A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That

Well, Eva finally called me from California.  She called last night, and she said she was having fun and that she has gone swimming a lot.  She also said she has been in time out frequently for arguing with her step-sister. 

Cue internal rant about letting kids work out their own problems as long as they aren’t harming each other.  What happened to sibling rivalry being natural, and it being the best way for kids to learn conflict resolution?  Instead of expressing any of this, I just encouraged her to try really hard to only say good things to her sister and to try not to fight.

She sounded like she missed us.  I know I miss her more than words express.  Maybe it’s my imagination, but I think it’s my mother’s heart telling me she sounded lonely.

It makes me tear up just to write that.  My baby is lonely, and I can’t do anything about it.  She promised me if things got too bad, that she would tell me.  I promised her I wouldn’t come to take her home unless she asked me.

That’s an awful lot to expect from a six-year-old little girl.

Shortly after we got off the phone, I received a text from her father, asking if I had had a problem with Eva’s behavior.  This is the second such criticism I have received since she’s been there.  The specifics don’t matter, the bottom line is he doesn’t think she’s wonderful.

I really wanted to tell him that no one can alter a child’s personality in twenty-eight days, and if he thought she needed altered to just send her back home where everyone loves her and appreciates her personality.  I didn’t, though.  I am trying very hard to trust Eva’s judgement and to trust God.  Hopefully God is keeping an eye on her while I can’t.

The two things he has complained about are things that really mean nothing in the grand scheme of things.  I feel like he is nit-picking.  It’s not anything new, though.  This was the kind of father he was when he was still involved.

I can’t imagine how happy I will be to see her when she gets back after only twenty-eight days’ absence.  Now, to spend only two days with her to then begin complaining about her behavior after two YEARS’ absence is something unfathomable to me. 

I know it’s hard to trust a mother to even see her child’s faults, much less be honest about them, but Eva is a very well-behaved kid.  Her grandpas spoil her, and sometimes she doesn’t say please and thank you.  She’s ugly acting to her mother when she’s hurting, especially if she’s hurting because of her father’s actions.  She sometimes acts like a cat when she is nervous.  She cries when I make her clean her room.  She only eats when she’s hungry, not when I say it’s dinner time.  This is it.  This is the list of her poor behavior.

The list of her positive attributes far outweighs this list.  Every other oddity is what makes her, her.  I treasure all of it.  I just wish her father could, too.

My husband listened to me rage on last night.  He was quiet while I expressed myself.  He told me later he was ready to bring her home and never send her back.

I agree.

I wish it was all that simple.

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6 Replies to “A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That”

  1. I don’t know you, but I can relate. Except that I am the step mom, and, together with my husband, have raised his two kids and our bio son for 12 years now. Every time my step kids went to their mom’s house, I cringed. 90% of the time they came home with tales of this or that, things that crushed my heart and were hard to reverse. My oldest is now 18. For 5 years we have battled endlessly with his behaviors, brought on by one tiny little conversation he had with his mom in which she told him lies about me and his dad. The words stuck, and he grew resentful and confused. Sometimes I think this “sharing custody” thing isn’t really the best thing for the kids. They’ve had to come to grips, time and time again, with her lack of interest in them and her total interest in herself. And it’s had a lasting, harmful impact on their own well being that has become almost impossible to reverse with any amount of love from us. My suggestion? Don’t always assume your daughter “has” to see her bio dad. Don’t bash him to her, but I don’t think you necessarily have to encourage a relationship, if he’s not interested. I always thought I was trying to foster that mom bond and almost forcing her to be involved, now I wish I hadn’t.

    1. She hasn’t seen him in two years. This was a trial run. He does want to be involved, but from across the country and on his terms. I don’t bash him to her, but I do prepare her for things like ‘Mom and Dad don’t always agree, and that’s ok’ because I’m pretty sure he does say negative things about me. I really do wish he didn’t want to be involved so I could have sole custody. But I realize that’s pretty selfish. I worry every day about the life-long impact this is having on her.

      Thanks for reading and the comments. I’m more than open to suggestions!

  2. Ugh totally hear you about siblings! I was just sitting in at the start of my stepdaughters therapy session when I mentioned our approach was to let the kids solve their own problems unless someone is getting hurt. The therapist responses with “Well how old is C? Can she actually reason with R?” I’m like, really? Learning to reason with people, even ones that are different, older or younger is a life skill! What’s the better alternative? Unfortunately, as I am sure you worry about, time outs could backfire as being seen as one child being favored over the other. Grrrr! She will be relived to be home and in her comfortable place. Hang in there momma!

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