The Story of Vera and Her Family, chapter 13

8 03 2008

Teenagers and Unoffical Foster Children

Teenagers are always a challenge–even in the best of circumstances.  It is a time of physical changes in the body and a time of charting the waters to new kinds of freedom.  Ben had changed so much in just one year.  He had the voice of a man at age 14, and he was already shaving his face.  Sandy, at 13, looked like a full grown woman.  In fact, we shared clothes.  I was extremely slim at the time.  Sometimes, we battled over who would wear a cute outfit for the day.  That was very immature on my part.  I just could not believe that Sandy and I were the same height and weight.  It was unbelievable.

Ben felt the full impact of being the only son in the family.  Since his eleventh birthday, he had accused your Dad and I of showing favortism to you girls.  At the time, I didn’t want to believe that.  After all, he had his own room and many freedoms.  However, looking backwards–I can now say, that for my part–I don’t think I gave him the attention he needed.

Ben never liked school.  Even though he tested well and made good grades–school was a challenge.  He hated sitting in a desk all day.  He wanted to be on the move. Furthermore, he was always creating something with his hands.  His teachers never sent any bad reports home.  Nevertheless, at home Ben couldn’t handle any noise and confusion.  We walked on eggshells , wondering when he would exhibit anger again. 

Ben did have a close friendship with a boy named Tim.  Tim came from a very bad family life.  Thanksfully, his parents let him spend a great deal of time at our home.  On the days that I didn’t teach–I baked a great deal.  Tim loved my chocolate chip cookies and my pumpkin bread.  He also ate many peanut butter and jelly sandwhiches.  He told us that his family never bought peanut butter and jelly.  I couldn’t imagine that a child could grow up in America without those foods. 

Sandy, had a friend named Lynn.  Lynn was the oldest of four children.  Her mother was a single parent.  They lived in our neighborhood.  Sandy and Lynn were inseparatable.  (Today, they are still very close friends.)  Lynn had quite a flare for wearing clothes.  She wanted to grow up to become a fashion designer.  Ben didn’t like Lynn  and threw his lunch tray at her one day.  The principal called telling me what Ben had done.  That was one of the few times Ben did get in trouble at school.

Vera, you had a bad start to the new year of l989.  You had some kind of skin problem that just wouldn’t go away.  The pediatrician thought it was scabies.  I took great offense at that because I kept a clean home.  We had to put a lotion on you that dried your skin up terribly.  I went through our home –washing all of the blankets and sheets.  Your skin continued to fire up with sores. Again, our doctor wanted you to use some more of that lotion.  Finally, he referred us to a dermatologist.  The dermatologist did a skin scrape and said that there was no sign of scabies.  He felt like your condition all along was severely dry skin.  He prescribed a regiment of oils and lotions to heal your skin.  Within a week, your skin was back to normal.

Maria  had always been known as the family drama queen.  When she was small–all was well.  However, Ben really reacted to Maria’s drama.  The two just didn’t get along at all.  I had to keep them separated as much as possible.  Ben began finding other types of neighborhood jobs.  His energy level was so high.  After school he delieverd his paper routes.  (Sandy had given her route to Ben)  and then he mowed yards in our neighborhood.  This kept Maria away from him to a great extent.

Ben and Sandy were both in the eighth grade.  I had kept Ben in Kindergarten an extra year.  That probably was not the wisest decision because he never liked competing with Sandy .  However, they did share some of the same friends.  I remember the fall of l989 as being the year when many of the 8th graders came over to visit.  One of the guys named Chris–was over at our home most every evening.  He, too, liked my chocolate chip cookies.  That was a fun fall.

As the year came to a close, I was not getting enough teaching jobs.  Things were very tough for us again financially. There was very little money for Christmas.  I always hated the strain of Christmas.  It was hard enough when you children were small.  However, now that we had teenagers–Christmas was excruciating!

We had another surprise!  On Christmas day, Lynn’s mother came by to ask us if we would keep Lynn for two weeks because she was going to go to trucking school.  She had Lynn with her.  Of course , we couldn’t say no.  Lynn’s mother had aparently found homes for her other children.  Lynn fell right into our family patterns.  Ben still didn’t care much for her.  We had to keep them separated as much as possible.  We thought it that Lynn’s mother never called.  The two weeks had gone by.  Lynn’s mother never returned……….




4 responses

12 03 2008
Elaine Wright


I sent you an e-mail at your charter address and it was returned. What is the latest on Maria? We’ve been praying for her. I’ve read several of your blogs and enjoyed reading them.

12 03 2008

Dear Elaine,
I’m glad you check in with me once in awhile. Maria had a cyst that is gone now. We are very grateful.


14 03 2008
David Web


Again, you show your flair for being a stickler with the details on long term memories.

It reminds me somewhat of the tales Anna Pauline would spin while laying in bed.
Although we were never close, and I was always inadequate in her eyes when compared to Phillip, she would entertain me with the stories of her youth, how she worked at the department store when she was seventeen, and how she fell in love with Leslie while there. Also, she often told the story of how they validated her honesty with the money drawer. That particular lesson finally sunk in and has served me well through my adult life, having handled money in employment on numerous occasions.

I think Ben and I share some of the same genes on temperament, and the need to be moving around a lot. Yes, Maria was a drama queen early on wasn’t she? Sandy looks the most like you in my estimation, while all three girls are beautiful.

It’s great that Ben found a niche in working numerous construction trades. That type of work is often underappreciated and employs a very detail oriented approach to be completed correctly.

It’s very sad about Lynn, and we know something about that feeling of abandonment, don’t we? It’s great she and Sandy remain close friends.

Little Brother

14 03 2008

Hello David,
Yes, I loved Grandmother Anna’s stories. I just could never get enough of them. Ben never has been able to take much in the way of confusion. That is why he works for himself. He doesn’t like to hire anyone to help him. He is an artist with detail but he prefers to work alone. He is never at a loss for work. People are usally on a waiting list to get him. He is very much in demand.
Again, I love how we are connecting through this blog. I appreciate your comments so much.


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