to take me anywhere. I'll get there myself.****

Last night, disaster with her extra credit assignment. I can't even begin to share how it went, other than that it took HOURS and involved quite a bit of cursing on Odessa's part. Frequently because I was unable to answer a question when she was the one with the computer in front of her to get the answer. Things were not improved by my refusal to write excuse notes for her absences from her history class that were either 1. before she lived with me or 2. she lived with me, but she wasn't absent from school on those least not as far as I knew.

So then came this morning. I checked in with her when I woke up (she gets up before I do!) and she was still very clearly peeved with me. As in, she wouldn't answer my questions. She did, to her credit, turn down her music when I asked her to because I don't want it bothering the neighbors through her wall. She has a half day today, and it's Friday, so I was particularly interested in what she might be doing after school. And when she'll be home. So I asked:
Me: Do you have plans after school today?
Odessa: I ain't have no money so I can't go anywhere.
Me: Then I will see you when I get home from work. I'm going to go get myself ready for the day.

I went to my room and went to the bathroom. (TMI? It's relevant to the story.) There was a knock on the bedroom door while I was still...indisposed. I said "hold on a minute," finished, washed my hands, and went to open the door. There was an angry knock as I got to the door. (my interpretation? "why aren't you opening the effing door?") And then we had this conversation:
Odessa: I only have $5 on my [public transit fare card] and it's $6***** to get back home so I need $2.
Me: Okay, hold on just a second. [after rummaging in my wallet, gave her $2. Did not explicitly tell her that it is coming out of her allowance next week.]
about 45 seconds later I realized that I needed to add to the conversation:
Me: Hey Odessa? I don't always have cash on me, so it would be helpful if you could think ahead if you're going to have a problem getting to school.
Odessa: I tried to get my allowance yesterday.
Me: That wasn't my point. Yesterday when you got home, you knew you only had $5 on your card. If you had let me know then, I could have gotten cash when I went to the store if I didn't have any. [Not to mention that if I had been in the shower I wouldn't have heard the knock on the door.]
Odessa: [No response.]

I'm telling you, she's going to drive me to drink. :-)

*I didn't say quite so many words. I don't remember exactly how the conversation went. It was something like this, though.
**No, I have no idea how a weekend day has less time in it than a school day.
***Quite possibly the first time she's asked me to do something for her instead of "I need..."
****I still haven't figured out how she's planning to pay for the hair she intends to buy. Hair care is part of her allowance.
*****There is a student fare that is $30 per month. Or she can spend over $30 per week if she loses her student card. I give her $30 per month on top of her allowance; if she loses the card, she has to pay for her transportation to school out of her allowance.