Monday, February 6, 2017

Pretty Little Liars

I could only imagine that it sucks when your family is split in two. Having two homes means everyone you love isn't all in one place any more. (We tried nightly phone calls but the kids were not allowed to call us but were expected to call their mother no matter what.) In any case, it means two wardrobes, two bedrooms, two safe spaces, two christmases, two birthday parties. In theory this would be fine if they are pretty equal but in practice it is cumbersome. Especially when one house has rules but the other does not.

In our kids homes this is so extreme that our youngest did not stop throwing tantrums in the store with her mother (never once did she do that to me or my fiancé) until we found out and punished her at OUR house! Imagine being me here: this was going on at a time where this woman was badmouthing me on a daily basis. She called me names in front of them and told them that women who take care of kids that are not theirs are "weird" and "have issues" and they should be careful I don't steal them (and those are moderate examples). Yet I could not bear to see the kids being allowed to behave so outrageous. I explained to our youngest child (she was 6 at the time) that babies throw tantrums to get what they want and that when a big kid does it they are trying to bully someone. We made her go to bed early and write in her journal and we told her that she would not be allowed to go to yoga if we ever found out she did it again. She never did.

This, to me, was some A+ parenting on our part. I set aside the issues with the ex-wife, we explained what was happening and what needed to change and we had a clear consequence. She never did it again so obviously we handled things like champs, right?

Well, when she was 7 and then 8 we had to deal with a lot of lying. She began playing one house off of the other. She told us she did her spelling words with her mom and telling her mom she did it with us. We had some open communications with the teacher and she seemed to realize that if nothing else me and her Dad would find out and there would be consequences. Once again we were on point.  #SuperStepMom

Then came the big boy. We saw that our littlest had filled our her reading log from her mother's house for too many days. When questioned she folded like a poor man at high stakes poker. She hadn't read at all. AT ALL. And her mother is the one who told her to lie! What?!!!! When questioned further her sister and brother joined in to tell us that last year their mother filled out the reading log for her on days she was lying. WHAT?!?!?!!!!

How on earth do I fix this?

Remember the kind of person we have here. This is a woman who is continually jealous of me and her ex-husband having a loving relationship and growing together. She is frustrated that parenting comes naturally to me and I have good work ethic and a real job and expectations for people around me. My fiancé and I did what we thought worked best. We tag teamed it. He dealt with the ex and I dealt with the little. The ex lashed out like a teenager caught in her lie telling the kids when they saw her next "Why did you tell on me to Dad? Don't ever get me in trouble with Dad and Melissa again!" The little was sad and remorseful. She wrote an apology note to her teacher and we told her that it should never happen again.

It did happen again. This time when she stood up to her mother and said she did not want to fill out her reading log if she did not read she was told that she had been brainwashed by us and that her youngest child was a stranger to her. The littlest buckled. She caved in and lied and planned to erase it at school but forgot. We talked about how standing up to people we love is hard and that was brave but she can not lie anymore. I text her mother who blamed her littlest instead of taking ownership of what happened.

And the questions that still remain unanswered emerged to us:
How do you teach kids morals when they see examples of and are taught to be immoral by someone they should be able to look up to?
Can we teach them to respect their mother but ignore her ways?
Will we always be able to right her wrongs?

I've been at it for over two years fixing everything she breaks and I'm exhausted.
When does it end?

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