Some people think that all I’ve done is kick ass and take names. Wrong. I studied, on my own, comparative religions, psychology, and wrote poetry, starting in Junior High School. Just about my favorite activity, outside of coitus with the opposite sex, is taking care of little babies. When I was 4 years old, my grandmother, who raised me, became a foster mother to Los Angeles County Adoption Agency babies. LACAA was probably the strictest adoption agency in the world. Strict rules were strictly enforced. A couple, who wished to adopt a baby, waited 4 years between submitting an application and getting a baby. A foster mother could opt for 1 or 2 babies, with an additional baby, if it was an emergency, and there was no other place to put the baby. My grandmother opted for 2, full time, with an extra baby, if required. One rule, which was strictly enforced, was that there were to be no more than 2 babies, full time. That rule was tossed out the window, when the Agency discovered how well Grandma and I took care of those wee tots. Of course, they had no idea that a 4 year old kid was changing diapers and preparing formula and whole milk, on the stove, then feeding and burping the babies. It only took about a year, and we had 3 babies, full time. Every single baby, that left our home, was fat, happy, and well-behaved. The only times they cried were when they were hungry or needed a diaper change. Speaking of diapers, those were the old cotton ones that had to be affixed with two very large safety pins. There were very sharp points on the pins, because they had to go through 4 or more layers of cloth. I am very proud to say that I never poked a single baby with a pin, while I observed 2 mothers poke their own babies, because they weren’t paying attention to what they were doing. The poor babies would squeal like a Banshee, although there wasn’t any lasting harm. I couldn’t FOLD the diapers worth a damn, but managed to keep everything inside of them, as intended. I only drew the line at one point, and that was rinsing the dirty diapers in the toilet. Changing them, no problem, rinsing them, no way. I would leave the dirty diapers, that I changed, folded up by the toilet, for my grandmother to rinse out.
We both gave all of the babies as much love as they could handle. Each baby only stayed with us for about 2 weeks, before being adopted. A lady would arrive, one day, with a new baby, to exchange for one which she was taking to some lucky couple. As we took care of what we called “county babies,” for a solid 5 years, I figure we took care of about 500 of them. One day, she sat me down and told me what was going to happen the next day. The county was bringing us a “problem baby,” which had already been in about 3 different foster homes. This baby was way under-weight, cried 24/7, and kicked his heels on the wooden slats of his crib, rendering both heels a bloody mess. He had been examined by several doctors, and nothing physically wrong had been found. Oh, and one more thing, he had extra fingers and toes on both hands and both feet, which the county had promised to have surgically removed, when he turned 2 years old, at county expense. She told me, “I know how much you love the babies, but don’t go near him until I [she] get him straightened out.” I was hurt, because I wanted to help the baby, too, but I demurred to her expertise. When he arrived, the next day, my grandmother let me see him, in his crib. Sure enough, he screamed, non-stop, and kicked his heels on the wooden slat. She let me examine his bloody heels and the extra digits, which numbered about 10. The extra fingers and toes were normal sized, perfectly formed, and grew out of the tops of his hands and feet. They weren’t, in any sense, grotesque. Just about exactly 36 hours later, that baby had completely stopped crying and kicking his heels on the slat, started eating like a Russian weightlifter, and became one of the happiest babies I’d ever seen. Nobody had ever shown any love for or to that baby. That’s all it took. In just a day or two, you didn’t even pay any attention to the extra digits. Something that had never happened, with any other baby, was a lady from the county brought a nice-looking couple to look over the baby. I sat in a chair, in the living room, while the couple and the lady from the county, sat on the couch. Grandma brought the baby out, and handed him to the wife. She and her husband looked over the smiling baby for a few minutes, and handed him back. They didn’t adopt him, the assholes. A week or two later, we went through the same routine, with another couple, who also didn’t adopt him. About 2 weeks after that, a third couple adopted him, sight unseen, except for a picture. They got an exceptionally beautiful baby. I’ve long forgotten his name, but I’m sure Grandma remembered it, for the rest of her life.
If a foster mother wanted to take any time off, from taking care of the babies, she had to hire a LICENSED (by the county) babysitter, who had to be at least 12 years old, attend classes, and pass both written and performance tests. Any deviation from this rule was grounds for immediate termination of the employment contract with the foster mother. Starting when I was around 7 years old, my grandmother would leave me in charge of 3 babies, while she went shopping for around 3 hours. She was absolutely not being reckless or negligent, as she knew I would stay in the house and watch them, without her even having to tell me to do it. If anything happened, that I couldn’t handle by myself, all I had to do was step out the front door, bellow “HELP,” and 3 grandmothers would be there, to help me, in a flash; Mrs. Whitley, from directly across the street, Mrs. Scranton, on one side of our house, and Mrs. Harkey, on the other side of our house. She left me with the babies, about once a week, for 2 years. I still love babies.