I feel like I've gotten the hang of parenting, although I've had it easy... my "child" is a 13-year-old boy in an 11-year-old girl's body, so his maturity outstrips his appearance and place in life, and a lot of the groundwork was already laid by his real parents. All I gotta do is keep him on the right track and encourage him when he has doubts. I don't even feel like him getting suspended is a failure on my part, it's just part of growing up. No, I don't want Dylan to go around thinking it's ok to pick fights, but telling someone "don't do that" isn't as effective in my book as showing them the consequences of fighting.
Apparently, the kids at school are already calling Olivia "Psycho Girl" which... I mean, Dylan seems to be wearing it as a badge of honor, and to be honest I can't blame him... that's a killer nickname. But anyway, fighting is wrong, two wrongs don't make a right, and all that.
Kitty is pushing hard for a stronger punishment. Can't say I blame him... suspension is basically a weeklong vacation. But what can you do? Not what my daddy used to do to me, that's for damned sure. So the kid is spending some time with me at work, and some time with Kit at the office, and some time with her grandma - the old Portuguese one who will make her work in the garden.
The ladies at the office all love "Livie" of course, she's such a little angel. So again this is not much of a punishment since we're not exactly making her answer phones or do filing or anything. But she does have to sit quietly for long expanses, which is prison for a kid, so I guess we won this one. Maybe the other gals shouldn't be slipping her M&Ms from the vending machine but hey, in prison you get access to a library.
This whole situation has inspired too many long late-night conversations between me and Kitty, exhausting ones where we go round and round about what the best course of action is... about how we should get on the same page and all that. At least he's got the decency not to refer to my upbringing anymore.
I also got some unsolicited advice from an outside source... Mrs. Chernobek called me to follow-up on my conversation with her husband. And she was not happy. Apparently, according to him, I lectured about how they should be raising their son, and "What right do I have," "Where do I get off" and all that shit.
I was surprised to hear this from the mom - I thought she'd be a bit more sensitive to the way her son is treating girls, so I tried to explain, "What Tyler did really hurt Olivia, and if you had a daughter, wouldn't you feel like she had been wronged?"
"Well as a matter of fact," she said, "I do have a daughter and she would never get into that situation because she doesn't let boys in her room and wouldn't let them take her personal property. Maybe you should reconsider the lessons you're teaching yours."
I wanted to scream. You blame Olivia for this? Shit, lady, it was your son she let into her room, doesn't it bother you how he behaved? The boy's a perv, own up to it! She's innocent, and as far as you know, she's a lot younger than him so she doesn't have the defenses... and frankly "she" shouldn't be expected to have her defenses up anyway because she thought she had a friend, not a panty-thief.
Basically, the lesson they're sending is: boys can be assholes and get away with it, especially to girls. And she's going to be a boy again soon, so I'm hoping she doesn't take that lesson back with her, and instead remembers the hurt that caused and vows never to put it on someone of the opposite gender. Or anyone for any reason.
Now I'm getting all worked up. We ended the conversation abruptly because otherwise I felt like I might go over there and throw a rock at her myself. Okay, so I do seem to still have a lot of growing to do, but the fact that I didn't do any of that, just took an angry lap around the block and cooled off shows I've grown as a person.
I got shamed for trying to tell someone else how to be a parent, and then I got shamed for how I parent. It seems like there's no right way to parent any more than there's a right way to be a woman... which is to say there isn't one, everyone's always going to be telling you you're doing it wrong.
Ugh, screw all this. It's wine-in-the-bath time.