Tonight, Jetsam brought the kids back to our house from their weekend visitation with her.  Tonight, we attempted to talk to her about Monkey’s increasingly defiant attitude (a reminder, she’s 12 years old and in 6th grade – Junior High for us).  In the last week, we received 2 separate calls from the principal regarding her behavior, detentions she was to serve but didn’t; and the outright lies told to the teachers.

She had to serve “Friday Night School” for the first infraction.  For those who don’t know what that is, that is detention, on Fridays, held from 4:00pm until 7:00pm.  Three straight hours of sitting at school, being bored, instead of planning your weekend…….fun.  We knew about that detention on Tuesday.  We even knew we might get another call about an incident on Monday.  What we didn’t know was instead of calling us the teachers gave Monkey another detention to be served on Thursday after school for the Monday incident.  She told one teacher she had detention with another and neither checked with the other until Friday – when both found out she skipped out of Thursday detention all together.

The principal called Hun on Friday afternoon about what Monkey was doing.  After talking, Hun decided to sit with Monkey during detention to make a point – he will do whatever it takes to get her to understand that her behavior is unacceptable.  When he walked up to her standing outside talking with her friends (instead of heading to detention where she was supposed to be), he said the look on her face said it all – she was mortified and embarrassed.  While I hate that he embarrassed her (it is Junior High after all), I am glad something got through to her.  She was not at all thrilled about the questions Hun asked about spending an actual day with Monkey at school and received the response of, “Any time, any day, no appointment needed – just check in at the office for your badge.”

Anyway – because we took her (and the others) straight to Jetsam’s house after Friday Night School and Jetsam was still at work, we didn’t get a chance to actually talk to Jetsam or Monkey about the issues going on until tonight.  Hun and I talked before they came over and discussed the need to talk about the behavior issues and the upcoming Christmas holiday and where everyone planned on being and when.  When Jetsam and the kids arrived, the holiday schedule was easy-peasy to hash out (we’ll have the kids the weekend before and take them over to her house Christmas Eve night because of her work schedule, she’ll have them until the next weekend when we’ll get them back for New Year’s) and then we went into the behavior issues.

Hun started out the conversation with Jetsam while the kids were in their rooms and she proceeded to tell us that Monkey is acting out because she’s not getting the attention at home (i.e. our house).  She talked about how she’s always talking to the kids and how they tell her how much they hate living at our house and how they can’t wait to move in with her when they turn 18 since we won’t let them move back in with her before then.  She added that she doesn’t know what’s going on with Monkey’s attitude since she is giving her the same attitude at her house.  She continued the conversation with how she would love to help but her hands are tied as she’s just an outsider who only gets to see HER kids when we allow it.

Hun and I attempted to talk to Jetsam about what options we had left for discipline with Monkey and how we’re planning on putting her in counseling since everything else we’ve been trying has failed.  She commented that their attitude has been getting worse and worse since we took custody of them 6 years ago against HER better judgment.  I asked Jetsam at what point was she going to hold her kids responsible for their choices instead of blaming Hun and I for all of their woes.  She turned around and asked us when we were going to accept responsibility for making their lives miserable.

Hun attempted to get the conversation steered back to what WE (the three of us adults in Monkey’s life) were going to do about her behavior as it was going in a scary direction.  Jetsam again brought up how I ruined their marriage and how Hun chose me over her.  A deaf ear was turned, yet again, at both Hun and my adamant denial about how we didn’t even meet until 6 months after they had separated.  Hun again tried to turn the conversation back to Monkey stating the past was the past.  Jetsam insisted that it needed to be resolved with both parties admitting to the truth.  Hun and I looked at each other with a look that seemed to say “How?  How do you talk when one party refuses to listen?”

At some point in the conversation, it seemed like a good opening to bring up a concern I had regarding Jetsam’s “live-in friend”.  This is an issue I’ve been trying to get Hun to talk to Jetsam about for about 6 weeks now.  He hasn’t outright refused, but was hesitate to open the can of worms.  I have felt (and still feel 3 hours later) that it didn’t matter, the subject needed to be spoken about.  Monkey has refused to go to her own mom’s house by herself while the “friend” was there and Jetsam was at work.  Remember the band competition weekend where we went out of town?  Hun and I tried to convince Monkey to go to her mom’s house for some one-on-one bonding time.  She refused.  There was another instance since then that Monkey refused again.  She’ll go when LaLa goes, but not if she won’t be there.  For whatever reason Rowdy being there is no comfort to her.

This speaks volumes to me that something isn’t right.  When asking Monkey about it, she refuses to admit anything is wrong.  Asking the other kids gives us no answers either – they just say she doesn’t like that he smokes.  Umm…..doesn’t compute…..Jetsam smokes…..there’s something else going on – or at least the signs point that something is wrong.  Once we realized she wasn’t comfortable going over there, we didn’t press the issue and allowed her to stay with us.

Bringing this concern up to Jetsam and pointing out the pattern got us answers of “she doesn’t like that he smokes.”  I pointed out to her that she smokes, not a good reason in my book.  She commented that she didn’t even know Monkey was given the option of going to her house that weekend; she just assumed we said NO (instead of actually talking to us about the possibility).  Jetsam seemed shocked when we told her we attempted to convince Monkey to go over there, but Monkey refused.  She said she’s talked to Monkey and the others and insisted she would know if something was wrong.  She then said it didn’t matter as the “friend” has moved out and isn’t coming back (that was said before….he was back within 3 months).  I implored her to make sure he didn’t – her daughter’s safety might be on the line.  She insisted he wouldn’t be back.

We went back to the counselor angle and said hopefully if anything did or didn’t happen, the counselor would find out, or at least help us to understand how to help Monkey and her behavior.  Jetsam brought up her stint with living out of state and how when she returned 6 months later, the kids’ attitude with her was different.  She implied that she didn’t know what had gone on in our house during that time frame, what was or wasn’t said, but highly implied that anything “untoward” happening now was the result of our negligence then, not hers.  Hun and I didn’t bother countering with their attitudes might have been different because their mom left them to move 5 states away, not because of actions that may or may not have happened at the daycare at the time like she is currently suggesting.

The whole conversation ended with Hun, Jetsam and I attempting to talk to Monkey about her attitude together.  After a few minutes, I stepped out to let the parents continue the talk.  What I heard next was mind-boggling to me as a parent myself.  Jetsam offering, no bribing, Monkey to behave….that she would pay her $20 if she behaved for the next 2 weeks.  Of course, Monkey was all over that and readily agreed to the terms.  The two of them were laughing about the deal and Monkey was insisting that she would be taken to the mall to go shopping with that money.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and stepped back into the room to make sure I was hearing it right.  Jetsam tried to get Hun to agree with her and join in, but he said that was their deal.  I was hearing them right!  Jetsam tried to comment after the fact that Monkey needed to continue being good, even after she succeeds with their “deal”.  Monkey agreed without hesitation – like most kids would do in a situation like this – and they shook hands on the agreement.

As Hun and I are the ones that deal with the brunt of Monkey’s attitude and behavior, I offered up the suggestion that if Monkey didn’t behave, then maybe she would need to “pay” the money back to Jetsam by doing work if she got into trouble again.  Jetsam agreed with that suggestion – Monkey gave me an evil glare and refused to shake hands with her mom again saying she already agreed once, she didn’t need to agree again.  For whatever reason, Jetsam thought that was just fine.

{Sigh}

It’s going to be a long haul with both of them.

There was more to the conversation that went in a totally different direction, but as this post is already longer than I like it to be; I’ll save that part of the conversation for another time.

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