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As scary as it sounds, I think I've become my father....

A little background: Almost 4 years ago, I got a call from the Social Services Dept in my city. My then eight year old niece (my deceased brothers child) was there - she'd run away from her mother, social services was investigating the allegations and after speaking with both of her grandmothers, they felt that she should come and stay with me for a bit. I said of course she should come and stay (I didn't think it would be long term - I didn't think things had escalated to that level - I was wrong) and she's been here ever since.

I got permanent custody two years ago, which makes things easier and we've made our way and I think we've made ourselves into a family. We are working on functional. She's doing well in school; I've bought a house; I had a dog and cats before; now we also have the usual assortment of creatures that live in enclosed habitats; she plays soccer, we go to the library on Saturdays....

Most days are good and I'm pleased with my choices and satisfied with my life. She's doing much better and hasn't had one of her rages in a long time. Her therapist is happy with her progress. I am happy with her progress.

(Now starts the whining, in case you want to run):

Today is not one of the good days. I bought an older house - it was convenient to our lives and in a neighborhood I liked, but it needed a good bit of work. I've spent the last two years working on it and the inside is mostly finished.

I had planned to buy a condo, but I thought a kid should have a yard (see what I mean about my father?), so I bought a house. The yard is/was in horrible shape, but I'm working on it.

Today, I just wanted to get done what I'd hoped to get done in the yard. I have a five year plan for it and I'm on track. Little miss, on the other hand, wanted to stay in and watch TV. She saves all of her TV hours for Sunday and then wants to lay on the couch and watch TV all day, unless I take her somewhere, like the park. We don't go to church, but I do try not to do "work" on Sundays - no errands, etc. Most Sundays, I'm ok with her routine, it comes from her mother, but this Sunday, not so much.

I've been out of town for a week at a conference - living the high life (well...), going out every night and generally suiting myself. When I got home, I got an eye roll about this and that and Friday night, got cussed at - I'm not sure why - I think she was angry at me for leaving her or worried or something. But it's been some time since that happened, so I'm actually not so upset. Also, the therapist warned me that we might see some normal adolescent behavior and described what it might look like. I'm reserving judgment until I speak with her.

Anyway, today, the noise of TV was annoying, as were the tree roots I've been trying to dig up. The wisteria I dug up all last year is back like something out of a nightmare and I was not interested in cooking a big breakfast as I normally do (though I did it). And then I started to get resentful - "I didn't sign up for this, I chose not to have children, I'm not parent material, I want to do what I want to do when I want to do it." (whaaaaaaaaaa, poor, poor pitiful me).

Sometime in there, I saw her walking down the hall, trailing her fingers along the wall, as usual, and I said (here's the my dad part) "must you hold on when you walk down the hall?" My father has been dead more than 20 years. How is it that his words come out of my mouth?

My other brother called shortly after and wanted to bring his kid over to dig roots - there was some sort of transgression - missed curfew by 6 minutes or something - so, fine, dig away, but then I had to listen to parental advice for 2 hours. If only I'd do this or do that or tell her this or say that. And then listen to his list of what he'd never, ever tolerate from a kid. Usually, I just blow it off and he shuts up after about 10 minutes, but today I chose to argue back and so had the whole two hour spiel. I've heard this sort of thing before - "well, you've never had children, so you can't really tell when she's sick." I'm sure I've not heard that pregnancy hormones give you some sort of knack for knowing if someone is sick. And, not for nothin', but I do have a masters degree in a hard science. I feel fully qualified to correctly use and read a digital thermometer. After all, she's 12 years old, not 12 days....

Little miss had an invitation to dinner with a friend - I was glad to let her go. And I'm sitting here trying to remind myself that I did, in fact, sign up for this - I actually signed papers and spoke to a judge. My brother has always been a pompous jerk and probably always will be, but he did come to help me with my root problems. I am not my father (wrong sex and everything), but for his times, he was considered a good parent, so I could do worse. And even when I lived alone, I didn't go out all that much - conferences are different from real life.

So while I should be straightening up the house and getting us ready for the week, I think I'll just sit here a little longer and have a nice cup of tea.

Thanks for listening.
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Yeah, there are days that you realize why some species eat their young.
with love,
Kathleen
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(((payinitdown)))

I don't have any advice, but you do have my sympathy. I'm in a similar boat - we're in the process of adopting DH's 14 year old nephew. I know we're doing the right thing and that it will all somehow work out in the long run, but sometimes it's hard not to be resentful.

Just remember to take time out for yourself and enjoy that cup of tea!

:-) Juice
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Little miss had an invitation to dinner with a friend - I was glad to let her go. And I'm sitting here trying to remind myself that I did, in fact, sign up for this - I actually signed papers and spoke to a judge. My brother has always been a pompous jerk and probably always will be, but he did come to help me with my root problems. I am not my father (wrong sex and everything), but for his times, he was considered a good parent, so I could do worse. And even when I lived alone, I didn't go out all that much - conferences are different from real life.

You are doing a good thing, and I know that if there was some way for your brother to thank you, he would.

I think all (maybe only most, but I bet closer to all) parents of pre-teens and teenagers have to remind themselves that they chose to have kids. You chose one way, I chose another, but 12 year olds are 12 year olds.

Rebecca
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