Showing posts with label Confessions of a childless wonder. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Confessions of a childless wonder. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Confessions of a Childless Wonder: Why is being Auntie not enough?

It's been said that weddings and funerals bring out the best and worst in people.  This is generally a true statement in my experience.  In fact I find that it applies to most life milestones and events and for some reason it also seems to be true when it comes to sex.  I never thought, however, that it would apply to the happy occasion of the birth of a child, or in this instance two children.

I am, of course, talking about the birth of my sister's beautiful twins.  For what it is worth, everything went well and everyone is doing fine.  It seems, however, that instead of sharing in my joy at the recent arrival people are more concerned with showing me their ass  shit stirring  sharing their opinion with me Re: My Reproductive Status.

Since the announcement of my sister's pregnancy I have felt interrogated, attacked, pitied, and even degraded.  It has felt like an emotional warfare to me.  The first shot was fired when upon learning that my sister was expecting twins, a family member proceeded to ask me when I would be contributing to the family legacy.  While I'm sure it was meant as good-natured ribbing, it was mostly just irritating especially coming from someone who didn't biologically contribute either.  All I could think to say was, "I'm not. I ovulate sand".

Since that first inquiry into my contribution to the family mud hole tree, it's been a real shitshow of ASSumptions and rude questions.  I've been questioned as to why I don't have children yet.  I've had well-meaning people reassure me that my time will come and not to worry about the fact that my sister has a three child head-start on me.  I've been asked why I don't want kids, why I hate kids, and if I would have the baby if I got pregnant.  If I say I didn't want anyone in my past to be the father of my child or express that I have horrible taste in men people have been offended;  I've also received eye rolls and ridicule about the decisions I've made regarding my personal sexual responsibility (read: BIRTH CONTROL).  Some people have taken my childless status as some kind of negative statement about my sister's status as a mother, some have taken it as a negative statement about me  that I haven't yet chosen to be a mother.  I've been told the ways I'm inadequate for motherhood.  I've been told that I can't handle children so it's best that I don't have any "and that's ok".  I've been accused of being jealous.  When I've tried using the "tried and true" method of saying I'm waiting for the right time/place/person, people think I'm a snob or that I'm unrealistic instead of merely wanting to make a conscious decision to be a parent when I'm ready (though from what I hear no one is every actually ready).

Unfortunately there isn't really anything you can say in defense of yourself without giving some kind of "proof" or "evidence" that you're jealous and/or sensitive about the issue, or that states how you feel without incurring more of the same treatment.  In many ways it feels like you just can't win for losing, but the truth about how I feel about the recent arrival is this...I'm sad. 

I have two absolutely beautiful new nieces who came into this world safely, not all twins are as lucky.  I have a sister who is pretty unselfish with all of her children and she lets me grab them, hug them and love them as much as I want.  I love my nephew like crazy, and two more babies means three times as much love.  I choose to believe my sister is slowly but surely birthing me an army of Auntie-loving minions.  I love my nieces and nephew and I love my sister.

So, why do those things make me sad?  Because some people have felt the need to try and cut me down instead of seeing how thrilled, proud, excited and outright joyful I am and joining me in celebrating.  I feel like there have been people who have attempted to pit me against my sister, or goad me into a competition that doesn't exist between us and tell me that I can't simply be happy with how things are right now and I can't believe that people are actually like that.  People have talked down to me because I'm happy to be an Auntie as if I'm settling for being something less but just being an aunt and not a mom. 

It's sad, really.  That we live in such a world where love and happiness can't just simply be that, where people have to look for the nastiness in a situation where there isn't any or that people think it has to be that way.  I am my sister's sister, and I am her children's Auntie.  I'm proud to be who I am.  In fact, I'm thrilled and I wouldn't have it any other way.  Why is that not enough for some people? 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Confessions of a Childless Wonder: Pregnancy and Stupid People

There must be something in the water, because I am surrounded by pregnant women.  I'm actually starting to think that I might be some kind of Fertility Goddess.  I'm mostly kidding but for the record, what all the pregnant women I know have in common is sex and me.  I'm not claiming ANY credit or responsibility for the pregnancies of the women I know, I'm just saying maybe my refusal to use my reproductive powers has created some kind of rub-off effect and made them more fertile (and yes, being this full of crap hurts sometimes).

Part of knowing so many pregnant ladies at one time is getting to hear their stories and ask stupid questions.  The other day, I literally asked my friend Michelle from Juicebox Confession what it was like to have a wiggly baby in there because all I can imagine is that scene from "Alien vs. Predator".  I like to think that she answers me so graciously because she knows I'm asking out of mostly legitimate fear genuine curiosity and trying to be funny, though at this point I should probably just hope she just thinks I'm a lovable idiot.  Poor Michelle, I've said some seriously stupid things to her and she just keeps talking to me... bless her, she's wonderful.

But for all my stupid questions, I can almost guarantee I'm not the biggest idiot Michelle or any of the expectant woman I know have ever encountered as proven by this post she shared on her Facebook Page recently.

A lot of the Mommy Bloggers I know have been referring to this thing call "Pregnancy Brain" or "Momnesia".  I'm not entirely sure what that is, but apparently it is a real thing.  Not that I doubted them, I just don't know this shit.  There are lots of studies into hormones and pheromones, especially concerning pregnant women.  It is a fact that pregnant women are more apt to seek out people with similar chemical makeup for support during pregnancy, and the fact that pheromones given off by pregnant women can suppress the testosterone in her (male) partner and increase his production of the hormone prolactin.

Basically, hormones are important.  But what I really think needs to be studied is what it is exactly that turns people into entitled fucking idiots when there is a pregnant woman around.

I only briefly touched on this in my first Childless Wonder Confession, but I've rarely encountered a woman who has had a child who doesn't have a story about being approached by a complete stranger and being:
  • 1. Subjected to unsolicited opinions about their pregnancy (up to and including comments about their diet, their size, etc)
  • 2. Asked stupid questions (and yes, my questions are stupid but at least I "know" the people I'm directing my stupid questions to) 
  • 3. Touched

And I'm flabbergasted.  

I will admit that I've said such horrid things in the past like "You're huge".  I'm guilty and I'm sorry.  After being around such honest and forthcoming bloggers, I've learned that like any person who is "bigger" a pregnant woman doesn't need you to point out her size or tell her how huge she is; I'm a failure as a fatty because any fat person should know better than to point out size no matter the reason (even if I think pregnant makes being "large" acceptable and adorable).

When it comes to stupid questions, I've asked my mommy friends and family just about everything.  I'm really lucky and fortunate to have the women in my life that I do because every single one of them either accepts/excepts the inappropriate and generally snarky strands of word turds that come out of me or revels in them... and that includes my stupid questions.  I've also made totally insensitive remarks about aliens and how utterly feckin' creeped out I get when you can see the outline of a heel or a foot pushing outward, but the fact that the ability to create life within your own body is amazing and miraculous isn't completely lost on me.

After admitting my offenses, I have to say even I'm irritated and offended by the things I see and hear people do.

On what planet is it appropriate to walk up to someone and talk about what they're eating?  I would never in a million years walk up to a woman and attempt to talk to her about what she was eating or doing "in her condition".  I mean, maybe if she was doing shots in order to prepare to skydive (which, apparently, might actually not be the most unacceptable to do while pregnant - skydive, not shots).  But I would never attempt to correct a woman for eating mercury-laden fish and chasing it with a cuppa joe so thick the spoon stands.

I don't understand how pregnancy somehow blurs the line of appropriate social interaction.  In Confessions of a Childless Wonder, I confessed that while I really do like kids, especially babies, even kids deserve to have their personal space acknowledged and respected.  I definitely do not touch the children of strangers (though, if we're related all bets are off).  I can't imagine anything more obnoxious than going to the grocery store and having someone you don't know reach out and touch your baby's hands as they sit in their carrier in the cart, which the baby then shoves into their mouth.  This is why I don't have kids, because I would be in Warrior Don't-Touch-My-Effing-Kid mode CONSTANTLY because clearly there is something wrong with people.

I worked with a girl a long time ago, we'll call her "Kasey", during her second pregnancy.  One Summer day, Kasey had driven across town to get some supplies from the local office store and had stopped at a gas station on the way back.  When she got back to where we worked together, she told me some woman had walked up to her and started rubbing her belly (she was maybe 6 1/2-7 months at the time).  When Kasey asked her if she knew her, she replied "I run the corn stand across the street" (I don't know if they do this everywhere, but in Wisconsin it is not unusual to see trucks with produce from local farmers selling out of parking lots on major roads) as if selling sweet corn out of a rusty pickup somehow qualifies her as someone able to walk around touching complete strangers.

I've heard other, similar stories from other expectant women and moms.  Some who have even taken a step back or said something to the personal bubble trespasser only to be criticized for it...because apparently to some people wanting personal space when it comes to strangers is offensive.

When I was like 23, I went to a Buckcherry concert and pushed my way to the front.  I was 3 people from the front barricade in front of the stage, and I eventually had to turn around and go back because I was being touched by so many people.  I was covered in sweat and it definitely was not all mine (thank god I'm vaccinated against Hepatitis B).  I was so grossed out that I went home, peeled off my clothes and climbed in a scalding hot shower, washing with anti-bacterial soap until the water ran cold... because ew.  Most people know this, but as a general rule I'm not a super touchy/feely person.  I enjoy it, but I'm not usually the person to reach for a hug first... like ever.  I'm usually even less touchable if I'm sweating my balls off  gassy  barfy uncomfortable.  If I reach out to you, it's a serious compliment or comment about how I'm feeling.  I can't imagine what it must be like to have people walking up to me and touching my belly and expecting me to stand there and take it with a smile... especially if I'm feeling any of the way pregnant women sometimes feel (see Michelle's post above).

Being in the "family way" does not make a woman "familiar" and therefore open to being touched by everyone.  I just don't understand it and I can't figure out why people this it is acceptable and appropriate to touch someone so intimately.  I don't like my stomach being touched NOW, I think the addition of carrying/producing such precious cargo might only make such a thing more inappropriate to me.

Maybe I'm way off base here, because we all know I've never been pregnant.  Maybe it makes some women feel great and they aren't offended by it.  But I think if you want to reach out and touch someone... maybe you could do the polite and decent thing, act like you have some home training and ASK.  Then, don't be offended if someone doesn't want your strange mitts all over their lady lumps.

I think the important thing to remember here is something my Mom told me as a kid every time we walked into a store with expensive, breakable things with a "You Break It, You Buy It" Policy:

Look with your eyes, NOT with your hands!

Am I way off base here?  Is there something I don't understand?  Is there anyone out there who isn't offended by strangers walking up and touching them?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Confessions of a Childless Wonder

Yep. I said it. I'm a Childless Wonder. Many of my friends and cousins have gone on to get married/start making babies, and all my bloggy friends are "Mommy", "Momma" or "Mom". I'm the one who has yet to get married, or have children. I suppose I'm probably at an age where that is going to happen and I'm not going to lie...I'm starting to feel like an outsider, and some people are quite fond of telling me that I don't understand because I'm not one of the "breeding" crowd. I try really, really hard not to be a Judgy McJudgypants Asshole about it all, but some days not raising an eyebrow is tough. Not to mention, feeling like people treat me as "less" because of their decision to be parents is a challenge. So today, I'm acknowledging all of those little things...the things I don't understand, the things I wish the parents I know would understand (or perhaps I should say remember?), and the little misconceptions. And...if you decide you need to take me out for it, please come for me with an angry mob, pitchforks and all, and burn me at the stake like in the olden days because we witches always appreciate tradition.

I'm totally Bitter sometimes. Don't worry, you don't need to resort to name calling or accusing me of saying the following because I'm jealous. Because in a lot of ways, I really am jealous and bitter. My mother had me at 24, I feel like I'm the late there a Judy Bloom book for adults I can read about this?  I have friends celebrating 5 year anniversaries and sending kids to school. For a long time, I thought I didn't want kids. Now, I'm that woman healing from a terrible 3-year relationship with a man I wouldn't have wanted a family with even if he had been able to give me one and I feel like I've wasted precious time. I'm still not 100% sure I want a family, but when I look at all the little happy families with mommies and daddies and happy little kinders...something in me feels sad. I'm not sure what it is that I feel sad about, but I envy that happiness I see.

I really DO NOT hate Kids.  I actually really like them most of the time, but even kids deserve to have their personal space acknowledged and respected.  I love having little people to show things to and do things like go to the zoo with.  I LOVE Babies.  Wanna know a secret?  I'm a baby rocker (bet you didn't know that, huh?) and when you let me cuddle your little one...I just LOVE it!  But if you're pregnant I will not touch you, nor will I ask to because I consider it an invasion of personal space; I will never say "no" if invited, but I will never ask.  I will also never ask to hold your baby (in case we're not as close as I think we are, you're uncomfortable with everyone holding the baby-especially if you're a first time parent, I don't want to put pressure on you, etc.), but that doesn't mean I don't REALLY want to.  And I will avoid touching your child as a general rule until they're toddlers (or it is necessary) and they reach for me.  I'm trying to show respect, not dislike and I kind of hate it that people think I'm such an Ice Queen for it.

I wish you would just say NO. One of the biggest complaints I hear from parents about Childless Wonders is that we are/can be rude, mean, or nasty when you're unable to attend something or we stop inviting you. I've actually seen some really horrible examples of it, and I have to say...please don't group us all together because we don't all do that or come from that place. I am not the kind of person who expects you to drop everything and run off somewhere with me. My short-notice invitation shouldn't be taken as pressure, insult to your parental status or a half-assed attempt at excluding you. I hate when I go out and do things only to have someone I didn't invite (because I thought they would have their kids) comment on a status update or Facebook photo that they were able to go and were hurt that I didn't at least try to call them. I try so hard to be a considerate friend by trying to engage in wholesome family activities, suggesting things to do after the kids are asleep and when there is something I REALLY want my friends to be there for, I try to give plenty of advance notice.

I will admit that there are people I stopped inviting to things and I stand by the decision. I once asked someone if they were going to an event because I would try and find them to visit for a little bit. She responded by biting my head off and telling me that I needed to remember that she had kids and couldn't run around doing whatever she wanted (it was a parade...I guess I mistakenly thought a parent might take their child to a parade, my bad). I never invited her to anything again, but that decision was based on the fact that we were casual friends, and her rather extreme reaction felt incredibly inappropriate considering I was just offering to drop by and say "hi" not asking her to do anything she might not already be doing if she were going-NOT because she had kids. The other person, I suspect, wanted to end some friendships and was doing so by using their kids as an excuse not to interact/engage with people but would then go make other child-free plans with others. 

To make it very basic, if you're not interested just say "No"...You don't have to treat me like an ass for trying to include you because you have kids, make an excuse, or lead me on if you KNOW you aren't going to try and make it work.  The interaction (my invitation, and your acceptance or refusal) doesn't have to be about your parental status, I'll still be your friend.  It's ok to say "No" if you want, just try and say "Yes" sometimes or issuing your own invitation so I know you're not just waiting for me to "get a clue" and stop calling.

Your time might be more precious to you, but that doesn't make it more valuable than mine.  Maybe this is something I can't possibly understand because I'm not dressing a tiny, fit throwing little being who is pissed off because "something" hurts in her shoe so she won't put them on. But I can't stand it when people who are parents treat me like I don't have obligations/responsibilities just because I don't have kids. 

I once had a physical therapist give me OVER 5 hours worth of walking, exercises, and icing to do at home every night. Then, he asked me if I had kids and when I told him I didn't, he said "Good. So you'll have plenty of time to do all of this". Riiiiiiiight....because I wasn't trying to have a relationship with my boyfriend and his daughter, watching my nephew 2-3 times a week so my sister could go to night school, plus working 2 jobs, and maintaining a household with pets with an injury that left me moving a lot slower than I used to.

I can't even begin to tell you how hurtful it is when people treat me like my time is less valuable than theirs, even more so when I'm generous with my time with you. I will work around your schedule to be your friend. I will come to you if need be. I will invite and accommodate your children (accommodate for lack of a better word). I will be understanding if you're late or something happened at the last minute and I get stood up. I'm that person who thinks it shitty when you have to work on your kid's birthday or during their t-ball game and I'm the one offering to take your hours (even though it might mean working a 12+ hour shift) so you can go.  But please don't treat me like every time overtime is offered I should be the one to step up because my plans can't possibly be more important that yours because I don't have kids. Please don't abuse my time by being ridiculously late when I'm babysitting to try and give you a break without so much as a phone call. I get it...when you're a parent things take longer, you're responsible for others and their messes and your time isn't solely directed at doing what you want to do and when you want to do it. I'm not without wonder, awe, admiration and respect for that. I'm just saying, please don't act like my time, energy, and personal relationships aren't as valuable as yours.

Those pictures and videos creep me out. I try so hard to smile and appreciate your moment because some of them are really beautiful. Someone is going to get offended here and I wish you wouldn't, but as someone without kids (and in spite of knowing how it all works from a medical standpoint), sometimes that stuff still scares the hell out of me. I'm really sorry, but ultrasound photos can be really creepy-especially those 3D ones.  And those videos of your kid kicking around in there?  They convince me that being pregnant is really like that scene from "Alien vs. Predator" when the baby aliens come flying out of the human abdomens.  I'm not even going to acknowledge those people posting a picture of their belly EVERY DAY all "Look at my belly today because I'm wearing a different shirt". 

Your kid is NOT my Life. I probably like them, maybe even love them. I try to remember their special things. But please don't be upset when I don't remember every anniversaries of things like first words, or every single one of their little preferences, or have to ask you for clarity on something. You're their parent, I'm just another person that cares about them. My inability to remember every single detail about them and their little life isn't some kind of statement about how I feel about them. 

Your kid shouldn't be your ENTIRE life either. Things change, you change, and life changes when you become a parent. That doesn't mean that you stop being an individual or a person with thoughts, feelings, opinions or your own general well-being. Please, just like....every 6th Facebook post, say something about yourself. Hell, I'd settle for an opinion about the weather. But when you become a broadcasting system for everything Little Johnny or Susie does, I worry about you and your kid. My cousin has shared that many people complain about his frequent content on his personal Facebook about his kid. And you know what? He's a damn proud father and I'm proud of him for it and I enjoy reading updates about his family. Why doesn't this apply to him? Because he posts photos of his kid, shares funny and witty stories and general updates about things going on in their lives. He ALSO posts about sports, politics, his personal photography and the other people in his household. His Facebook page isn't some creepy digital shrine to every move and poop his kid takes. Being a parent is one of the most incredible jobs and labels you can have, just please don't stop being all of the other awesome things you are (and someday, your kid is going to want to know what kind of an awesome person you are and not just what an awesome parent you are). 

I don't think your kid should be your best friend. I was raised to believe that you shouldn't be your kid's friend. We've all seen THAT parent. It really creeps me out when people put their kid up on some kind of creepy, obsessive, "Fatal Attraction" level pedestal. I've had people tell me that their kid is their entire life and best friend...who tells their kids the same things they tell their best friends?  I think people need other people to relate to, children do not understand adult problems and shouldn't be expected to in any way.  Please, don't ever tell me your kid is your best friend, not only is it strange and creepy but what kind of pressure/expectations are you putting on that kid?

Your child is not a weapon.  I was fortunately raised by two people who loved their children more than they disliked each other. I'm not going to pretend the divorce was all roses. Sometimes I overheard things I shouldn't have, I noticed the tone or the eye rolling that accompanied a statement about the non-present parent. But damn, the things I have seen people say and do to "get back at" the other person just blow my mind and make me sick and I don't understand how having kids with someone else doesn't make you more tolerant of them. I don't care if you don't like them, just don't use your kid to attack them. When you attack the other person, you attack half of the make-up of your own kid. Unless the other person is REALLY horrible, awful, abusive, whatever....suck it up. Treat your kids like an egg...don't throw them at your ex because it will break them.

You picked that bitch. I have this thing about people who bitch about the person they made babies with (even if it is behind their back), specifically the ones who claim they didn't pick the other person to be the parent of their child because they used birth control. They call it "Practicing Safe Sex" because birth control is really something you PRACTICE, it isn't a guarantee. Most birth control is not 100% effective and even if it is...there is always user failure or what they call I.D 10 T errors. So, the minute you choose to practice making babies with someone and practice safe sex, you're taking a risk that they will be the parent of your child. So, just....a little advice (either for your future, or to tell YOUR kids when they're age appropriate): Sex is for making babies. While technology now allows us to have a good time without the intended result of the act, there is still a percentage of a chance of making a baby. Use multiple forms of birth control (seriously, double that shit up) and if you aren't interested in doing that, stop and look at the person really hard and ask yourself if you really want them to be the other parent of your child because it CAN happen. 

Doomsday Parents....WTF? One of the reasons I don't have kids is due to extreme anxiety.  I'd totally be that parent sitting in my car on the street watching my kid at recess. OK, maybe not that extreme, but as a result of being tampered with as a child, being raised on Rescue 911/Cops/America's Most Wanted...I'm a very paranoid adult. All of that paranoia in MY life and I still don't think I would be as crazy as some of the people I've met. Seriously. I understand not being able to leave the kid with "just anyone". I understand calling me all night long on date night to check on the little poop factory you left in my care. But WTF is wrong with people that feel the need to go on a tangent about keeping their kid safe at all costs, "giving their life" for their kid, and what they would do if anyone ever hurt their kid every time their kid comes up in conversation? It's creepy. I get it, it's a parents' job to protect their babies, but I've had people get aggressive, even teary-eyed during rants like this in bars (ironically enough).  I don't understand if this is an outward expression of their internal fears or some kind of over-compensation for their insecurities, but I'm more concerned about the need to verbalize threats of physical violence, paranoia, and "preparedness" towards unknown and presently non-existent "threats" than I am something might actually happen.   I'm very afraid it could turn into one of those situations where a child gets locked in a basement for 24 years, or locked up and forced to haul their elderly parent up the side of a tower via their long hair. Last, but not least, when people go on these insane rants and start getting threatening and scary,  part of me feels like they're trying to imply something or hint at something like they think I'm a threat to their which case, they should stop being friends with me.

Yeah. Like this. 

Your jokes about being a "cat lady in training" kind of hurt sometimes. I know I sometimes make those jokes. But really, it's not my fault I can't find someone to successfully meld genetic material with. I try to laugh, but the idea of ending up like Goldie Hawn in "Death Becomes Her" after being left by her fiance is terrifying to me. I'm fat. I like frosting. I have cats. It could happen and it is scary.

I'm not judging you. You know those moments when you're grocery shopping and one kid is begging/screaming/crying for something and the baby has snot on his face? Yeah...I'm going to notice you, but I'm not usually judging you. I've dealt with kids. I know there are those days where they do everything they can to make you look like the world's dumbest, most awful parent. I will totally admit to thanking whatever powers may be that I'm not in your situation at that moment, but I'm not assuming anything about your kids, or your parenting skills. I genuinely hope something turns your day around, then go back to thinking about whatever is on my plate at that moment.

I'm totally judging you. I WILL, however, judge you for not parenting your kid whatsoever, for situations and circumstances you could change and clearly refuse to, for taking your kid to an inappropriate place, allowing your child to abuse you, smoking in the car (and this coming from a smoker), or being abusive in any way towards your child.

My money doesn't grow on trees either.  I'm happy to buy cookies, popcorn, overpriced wrapping paper, etc., to help out whatever your kid is involved in.  But there is a limit to my "extra" funds and sometimes, I just can't buy.  Please don't make me feel like a horrible person for it.  

I'm not Stupid.  They're doing new studies and have new "rules" for raising children every day; I respect your right to raise your kid however you want, but don't treat me like I'm inexperienced or stupid because I don't have a kid.  But I've wiped asses.  I went to school and was once a State Certified Nursing Assistant.  I have common sense.  Just because I'm not a parent doesn't mean I'm a moron.  Please see this blog for a list of my experience.  

Why the Mommy Hate?  Seeing the "Mommy Wars" over vaccinations, SAHM vs Moms who work outside of the home, breast vs. bottle...I'm sorry, but I've seen women get downright frightening over these issues.  I know I don't "understand", but from the outside...I wish all of the smart, strong women I know could accept that you can't change someone else's beliefs and instead support each other.  Boy, I bet that sounds super green to seasoned parents, huh?  (And I bet somewhere out there, someone is about to direct some of that scary ass Mommy rage at me over this)

I have CRAZY Respect for you.  I've watched a few Parent Wars and the amount of research and reading some people I know do in order to make the best decision for their children (and later use in debates) blows me away.  The seemingly endless patience, the time management skills, diagnosing and fixing a "problem" like an expert, witnessing the little moments between child and parent...sometimes watching you people in action is just amazing. 

I cherish your kiddo too.  I know in the last 5 minutes I've said that your child is not my life, begged you to stop Facebooking everything about them and nothing about you, and called them a poop monster...among other things.  But sometimes, the cute pictures and the great stories really light up my life and make my day.  When you let me "steal" your kid(s) to do fun things, I love it!  I love seeing their little faces light up, and getting to hear the funny little things kids say and do that you get to experience all of the time. 

Ok....that is everything I can think of.  I hope you know how much joy and laughter you and your little one(s) bring into my life, even though I might not always understand you.  And don't worry, if someday I find someone to bond DNA with and "get a clue" about all of these things I don't understand right now, you can TOTALLY rub this in my face. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Punishing children is Exhausting.

Perhaps I shouldn’t “go there”.  Perhaps I should have some limits.  But I'm hoping somewhere out there is someone who can sympathize.

The Kiddo (my boyfriend's daughter) lied to me.  We have her every other weekend and the last time she came to visit, in an outburst of tears and snot, she started her list of complaints about how she is being treated and the terrible crimes and abuses that have been committed against her (sibling feud) and then she dropped the bomb:

 “I want to come live with you guys”. 

Now, I’m not saying I wouldn’t do it if that is what was 110% without a doubt the best possible thing for the child and completely necessary.  But I’m not going to lie…with her father working 14 hours a day she wouldn't be coming to live with US, she’d be coming to live with ME.  With the challenges she is posing lately though, and the restrictions posed on me as a non-parent, I don't think I could do it. 

When talking about the situation with her later, we learned she hadn't told her mom about anything.  We decided that her mom needed to be told the situation as it was being presented to us. When the Kiddo called her mom, what ended up happening was tears and statements that led me to believe she was being less than truthful.  I asked her if there was anything she wanted to come clean about, or if she wanted to tell me what part she played in it all.  She looked me in the eye and proclaimed her innocence to the bitter end.

It ended up coming to light that the Kiddo was perpetrator of the crimes that had been described to us as being done to her.  

*hangs head in shame*

I let the kid tell me a story.  I took her side.  I hugged her and told her I was proud of her for calling her mom and telling her what was going on even though it was hard as she had (allegedly) been threatened with repercussions by the perpetrator.  Isn't that what you’re supposed to do?  Believe a child when they claimed they’re being hurt to the point of excess?  I did all of that, only to find out that a 9 year old had taken me for a ride.

I’m not stupid…I know that in every single sibling fight that both children are usually equally guilty and the one that tells first usually gets the sympathy.  I know there have been pretty severe problems between the Kiddo and her sibling.  I knew that she couldn't be completely innocent in everything that had happened.  But when it came back that the problems that were occurring were actually caused by her…I admit, I felt and still feel like she made an ass out of me.   

I felt the problem needed to be addressed at our house as we were the ones who had been lied to in an epic, Grammy Award deserving performance.  My friends with children all suggested that this was for attention and that she needed to be talked to, and told she is loved.  The idea of doing that made me angry.  The kid lied to me yet again (this is NOT the first time) and I’m supposed to coddle her? 

When I was a kid, if I lied I got grounded.  Though memory is failing me at present, I may have even gotten spanked over it.  But grounding or taking things away as punishment only works if they child has something (like friends) to be grounded from.  How could it be effective, however, when you get the child at 5:00 on Friday and return her between 5-7 on Sunday?  So she goes without t.v. for a few days…in my experience, having something taken away (unless you use it constantly) doesn’t really bother you when it only happens for a day or two.  Both her father and I have talked and lectured until we’re blue in the face.  Nothing stops it. 

I spent my day Friday looking up what to do with children who lie.  And of course there are all these “Do’s and Don’ts” and what you’re supposed to say and not say and of course, they’re all in agreement.  NOT.  I had no idea what I was going to do when I woke up Saturday morning.  But…I think I went a little off the deep end.

I threatened to send her to Military School.

I spent the day enforcing her punishment, only to have her sit down at dinnertime and say that she didn't understand what she was supposed to be learning.  Fail.  And I admit, I kind of gave up after that point.  She got a lecture from me and then I checked out because I was exhausted, out of ideas, and no longer possessed the motivation to keep punishing her when she clearly wasn't getting any lesson from it.

I don’t know what can be done.   I’m starting to believe what Judge Judy says…. "Do you know how to tell if a teenager is lying to you? Her mouth moves!" applies to all children, not just teens.  I’m afraid that if we don’t do anything then we are failing her.  All of the websites I read on Friday just keep saying the same things…don’t take it personally.  How the hell can I not take it personally?  Isn't the fact that the kid is a liar kind of a reflection on “the village” raising her? And, by the way, according to the Internet (and you can't put stuff that isn't true on the Internet) I’m also not supposed to label her a liar but isn't there a limit to how many times she can lie before I can call her one?  Should I not be terrified that every other weekend, I live with a liar who could tell stories about ME?  Do I need to be concerned that the lying will escalate to something like stealing? And while we are riding that train, do I need to be concerned after she asked me what happens to my jewelry when I die on her last visit?

Ok.  That last one was a joke…mostly.  But I'm so confused as to how I am supposed to help this kid.  I'm terrified that something could happen and because she "cried wolf" so many times before that she'd be left without someone to help because no one believes her.  I hate feeling like I'm being put into a position where I can't help her.  I can't possibly "jump" to her every accusation and story; I don't want to falsely accuse people of things or be some kind of suspicious helicopter non-parental adult figure because let's be honest, the only thing worse than a helicopter parent is a helicopter stepmother that isn't.  

Ok, that's it.  I'm spent.  I've got nothing more to say on the issue.  I got it out and I feel better.  But on a serious note..."real" parents out there: how do you deal with this?