When Lacy arrived it took everything to keep the tears back.
Standing at 3.5 feet tall at 3 years old. Brown eyes, blond hair, and perfect teeth.
She wasn’t potty trained and showed up with dirty clothes, no panties, and hair matted to her head.
She smelled of urine and filth.
She didn’t speak. She didn’t know how.
She instead used exasperated facial expressions to tell someone how she was feeling.
She wasn’t used to being talked to let alone being told “no” so every time we would say she couldn’t do something her face would completely fall. Eyes, mouth, and cheeks, would droop in the biggest frown you’ve ever seen.
We’d tell her, “Shake it off! Don’t make that face!”
And she’d whip her leg out and shake it followed by a big smile.
But you’d make her happy or show her any type of candy and the biggest smile would creep across her face.
And as she got more comfortable with us, her language that was only quite her own began to appear. You’d never know what she was saying….it was all just gibberish.
But she tried so hard to make those words. Get us to understand her.
She had so much to say…she just couldn’t do it!
Her first night here she refused to get in the tub.
Like I said, she had soiled herself but she took baths maybe once a week if that, so she definitely didn’t want to get in a tub whatsoever.
After explaining to my cousin that we just NEEDED to put her in there, that she needed to be clean, I lifted a screaming and traumatized child into the tub.
She was filthy.
I washed her hair twice but I still felt like that wasn’t enough.
I don’t know if you’ve ever smelled meth that is soaked into a person’s skin, hair, and clothes…but it’s a mix of sweat and cat urine.
I have a strong stomach…but I was gagging.
I luckily had gone to Wal-Mart that day and picked up panties, new shoes, 3 new outfits, and a set of pajamas for Lacy.
I had to throw away almost every single thing she brought with her because of that smell.
I kept 3 items, tied them in a grocery sack, and have it sitting in my garage.
On those really tough days with Lacy, I walk out to my garage.
A reminder of why i’m doing all of this, that sack stays in my garage, and amazingly never loses its scent.
Because that sack is all she has left of a life I know nothing about.
Something I want to know in small amounts because it would make me so mad.
This was Lacy her first night here. Her attitude completely changed and she finally started smiling once she was cleaned and had some food in her belly.
About a month later her Mom trekked off to rehab, custody papers signing off rights fully to me were signed, and the real challenges began.
In a matter of a month I went from newly single and broken hearted, to having a toddler legally in my sole custody.
I was in charge of a small human 24/7.
I was living in a one-bedroom apartment, working a job a few times a week, and in school full time online.
I genuinely didn’t know what I had gotten myself into.
I had no idea how hard it would be to teach someone to talk, eat properly, show them what a Kleenex was, and how to use a bathroom properly.
I would often lay awake some nights with Lacy in the crook of my arm.
I’d think, “How is this helping Lacy’s Mom? Am I doing the right thing by taking Lacy full-time?”
I’m a firm believer in the words,
“If you can lay your head down at night and feel good about the decisions you’re making, then you’re doing better than most people.”
And then I’d fall asleep…