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On taffy and jelly donuts

April 26, 2010

During vacation, BH’s sister casually asked Skiddle how her mom felt about the twins.  Skiddle’s non-committal grunt made me curious but she changed the subject so deftly that no one else seemed to notice.

While dropping Skiddle off last week, I brought it up.  It took a few moments of pulling answers out of her like so much taffy (she is 14 after all) to get the whole story but in the end she finally admitted that she’d gone home after we’d announced the news of the twins and told her mother that she was upset about the fact that her father is going to be someone else’s Daddy.  This was no secret to us – she is the supreme “Daddy’s Girl” after all (and I’m sure she will continue to be, despite her fears about the twins usurping her position in the family.)  I asked what her mom had said when she found out.

“She said, ‘That’s unfortunate.  Your sister will be upset.’”

My brain immediately morphed into an oozing jelly donut of emotion, as it usually does when trying to sort out, on the fly, how to react to something extraordinarily inappropriate that her mother has said or done without letting on to Skiddle just how…obtuse her mother can be at times.

My first reaction was indignation on Skiddle’s behalf.  Skiddle had just admitted to her mother how upset she was and instead of comforting Skiddle and talking through her feelings, Mother immediately thought about the impact this situation would have on her other daughter – the one who chooses to have nothing to do with us. Seriously, I’ve never met the girl.   She’s a sophomore at a college three states away.  How could this possibly impact her? (This is Skidde’s older half-sister, let’s call her Wednesday.) And why in name of all that’s even slightly maternal would her mother simply dismiss Skiddle’s feelings and go right to how poor, dear Wednesday would feel about it?

Can I get a WHUCK right now?

{whuck, whuck}

As we drove in silence for a few moments, I wondered, not for the first time, how many generations it had taken before her mother’s ancestors finally stopped eating their young.   While Skiddle has mentioned before that she feels her maternal grandmother favors Wednesday, she’s never come right out and said the same about her own mother.  Experience has shown me that this particular mother seems to overcompensate for (a) never marrying Wednesday’s father (b) marrying my BH, thereby providing a father for both Skiddle and Wednesday but then by (c) divorcing BH thereby removing the father figure for Wednesday – by treating Wednesday with much deference – and by putting Skiddle’s needs second.  Always.

[For the record, BH was happy to continue in his role of father to Wednesday; she chose to turn her back on the relationship with many indignant, “You’re not my father, don’t try to tell me what to do”s thrown in.  Despite this fact, BH still pays most of her tuition and other financial needs because if he didn’t, she would have been relegated to attending a (not exactly sub-par) state school instead of the wonderful top-ranked university she presently attends.  – And let me just put this out there lest the jellyroll that is my head explode into a sticky red mess all over your computer screen – this stellar Mother feels that she should not have to pay more than 10% of either of her own daughters’ expenses.  And even though Wednesday knows that BH pays for it all BY CHOICE – not because he’s forced to but BECAUSE IT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO AND IS IN HER BEST INTEREST, when we ran into her and Skiddle at the grocery store a few weeks ago, Wednesday simply put her nose in the air as if she smelled something rank and walked by without a word.]

Sorry, my cap lock key seems to have gotten stuck there for a moment.  Or was I shouting?  I was shouting, wasn’t I?  Again, sorry.  Back to the point of the matter here:

Skiddle is upset about the twins and when I asked why she didn’t tell us this, even though we opened the forum for discussion, she said, in her true, sweet Skiddle way, “But you guys are so excited about it.  I didn’t want to hurt your feelings.”

So she went where she felt safe to discuss it and her mother’s only concern was for Wednesday.  Now.  Let me just also put this out there.  I know that teenagers and children of divorce learn to manipulate situations to gain the best advantage.  But Skiddle does not have a history of playing the victim.  And the few times she did try to play one parent off the other, she was called on it and learned pretty quickly that her father was going to do what he feels is the right thing to do under all circumstances, regardless of whether Skiddle or Mother think it’s “unfair” and even if “all the other kids are doing it” – so she stopped trying to play that card around, oh, eleven.

But – if history is the best indicator of future performance, her mother very likely immediately went to how Skiddle’s sister would react instead of focusing on the fact that her daughter just told her she was upset about this.

When Skiddle was in 8th grade, there was an opportunity for her to test into a private school.   She took all the steps she needed to align her proverbial ducks so that when she presented the idea to her parents, all the work was done.  She had figured out that the school was actually a few miles closer to her mother’s house than the public school and, though there wasn’t bus service from her house per se, there were ways to get her there (either by car pooling to a bus stop or to the school itself).  She had gotten the application, completed it and researched test dates.  Then she presented it to us.  We said, “Great, what do you need from us?” and moved from there.

Her mother, however, said, “If your sister didn’t get in there, there’s no way you’re going to.”

Aside from the obvious parenting faux pas of comparing siblings in a manner that makes one appear to be lacking, this makes my head want to explode like the light of a thousand suns.

Or a jellyroll.

So.

It’s critically important to us that Skiddle feels comfortable enough to discuss her feelings about the twins.  And I always thought she knew that before.  After this discussion, however, it’s clear to me that (1) she does not feel comfortable discussing it with us and (2) the person she tried to discuss it with (Mother) does not have the skill set to help Skiddle work through it.

What’s next?  I don’t know.  But I sure could use some help here.  Anyone got a suggestion or experience with this sort of thing?

Bueller?

Bueller?

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4 Comments
  1. After reading this I’m so irritated at Skiddle’s “mother” for you, that if you’d like I’d come out your way and punch her in the nose.

    I think I may need to think before answering any actual question, I’m so annoyed.

  2. I know, right? It’s a challenge, for sure. We’ve tried to get Skiddle to open up about how she really feels but other than saying that it will feel weird to see her father “daddying” someone else, we don’t get much.

    She is resistant to change, though once it happens, she inevitably embraces most things. I hope the same holds true in this circumstance…

  3. alexicographer permalink

    Hey,

    I’ve been away, and I’m not sure. I’m sorry you (and particularly Skiddle) are dealing with this. I’d guess maybe the more you can talk openly about any of your not-so-positive feelings with Skiddle, perhaps the better. I don’t mean to use her as a sounding board but to the extent that you are experiencing worries about how the twins will change your lives, or how you’ll cope, or any downsides related to the donor egg/surrogacy aspects of bringing new babies into your family, perhaps mentioning those things in an in-passing sort of way will allow her to see that you, too, aren’t all sunshine and roses about this (not to say it’s not a very positive thing, but all the same, not every aspect of welcoming an infant into our lives, at least for me, was positive or pleasant or easy). Maybe that would make it easier for her to discuss the negatives?

    We were lucky about this in that my stepkids were truly out of our house and basically adults (er, 24 and 26, so by any reasonable definition) and did, I think, truly experience having a little brother on the way and then here as a positive (which I suspect might not have been true at Skiddle’s age, though of course who knows?). If not, they’ve been remarkably quiet about it (and they are flat out wonderful with the actual brother). So I’m not much help … sorry about that.

    • Actually it is helpful. :o) She is a little bit of a contrarian (sort of like her father)… when I’m whining about something, they both (independently usually) try to find the good things about the situation and point them out to me. My nephew calls them “Positive Pete and Adrenalina” (though BH’s name is Ed and Skiddle prefers simply J). I like your idea. The truth is that not all of this will be rosie and perfect. And I’m certainly scared shitless at times that I’ll mess them up. But having the chance to “mess things up” occasionally with Skiddle has given me the chance to learn how to make better choices. And she really does have some great ideas when we work on a plan for something ‘together’ versus me planning it and asking for her help…

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