Thursday, December 16, 2010

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves

For three weeks we struggled to rid our house of lice. Everytime I had thought they were gone, I'd look on Andrew's head and there they were again. Fortunately, the Crisis Nursery was well stocked with lice shampoo and even an upholstery spray. I helped myself to the products, putting them into the car as my co-worker slept, and went through our home washing every head, stitch of clothing, and stuffed animal in the house more than once.

And as I went throughout pulling out every piece of clothing I could find, I came across a pair of pants, a blouse, and a white blazer that had been missing for quite some time. Mine! Embarrassment washed over me. Not wanting the clothing to be found by anyone else and my false accusation of Misty discovered, I stuffed the clothes in a bag and gave them away at the first opportunity.

But as for the lice, despite my cleaning efforts, scarcely a week later the pests would be back. The mother of Andrew’s friend called one day and asked if we were having trouble with bugs.
Reluctantly, I admitted we were.

"So were we. But I think it's been coming from that new family that just moved in from the Rez. I went and asked her about it, and she acted like she didn't even know what lice were. I told her I'd wash her kid’s heads for her."

"I'll keep Andrew away for awhile."

The lice problem disappeared.

In order to pass the Ojibwe class that spring, I had to stand in front of everyone and give a short speech in the language. Family and friends were invited to this event. Roland and the kids came, along with Roland’s sister Yvonne. After we had all given our speeches, we shared a potluck lunch that included venison, wild rice and fry bread. I was given an "A" for the class, but even more important, Yvonne said I did really well. I was so glad to hear her say that.

The small man who owned the corner store was a friendly fellow, but unless I needed a last minute item, I avoided his store. His food was old. Previous purchases had included freezer burned ice cream and milk that was so outdated it plopped like pudding into the glass when poured.

I don't know why I went in this day with my WIC vouchers. I must have been in a hurry.

"You have WIC?" he asked, "here, I let you get pop with your WIC instead of juice. You can get anything. It's okay. I do this for my good customers. You are a good customer."

"No thank you. I'll get juice," I said, while thinking to myself, 'why would I want to get pop when juice is more expensive?'

Returning, I met Andrew in the alley. He, along with some other boys, was racing around with a stick in his hands.

"Look, Mom! I'm part of a gang!"

At fourteen, Savannah had a baby girl. I called the hospital and told them she was homeless, truant and addicted. I told them that her mother was homeless, too. I asked them to place Savannah and the baby in foster care. But someone showed up at the hospital and claimed them. I suppose all they had to do was tell the hospital that yes, they did have a good place to stay. The hospital released them.

On Savannah's new welfare check, she and Annie got an apartment together. I brought over some clothes and diapers from the Crisis Nursery.

"Just take good care of the baby and everything will be okay," I told Savannah, "Don't start drinking again. Use your check to get five bags of diapers and a case and a half of formula every month. If you stay out of trouble, social services will leave you alone."

A couple of weeks later, one of Verlin’s sister's called me.

"Do you have Savannah's baby?" she asked.

"No," I answered, "is the baby missing?"

"Well," the caller said, "Savannah was drinking and doesn't know where she left it."

She went on to say the baby had been missing for about ten days. As I hung up the phone, I was horrified. The baby could be lying dead in some alley. After a moments pause, I called St. Joseph's Home for Children. 'Misplaced' children often turn up there.

"Yes," The woman on the phone said, "we did get an unidentified Native American baby girl this last week."

I hung up the phone in relief, but I didn't call and tell the family. The longer the home kept the baby, the better. Unfortunately, the family eventually called St. Joseph's and the baby was returned to them shortly there after. 

Why does Social Services keep putting Savanah and her baby back on the street together?  Why isn't anyone stepping in to protect these two children?

1 comment:

Cattle and Cupcakes said...

I am so amazed that you kept this all in a journal. You are such a wonderful writer!!! I am so grateful you wrote all this down so we can travel down this road with your shoes, so to speak...