I Quit

That’s right, I quit. I’m sick and tired of spending the majority of my day doing paper work and typing reports that amount to squat. I still plan on being an HP here, just not at the fanatical level I was doing before this evening.

I vow from henceforth to only work on all the paper work crap when the kids are at school or in bed. Never again will I sit before a computer monitor and work on something that can wait, even if the facility does not think so, until the next day.

The one major drawback to our facility is the fact we kill at least one small forest by 5 p.m. Monday thru Friday. Some of it is important, have to do type of stuff. Other paper pushing duties are absolutely ridiculous.

SOOOO- I quit. I will do the silly little paper drills only when I am not engaged in doing what I was hired to do, be a parent to these boys. Somehow me spending time playing baseball with the kids seems like more of a priority than catching up on some sort of statistical report that measures if I’m spending quality time with the kids. Taking a walk trumps filling out a bogus food log, especially if it takes away from spending time with a kid.

I’m not exactly sure how my little guerrilla campaign will go down, what is for sure is something will change. I’m not saying I will not do the required paper shuffling, I have to and I will. I’m saying my priorities have been wrong, and no amount of pressure from admin will get me to work on something that takes away from the kids- ever again.

Now that the rant is done, I gotta go take care of some paperwork before 1 am so I can get some sleep and be ready to start being more of a House Parent and less of a secretary. -Launch

Chilling At The Waffle House

Waffle House

One of the things I look forward to every week is our mens bible study. We have a rather odd time for it, 9-pm every Monday and we sometimes stay until 1 or 2-am kicking it.

There is always a bible study and we cover many great topics that we face as men and as HP’s. And even though there is not a deck of cards anywhere in the vicinity, it has developed into our version of poker night, boys night out if you will. It’s our chance to get together with other guy’s and be- guys.

This past week I was reminded of how awesome it is to work at this facility with the group of HP’s that are here. I would venture to say that the majority of HP’s at other child care facilities do not communicate on a regular basis as much as we do here. Understandably, after most people tuck the kids in there is still a stack of paperwork to fill out before collapsing in your own bed.

I have found though that the more I am able to talk and hang with a group of guys that are involved in the same ministry, I am strengthened and validated as to who I am and what I’m doing. Couples groups are great, but if your a guy, sometimes you just need to leave the wife behind and hang with the boys.

We had some issues at first with the mens group and some of the wives feeling left out. We encouraged them to start their own study and to leave us alone. Thankfully they have done just that and we are back to being able to gather as the mighty men we are. Some of us have a curfew, but we still enjoy the freedom to talk with the fellow bros that we get.

All of this has strengthened us spiritually. Without wives being present we can talk about issues that affect us as men. Past subjects have included pornography, masturbation, Death, eternal salvation and the various roles of men being the spiritual leader of the family. Most if not all of these subjects would have been impossible to talk openly and freely about if our wives would have been sitting right beside us. It has also created an atmosphere of trust, accountability and understanding from others who can relate.

Three years ago I stumbled across the House Parent Network while looking for a way to get out of the Hell-Hole facility I was in. I stayed active on the network because I found place where people understood what I went through on a daily basis. Most people on the outside of this profession will look at your house as just a large blended family, you are the babysitter. The truth is you end knowing just as much, if not more, about child psychology, psycho-tropic meds and behaviors than most psychiatrists. You learn to live in a Bi-Polar environment where moods and temperaments can change in a second without warning.

It is important to stay connected to other HP’s and to create those friendships that will help you get thru a day that not many other people can relate with. The Network and the Mens group at my facility is my life-line for being able to maintain a balance in my life.

It’s also the most fun you can have sober at 2am at the local waffle house. -Launch

Happy Anniversary

As I sit here working on this blog I am looking across the living room at my wife. Actually I have had to look at her non stop for the last few years. Every blasted waking moment (Just joking darling).

Being House Parents we work, eat, sleep, play and watch tv together. Does it get old? Yes. But that is where the bike helps me to escape for a few hours every week, pretend I am a bad boy living on the edge, and come back home to a hot dinner and a quiet evening to snuggle on the couch.

It has been an adjustment. Not many couples spend as much time with their spouses as we do. I am willing to bet that in the last two years we have spent more time together than the average couple that has been married for ten years. I think she is the only woman on the face of the planet that can put up with me also.

We discovered soon after becoming HP’s that our varied backgrounds helped to balance each other and work for the benefit of the kids. For example, my wife was raised in a great family, always had her parents around and made choices based on her very deep walk with Christ. I on the other hand grew up on the flip side. I was chain smoking by the time I was thirteen and made my choices based on how much available cash was on hand. To say my wife is the better half is a huge understatement.

This all relates to when we are working with the boys. My wife is all heart and believes everything they say. She is a mom all the way through. I look at every statement the kids say as a possible hustle. I have to check and verify everything, probably because I’ve tried pulling some of the same stunts they try on us. Needless to say I am usually the one that holds them accountable for most stuff.

We have had an odd relationship for sure. Both of us met as singles working in a children’s home in Maryland. It was a wild place that was very physical. I guess it was love from the first restraint with her. Our lives revolved around the group home and was just a part of the relationship. Most of our dates were done with 8 kids and a beat up 15 passenger van. We even got married on duty, with our kids decorating the church (with black balloons and streamers) and helping to put together our reception. Several months later when we found out we were going to have a baby, the kids were the first ones we told. When all is said and done, this is not a job, it’s a lifestyle. Not many people could do what we did, and I don’t know of any that would have enjoyed the experience as much as we did.

Since those days she has followed me a long ways. She has stood by through every “Get Rich Quick” idea I’ve had, bumping my toe and screaming obscenities in a church parking lot, embarrassing blogs, my motorcycle, late nights sitting on the computer messing with the HP Network and my obsession with gadgets. She is one in a million and I thank God everyday he made this woman loopy enough to be my partner.

Most of the time when I’m acting crazy or embarking on some hobby that could kill me, she just smiles and shakes her head. I use to think it was really supportive of her, but last month I found a $250,000 life insurance policy with my name on it. Oh well, if I’m gonna be stupid she may as well be debt free.

Amy, you have been the love of my life and my co-worker in one of the most important ministries on earth. I can’t wait to continue the adventure with you (After I sign the life insurance policy). Happy anniversary babe. -Launch

“Imagine Me”

Sadly, I had to deal rather ruthlessly with a co worker today who swore that one of his kids was destined to be nothing more than white trash. I really hate dealing with stupidity when I’m off. My Christmas mailing list keeps getting shorter all the time.

Every time I hear a HP say a kid is heading for jail or is doomed to be a molester or even dead, I want to knock them upside the head. It may be true you can’t save every one of the kids, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.Keep speaking evil to a kid and they will meet those expectations, and exceed them.

Imagine that kid you think is destined to be a punk in prison will instead be minister. Try thinking of that kid who always steals stuff as someone that will be a successful and honest businessman. Try telling your girls they are special and you love them no matter what they do. They would have a greater chance of getting a degree than ending up repeating their family history.

I don’t know why some people who become House Parents give up and refuse to see their kids as something beautiful and special, a piece of the creator himself. What chance will they have if no one can imagine them being something more? Isn’t that the reason we do what we do?

I get frustrated like everyone else. There are and have been times I have questioned if the child we were dealing with could possibly be the Anti-Christ, but that kinda goes with the territory of child care. What I refuse to do is write a kid off. No one on this planet is past redemption, not one. I can not call myself a Christian and then turn around and tell others a certain kid is hopeless. That aint how it works folks. This world has written me off more times than I care to recall, yet Christ has continued to imagine me as something else. And I try to live up to that expectation the best I can.

There is more to being a HP than baby sitting. It is a call to serve and to love the unloved. We are Christs representatives to the forgotten and abandoned. The fact that little Johny will spit in your food and sneak a cigarette every time your not looking is not an excuse to with hold your love from him. You imagine that kid being greatness, never quit on him. Even when he quits on himself and the rest of the world tells him he is nothing, you have to be there for him. Hasn’t God done the same for all of us? -Launch

#$%^^&%!!!

Have you ever had a week that wasn’t horrible but not exactly pleasant either? This past week was a little frustrating for me.We started off by implementing a new point system for the elementary kids on campus. I have to admit (now) that most aspects of it are better than the old system we used, but after working the old system for the past year, change is hard.

I worked on a mountain of paper work, talked nice-like to some of the kids families that should be in a mental institution, taught a Sunday school class to a bunch of Senior High kids that think they want to be Wiccans, conducted a “Mandatory Fun” day with some visiting college students on Saturday, worked on a proposal for (Hopefully) a new group home and on Sunday, I stepped (barefoot) into a big old puddle of pee in one of the boys rooms. Nothing makes my day like warm pee squishing between my toes.

I know I’m whining and some of you out there probably got stabbed or poked in the eye by a kid this week, but having a bad day is all perspective anyway. And this is my perspective.

So-

It is now time for respite. Time to make up Valentines day and our Wedding Anniversary to my wife (just aint the same while your on duty) and try to sneak out and lay a few miles down on the bike. I’m thinking a day trip to Atlanta, GA or Charleston, SC may be in order.

I’m blessed to be making a living doing what I love, with kids I love even more. But man, it is time to cut loose.

Adios Amigos -Launch

VICTORY!!!

(Click for Evil Laugh)

After waiting far, far to long, the video game timer I ordered is here. After all the fussing and carrying on I’ve had to put up with from the boys over the video game system, I will take this moment to gloat over my absolute victory.

The timer could not be sweeter. Drop a plastic coin into the slot, the kid has 15 minutes to play the game. Drop two coins he has thirty and so on. The game has a timer that is visible and gives an audible tone when you only have a few minutes left. When you hit 1 minute, the timer counts down in seconds. And then- a black screen with the words time over appears. Absolutely amazing!

There is no begging for extra time, trying to sneak onto the game station when we are not looking or arguing over who had more time to play. This system is a MUST for any facility that has a video game system.

Buy one, you will not be sorry. Then you too, can sit back with a cup of coffee and a smile as they watch time fly as they count the seconds until they get the “Black Screen.

The system is virtually tamper proof (At least for elementary age kids). Easy ordering system and very easy to install.

Power to the people. -Launch

An Open Letter To Texas

Scary Hillary Clinton

Dear Republic of Texas,

You have always been regarded as being the ultimate tough guy state. I was raised to believe that only the hardiest of individuals could make a living there. I have admired from a distance how your judicial system takes care of it’s death row inmates by actually carrying out the sentence while the rest of us let ours die of old age. When Ozzy Osbourne took a whizz on the Alamo, y’all banned him from the state. That is the Texas that has become the stuff of movies and legend.

So what does this have to do with House Parenting or kids? Nothing, unless you consider the fact that Hillary Clinton scares little children. I’m just taking this moment to abuse my powers of blogging to let you guys know that it is up to you to stop the madness.

Please, in the name of the Alamo and for all the stars that shine bright deep in the heart of Texas, just say no.

Sincerely,

Launchpad

 

Valentines Day- House Parent Style

After having worked on Valentines Day the last three years my wife is a little frustrated. This year I have a plan in the works. You may want to take notes or print this blog out. Now, let me show you the ways of love…

Phase One- Tell all the boys they have unlimited Playstation time. I will also let them know that I think they are all responsible enough to decide who can play next. Within 30 minutes there should be some name calling and at least one fight. That will be just enough to get them sentenced to early bed. It may be borderline ethical, possibly even evil, but all is fair in love and war.

Phase Two- Operation Taco Bell. The trick to cooking for my wife will be to get a couple of combo meals from the bell, throw it on the finest china we have in the cottage (two plates with a few chips in them) and drop a few comments about having to cook all day.

Phase Three- Since our facility strongly frowns upon alcohol inebriation while on duty, I will be serving up nothing but the finest in grape juice from the food bank stock. The expiration says 1999, I will tell my wife it was a good year and all the sludge on the bottom of the bottle is what you look for when picking a vintage juice product.

Phase Four- Set the scene. Since the fire marshall prohibits any candles being burned in the cottage, I will borrow some of the kids night-lights to set a nice ambiance in the living room. Sure a couple of the kids are scared of the dark, but again it goes back to the love and war thing.

Phase Five- Slow jams. I have provided a Youtube link on the blog here to a Christopher Cross video, “Sailing”. If this does not melt your wife’s heart, nothing will. This is the epitome of Adult Contemporary Classics. Or as the kids call it, “Elevator music”. Just crank the computer volume all the way up and invite her for a nice slow dance in the living-room.

Phase Six- This is the part where things are going great. Your happy, the wife is happy and the world is as it should be, happy. That is about when one of the kids runs down stairs and tells my wife I swiped their night-light. My wife will return night-lights and read a book to them to put them back to sleep. Romantic evening should be just about killed by this point.

Phase Seven- Snuggle on the couch to watch romantic episodes of “CSI”. Nothing like a good crime thriller to put you both to sleep.

I’m hoping that phase six doesn’t happen, but we all know in some form or fashion it will. I am open to suggestions if any one has another plan that will be a little more successful. Casanova I am not.

Well that’s it. Launch’s Valentines Day extravaganza. Happy Valentines Day. -Launch

What If I Stumble


This life is a funny thing. I can live as as saint, feed the homeless, develop the longer lasting light bulb and cure Aids. But if I streak naked down main street liquored up and jump in the town fountain, all I will be remembered for will be as the fat hairy guy that lost a bet and wound up sitting in the county lock down.

Why am I pondering this? I am reminded by my own short comings and poor decisions from the past. I am glad that most people who knew from not so long ago are not an everyday part of my life. Not because of the embarrassment, but because I know forgiveness is not a part of their vocabulary or lifestyle. Besides, there is only so much groveling and apologizing one can do. Life is hard, but it is much harder when you know that when you fall, there will be no one there to help you up.

It was one of the most important lessons of my life. Only now has it truly become apparent of what the lesson was.

Most kids I have worked with have this crazy back and forth dance they do with whoever the care giver is. One minute they love you, the next they are pouring hair removal cream all over your cat. I have had them help me wash my car and then after an hours worth of male bonding and a high polished wax job, they scratch thier initials into the hood.

I would like to say my response in those situations was textbook. But it wasn’t. With the cat, I laughed and grounded them for like, a weekend (Have you ever seen a bald cat- it’s hilarious). With the car, I threw the bucket across the field, grumbled several un-holy words under my breath and walked off from the teenager, least I wipe the smirk from his face with my Ninja like skills. I’m not proud of the response, but what concerned me most is the grudge I carried. I also forgot where it is I came from and how I have done the same Reactive Attachment Disorder dance with not only those close to me, but also with Christ. The grudge never went away until I was able to humble myself and forgive them- completely, without constantly reminding them of the mistake.

Most kids I have worked with get close and then try to see if you will quite on them, just like everyone else in this world has. They will push the absolute limits of your patience just to prove your love and so called “Faith” is phony. Especially when you tell them God can, will and has forgiven all their sins.

This past weekend I had some nails driven into the tires on my motorcycle, probably by a young man from another cottage that I caught smoking in a campus parking lot. I know this kid is going through a lot of issues at the moment and is angry not at me, but the entire world. Today as I was paying a three hundred dollar tire bill I was reminded at all my youthful indiscretions and acting out. For some reason today it just hit hard that Christ has forgiven me for things that I could never forgive some else for doing. Somehow a couple of flat tires just doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. Right now I’m wondering in what way I can best serve this kid and let him know when you fall, God will always be there, ready to dust you off and help get you back on track if your only willing to listen.

Thankfully I have a God who has been there when I stumbled. Hopefully he will continue to remind me of that every time I see one of the kids do the same. -Launch