"On the plains of Oklahoma, with a windshield sunset in your eyes like a watercolor painted sky, you'd think heavens doors have opened."
Fly Over States

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Mob Mentality (or Wondering When It's Time To Quit)

I've spent quite a bit of time this weekend working on a design for a new quilt. This is my working model. It is a design in process primarily being used to help me figure out how to set up the blocks. It will be more symmetrical when I am done.

I've finished most of the first circle and have cut out a lot of pieces. Still, I have a long way to go.

Looks pretty blah, so far, but give it a little time.

Jezebel has been my helper. She has not really been a lot of help. I have to step over her to get to the ironing board, the cutting station and the bathroom.

Remember the slippers I got awhile back? Here is a picture:

I took time out to a local quilt festival. It wasn't big, but it had some really nice antique quilts. Here is one from 1855:

And here is a two sided quilt made in Kingfisher, Oklahoma in 1940.



I'm a little blue. There appears to be something growing back in Jezebel's nose and we will no doubt take her in later this week. It makes my heart hurt to even think about it. The tumor is inoperable due to the location at the tip of her nose. If the growth is back and poking into her nostril, again, they can remove that part without much trouble - but that still leaves the original tumor. I doubt they would recommend that she undergo another series of radiation, especially since it doesn't look like it worked (if the growth is back so fast).

I used to check in on the canine cancer message board (until it got too depressing) and a lot of dogs had the growth come right back. Some had surgery 6 times within a year and a half. Most of the time those dogs did not have to have radiation because it was on their gum or footpad and they would aim to get clean margins. We can't get clean margins, with Jezebel. We basically have to hope the vaccine saves her. I'll post when I know more. Hopefully, it is just something like scar tissue or something. She is not acting sick. I hope this doesn't mean that the vaccine isn't working. I hope that if it is back, they can simply remove the growth and that will keep her okay. I can't post anymore about it, today.

Evelyn has been limping heavily for two days. Don't know that that is about. It seems to come and go. But when it comes, it is pretty dramatic. Will be watching it.

I am also a little blue (and this sounds dumb) due to a social services message board discussion. A local social services agency returned a little boy to his family and three months later, the mother's boyfriend killed him. The local newspaper interviewed the child's foster mother who told them that she'd shown the judge pictures of hand print shaped bruises on the child and had begged them to not return the child. The judge did, anyway, and now this happened.

On the message board, the posters were calling for criminal prosecution of the social worker and all concerned in the court proceedings. Some of the posters are actually pretty even tempered and sensible 99% of the time. When it was pointed out that they'd only heard one side of the story; that the abuse took place by someone who was not a relative, months after the child's return; and that the judge who made the decision had the opportunity to examine the evidence before returning the child, it made no impact. The posters wanted blood and they wanted it from the people who are "paid to protect that baby." Not one person was interested in hearing both sides of the story. And since the social service agencies can't tell their side due to confidentiality limitations, the other side doesn't get told. People think the worst and, the fact is - they WANT to think the worst. I felt like Frankenstein's Monster in the presence of the angry mob.

Frankly, I cannot imagine the judge would have sent the child home if pictures of hand print bruises were actually discovered. I just don't believe that. What is more likely is that the foster mother thought they were hand prints but they didn't look that way to anyone else.

Sigh. Times like these, I realize I am betting against the house. Sooner or later, one of my cases is going to blow up and, given the dysfunctional population, there is not a lot I can do about it that I am not already doing. When these things happen, no one wants to give anyone the benefit of the doubt or even ask critical questions. They just want blood and not just the blood of the murderer. On the message board, the rage was directed at the local social services agency personnel. The murderer and the child's mother were barely mentioned. When this was pointed out, the response was that I was just trying to make excuses for the agency.

If I were involved in the message board case, even if I did everything right and even if the judge and the social worker did everything right, the public would be calling to have us thrown in jail, painting me as an incompetent and insisting that the ones charged with trying to protect the babies just don't care.

If I had been involved in the case being discussed on the message board I would have been utterly devastated that one of my kids was killed. If I'd read the comments calling for criminal prosecution, I think I'd have been so demoralized I'd have been tempted to put a gun to my head. It is one thing to have a family mad at you. They are personally affected and not thinking straight. It is another thing to have the public automatically assume that if something goes wrong, the ones closest to the case trying to protect the child are incompetent and deserve to go to jail. I can't imagine anyone thinking that anyone working with these kids wouldn't grow to love them. To think anyone would simply abandon them to suffering if they had a way to stop it is just... well, it makes you just want to pack it up and walk away.

Anyone dealing with abused children is prone to burnout. It is horribly stressful. You are asked to play god and none of us have that kind of wisdom. Like most GAL's I have an unlisted number for fear of reprisals by angry family members. To borrow from Mr. Obama, I am called everything but a Child of God by relatives, pastors, neighbors, etc., no matter what I recommend. That is just part of the job. I understand that.

But... To also hear it from the public, who simply want to blame someone and are looking for an easy target, makes me think it is time to step aside and let someone else do the heavy lifting - before I am the one in the crosshairs. The responsibility is heavy and this reminds me of what will happen if I mess up. Maybe I am just not up to it, anymore. Once you start thinking in terms of how this is going to affect YOU, the focus is off what is best for the child. I am not sure anyone can consistently make good decisions with that distraction. And knowing that even if you do make good decisions you will be cruicified by the public if something goes wrong, well... It just makes you wonder whether it's time to quit. It wouldn't bother some people to be attacked like that. I'm not sure I am that mentally or emotionally tough.


Anonymous said...

I certainly understand what you're saying, Penny. There seems to be a real mob mentality among those who frequent internet message boards, and it seems really hard for many people to put themselves in someone else's shoes.

You seem to have a talent for what you do, and that you care deeply for the children you represent shows in your writing. There are your job as well as you seem to. I hope your quilting, your dogs and your imminent retirement help to keep you sane - I know you've made a positive impact in a lot of lives, and you need the downtime.

I'm sorry to hear about Jezebel. I'll keep her (and you!) in my thoughts.


Penny said...

Thanks, Janet. 'Preciate it.

Paula said...

It's hard sometimes, even when you know you're doing the right thing. It's obvious you like your job, and where would your wards be without you? No matter what you do or don't believe, God will always be with you. Hope things are okay with the girls. Your whole gang remains in our T's and P's.


Owens Family Adventures said...

What a day you've had my friend. I am saying some prayers for Jezebel tonight. Also saying some for you. Hang in there.
The quilt you designed is really pretty, can't wait to see it all finished. :)
with warm hugs,

Stephanie D. said...

I know a little of how that social worker must feel; I've been through a similar situation. I think they call it kangaroo court.

Only you will know when it's time to leave, but maybe now is not the time to make that decision.

I'm hoping the best for Miss Jezebel--and Miss Evelyn, too. And you.

everythingquilts said...

Penny, I know I haven't commented much lately but I'm not good at putting my feelings into words and I never know what to say to someone when things are going bad. I just want you to know that I hope the girls get well. And as for your job, I think you do it well.

Anonymous said...

(((Penny))) I'm sorry to hear that Jezebel's growth is back and that Evelyn is still limping. When our furbabies are not feeling well it colors everything in a bad light. I guess in a job like yours you don't always get positive reinforcement but do know that there are those of us out here that appreciate the great job you do.

Kim (kimberliiw)