THEY STAYED HOME!
It is amazing. Absolutely amazing.
Monday, December 15th, was a frantic day. We wrote, we called, we questioned, and we feared. Monday night, close friends started to arrive.
Emily and her children Raven and Nigel showed up first, with snacks and sleeping bags in their arms. Then, Aunt Jenna and Uncle Tom came over with their children Naomi and Caleb. The children played, while the adults came together in support. We did not know what the next several hours would bring us, but for now, we were all together. Tavvi and Raven went into Tavvi's room and started to pack some bags....
Then Chris and his son's Sev and Alex came over. Sev and Alex are very close friends with Connor, Wes, and Michael. The boys bundled up and went sledding. Chris joined us in the living room, and our conversations ranged between how scary and unjust our situation is, what the next day may look like and what type of support the children will need the most, and tales of days past and things to come (as our minds and hearts had to wander or the heaviness of the situation would be just too much). Uncle Tom pulled Connor aside and had a "man to man" talk. Tavvi came and sat in my lap, and we had a talk about the power of love, and how no matter what happens the next day, things were going to be okay eventually.
We had no answers. We had no solutions. We were scared, but we were coming together, and there was support.
As the boys came back and made nachos and started watching movies, I pulled Connor and Tavvi aside to discuss the following morning. I told them that I did not know what the next day was going to look like, but that it was going to be uncomfortable and stressful no matter what. I explained that sometimes that most important times in life as stressful and uncomfortable, but that things can be important without being dramatic. I reminded them of how much they are loved and supported, and how many people were rooting for them and will be fighting for them, no matter what. I explained that it would be a good idea to start talking about plan b... and plan c and d while we were at it. Connor refused. He stated again, "I don't need to pack, I don't need to plan - I am NOT going anywhere. I am NOT leaving".
I hugged all of my kids. I hugged them tightly. I pet their hair, kissed their faces. Tavvi was playing with Raven, Zion was busy negotiating turns on the computer with Caleb, Naomi and Nigel were hugging and spinning in circles around doll houses, and the older boys were making super-mondo-nachos-of-doom. There was a warmth in the home and some hope in our hearts, based only on the love of those coming together. I held on to that moment; I memorized it. This may be the last time that we would all be together like this, and on the eve of unknown change, we were strong because we were together.
Morning came too fast. Mary and her family (Elina, one of Tavvi's best friends, "big" Connor, and baby Gage) arrived around 5am. Shortly afterwards, Amy and Chris (Sev and Alex's mom and dad) arrived, then Bruce (school councilor) and Scott (school executive) came through the door. There were many hugs.
Tavvi had Raven on one arm, and Elina on the other. Connor was surrounded by his friends and older brothers. A little bit after 5:30am, two people from the state of Virginia showed up.
I am so grateful that Jenna had a video camera. We have the whole rest of the morning on tape. Jenna is getting that copied to computer today and we will host and show the video for all to see and appreciate. It was a peaceful effort; all people were sitting or leaned back. Only non-violent communication was used. We were assertive and supportive. The children communicated for themselves and showed amazing calm and maturity. We all felt collected and supported. We were quite the loving and peaceful force to be reckoned with!
It was tense at times. But Scott and Bruce helped guide and support conversation. The children were scared, but also empowered. We were all in acceptance of the situation; they may take the kids, no matter what is said or what we do. But, we all knew that there was power in words, power in community, and power in peace.
It seemed, there at the end, that it was going to involve police force. Instead, the night ended with hugs and applause. The kids are staying.
We do not know what is next. We waited all day for calls or information, but there was nothing new to help answer questions. Will we have to go through this again in a week? Will this be taken to court in review for permanency? We do not know what really happened behind the scenes. We do not know what is to come. The insecurity of it all is enough to drive anyone mad! But we are not mad... we are in rejoice. We are TOGETHER. For today, we are TOGETHER.
Connor, Shorty, and Zion wanted to go to school yesterday. So did Caleb. As I drove them to school, Jenna sitting to my right, I had a heart on high. Here he is, Connor the Con-Man, in the flesh.... Just as angsty, silly, teen-ish, resentful, impulsive, and fun as any other day. I have never been filled with such gratitude. Zion was sitting right next to his Connor, as usual. They walked into school together, as usual. It was another day of family and life, as usual. I have never been so grateful.
I slept last night, Tavvi in one arm, Zion in the other. As I pet their faces and dozed off, I again felt overwhelmed with gratitude for our simply being together.
Now begins the fight to KEEP THEM HOME.