~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!~

Thursday, February 27, 2014

My 11 year old kid is barking like a dog.... HELP!

Jane has been exhibiting some strange behavior lately. I wrote last week about her "emotional ups and downs", but now it is more than just emotions. She is acting out. Her dad and I have both separately and together sat her down in the past and talked about ADHD, what it does to her brain, how to recognize behaviors resulting from it, learning to control herself, etc. This week however, she is just outright out of control, and I can't get through to her. She has outbursts of all these strange noises, will talk in different indiscernible voices, squeal, suddenly scream for no reason, bark like a dog, and she doesn't even know she is consciously doing these things. I don't know if she is just feigning innocence, in denial, or honestly doesn't know, but she looked at me this morning and said "What outbursts? I haven't made any sounds." It is very disheartening to sit by and watch her act like this, because I thought she had made so much progress and was well beyond this point. I started thinking it could be a self-defense mechanism, a sign of something else going on, but I don't know anything going on that could be bothering her. Maybe there is some kind of trouble at her mother's house.

What do I do? Should she get "in trouble" for having a condition she didn't choose? Should she be scolded because she is old enough to control herself better? Do we just let her be, and see if she stops behaving this way soon? Poor Kate had to calmly ask her 4 times on the way to school to "Please keep your hands to yourself, Jane" because she keep randomly reaching over and grabbing her. Three teachers on her last report card wrote comments about her being impulsive, talking disruptively, and not participating well in class. She is on the highest dose of medication allowed for her size, and it has always worked well until the last few weeks. I'm at my wit's end, but here is what I constantly remind myself:

1. LOVE her, not her behavior, and SHOW her you love her.

2. Don't make her feel bad about herself. When correcting, tell her she is choosing to let the ADHD control her, instead of her controlling it.

3. Be positive. You CAN do this. Show her how happy everyone is around her when she is behaving with self-control.

4. Make yourself available and open if she finally decides to share something personal, or let her defenses down and become vulnerable. Watch for signs of the root problems that is causing this sudden change in behavior.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Tween girl emotions

I know I do it. I know all women to a certain degree go through it. Jane is now caught up in it: The emotional roller-coaster of womanhood. Ughh. It's bad enough just handling my own hormones. Now she is giving me a run for my money on who can be the moodiest woman in the house! I just can't wait until Kate joins us.... j/k!

I've been pushing her a little to open up and talk more instead of keeping her face buried in a book or ipad screen all the time. I pushed a little too hard and made her cry. Then I started crying. Then we were a blubbering mess together for no apparent reason. It's ridiculous. So then, she went off and ignored me at school one afternoon and wouldn't look my way or even acknowledge that she knew me. It hurt pretty bad, so J talked to her, and she hugged me real tight and said she was sorry and didn't mean it, and we started crying again. Later that night, she said I was basically a nanny, which hurt my feelings again, so the next morning she called me "mom" to make it better. It's just up and down, up and down... I don't know if I can handle teen girls for 10 more years!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Never show up, but take all the credit

Our kids have had a lot of activities lately that have required a lot of time on our part. Jane had a Greek Festival at school, and had to wear a homemade Greek toga. Parents had to volunteer to go help out with the Greek Olympic races between the students. She didn't get any help from her mom for her costume, but instead put the entire responsibility on my shoulders the night before. So I did what I had to--made the costume and showed up to help with the games.

Her mother never showed up.

Kate had a cowboy breakfast at school to celebrate the Rodeo coming to town. It was to be a family affair, and everyone ordered breakfast tacos in advance. Her mom and stepdad placed an order and promised to be there. I waited and waited with her as she kept looking around, wondering where her mom was.

Her mother never showed up.

Jane had a middle school Neon Nights Glow party, and needed to go shopping for something fluorescent. Her mother promised to take her. It was 2 days before, and Jane still hadn't been shopping. So I finally had to take her shopping myself and took her to the party and chatted with other parents.

Her mother never showed up.

Kate signed up for basketball this season. She got a basketball goal as a birthday present back in November. I've practiced with her for hours and hours, teaching her the rules of the game, shooting skills, offense and defense, technique--everything--to help her be the best player she can be. So this last game, her mother showed up 30 minutes late. Kate was doing a great job on defense against an all boys team. At the end of the game, the stepdad walks over to my husband and says, "Did you see Kate guarding that player so well? Yeah, that was totally [bio mom's name]'s doing. She told her to do that!"

Wow! Really? She never played basketball with Kate, she shows up late, but she gets all the credit. Later, when the girls were out of earshot, J asked me how I liked that comment the stepdad made. He knew it would push my buttons. I just smiled and said, "Yeah, that's what Stepmom is all about."

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Entitlement Issue

I've noticed Jane demonstrating a new attitude lately that really gets under my skin--the whole "If I want it, I will have it" mentality. Now if you are grown and have worked to be able to provide yourself with everything you want, kudos to you. But an 11 year old--not so much. Examples:

"I need heart socks and headbands and earrings to wear every day for February. Think you can make that happen?"

"You have to do my nails with blah blah color and blah blah pattern for my school dance Friday."

"Uh, no....I'm not wearing this homemade toga for Greekfest (that you worked all day on and I forgot to tell you about until the day before.) You need to go to Party City and get me a real costume."

Yes, she is a very privileged child and has always received pretty much everything she wants. The difference is that now she is starting to demand it, and believes she is entitled to her every whim. I know she's a little old to start breaking her of this now, but what's been done in the past is past. We've got to address this attitude now. And it is very hard in a stepfamily to not give our child what they want, because in the back of our heads, we know if we say "No", they will just go demand it of their other set of parents. That won't teach them any lesson at all. Several times Jane has asked for something, and I have purchased whatever it is, and saved it for birthday, Christmas, Valentine's...whatever is next, only to find she went ahead and already got it out of her mom. So we have to approach this carefully. Maybe we should let her know she is going to get it if... and put conditions or chores on as a way of earning it instead of just being handed everything on a silver platter. She still may run to her mom for it, but maybe there will be less chance of that if she knows we are planning on it once she has earned it. I don't know. How do you other stepfamilies handle this entitlement attitude?