May 23, 2013

Achievements and More...

The last photo of my brother and his kiddos.

I may not have given birth to them but every thing they achieve comes back to me, at least I think so. Before my brother died I never imagined I'd be "mom" to 4 kids. When they first arrived they were failing and in bad shape - both mentally and physically. I definitely could deal with the physical aspect, better nutrition was definitely needed.

Damion and his first place UIL medal.
I knew things were bad when the first thing the kids said as I was feeding them lunch..."We get to eat more than once?" I was a little dumbfounded because I didn't understand what they were talking about. What did they mean eat only once? Yes apparently they normally ate only cereal, all day unless their mother decided to buy them fast food. They had lived in a hotel and slept on the floor. They talked about how they helped clean up the rooms for extra money. I was amazed and a bit guilty. Had I not done everything I could as their aunt to make sure they had a good life? We had helped their mother numerous times with food and money, but every time we saw them...they looked fine. They looked happy and healthy, but they weren't.

Their family was disjointed completely disfunctional and I had no idea. My oldest nephew, Richard, lived with his great grandma. The youngest, Damion (pictured to the left) lived with his grandma and believed his brothers and sister to be his cousins. The two in the middle - Edward and Amathyst, stayed predominately with their mother. They were the ones to bring everything to light. With the school constantly calling about them everything came to a head when they showed up on our doorstep. We -my mother and I,  had no clue what was happening as we sat their speaking to the CPS caseworker. Edward was mentally disturbed...wait what? My "daddy" was mentally disturbed and I didn't know. What were they talking about, when I had him he was well behaved. A little angel with its ups and downs but never disturbed. He had hit. kicked, punched his teachers and broken a window. His mother received money because of his problems and yet she didn't send him to counseling. We were brought the oldest and the youngest a couple days later and that started the journey.
Edward receiving his award for most improved on the clarinet.

Fast forward almost 4 yrs and they have come so far. Richard has been on the honor roll since he came to stay with us. He has all AP classes and apart from his teenage hormones he is doing well. Amathyst is flourishing in her Mariachi class playing the violin and singing. She gets nothing but As & Bs and well has a little attitude, but nothing unmanageable  Edward, who had the hardest time, is on the A honor roll and has been for years. He plays the clarinet in the band and was accepted to play on the symphonic band that goes out and performs in bigger events. He has really found his spot with band and I really do believe that it has helped him to become a better student. Damion has surprised me the most. He was just this sensitive - very sensitive little boy. He was shy and had little confidence because he had been so sheltered. He didn't really know how to interact well with other kids, especially his brothers and sister. Fast forward and he is winning awards and really becoming a huge leader in his own right. He joined the "Leader In Me" program and I would definitely recommend it to other parents.

My niece posing in her newest outfit I bought her.
I think one of the bigger changes has been in myself. I was 10yrs old when I first told my mom I'd never have kids. She kind of laughed and said those things would change when I got older. I grew up with 4 brothers, just like my niece, and was actually a bit sheltered. Of course now when I look back on how many of my friends got pregnant at an early age...I'm quite thankful. I saw all my friends having babies, getting married and thought, that's just not for me. When I hit my mid twenties and my grandparents asked me when I was having babies, I shrugged. I'm not 32 and those feelings have not changed, although I do take care of my brother's children I don't ask them to call me mom. They have a mom and had a dad, that sort of thing will never change. They do make cards thanking me for everything and that's nice. I do get filled with pride when they bring a good grade home or a citizenship award. I'd like to think that I'm making a difference for them and that they'll appreciate it. I guess only time will tell.

Damion being silly and cheering his brother on.