Wednesday, 6 April 2011


Nervous Breakdown # 2,143

Tiger was brought up with a single parent - me - (until WonderMan came along 3 years ago). I have never had the money to buy everything she wanted, or give her wardrobes full of clothes, or have the latest snack craze in her lunchbox. Even before Frog, when WonderMan and I were both working, we were comfortable, but we did not have stacks of disposable (read WASTABLE) income.

 I brought her up to respect everything we owned, and look after the beautiful things she was given. And I have always rewarded that by giving her things that are excellent quality. As an example: I didn't buy the cheap plastic train set from the $2 shop - I saved my pennies and bought the fancy schmany Thomas the Tank Engine wooden train set. Only MONTHS later there was a wooden toy revival where you could suddenly buy a great little wooden train set in any store for a reasonable price (I was incredibly mad when this happened after spending the equivalent of a months grocery budget on the bloody thing.... and then realising the reasonably priced one won't interchange with my Thomas bits... so I have to keep spending ridiculous amounts to expand ours).

 Tiger has always had everything she needs, and is given lovely presents and books - very rarely does anyone in the family give her cheap junk, because they know it will be looked after. 


I'm suddenly telling my family to give her the cheapest, nastiest present they can because she will trash it before the cake is eaten. It will be thrown in a corner, tied up with wool, have little pieces cut off of it, be drawn on, left on the floor, have a milo cup left on it for a week..... you get the picture.

This has been a slow downhill slide, with the brakes failing around about a year ago, since when we have been hurtling down the slope like a rocket sled. 

She refuses to look after anything. She climbs on the furniture, cuts up paper or corners out of her bed sheets, she draws on absolutely everything - including walls. Everything she owns is thrown on the floor. If you ask her to clean her room she will literally sit in the corner all day and not come out to eat or play - but she will not have moved ONE SINGLE PIECE OF THE MESS. 

Her answer to my demands to know why she won't put anything where it belongs, or obey the rules of the house is "I don't want to." Add to this the fact that she doesn't ask for anything - she takes and does what she wants because "I want to." and you can see why my hair is falling out.

Pleas for help from many, many people just gets me rolled eyes and "All kids are like that". Well, you know what? NOT ALL FREAKING KIDS ARE LIKE THAT.  

THEIR FERAL KIDS are like that because they never taught them any better, because they are lazy, self absorbed wankers, who would like nothing better than to be able to afford boarding school so they never have to actually engage with their children.

MY CHILD was taught better. She was taught to put things away, to respect her own and others property, to be respectful to her parents, relatives, friends and teachers.

The only one who I know is getting any respect is her teacher. Apparently the rest of us can go to Hades in her book.

She used to be fine. She had pushy days like any kid, but on balance she was polite, well behaved, friendly and a joy to spend time with.

Now she sulks permanently. I'm serious. The only time she smiles is when everyone falls at her feet and showers her in gifts (but only if it's a gift she wants.... if not... she is likely to sulk at the person who gave it to her and say "Whaddya gimme that for?" while I die a thousand deaths inside...)

I live every day with a girl I detest. I love her always, I try to talk to her, I give her time with just me, doing things she likes, but it ends up a miserable experience. Everything suggested is met with a sulk. When asked what she wants to do we get "Nothing.... " yet two hours later she will be bawling her eyes out that we never spend any time with her, and she never gets to do anything she wants. 

I expected a little Frog jealousy. I appreciate that even I get sick of the free range toddler experience, and it does have an impact on Tiger. WonderMan and I make time for family, time for each of the kids on their own, and each other. Yet any time spent with Tiger (alone or in a group) is likely to result in hospitalisation for extreme blood pressure and a $1000 dental visit from grinding our teeth so hard.

We have tried:

  • gentle reminders about behaviour/tasks
  • rewards programs (at least twenty different types)
  • ignoring the bad and praising the good
  • removing possessions whhich are not looked after or put away
  • refusing to do things for her (ie you don't want to do ___ for me, I don't want to do ___ for you)
ETC, ETC, ETC..... You can give her any consequence, she will shrug her shoulders and mutter "I don't want that toy/that reward/clean clothes anyway". You can offer any incentive - she just doesn't care.

She refuses to get dressed and ready in the mornings.  I have to wrestle a nine year old into her clothes, or drag her up the road after finally losing it and making her go to school on time, whether she is still in her pj's or not. She refuses to brush her teeth, wash her hair, or wash her face twice a day. She refuses to do anything for us, or with us - even things she has been asking to do - when we make time to do them with her when she will sulk and refuse to do it.

I don't know if it stems from issues with Frog, WonderMan, me or her useless piece of pond scum who is registered on her birth certificate. I don't know why she is suddenly refusing to smile at or even look another child in the eye when she has always had plenty of friends. I have tried every way I can of getting her to talk to me. I have always been there to talk to at any time of the day and night, and I have never put her off when she did want to tell me something important. If I was on the phone or doing something I would put it down immediately for her to talk to me. Now her replies are "nothing" "fine" "okay". I've always tried to give her encouragement, praise and a feeling of self worth, and avoided put downs. I tell her I love her every day even though I want to slap her until she loses the attitude. 

I have sought advice from family, friends, counsellors, child behaviour experts. All of them tell me she is going through a "stage" and she will "grow out of it". By the time they deliver this verdict I am usually spitting "She has been IN THIS STAGE FOR THREE F***ING YEARS! HELP ME!!" from between clenched teeth.

Does anyone else live like this? I am actually starting to believe in changelings - because this is a monster, and nothing like the child I raised. 

Tiger's behaviour and attitude is impacting on our family relationships, and especially on Frog's behaviour. I know she's a toddler, but screaming and throwing herself against the wall instead of letting me put her clothes on is pretty damn extreme, and has only happened since Tiger's mornings got really bad.

I've had enough.

My heart is breaking every day... and I'm running out of time to get my child back.

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