Friday, December 21, 2007

Awesome movie

John came home the other night with a movie that he said he got just for me, because it looked "girly-ish," and therefore, I would watch it and love it so there. It was a movie I had never even heard of, but apparently just came out of video this week. And let me tell you, it was excellent. I even paid laid fees on it so I could keep it an extra days and watch it again. And now I must go buy it. How is it that I never heard of this movie? I never saw previews for it, never saw it advertised at our local theater. But it was sooooo good. It's called Stardust, and it was so reminessent of The Princess Bride, but better, that it was just incredible. So go, watch ti now yourself!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Worst Gift Ever

OK, can I make a confession to you people? I am the world's worst Christmas shopper. I hate it, the pressure to find the right thing, the desire to buy what you KNOW will be appreciated, but you can't afford it so you find some cheap alternative that almost but not quite is the same but it's just not as good as what you wanted to get... It's enough to drive a person crazy. And my poor children. I feel so sorry for them, because they have to go to school after Christmas and hide their heads in shame whenever anyone asks them "So what did Santa bring you?" Arrrrghhhh. And it doesn't help that my John is the cheapest man on the planet. I mean he makes Scrooge look like Santa. (Seriously, we bought a car once, paid less than HALF of what the guy was asking for it, didn't like it, so resold it for halfway between what we paid and what the guy asked for originally, even after it had a major mechanical fault. And he was mad, because he didn't get "full price" out of it. Imagine this man Christmas shopping. Go ahead, I dare you.)

And so for Christmas this year, my children will be getting the following items:

  • The boys made out very well, they both got new beds. (Peanuts' toddler bed was just plain ugly, and Chunky has been fighting his brother every night to sleep in the big bed instead of his crib.) They are very cool beds, the Little Tikes toddler beds, one in the shape of a train, one in the shape of a fire truck.
  • Tons of movies. There were a lot of really cute movies that came out this year, so we bought a bunch (namely, the Spiderman trilogy, Ratatouille, Surfs Up, and many more I can't remember). We don't have cable, and the kids rarely watch TV, so I have a pretty big video collection. I'm pretty sure my daughter has caught on to what I've done though, because we usually buy a couple of movies a month at least, and lately I haven't bought any in their presence. She keeps asking to get different movies and we keep telling her no, with no reason. Unfortunately, she's not stupid, so I'm betting she's figured it out.
  • Socks. Everybody got new socks for Christmas. I HATE folding the boys' socks, because they have 50 pairs of socks that are all different, so it takes forever to match them up. So I bought each boy 2 jumbo packages of matching socks, and I'm giving all their old ones to charity. No more sock matching for me. Yay! (Socks - the gift that keeps on giving... not only do they get new stuff, I get less stress. It's a win win!)
  • Stocking stuffers. John bought a bunch of crap to put in their stockings, you now, the kind of toys you get out of vending machines, or buy for 88 cents at Walmart? I HATE these things, the sponge animals that "Magically expand!" in water, or the cheesy glow light bracelets, but this is the crap he picks up every year. He will get about 5 items per kid, and then stuff the rest of their stocking with fruit. An odd tradition, but one I do actually agree with. It just makes the stocking so heavy we can't hang them after they're full.
  • A video/MP3 player for my daughter. Not an Ipod, I can't afford that nonsense, but a very cute little reasonably priced mp3 player. It's way better than the one I have, darn it.
  • And now, for the worst gift ever - John has decided that at 10, Princess has reached the age where gifts can no longer be toys, but must be useful in some fashion. And so, since the animals are her responsibility, and we now have 2 cats, he got her one of those automatic self-cleaning litter boxes. I have mixed feelings about this. For one thing, I have been begging for one of these things for over 5 years, ever since we got the first cat. So it seems as though this should be a gift for me, rather than her, but she took over litter box duty about a year ago, so maybe not. She also has decided that the cats need gifts this year, so it seems as though this should be a gift for them, not her (but over $100 for a gift for a cat just seems obscene). I don't know why, but for some reason, I just cannot wrap my head around getting this as a gift for a kid.

So, what do you think? Am I the worst parent ever? Or at least, the worst gift giver? What are some of the worst gifts you have ever received?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Liar Liar Pants on Fire

I haven't written in a while because I've been dealing with something at home that just has me floored. I really, really don't know how to cope with this one, so I am putting it to you, the blogging world, to help me out here.

My daughter is a liar. She lies about EVERYTHING. I expect a kid to lie to get out of trouble, but she will lie about what she ate for breakfast, even if you made it for her. And she's persistent. Even faced with irrefutable proof that she's lying, she'll stick to that story. I can find no rhyme or reason for the lies - the only thing I know is that 90% of the time, you can't believe a word she says. Always in the past, these lies have been about mostly minor, inconsequential things. Until the BIG ONE.

A few weeks ago, I'm sitting at work, doing my thing, when my cell phone rings. "Charly Brown? This is Holier-than-thou Snob at Children's Services. We'd like to advice you that your daughter has filed a complaint." Umm, what kind of complaint? "She claims to have been sexually abused by her step brother." OK, pardon me for a few moments while I pick myself up off the floor. And I'm sad to say, the first thing that popped into my head was, "Why would she lie about THAT?"

Here's the thing, as I have said before, I have had some trauma in my life. I was molested when I was 12 by a man who I called Papa for years, and had known sine I was in diapers. While his wife was in the house, and my mom was across the street at the grocery store. I remember going to the police station, and the humiliation of telling that story, over and over and over. And I remember sitting in court at the preliminary hearing, having to tell that story again, to him, while he smirked at me and his wife mouthed treats at me behind him. It was horrible. I wanted to die. And I damn sure didn't tell anyone about it. None of my friends knew what had happened, and when I had to go to court, they all thought it was because I had done something wrong, and I let them believe that rather than correct them. I accepted his plea bargain just so I wouldn't have to do it again at the trial. When I was 15, I was raped by a man I babysat for, while his daughter was sleeping in the next room. I never told anyone, because I didn't want a repeat of last time. And the one thing I have always tried to drill in Princess's head is that NO ONE has the right to touch her, and she should tell me if anything like that ever happens. She's never said a word to me, so the first thought I had was she was lying. And then I immediately felt horrible, and rationalized that there's no way she would lie about this, never. So I get a little more of the story from Children's Services lady, and she makes it pretty clear that she thinks it was a lie. Her only concern right now is to make sure that she has no contact with the alleged offender. Well, that's not going to happen anytime in this lifetime - her step brother lives 4000 miles away. He came to visit us for a few months a year ago, made our lives living hell, and went back home to his mom. I have never in my life felt anything close to the anger I feel every time I think of what that kid did to our family while he was here. Long story for another day, though. Part of the Princess's story though, was that this happened very very recently, like a few weeks ago. First tip off some thing's wrong. Second tip off, in her story, she said she told me and John about it, and we told her it was no big deal, it happens a lot and just to get over it. WTF???? I would NEVER say anything like that. Another tip off - we never left him alone with any of the kids, specifically because we didn't know what kind of person he was. (We don't have a lot of contact.) We had heard he was violent, so while I wasn't looking for this particular type of abuse, I did have a lot of concerns about him beating up on the littler kids, especially her because while the boys are able to entertain themselves for the most part, she has to be the center of attention all the time, and will annoy people endlessly when given half a chance.

So she gets home from school, and I ask her if there's anything she needs to tell me. I can see the panic on her face, the desperate "Oh god, which thing did I get in trouble for this time?" as she searches for an excuse. Eventually, I tell her that I got a phone call from a lady who said she had a very important story to tell me. You can see the little light bulb go on, and then the tears start. Between gasping sobs, she tries to tell me something about Jerkboy and being scared, but I can't understand a word of it through the fit. So I stop her and tell her that I can't understand her and if she wants to tell me the story, she needs to compose herself a little so I can understand. It's like someone flipped a switch. I've never seen tears cut off that quick outside of a drama class. The tone of voice completely changes, the tears are gone like they never happened (which, honestly, I don't think they did, there's no wetness, no sparkle, to nothing). Then she says, "Well, really, I just made it up." And I am flabbergasted. I wonder if she's just saying that because she doesn't think I'll believe her. I wonder what kind of sick, twisted kid I am raising that could just nonchalantly make up a story like this about someone. She goes on to tell me that she chose Jerkboy as her target because he lives far away, so he couldn't get in trouble, and that she never really thought they'd do anything about it anyway, she thought that telling someone at the school was safe, but if she had told me, I would take it to the police. And she tells me that she had to use the tears when she was telling me the story because I'm not "soft" like her teachers at school, I don't believe her all the time so she had to make it more dramatic. So I ask her why in the world she would do something like this. Her answer? Because her teacher doesn't call on her in class often enough when it's time for them to share stories about the topic of the day. She raises her hand every day, but her teacher only calls on her about once a week. So she was jealous. And not very many others were raising their hands on this particular day, so she figured she'd make the best of it.

What kind of monster am I raising? I swear, she has no conscience. I am scared for her, I really am. She has no impulse control. It seems like the second a thought enters her head, she acts on it, without ever stopping to think it through. I know a lot of kids this age are like that, but not like this, not to this extreme. She doesn't care about anything in this world but herself. She is so smart, and a beautiful girl, but it's never enough for her. She has to be the center of attention all the time, and she will do ANYTHING to be there.

So my dilemma has been, what do I do with her? How do you punish this? How do you force a child to see that everything they do affects the people around them, when they just don't care? I kept her home from school for a while, made her sit at the kitchen table by herself all day and write lines (the old "I will not tell lies" drudgery). I grounded her from everything I could think of. I took every toy, book, CD, everything but clothes and school supplies out of her room. And none of it matters. She still acts like nothing ever happened. Every night, she would still attempt to lie about something else before she went to bed. I seriously don't know what to do here. I am failing as a parent, I know that, and I don't know how to make it better. I've read every book I can find about discipline, and attention seeking children. I've put her in counseling, and TWICE she has been removed, by the therapist, because she wouldn't participate. As they put it, it was a waste of their time and a waste of my money until she decided she wanted to put forth the effort to understand and change. And she certainly doesn't seem to want to change any time soon. I've looked into military schools and intervention boot camps. (There's nothing in this state for her age though, I can't do anything til she's 16, which is going to be way too late, if it isn't already.) So here I am, asking for help. Does anyone have any ideas? Anything? Any insights? Please help me, before I raise a sociopath.....