Monday, April 19, 2010

Double Standard of Living

After a blissful week with my husband (while my step-kids were at their mom's house), Monday reared its ugly head today - the start of a new "kid week" for us.

I think this transition is not only hard on me, but the kids as well. They are switching gears and re-setting their lifestyle every other week, as are my husband and I. I love having them around and I truly enjoy them, but that's not to say things can't get a bit frustrating or complicated from time to time.

Last week, as the kids went to school on Monday morning, it occurred to me that they were scheduled for dentist appointments today. Knowing that I wouldn't see them until after school today, I needed to communicate their appointment information to their mom so she could let them know the plan. At 4pm today, all three kids were to be at the dentist office for their 6 month cleaning/exams. My oldest two step kids are involved in track this spring, and both had practice after school. But... as any parent knows, getting after-school appointments for three kids can be a bit of a scheduling nightmare.

Appointments during school are out of the question for a few reasons, namely that my husband and I both work full-time jobs and it's not feasible for us to just take off for a few hours mid-day to bring the kids to their appointments. Especially when the kids' mom doesn't work and has ample time to do this.

Also, my husband and I are hesitant to allow the kids biological mom to bring them to appointments because the cost of treatment is no object to her. My husband and I are responsible for 100% of the premiums and 89% of everything insurance doesn't cover. I have a feeling all three kids would be in orthodontia if their mom brought them to even one appointment.

So back to last Monday, when I sent a very brief email asking the kids' mom to notify them of their dentist appointments that were taking place today, and reminding the kids to let their track coaches know about the appointment - so they wouldn't get in trouble for missing practice. I finally heard back from the bio-mom on Friday evening and she said simply "I'll let them know". I have no idea why it took her four days to respond, but at least I know my message was received and the kids were aware of the appointments.

This morning at about 8am, I received another email from the bio-mom, stating that my 16-year-old step-son and my 13-year-old step-daughter did not want to go to their dentist appointments, and would instead be attending track practice. She suggested I reschedule for a time that's more convenient to the children, perhaps during school hours or maybe wait until summer vacation to schedule them. My 11-year-old stepson, however, was "looking forward to" his appointment and would like to see the dentist today, as we'd planned all along.

So much for waiting until 4pm for "kid week chaos" to begin...

Overall, today has been frustrating. The point of my email last Monday was to ensure the kids had ample time to prepare for missing track practice and to make sure the appointments could be confirmed with the dentist office the day before they took place. In one email, bio-mom negated my efforts of scheduling, arranging and communicating.

I responded with a very kind message, letting her know that unfortunately the children do not have a choice with regard to these appointments, and asked her to please communicate that they need to be at the dentist's office at 4pm as we'd previously planned and as we confirmed with the office last Friday.

In the end, my 11-year-old step-son and my 13-year-old step-daughter attended their appointments. My 16-year-old step-son declined to attend his appointment (having been given the "ok" by his mom to not go), and instead he went to track.

I will not be rescheduling his appointment. He can wait until next fall when his siblings go again for their 6-month checkup. I know it's unlikely he will die or suffer long-term effects from missing one checkup; that's not what frustrates me. What does frustrate me is that through my entire relationship with my husband and his kids, there have been double standards enforced by the bio-mom. She actually believes there should be (and tries her best to enforce) one set of rules for my husband and myself, while she adheres to a completely different set of standards.

I'm not yet sure how to deal with this issue. It's not the first time I've experienced something like this from the bio-mom, and I'm certain it won't be the last. She is the most inconsistent person I've ever come across, and she has a justification for everything she does, no matter how irrational or inconsistent it might be.

Just like me. Right now. Justifying my frustration. Huh, maybe she and I aren't all that different after all.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Parents Night Out a Possible Cause of IQ Drop in Children

I wouldn't have believed there was a direct correlation between a kid/teenager's IQ and the presence of his/her parents. However, I found this today, after my husband and I had a night out and the kids dined on delivery pizza:

Note: In our home, we emphasize eating healthy and getting proper nutrition. I'd estimate about 90 percent of our dinners are made from scratch, using fresh ingredients and fresh produce. My step-children usually have a glass of juice (no sugar added) with dinner, as my husband and I typically have a glass of red wine with most dinners. On a very very rare occasion, we will buy soda (or "pop" as my MN friends call it) and the kids can have a can/glass.

I picked up a few cans of the soda shown above when they were on sale at our local grocery store. My husband told the kids they could each have a can with their delivery pizza (another rare occurrence in our home).

There are a handful of meal rules we follow, no matter what. One of them is that there is never, ever (did I mention ever?) food or beverages allowed outside of our kitchen/dining area. There are a few reasons for this, but it all boils down to the fact that food belongs at the table; we do not sit in front of the TV watching shows while we have dinner. Also, for reasons that escape me, my step-children are unable to deliver food to their mouths without dropping a ton of it on the floor - this WITH a table under their chins. I'm afraid of what even one living room meal would do to our carpeting.

Anyway, to wake up this morning and see the empty soda can sitting on the oak ledge in our living room - without a coaster - convinced me that, in fact, there was a significant IQ deficit here last night.

My step-kids are very aware of the following:
  1. No food or beverage allowed in the living room
  2. On occasions when we have company, we use coasters when beverages are brought into the living room.
  3. If you fail to follow rule #1 - and subsequently rule #2 - above, maybe - just maybe - it would be smart to REMOVE THE EVIDENCE!
Some things will never make sense to me.

Oh well, it was totally worth it to have a mid-week date night with just my husband and me. We saw a show/concert and had a great time. I guess we'll deal with the sweat rings on our oak ledges after the kids move out.