Wicked Stepmother, Circa 2009

Yep, that's Me.

I read a post on AnyMommy's blog the other day. (I love her, by the way.)
The one about Just Rewards (crazy computer won't let me link directly to that post).
That post really made me think. About my stepson.
Because Andrew has issues as well, although most of them are undiagnosed at this point (we're working on that). And because of that, I have rules and discipline for him that others do not understand. Rarely is anything said to my face, but I know for certain things are said behind my back, probably far more than I know. But that's ok. Because they don't understand.
The best example I can think of is what happens at Elayna's softball practice & games. Two hours for Andrew to find something to do. Since it takes place outdoors, it's really not hard. He thoroughly enjoys himself. However, I realized early on that some ground rules would have to be set. Minor problems arose early on, and I am a 'nip-it-in-the-bud' kind of mom. I have to be, especially with him.

Rule #1. Stay where I can see you. I think it's obvious why I have this rule.
Rule #2. Don't play with other kids' toys. You're welcome to bring your own. This one came about after several occasions where all of the kids were playing with one kids' toys, and they went missing or they fought over them, with Andrew right in the middle of it all.
Rule #3. Keep your hands to yourself. Andrew is very touchy-feely. There are issues with this. He was hugging kids (whom he'd never met before) on Day One of practice. Some mothers are not a fan of this. I understand that. Also, spinning little girls around by their arms can make them pop out of the socket. Not fun.

The "sentence" for breaking a rule is that he has to sit in the stands with me for the remainder of the practice or game.
I'm not a total hardass. I give reminders. I give warnings. But after about the third warning, when I looked around and couldn't find him anywhere, and eventually found him behind a building with another child's toy in his hand...it was discipline time.
So everyone looks at the poor, dejected child, chin in his hand, miserably sitting on the stands, bored and sad. But he won't do it again, right?
Until a few practices later. I see him running around with something in his hand, but I didn't know what it was and got distracted by something on the field. Finally a few minutes later, I see him from another angle. It's a freaking Gameboy. Not only is he breaking Rule #2, he's doing it with a toy that would cost me around $200 to replace!
Repeat above scenario. Poor sad child. Evil wicked mean stepmother.
And that's just one example out of hundreds. And you know, at this point, I just don't care. Those who are judging have no idea what our life is like. What he's been through. What we've all been through. There are reasons for the things that we do, and frankly they are nobody's business.
And you know what else? Overall, my methods work. He listens to me better than anyone else. He has only had to sit out on those two occasions. He's very careful to ask me if something is OK before he does it. In fact he's one of the better-behaved kids at the practices.
But I guess the reason I am posting this (other than to vent) is to say to my readers...please don't judge other parents too harshly. Please step back and think that there may be more...so much more...to the situation than the 5 minutes you happen to see.

Grant That I May Not Criticize My Neighbor
Until I Have walked a Mile in His Moccasins.
Native American Saying


Melissa B. said...

We always had trouble with the youngest while her sister was playing sports! SITS sent me by, and I'm glad they did...

=http://scholastic-scribe.blogspot.com/2009/11/sfo-jungle-kitty.html">SFO Jungle Kitty

American in Norway said...

I totally hear you... I for one hate it when parents DONT discipline their children. I may seem like a tough mom especially when we are out...but my kids mind & listen to me..
Thanks for popping by! : )

4 Lettre Words said...

I have the same exact "sentence" when we all go to my hubby's softball games!

Twisted Fencepost said...

I completely understand this!
If you don't make them mind ALL the time, they will not mind at all.

Tammie said...

it sounds like youre doing a wonderful job.
ive learned to try to not judge other parents. the only time i do pass judgement is when a parent is doing nothing.

Manic Mother said...

I am never too quick too judge those that actually discipline their kids (unless its physically) but more so the parents that don't do anything at all and let their children run all over the place! Can't stand that!

Tater Tot Mom said...

I so agree and I don't judge because you never know what's come before the "evil" punishment. I hate that people are so judgemental when it comes to child-rearing. We all do things differently and it's not a crime if someone doesn't do it the same way as you. I don't think you sound like an evil stepmother at all, you're love for him is obvious to me!

Tiaras said...

so not hard!! My children have the exact same rules!! Bring your own toys so there are no issues, do not go anywhere where my eyes do not see you(this applies to everyplace we go) and never touch other kids. My son also has touching issues - he is SI - have you guys looked into that??

Noelle said...

at any kid-oriented function there is always the parent that has a monster child and DOES NOTHING and comments to me how well behaved my children are. really? you could have this too...set boundaries, follow through, remain consistent. don't make ME look after YOUR kid.

you're doing a good job with andrew...whether he is your stepson, nephew, grandson, neighbor, etc.

Hot Tub Lizzy said...

Oh sweetie - i am SO MUCH MORE LIKELY to judge the parent who's letting their kid run amouk (amok??) than someone who's actually showing DISCIPLINE AND CONSEQUENCES!!!!!

Being a step parent isn't easy. I know that I have those challenges ahead of me, and it won't be easy. I admire you GREATLY!!!!

Momisodes said...

It is so true. Seeing a few moments of mayhem at the store, supermarket, or where ever in public is usually a poor indication of how a parent and child are usually.

I love that you posted about this. I know so many of us have felt those stares, those judging shakes of the head along the sidelines.

Aunt of 14 said...

I never even realized you were Andrew's step mom. I always thought you were his mom, period. You're so good with Andrew! I agree with you whole heartenedly. I don't believe people should judge after only seeing 5 minutes of your life. I don't believe people should be judging at all, it's not our job. I have a disability myself, and I have many issues of people doing that to me, so I "get" it.

shortmama said...

I completely agree with you. It is not our place to judge a punishment. We should trust that other parents know what they are doing too. Who are we to know whether its the first or 145623 time that the kid has been told not to do something?!

Erin said...

Oh I was the step mom once too, and I agree, others can be so harsh having never walked in your shoes and everything is easier said than done! Good for you for keeping him on the straight and narrow!

Steph at Problem Solvin' Mom said...

Sounds like you're doing a great job! Step relationships can be tricky for sure, without worrying about what others might be thinking.

Helene said...

It sounds like you have a handle on everything....way so more than I do with my kids!!

Thanks for the reminder to not sit in judgement of other parents. It's so true....they have no clue what you've been through!!

Anonymous said...

Three cheers for you sticking to your guns and being a responsible parent! It's not easy, but it sounds like you're doing it well, and Andrew and your other kids are lucky to have such an attentive parent.

Frugal Vicki said...

I think this is a fantastic post with a very important point.
I have found, though, that it tends to be the parents that haven't hit that age yet, or childless people that tend to judge the harshest. I make my son sit down in stores as a timeout. He does it. and he gets up and is in a better mood. But I have gotten some stares, and overheard some "I can't believe she is making him sit on that filthy floor. what a b...." But that same person would have something else to say if he was still running up and down the aisles.

Smellyann said...

GREAT post!