Friday, September 04, 2009

what happened last night

Eleven year-old niece missing a day of medication + Alex nearing menstruation = disaster.

My sister's oldest child, currently 11 years old, is a lot like my mother. I may have mentioned before that the Child could easily pass for a clone of the woman who raised me. This is disturbing and difficult on many levels, since I currently live with the family.

I am left home with my nieces frequently. There hasn’t been an incident with this Child for many months now. I attribute that to the fact that she has been consistent with her medication. She’s been pleasant and helpful. But I’m told she skipped her morning pills on Wednesday.

Last night, my sister and brother-in-law went out to dinner and left me with the girls. I did not have a problem with it, except that the six month-old would cry when I put her down, so I had to hold her and carry her around, which was sort of frazzling my nerves because the three year-old wanted attention too. The eight year-old twins were playing together and the 10 year-old was watching television. The niece in question was supposed to be doing her homework, but had apparently been giving her mom some obstinence about it. I could tell she was going to be a problem. She seemed like a ticking bomb, and I’ve seen the bomb go off before.

Then twin #1 and the three year-old got into a fight over a toy, and the latter launched into a crying frenzy that lasted way too long. The eldest got involved, which was a bad choice on her part because she’s predisposed to take the three year-old's side, having a natural aversion (it seems) to this particular twin. Everyone was upstairs except for the baby and me. Then the twin started screaming, which to me meant one thing: her sister had hurt her. I can’t think of anything that makes me madder than the injustice this oldest girl rains on this particular twin. Just because she’s bigger and stronger, she thinks she can control her sisters by violent force and manipulation. I went upstairs, already mad, which was my first mistake. I told the bully to go downstairs, thereby separating herself from the situation, but she does not like to be told what to do, especially by me. So I gave her a push towards the stairway, which only enraged her, and when I use that word, it’s no exaggeration. She picked up the closest item she could find to threaten me with, which happened to be a rocking horse—a two-foot-long, pink, furry horse with rocking rails under its feet—not a lightweight object, and chucked it at me. I was holding the baby, and maybe that’s what quickened my reaction time. I caught the horse in my free hand by one of its rocking rails and dropped it behind me. It was rather superhero-ish on my part. I should have stopped there, but the combination of her being mean to her sister, her angry outburst, and her ignorant attempt to injure her baby sister, produced in me more emotion than I could handle. I grabbed her head and knocked it against the wall. Not very hard. Just hard enough to get her attention. That finally made her crumble, unbelieving. And then she ran.

I think the first thing she went for was a phone, to call her parents, or a friend, or whoever would listen to her, but unsuccessful in that attempt, she ran outside. I lost track of her. I was too busy dragging the hysterical three year-old to her room and closing the door so I didn’t have to listen to her anymore. When I looked outside, I didn’t see her, and none of the other girls seemed to know where she had gone, so I worked on getting the baby to quiet down by putting her in her chair and feeding her.

Soon the teenage girl next door came over for the Child’s homework. So I knew that 1) she was at the neighbor’s, and 2) she was doing her homework. These were good things to know. What I didn’t know was that she was fabricating a tale for these neighbors about how badly she is treated and about what had just happened. Apparently this neighbor of ours is a social worker of some kind. I don’t know her very well, except that she seems a little eccentric and dramatic. Turns out that’s not a very good combination of things to be when the drama queen runs to her for help. This woman felt it her duty to call the police and report the event, without even coming to me to find out what had really happened. I suppose she tried to call the house, because the phone was ringing off the hook, but between feeding the baby and changing her diaper and rocking her so she wouldn’t cry, I was not interested in answering the phone.

So I found out later that the police came to the house next door, and had a little chat with the Child and the woman who lives there. But not with me. A police report was filed—something that has never happened to me before—and I didn’t even get a say in the matter. This was upsetting. Also, my sister received several telephone calls—from this woman, her friends (one happens to be in our bishopric), and who knows who else, all because of an incident that was hardly worth talking about compared to things that have happened before. And now a number of people probably think I am a violent and abusive person. (And I am as violent as cookie dough compared to how my mother was as we were growing up.)

Thankfully, my sister and brother-in-law were not upset, except that their evening out was ruined by nonsense again. My sister was only upset that the Child had run next door and spilled her woes to the wrong neighbors, causing the police to be called, which she felt was unnecessary. Obviously these people are not familiar with the Child’s behavior enough to know what’s a big deal and what isn’t.

The Child came home repentant, realizing the danger she had put herself in. Her mother has warned her many times about telling people inflated stories of violence and abuse, because the state could easily relocate her to a foster family. She is now expecting another call from child protective services. And they’ll probably want to talk to me this time.

I am not a violent person. I’m sure there are many mothers out there who experience moments of violence when children push them to their limits. I am sorry that I lost control of myself and pushed her head against the wall, and she and I talked about it and I apologized to her. She was also sorry for any trouble she may have gotten me into. And I think we’re friends again. Which is good.

But now I'm not only a predator, I'm a child abuser. ;)


  1. You just described last night's bedtime, and the night before, and oh yeah, last week, and on and on and on. I think your niece and my daughter have been secretly sharing ideas and stories. Luckily, I haven't had the police called on me. Yet. So sorry.

  2. we had family services called on us once. that was really fun

  3. I still feel guilt for the time, 20 years ago, that I not-very-gently jerked my little nephew up out of his crib when he would not stop crying. It's still hard for me to even say it!

    In your case, maybe more emphasis should be placed on saving the baby from the flying horse, rather than "knocking" some sense into the Child.

  4. Yikes! So sorry!
    And I think you're right- I haven't met a parent yet who doesn't have a grab, swat or shove they wish they could take back. Seems to be part of the job...


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