Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Double Wide

Walking toward the double wide trailer I see the black spray painted words still cover the right side..near the door that doesn't open. The door that has no steps to climb. I wonder if they will fade as the months pass and when summer sun shines down.

She stands on the wooden porch steps with a cigarette in her hands...three giant black trash bags overflowing behind her. The two older ones, a boy and girl, are hanging out of the now open kitchen window. They are shouting my name and proudly thrusting their giant ice cream treats in my face. She waves her Hello Kitty one that resembles a pink and white alien blob so close that I could lick it. He has Batman--which is at least recognizable--and the greatest treasure he has ever had.

The ice cream man came by last night she says.

They all kept crying and screaming and I just wanted them to shut up she tells me.

Taking a puff from her cigarette and exhaling.

The little ones are in the tub she tells me. I know they are ok because they can watch each other.

She is talking about her youngest boys. They are one and three.

She admits that she isn't good at bath time. She forgets for a week or two at a time she tells me. It's hard with five kids. 

As I follow her inside she launches into a list of Mexican home remedies. Vicks Vapor rub will fix anything I'm told. She apologizes for not having had time to clean up before I arrived.

Seeing the blue plaid comforter spread out across the floor littered with pillows and potato chip crumbs, I ask if they had a movie night camp out.

No, this is where we sleep she says. My fiancee and I on the floor, a younger boy on each of the sagging green couches and the baby in his crib in the corner of the living room. The older two sleep in their own rooms---most of the time-she adds. 

Just beyond the long narrow hallway are three bedrooms. I know this because I've been here many times before. There are new bunkbeds in each of the children's rooms. A local agency provided them complete with brightly colored sheets when they got their kids back. 

As I find an empty space on the couch to sit, the kids climb into my lap like eager puppies. 

Where do I even start?

**This is a glimpse into my work day and part of a free write exercise for the fabulous Just Write hosted by Heather.


Tamara Camera said...

What a glimpse.
You describe it so beautifully and I love hearing about your work day.
I have to agree on Vick's Vapo Rub. It goes well on the feet to stop coughing! And it kills toenail fungus, they say.

Robbie K said...

Thanks! I was trying to see it through new eyes yesterday. It is so common in my work that it seems "normal" to me. She talked about Vicks on the feet and on bruises too!

Kenya G. Johnson said...

Wow Robbie - that was like out of a movie - someone's normal but foreign to me. Great writing!

Kenya G. Johnson said...

Wow Robbie - that was like out of a movie - someone's normal but foreign to me. Great writing!

Natalie DeYoung said...

I am no stranger to places like this (long story as to why), but it still is shocking every time.
I adored reading this. You really captured the scene so well, I felt like I was there with you.

Robbie K said...

Thanks Natalie. It's all in a days work for me but it was nice to get out of my head and get a different view of it.

Jerralea said...

You did a good job of capturing this in words. It made me want to know more.

And of course, the biggest question ... why?

JannaTWrites said...

This is such a foreign way of life for me. I think it would be hard to watch day in and day out. I can barely keep track of two kids sometimes, never mind five :)

Robbie K said...

Jerralea there is so much more to her story and I hope to continue to write it.

Robbie K said...

JannaTWrites while it isn't the way I live, it is my work. After so many years of this I am use to it but that doesn't make it any less heartbreaking. said...

really engaging. i was hooked.

Vanessa D. said...

Where do you start? This is a wonderful post.

tedstrutz said...

I thought this was fiction... I got to the Vicks paragraph and realized she was a social worker... you I guess? Well written.

Likeitiz said...

What a poignant snapshot of this family and their life. Sometimes we wonder how other people can live with so little and with not much means nor know how. Your work must be quite transforming, for others and for you. Thanks you for giving us a peek into it.

Robbie K said...

Thank you so much for your thoughtful and kind comments. I am a home visitor..part social worker, part parent educator, part early childhood educator.