Why I’m sending my younger kids to school

This is a guest post from Sarah Faulkner. She is a homeschooling mom in Washington state. She has five kids, ages 13, 11, 9, 5, and 2. 

On the surface, the stories of adopting a foster child seem so alluring. The Today Show did a fantastic feature on other people who said yes, and on kids who needed someone to say it.

I said Yes. Twice. Once to being a foster parent, and once to adopting.

What no one shares with you is what it’s like to parent a kid with PTSD. These kids can’t understand the extent of the abuse they experienced in their lives before living with me; the trauma these kids have gone through would requires years of therapy.

Here is a list of occupants in my house who pee in weird places:

1. My son. He pees in a corner of his room when he’s mad at me. He’s mad at me right now because I have an alarm on his door  so I know when he leaves his room at night. I tried waking up before he pees but I’m always too late.

2. My daughter. She pees in a corner of her room. Slightly pees herself when scared and smears poop when angry. It’s a defense mechanism she developed against sexual abuse; she believes this will keep the “tickle monster” away. I gave up trying to stop her and put linoleum on the floor.

3. My yellow lab rescue dog. She pees in the path from my bed to my bathroom when she feels neglected. I put her in the laundry room, where it is tiled and easier to clean.

I want to reset the choice that led to me dealing with so much pee, but it’s too late for that. So I’m resetting the choice and I’m sending them to school: free babysitting.

17 replies
  1. Constance
    Constance says:

    You need the time to “reset” yourself so that you have something to give to these children who require so much. Having them with you 24/7 just can’t be sustained longterm! Please don’t feel guilty for sending them to school, you all need all the help you can get.

  2. YesMyKidsAreSocialized
    YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

    When do they start school? Have they been in school for awhile already? How is it going?

  3. Sarah Faulkner
    Sarah Faulkner says:

    They will probably start in September. My son has a low iq so I have to jump the hoops. He will go part time, and my daughter, I have to convince them she needs early intervention. :) That testing will be in May.

  4. Bailey
    Bailey says:

    I am home schooling my oldest and youngest and sending my middle child to private school until around 2nd/3rd grade. My middle is special needs and needs outside behavioral help and needs to have a group of kids her own age and a schedule to keep her progressing forward. She will be 4 in a couple weeks and is still not poop potty trained even though she can recite to me when to go to the bathroom and where her poop is suppose to go. We also have a new puppy in the house so I feel on dealing with poop and pee constantly.

  5. katfrogg
    katfrogg says:

    Get the book “From Emotions to Advocacy” by Pam & Pete Wright. You can find it on Amazon.com (and it comes faster from there too). You are going to REALLY need it to deal with the school system effectively and efficiently. (I know, I used to be part of that system and now help parents like you instead.) Best of luck.

  6. Karelys Beltran
    Karelys Beltran says:

    I am adamant about homeschooling.

    I sent Murphy to a preschool that is attached to my office building. Solely for the purpose to have help in the transition from divorce. I know I can provide all the socializing opportunities, and my mom is the best academic teacher ever.

    But it’s added work on already thin ice that is (was, yay!) my emotional stability.

    However, the biggest deciding factor as for why I sent him to preschool was because 90% of the children speak Spanish. And I wanted him to be around that.

    Reason number two is because all the socializing opportunities I can provide effortlessly (relatively*) are with girls. And I want him to rough and tumble with other boys because I think that’s needed for healthy development.

    I feel like being a good mother is keeping an open mind that your not so favorite options might still be a better fit for your kid because of circumstances.

    The preschool doesn’t force him to do any work he doesn’t want to do. So he basically works at home in whatever he wants and goes to preschool to see his friends, rough and tumble with boys (he got punches in the face recently), and eat goldfish crackers and cookies (because we don’t have any of that stuff at home).

    • Cáit
      Cáit says:

      Yehey! I love your comment. I always try to remind myself to be dogmatic only about dogma. Yehey open minds!
      I met a lady once who was amazing a teacher, an activist, etc. she was also a fat acceptance advocate…ok not my thing but her fat work was as interesting and spiritual and as smart as it could be.
      But sometimes I worried her advocacy work might hold her back from just dieting already because she might be afraid to change her mind *publicly*.
      But changing your mind doesn’t mean you were wrong! It’s just a new chapter sometimes. We’re all on a journey.

      • Karelys Beltran
        Karelys Beltran says:

        I love your comment.

        I used to be so very devoted to religious teaching.
        We were warned about not changing out minds. Now it makes sense that if they worked so hard to instill a certain worldview they wouldn’t want you to change your mind.

        Changing your mind meant “losing oneself” or “leaving the path.”

        But changing your mind is good. It’s a sign of growth. And flexibility.

        For a long while I’ve decided that unschooling is an attitude and a way to approach education.
        What if regular brick and mortar school is the best tool in you given circumstances. Why not use it? because of looking like you’ve abandoned unschooling? like the lady who didn’t want to diet because she was a fat advocate?

        I am an advocate for fat acceptance.
        I did so much work to reclaim the word FAT in my life.
        Fat is just adipose tissue. It’s morally neutral. And being fat is not always a sign of bad health or unhealthy habits.
        But holding on to fat for the sake of identity can be harmful.
        And refusing to send your kids to school, even for a period, because your internal and public identity is “unschooling” or “homeschooling” can also be harmful. At least it can short-change everyone from better quality of life.

        Which is the driving factor for seeking alternative ways of education anyway. Quality of life.

  7. Emily
    Emily says:

    When I was young, my parents adopted three half brothers. While we all went to private school, my family would have greatly benefited from the extra support of a public school. My family had experienced trauma before the arrival of the boys, and the boys had experienced enough trauma for a dozen lifetimes. The result was more trauma. We never got the outside support or therapy we needed while we were at home. My own therapy didn’t start until two years after I graduated college.

    Kudos to you and blessings to you and your family for your open heart and and the wise choice to grow the net of support for your family. Just today some friends and I talked about the things we’ve done as parents that we swore we’d never do, but we’re so glad that we did do. For you, sending your babies to public school is just that. I’m so glad we live in a country where that option (despite all of its flaws) is available.

    Adoptive and foster families face unique, Sisyphean challenges that we both know too well. From one adoptive family to another, I warmly wish you all the best.

  8. David of Majestic One
    David of Majestic One says:

    Here is a message from the book of Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten
    1. Share everything.
    2. Play fair.
    3. Don’t hit people.
    4. Put thngs back where you found them.
    6. Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
    7. Say you’re SORRY when you HURT somebody.
    8. Wash your hands before you eat.
    9. Flush.
    10. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
    11. Live a balanced life – learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work everyday some.
    12. Take a nap every afternoon.
    13. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
    14. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Stryrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
    15. Goldfish and hamster and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.
    16. And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first workd you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.”

    He mentioned that sending your kids to school is the best choice to learn things that they need in life.

    also try this book


  9. Sm
    Sm says:

    I know you are struggling to breathe right now but I am going to pass along something that has liberated me from my kids behavioral pooping and peeing: homeopathy. Please don’t laugh but it has changed my thinking about why my kids do those things. I don’t know enough about it to educate you, nor would my child’s remedy necessarily work for your kids. Baryta Carbonica stopped my 5 year old’s accidents for 2 weeks. Then we ran out. Major regression/ stemming that left me depressed. Her dose came in and again NO accidents, stemming, clinging, and she’s talking again. My daughter has Down syndrome so there are challenges, but she’s not my only kid that demonstrated these behaviors and I did also as a child.

  10. datguy
    datguy says:

    I sent my kids to school, and they didn’t even have to piss on the floor. All they had to do was ask.

    Yesterday my daughter got back from a week-long beach vacation with her mother and extended family. Her school was just fine with her going on vacation outside their schedule. She is looking forward to going back to school tomorrow. At the dinner table she thanked me for sending her to such a nice school.

    This is just to remind people that schools aren’t all horrible, and some kids really enjoy school.

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      In our new school district one can take family vacations any time as well. But, if it’s too long then one will have to fill out extra paperwork and re-enroll. Still, it’s more generous than what I expected.

  11. Teryn
    Teryn says:

    If there’s anything that has demolished all my idealistic ideas of parenting it’s being a foster parent. Parenting a child whose brain has been wired to trauma is exhausting and worthwhile, filled with pain and the occasional glimpse of glory. So well done for doing what you need to do to get through the day right now! We recently found our dog with her own bathroom issues a lovely new home to try to preserve a stressful placement. She’s making a older single retired woman a wonderful companion and there’s one less responsibility on me.

    Take that free babysitting time for some self care and to grieve the loss of the life you imagined when saying yes. There’s not enough time to grieve with all the needs our kids have.

    I hope you send your kids to school with a heart full of grace for yourself and them. You are doing a good job.

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