Friday, May 16, 2008

Ann's Story Part 34: Ready for My Weekend Off

to the social worker

Well we got Ann off to school this morning. She was particularly grumpy this morning.

I wanted to let you know that Ann is very condemning of a certain habit of ours, one that she sees as "mocking people." This consists in making smart-ass comments about characters on television. So for instance, we were watching Johnny Dangerously last night...which is a very silly movie. Johnny tells the boy in the pet store "I was about to face my greatest challenge yet" and I said, "trying to remove that much eye make-up with stinging your eyes?" Ann has gone from just rolling her eyes and telling us that she finds that annoying to telling us in a loud and intimidating voice that we are really beginning to piss her off.

Roland and I (and Andrew) are not going to stop this behavior. I grew up in a house where the crafting of smart-ass comments was a highly prized skill. Roland and I are educators and parents, and we both bite our tongues all day long. There is no way we are going to start to be polite to ridiculous television characters. I don't know how to explain to Ann that this is something she will have to adjust to.

At the moment I feel very frustrated with her and I guess I am writing to you so that I will not say these things to her, but I feel like telling her that her expectations that (1) everyone will behave in exactly the way she wants them to all the time; (2) that she can express her disapproval or annoyance and everyone all the time and it should be allowed since she is just "expressing her opinion"; and yet (3) no one is allowed to treat her with anything other than total deference, has just got to stop.

I keep thinking about this line from my favorite show, Buffy, "It is not about what's right. It's about power." I have had this conversation with Roland. When Ann tells the boys not to criticize her, and yet criticizes them, she is not trying to get them to follow a moral rule that she is breaking...she is trying to establish the pecking order. We are dealing with her with the language of morality and she is dealing with us in a totally different way. And I don't think she realizes that. She does not see that she is operating in the land of power. Hence her thinking about the thing with B. Monday night. It was wrong for B. to push Mandy, but it was not wrong for Ann to push B. in retaliation. It is not about whether pushing is right, it is about who has the right to push whom around.

This was a difficult morning where Ann seemed to be trying to get my goat, find a way to piss me off so that I would fight with her. Last night she was yelling at Roland because he did not point out to her that there was a make-up exam stapled to the back of the grade check sheet that he gave her "And now everyone is angry at me. That was very important and it should have been turned in, but how was I supposed to do it when I did not even know it was there!" Sigh.

Anyway, I think I am just tired and anxious. I don't know how the visiting Mandy will go. We were in a quiet place with Ann for a while and I am afraid that the added stress is going to bring it back to where it was. I'm exhausted. I use all my powers of diplomacy with Ann. I am "on" all day long. It will be good to have the weekend off.

So thanks for listening to me rant and vent....

Reflections, 2008:
Looking back and now think this was the turning point. Living with Ann was sometimes so exhausting for all of us. I worried about how much of this was fair to Brian and Andrew. I was just barely hanging on.

At the time I wrote this I did have hope. We finally had a regular visiting schedule worked out with Mandy. We were going to get regular breaks. I looked forward to working out something permanent. I hoped for a shared custody or "circle of families model" in which Ann moved back and forth from our two homes. We would get breaks, and Ann would be able to calm down because she would know what was going to happen to her.

I was tired but hopeful. We are on the cusp of a workable permanent plan. I just had to hold on a little while longer.

Part 35

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