~Welcome to my personal story as a first time wife and stepmom. I use this space to share real life happenings in a blended family, funny stories, my personal frustrations, failures, and occasional victories as I journey through this life with two beautiful and challenging stepdaughters. Thanks for reading, and I hope you find something to help you have a better day!~

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Rough Week

I know I said I would get back to the story line, but I need to talk about the events of last week while they are fresh in my mind.

First we will talk about Jane. Jane now has an iPad at our house and an iPhone at her mom's. The iPad is hooked up to my account, so I have to put in my password if she wants to download everything, and I can check her browsing history and so forth. She has gotten to the age where she is curious about a lot of "adult things", so I have to keep an eye on it. (This is actually how we had the period and sex talk a few months ago which I still need to write about). So anyways, a couple weeks ago, Jane was playing on her iPad and mentioned a game called "campus life". J and I both immediately were alert. "Campus life"? I asked, "as in a college campus"? She said "Yeah". So we proceeded to ask her questions about what the game was about to try to understand if there might be any partying, drinking, sex, etc. She acted all innocent and said no, it's just about chosing your outfit and going to class. That's all. So after she went to bed, we checked the description of the game in the Apple Store. It actually involved dating and flirting and kissing your boyfriend, etc. So we deleted it and checked on some of her other games. She had three more games that were just inappropriate for a 10 year old, talking about "dressing up in the hottest, sexiest fashions and going to the hottest clubs to flirt with the hottest boys." The age levels on some were marked as 4+! Ridiculous! Anyways, we deleted them all and asked her mother to be more aware of what she plays on her phone also. We talked to Jane the next day and explained that games like this are too mature for her and we better not find anything like that again on her iPad.

So fast forward one week, and what do I find? Another game about dancing on the beach in your hottest bikini with the hottest guys, and flirting it up to win a date! What part of our talk last week did she not understand? This is what gets me sometimes. I am totally cool and calm and collected during the first talk, because it is something we have never sat down and discussed before, and she just doesn't understand. But NOW it's different. We HAVE talked about it, and she DOES understand. She is now directly disregarding our rule. So what do I do? I let J handle it. =) He took her to the store with him and discussed it in the car and she apologized to me when they got home. I've been finding some other games for her that she has really enjoyed and they are actually educational and good for her!

Now, let's discuss last week with Kate. I was upstairs cleaning when I noticed her journal on the floor with a pen by it. It wasn't there the day before, so I figured she must have been up writing in it the night before. She had drawn a lot of pictures and written some sentences. Then I turned a page and read something that made me sick to my stomach. "I am here and I will kill you dead. Whaaa-ha-ha." At that moment, I had a choice. I could ignore that and act like I never saw it. But that would make me no better than the Newtown shooter's mom. Or I could confront the issue and find out why she wrote this. The rest of the day I was plagued with thoughts about how kids that feel bullied, picked on, and made fun of are way more likely to resort to violent acts, either on themselves or others. Then I kept thinking about how Kate is constantly upset because she feels bullied by Jane. (Again, something I still need to write about). Then we have all these kids committing suicide these days due to bullying, and shootings by people who were made fun of a lot. So my mind is in high gear, and I started putting all these things together. Kate several months ago got in trouble with me for repeatedly looking at a picture of a bloodied up little boy on a movie cover in Blockbuster. She also said something once about not getting scared anymore during movies and that she doesn't mind if she sees someone's head get cut off. Then she was playing the game bubble bust, where you just pop bubbles with other bubbles--completely non-violent--but she kept saying that she was "shooting people's faces" while playing that. Another incident came to my mind where she mentioned watching the news with her mother and saw a boys face get burned off. All these isolated incidents came back to me and I began to get very sick thinking that Kate has a violence problem. Maybe she does feel more picked on than we realize, and it makes her feel like she needs to lash out with violence. Maybe we have exposed her to too violent of movies at a young age. Maybe even J and I tease her too much even though we do it in good-natured fun. She is such an emotional child, it could be that she hasn't learned how to take teasing.

So later that evening after J and I had talked it over, we brought Kate in and made sure she knew we just need to tell her about a new plan. (If she feels like she is "in trouble", the girl will completely shut down and just cry and not absorb anything you say or give you any answers to questions.) So we brought up the journal and what we saw in it and asked her why she wrote it or what it was about. We got nothing. She just sat there and played dumb and acted like she didn't remember. So that angle didn't work. So then I asked her if she ever felt picked on. She said "Yes." I asked her where she feels that way the most--at school, at home, and she immediately answered "By Jane." I asked her how it made her feel other than sad. She said it makes her want to hurt Jane, physically. So now we are getting somewhere. So then we talked to both girls and established a "stop word". If either of them feels made fun of or picked on or bullied by each other or even us, before they start to feel angry, they just say the word "red" and it stops immediately. We explained we are going to have zero tolerance from now on for violence or for bullying. We will be more careful about movies we watch and games they play. So far the "stop word" has been working well. Kate has used it a handful of times, and everyone immediately stopped. We still have a lot of improvement needed in the "getting along" department, but hopefully this incident is a baby step in that direction.

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