Saturday, May 17, 2008

Ann Story Part 35: The Hardest Email

to the social worker

We had a good weekend with just the four of us. We spent time with the boys just relaxing. Today after church we went to the "fish park" and to the Discovery Center. When we came home we asked the boys to have a family conference. We told them that we wanted to know how they felt about Ann living here. Brian thinks things are fine and wants to know if he can go play his game. Andrew asked Brian how he feels when Ann bosses or insults him and Brian says that he wishes she would not call him a bratty little kid, but that's all. Can he go play his game now?

We let him go but Andrew wanted to talk. Things have been hard for Andrew. He said that sometimes, well lots of times, he hates school. Class is fine, but hallways are awful. He hates the way people talk to each other, the way they treat each other. He used to feel like home was the refuge, but now home feels like school. He says that Ann wants to be the older kid. He does not feel like he needs to boss Ann around, but she just won't stop trying to to boss him, "And I am NOT going to just take it." He looked like he was going to cry as he said that.

We talked for quite a while. Once Andrew got going the flood gates just opened up. He has been really stressed. I think that it is hard partly because Ann and Andrew are so close in age. Ann attempts constant power struggles with me and “Hubby”, but we side-step them and maintain our authority. Brian has been bossed around by older siblings for as long as he can remember. He lets it roll off his back and then does whatever he wants. Andrew though is used to being the older kid. He does not have the resources to fight with her, but he also cannot tolerate being bullied. (Carl accepted certain limits. We told him that he was not to boss Andrew around and he didn't. As long as we did not ask him to babysit things were fine.) There were other things. He does not like the way she treats Brian, the way that she tries to monopolize me, and that she is disrespectful of his belongings.

I asked Andrew to tell me really and truly what he wanted. He said that he can live with Ann while things are being worked out, and he knows that could take something like six months, but he cannot face the idea of her living with us forever. It was difficult for Andrew to say that, but I know he felt relieved to say it.

So what does this mean? Well, I obviously won't force Andrew to live with someone that he finds so stressful, so if we were making a permenancy decision right now I would have to tell you to look elsewhere. We have told Andrew that we will ask you to come up with a back-up plan, and that will take the stress off him. We will continue to work with the two of them and it is possible that in 2 or 4 or 6 months things will be different. It makes me sad to write about this, because I do love Ann, but we clearly need to find a solution that will work for all the kids. If the circle of family model gets proposed again I think it would be worth a try.

So let's see how things go.

And I followed that with a letter to my friend
So I emailed Ruby this morning and told her that things should be okay for the interim, but that she needed to come up with a backup plan. We would continue to try to work on Andrew and Ann's relationship and maybe in a few months things would be different.

At the moment I don't think so though. Maybe. If it were just me and Roland I am certain we could turn Ann around, but it would take a couple of years.

Did you know that one of her "complaints" to Ruby about us is that we are too nice? She keeps waiting for the other shoe to drop, trying to figure out what we are up to.

Anyway, I will start putting some mega-effort into her thinking about how she relates to the boys...meanwhile Ruby will put some effort into a back-up plan.
I have been feeling so stressed about this. Now I am sad, but it is good not to be debating anymore.

Reflections 2008:
I wonder if things would have been different if I had never written this. For a long time I thought they would have been. Now I am not so sure.

Part 36

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