AN I will be making a sequel to this, thanks for the suggestion!
Both Stef and Lena agreed that the school's punishment for Brandon and Callie was harsh enough without adding much to it. So, Stef took the walkie talkies, and Lena sent them back to class. Lena then took time to make sure Jesus understood that rock throwing was wrong. She even drew a few real tears from him and took him to apologize to all the other preschool and kindergarten classes before taking him back to his own classroom.
Lena went to check up on her three kids sitting out at the lunch recess. She found Brandon and Callie sitting in their corners with their heads a little down looking sad. Jesus, on the other hand, was anywhere other than the chair. "Mr. Adams Foster sit down this instant!" Principal Sanchez said harshly.
"Jesus Antonio Gutierrez." He said back as he crawled under the chair.
Lena decided to take this opportunity to intervene. She walked over to her little boy and pulled him out and set him back on the chair. "Jesus, you are in trouble because you were throwing rocks at recess. Throwing rocks can hurt our friends and it hurts Mama's heart."
The little boy looked at Lena's face and then was still. "Hurting Mama is bad."
Sanchez looked on with some amazement. "How about if you take that one back to your office for his recesses? I am not sure if I can take any more like this one."
"I would love to." Both Brandon and Callie looked toward Lena with hope in their eyes. "You can hang on to the other two, though. They should be fine in here all week. If they are not, feel free to call Stef to come back up here." Even though Lena thought a week was too long, she was determined to stay supportive especially in front of her children.
"I want to go get my car, Mama!" Jesus yelled from his seat in the car.
"How many stamps do you need to earn for a car, Buddy?"
"Very good. Count the stamps your teacher put on your hand today. How many are there?"
"One, two. Two, Mama!"
"Then you need three more to get a car. Tomorrow you have a chance to earn it, but not today. Today you threw rocks on the playground and then when your teacher was talking you were not being very quiet. Remember?"
"Yes. But Mama, I want my car."
"When I lost my stamp last year I had to sit in time out for a long time. Will Jesus, Mama?" Callie asked from the back of the car also. "And how did he get two stamps? I could only get one. I wouldn't get any if I got in trouble."
"Well, Callie, you and Jesus are much different. Mommy and I raised you to know how to act. Jesus just joined our family and has a harder time right now. Part of how we are teaching him is rewarding him when he does something well. So he can get up to four stamps a day. As for sitting on his bed goes, he has already spent quite a lot of time sitting still today. He will be in a little more trouble tonight, but it is really none of your concern."
"Oh. What about me and B?"
"Well, it is safe to say it is not a movie night for anyone, but I also think you two have sat out enough for today. What do you think Cals?"
"I think that's true. If we can't watch a movie, can we play games tonight? I want to play the game with the bugs."
"We will see. Sometimes it is hard for all of us to play together…"
"That's okay, Mommy can play with me while you play with the others, right?"
Lena laughed a little. "Like I said, we will see."
When the family got home, Lena sent all four of the big ones outside and went to greet her wife and baby. "Callie has highly recommended having a game night tonight after dinner. She says the two of you can play a game together…"
"Of course… that wouldn't end in her crying and saying the game wasn't fair when I beat her… A game night could be fun, though. Is it okay to do that when they were in so much trouble at school?" Stef asked thinking back on the last year as well as her own childhood.
"Well, we agreed that Callie and Brandon are really not in trouble with us, and we do have to entertain the kids somehow. This would be us spending time with them as a family and Jesus's counselor says that is the way to show him how we function. So, yes, it will be okay. Callie might be on to something with playing two games, but I think we should switch off kids between games. Jude can play with one of us or with his own toys nearby."
"Hey! Guess what Mama!" Callie said excitedly getting in the car a nearly a week later. "Today I get to go to recess with B, Mari, and Jesus! When I get home from school you are going to give me my walkie talkies back to play with at home only, right?"
"Absolutely." Callie had been asking every day when all of these things would happen. Monday was the day and it was finally here.
"After school do you want to play with me, Jesus? We can use my walkie talkies! Remember how much fun those were?"
"Yes! I will share my car and you share walkie talkies! That's good, Mama?" Jesus had finally earned a car last week. It took the rest of the week, but today promised to be a good day.
"I would be very happy for my kids to share so nicely. What happens if all of my babies have a good day at school today?" Lena asked looking into her mirror at the kids.
"Movie!" They all shouted.
"Yes, so I want to get good reports on everyone. That means that Brandon and Callie have no time out, Jesus gets at least two stamps, and Mariana does not cry. It also means that no one goes to the office today." Lena thought back at how different her expectations were of all four kids. A year ago this all seemed easier.
"What if I have a good day, but Mari cries, Mama? Will I still get to see a movie?" Callie asked.
"Would you watch a movie without her?"
Callie looked over at Mariana and saw her sister's eyes were looking unsure. "Of course not. She is my sister and we do things together." Callie reached a hand toward Mariana who quickly took it.
"That's what I thought."
"Mama, what if Jude has a bad day?" Brandon asked. "What if he does something really bad, will we still get to watch a movie?"
Lena laughed. "Now, what could sweet little Jude get into that would be that bad, B? He is a baby. Grandpa Frank is going to watch him today and I am sure everything will be fine. Besides, Jude doesn't really watch movies with you guys. He doesn't count because he is not at school." Lena pulled up at the school and parked the car. "Okay, Mari, we are here. Mommy cannot walk you to class today because she is at work. I will walk you into the school, but Callie is going to be my helper today. She will take you to your classroom."
"But who will take me to my room, Mama?" Callie asked alarmed at this new event. "You always take me to my class and kiss me good bye."
Mariana started to whimper as well. "I want Mama to take me to school. Not Callie!"
"I want to have a good day at school, but I need you to walk me to my class too, Mama!" Callie had to say loudly to get over her sister.
The two boys weren't sure what to make of all of this. Brandon assumed that Lena would still take him to class therefore this didn't bother him much except for the crying. Crying would get their movie night taken away. Jesus took the opportunity to climb out of the van and start running toward the building.
"Brandon! Go catch your brother and bring him back over here while I deal with the girls." Brandon looked unsure at his mother. "Right now!" He took off after Jesus. "Mariana and Callie, I am going to count backwards from five to give you time to stop crying so we can use our words. Five… Four… Three…. Two…" The girls had both dried their eyes and had almost gotten their breathing to normal. "One. Now, I realize that you both want me to take you to class. If I take you, Mari, you have to go in like a big girl, like you did for Mommy. I promise I will come back for you at the end of the day."
"Okay, Mama." Mariana said quietly slipping a hand into Lena's.
"And Callie, I will take you to class and give you a good bye kiss anytime. I was just thinking you could drop off your sister and come back to me. Then I would walk you to class like always. I just thought you might be willing to be an extra helper, one just like Mommy, but I understand…"
"Like Mommy? I could do that. I am brave and strong just like her, right?"
"Right, but now I don't need you to do that job since Mariana only wants me to take her to class. Now if she cries a lot there will be no movie, but I will take her since that is what she wants."
"No, Mama, I want to take her! Mari you want to go with just me! I know exactly where you go to school and I can help you. I can show you the best things in Ms. Roberts's room, it would be way more fun than Mama taking you."
Mariana was already feeling sort of sad and didn't really want to leave Lena at all. However, Callie's excitement was rather contagious. She looked up to her mother for support. Lena gave her a nod and let go of her hand. Mari reached out to take Callie's. "I go with you."
Lena walked right behind the girls and grabbed Jesus's hand when she passed the boys. "Running off in the parking lot is not a good start to your day. Remember to always stop and think before you act, Buddy. Keep your hands to yourself and don't throw things."
Lena had the girls go play in her office while she dropped of Jesus and Brandon. "Okay, Mari, Callie is going to take you to class from here." Lena kneeled on the floor and give Mariana a hug and a kiss. "I love you very much and I cannot wait to see you at the end of the day. I will always come back for my baby."
Mariana also gave Lena a kiss on the cheek. "Love you, Mama."
"Cals, come right back here after Mariana is in class." Last year Callie had gotten lost in the building, but after a year of being there quite a lot, she was now very good at navigating the building.
The girls skipped off and Callie was back smiling in less than ten minutes. "She didn't cry at all, Mama. I told her that I would play with her at recess and that I was super proud of her. Did I do good? Was I just like Mommy?"
"You did quite well and it sounds like you were just like Mommy. Now we just need to get you to your own class so that you won't be late." Lena observed on her way down the hallway that she heard no crying coming out of Mariana's classroom. "It is quiet in there. Did you see Jesus, too?"
"Yes. He was playing with blocks with another boy. Did you know that Kelsey is in their class, Mama? She was in my preschool class, too. Is she always in that class?"
"I did know Kelsey was in there. Sometimes kids learn at different rates. Her parents thought it would be good for her to do Ms. Roberts's class again. Next year she will be in kindergarten like you are now. It isn't an always sort of thing."
"Oh. So, if my brother and sister cannot write their names well enough yet will they have to be in there again?" Callie asked worriedly.
"Not necessarily. Those choices are made at the end of the year." Lena stopped at Callie's door. "This is it. Go be good and learn something today, Baby." Lena gave Callie a hug and a kiss. "I love you, Callie."
"I love you, too, Mama. I promise to be extra good today and when we get home I will help Jesus with his writing since I am the best writer in my class…"
"Sounds good. I will be here waiting when school is over."
Lena had a whole list of things she needed to get done. However, a phone call changed everything. "Lena, this is Frank…. You know Stef's dad."
"Yes, I know who you are. What's going on?"
"Jude just swallowed a penny… He was pulling up on the coffee table and I forgot that I had change laying up there. I looked up in time to see him put a penny in his mouth."
"Is he breathing? Is he turning blue? Is he at the emergency room yet?" Lena asked gathering her purse and keys to leave the office.
"He is breathing and I wasn't sure what to do so I called you. I mean, he might be fine, right?" Frank asked hopefully.
"Yes, but he also might not be. I will meet you over there. Be sure you bring his blanket and have him dressed warmly enough… Did Stef pack him in a jacket or anything?"
"It is September and ninety degrees outside, so no, your wife did not send a coat. He looks fine…."
"Well, if he swallowed penny he is not okay, Frank. Look, I am leaving work right now and I will meet you at the emergency room. Just get him there, please." Lena hung up the phone and went over the office to tell her boss that she was leaving on a family emergency. She received an eye roll from Sanchez, but permission to go on.
Jude, indeed, looked fine. He was especially happy to see his mama. Lena finished checking him in and Stef arrived a few minutes later. After some waiting, x-rays, and more waiting, it was determined that the coin was swallowed, but not stuck anywhere. They would have to just watch for it to come out naturally.
Both mothers were already given the day off basically so they took Jude home with them. They ate a quick lunch and then laid down with Jude between them for a nap.
A phone call disturbed the peace a while later. Lena tried to sound awake as she answered the phone. "Hello, Bill?" She quickly turned it on speaker phone. "Stef is here, too."
"Hello Adams Foster ladies. I have some news for you. Social services is going to pursue termination of Ana Gutierrez's parental rights. If all goes well, you should be able to adopt your twins as soon as it is over!"
Both women squealed some waking up the baby who had been still sleeping. "How long do these things typically take?" "When can we start the paperwork?" They said nearly at the same time.
"Let's not get ahead of ourselves… There are several factors that could delay things for years still. Many times in these cases, the parent goes ahead and signs over rights. That has not been the way Ms. Gutierrez has shown herself to be so far, though. More than likely she will get a court appointed attorney or an advocacy group will take her case pro bono. You just keep doing what you are doing and I will let you know as things progress. Maybe you shouldn't tell the kids yet… Where are the kids by the way?"
"At school. Jude had a minor emergency this morning and we both took the day off to be with him. We left all the kids safely at school since we were unsure what it would all look like."
"Really? Does your school have a daycare? I assumed most schools would be out by this time of day."
Lena and Stef made eye contact before looking at the clock and realizing it was four. School had been out for a while. Lena realized she had missed several phone calls and texts from Brenda and the school. Mike had also tried to call Stef.
"Well, I think Stef is on her way to pick up the kids right now." Lena said trying to sound surer than she was. It seemed bad to be told that you would get to keep two more kids permanently when you just left four at school.
Stef called both Mike and Brenda on her way to the school. All four kids were in Brenda's room. Mariana had a difficult time at first, but had calmed down significantly. Brenda was obviously close to wit's end by the time Stef arrived. Brandon and Callie ran to meet her for hugs, but the twins were noticeably having none of it.
Mariana whispered something in Callie's ear. "She wants to know where Mama is. Mama promised to come back for us." Callie said.
"Mama is at home with Jude. He swallowed a penny today and we had to take him to the hospital. He is okay, though. That's why we always tell you to pick your small toys up from floor…"
"Did Grandpa not keep his toys picked up?" Brandon asked.
"He did, Jude just found a penny anyway. This isn't Grandpa's fault."
"Oh, so Jude was bad? Are we going to miss our movie night? That wouldn't be fair. We were all very good…"
"I am sure you were and it will still be a good night. What do you think, Mari?" Stef asked noticing how quiet the little girl had become.
Mariana shrugged in silence. "She wants to watch a movie." Callie assured Stef. "We also want to eat pizza since you were late. Ms. Roberts said it would be a good night for it."
"Yes, it would." Stef turned to the teacher. "Thank you so much for watching our kids. You are more than welcome to join us for dinner. I am sorry that I didn't come sooner. I would ask if they were a problem, but I really already know the answer…"
"Yeah… Just take your kids home. They all did very well during the actual school day. How about you all clean up the toys now?" Brenda sort of got Stef's elbow and dragged her away from the kids some and lowered her voice. "We need to consider a change to Jesus's medication. Maybe a smaller morning dose so that he can have more at noon? Oh, and one more thing, I am sure you noticed, but Mariana has not talked since she realized Lena didn't come back. I know that Lena will probably want to give Jude some extra cuddles tonight, but Mariana needs them, too."
"I will let her know. And thanks, again! If you won't take dinner, will you take payment?"
"No, seriously just take your kids home. Give Jude a hug for me and make sure that Mariana gets some special Mama time."
"That I can do." Stef walked back over to where the kids were sort of cleaning up. "Okay, Babies, let's get this room cleaned up so we can go home!" She helped them pick up and then reached for some hands. Callie took one and Brandon took the other. "Come on Miss Thing and Jesus. It is time to go home."
"I stay here with Ms. Roberts." Jesus said sitting down on the floor. "I am with her now."
"No, Bud, that isn't how it works. I am very sorry that I was late to pick you up. Mama and I fell asleep. I am here now and it is time to go to our real home. Besides, Ms. Roberts doesn't live here either. I am sure she wants to go to her real home, too"
"What?" Callie asked dropping Stef's hand. "Ms. Roberts does live here! This is her room!"
Brenda and Stef looked at each other above the kids' heads and laughed a little. "No, your mommy is right, Callie. I have an apartment somewhere else. Just like your mama works here, but doesn't live here."
Stef took the opportunity to pick up Jesus while she hand a hand free. "Callie, I need you to get your sister's hand right now so that we can go home."
Callie was still bewildered with her new information and obeyed quickly, not remembering that she no longer had Stef's hand. Jesus shrieked most of the way to the car, but Mariana remained almost too calm.
When the group made it home, Lena met them at the doorway for hugs and kisses. Jesus tried to duck past her and Mariana tried to hide behind Callie. "Come here, Babies! Mama missed you today…"
"Not my mama." Jesus said once again trying to get around Lena.
Lena's heart broke for her twins. "Jesus, I am so sorry that I was not there to pick you up today. I promise I did not forget about you, I just lost track of time. I love you so much, Jesus, that I cannot imagine my life without you. Will you forgive me?"
"Yes!" He said flinging himself at Lena with a few more tears. "I thought you won't come back."
"I am so sorry that I let you down. I will always come back." Lena eyed Mariana who was watching cautiously. "I love you, too Mariana. I am sorry that I broke my promise to you. Will you forgive me, too?" "You are Mama." Mariana said quietly wrapping her arms around Lena.
Lena carefully put Jesus down and picked up Mariana. She truly did love these two kids every bit as much as her others. She knew that she and Stef had a journey ahead of them and it may not be easy, but these two were worth the fight.