Saturday, November 30, 2013

Warped Reality

My hubby and I never thought we'd utter the words "Why can't she just like One Direction?". But we did.

Somewhere in the last thirty days we've gone from having a british obsessed laughy happy teen who is O.B.S.E.S.S.E.D. with the likes of Harry, Nial and some other names I do not know but adorn the walls of her bedroom (every squre inch to be exact) to a girl with tears because she wants to attend some all day shindig with bands who look like miniature Marilyn Manson protégées and her parents are not super excited about it. What the F??

Now, I'm perfectly sympathetic to changing the tone of your tunes as a teen because some boy you have the latest crush on totally wants a chick who knows all the words to Ruby Soho but wanting to dress up like this guy:

for Halloween and calling him your "hero" has struck a not so happy nerve in our house. Oh and don't say that he looks like a guy from Kiss because that will also create a hysteria fueled, eye rolling arguement you don't want any part of. We aren't sure what is driving this change but we're willing to do what we can to curb it -- and quick.
A couple of weeks ago ago hubby and I were sitting on the couch, enjoying a perfectly relaxing evening when we noticed a new post by B on her Facebook.
"OMG..My parents are SO MEAN!! I'm probably going to be in trouble for posting this but they don't understand my EnTirE world revolves around (insert band names). They won't let me go to Warped Tour!!! Who else is going?? MY LIFE IS OVER!!! I'm going to be 14 and a half when it's here!! This is DUMB! They think there will be smoking and drugs and fighting. They don't know anything about concerts - I'VE DONE MY RESEARCH"
Naturally we ignore the rant and keep an eye on the comments. It seems little Miss Drama-Never-Been-to-a-Concert's friends weren't piping up about how awful we were in a timely enough fashion that the post was hastily removed after a few minutes. Oh the need for likes and social gratification. Even with the post missing the hint dropping over tickets for Christmas kept up over the next week or so. This wasn't going away and we needed a plan.
While most parents would stick to their guns and decide the all day band fest is no place for their kid, we chose another path. We have called her bluff. We have now offered to take her and ALL her friends (because EVERYONE she knows is going) that want to go as long as she pays her own admission. All the headbanging, face painted, ear wrenching jam fest she can handle -- as she sits next to her dad and me. For us, we think this phase is about the attention she wants or some boy she's crushing on rather than the true desire to attend this show. Only time will tell if she will back off this or not but in the mean time - we're planning our outfits and stocking up on studded collars -- and ear plugs.
Have you ever been tested by your teen? Did you pass the test or get schooled?
To be continued....


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Great Coat Debate

Did you think we'd fallen off the earth? Been stabbed to death by Mama Ex? Buried in dirty clothes from our stepkids?

No...we just got lazy and forgot to write for three months. It happens.

But yesterday something snapped me (Ruby) back to the land of reality. As I stood there, unsure what to do, I realized that I cannot possibly be the only stepmom (or mom for that matter) dealing with this crisis. Surely all the other stepmom bloggies out there are experiencing the same things as me.

Because it's winter. And winter means coats. And coats are like Kryptonite laced with heroin dipped in hummus for children.

It all started Monday morning, when I saw the temperature was going to be 28 degrees as the kids headed off to the bus. For those of you who flunked Science (like me), 28 degrees means BELOW freezing. As in, "Oh, I think I'll have a glass of water outside, but I can't because it turned into an ICE CUBE."

Hubs and I are usually pretty lenient when it comes to what the kids wear to school in winter. It was this side of 15 years ago that we were the ones schlepping off to school in whatever concoction our parents forced us into. Myself? I can clearly remember going to my 7th grade locker in slush-covered purple moon boots. That's right. Purple. Moon snow boots. And this was way before "Napoleon Dynamite" made them trendy. It didn't really matter to the other kids that I had Doc Martens in my book bag because I had to change out of my PURPLE MOON BOOTS before I could put the Docs on. I was ridiculed and laughed at, and I swore I'd never let my children feel that humiliation.

So, do I force my stepkids into galoshes, hats, scarves, thermal underwear and ski goggles? No. Do I hem and haw all over them, checking for any piece of skin that might be exposed to the deathly elements outside? Hardly. Do I insist that when it's below freezing they at least wear a light jacket?

Effing right, I do.

You would think I asked my 13-year-old step daughter to please cut off her right hand and place it in the donation bucked for underprivileged countries to use.

It went a little something like this:

Me: Hey honey, the temp is 28 degrees right now.You need a coat today.

M: But Ruby! You said I didn't have to because you're picking me up from school today!!!!!

Me: (chuckles) Um, no, what I said was, you don't have to wear your heavy, fur-lined winter coat today. But you at least have to wear your heavy sweatshirt or your light puffy coat.

M: (lip quivering) But...but...but, I DON'T HAVE ANYWHERE TO PUT IT!!!!! WAHHHHHH!!!!!

Me: That's why the school gave you that metal box called a locker, silly.


Me: (speaking softly) Okay, M, here's the deal. When I tell you to wear your glasses at school, and you don't do it, I don't say anything. When I ask you to please not wear the same shirt three days in a row and you do it anyway, I don't say anything. When I beg you to make sure all the shampoo gets washed out of your hair, and then I see you walking around with chunks of Tresseme on your scalp, I don't. say. anything. But this is your health. This is so I don't have to visit you in the hospital while you lose a finger to frost bite. You are going to wear a coat. I don't care what you do with it once you get to school. Hide it behind a trash can for all I care, but you are going to wear a coat, and that's the end.

M: (crosses arms and glares) Mommy doesn't care if I wear a coat or not!!!

Oh no she didn't.

For most stepchildren, this is a textbook bluff. It's easy to say "Mommy let's me do this" or "Mommy doesn't make me do that" because kids figure there's no way for their parent to verify the truth. After all, Mom and Dad want to speak to each other about as much as cats want to take a hot, steamy bath. But in this case, M wasn't bluffing. Mama Ex truly does not care if her children wear a coat in sub-zero weather. Or if they wear their glasses. Or if they brush their teeth. Or change their underwear. (We've talked about this before.)

So how are Hubs and I supposed to respond to this? I know it's not healthy to begin a verbal diatribe on Mama Ex's life choices that have left her broke, miserable and all together unhappy. But it's so damn tempting.

In the end, I took a deep breath and said, "What Mommy chooses to let you do is her business. But Daddy and I want you to be healthy, and that means wearing a coat. This is not negotiable."

And I walked away.

And felt guilty. How is that possible? How can I possibly feel guilty for making my stepchild do something that is right? And will I forever be battling this woman whom I hardly ever see but am constantly being compared to? When she grows up someday, will M look back and remember that her mother would rather be her friend and appease her than to have a confrontation and actually be a parent?
The worst part of all of this is what hit me yesterday. Hubs and I only have the kids two mornings a week for school. This means that the other three days, Mama Ex is sending them out into the cold with no coats. And when they get sick (and they will), WE PAY FOR THE INSURANCE THAT MAKES THEM BETTER.

How's that for irony?

What battles do you fight with Mama Ex that seem to never end? Do you make your stepkids wear coats in freezing temps?