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June 1, 2011

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May

If you ask me, XY's reaction is due to the immense discomfort of realising he's in part responsible for your dire finances, and having to vigorously put this discomfort from him.

And you did right. It's better to know Mom didn't do XYZ because she just can't afford it, but would've loved to if she could, than think it's because she doesn't care or prioritise your needs. I know this from being the kid in a divorced, one-side-often-strapped-for-cash, other-side-comparatively-rolling-in-it family myself. I don't mind at all that my mother couldn't always get me school supplies and most of my clothes were hand-me-downs. I mind like hell that my father would argue every single goddamn child support payment and always pay them late and accuse my mother of wasting the money, and then buy himself another sports car.

Hugs. You need lots and lots of those.

A

That's awful. But honestly, as a teacher we (or at least I do) expect to have to purchase for a kid or two, especially if it's something like a posterboard. Not a big deal, in the grand scheme of things.

And I'm laughing about the cops and you asking them to leave.

Hope XY gets there soon.

Wacky Lisa

Damn, I feel like I can't comment because I don't have kids but I did have a childhood where things weren't always honkey dorey. Now, I'm not the most observant person (vision and general personality) but once I was about 10 I noticed some things at home. I didn't necessarily know why they were happening and in a vacuum I tended to assume I was the cause. Now, I'm neurotic but from what I've read about kids that isn't all that uncommon.

So, what I'm getting at is I think you did the right thing.

Your XY is probably being image conscious. People like that want other people to think highly of them and their caregiving abilities regardless of the realities. So, my guess is he's upset that your child said something to his teacher rather than that there's something to say. You're not instilling a proper sense of shame about poverty into your child. *gags*

How am I? Overwhelmed. We have to move as we can no longer afford to heat our pos older than I am trailer. I need an army to help me sort and pack. Knew I should have worked on getting minions sooner & stupid pos body that not even cannibals would want because my connective tissue would make the worst stock ever.

Ginny

Well, I don't have any kids, so I'm not qualified to answer, but I do think that being honest is a good policy with kids.

About the visitations -- again, I'm not qualified -- you said previously that it was because the XY wanted to stay at C's house because his was messy. (What a wussy excuse!) What about prompting one of the kids to say, "We miss seeing you so much, can't you ask Catherine to help you clean up your house so we can visit?" And then with little tears trickling down his face, "My brothers and I can help, even though we're just little children."

Another tactic might be to engage Catherine. You've said nice things about her in the past, especially that she really cares about your kids, so maybe she could help break this impasse. The kids undoubtedly miss their father, and you and Hotter need some grown-up time alone, and Catherine sounds nice (except for her taste in men), so maybe she has a suggestion or two. Since she's rich, maybe she could hire a cleaning crew for XY's house.

Wacky Lisa

took a moment to run this post past my hubby who was braised cabbage poor growing up. His verdict is it is better that the kid honestly know that you're poor than to think going without is his fault. Oh & he's agrees w/ my read on the XY as well.

Mary Dell

I grew up knowing that we couldn't afford a lot of things that other people could afford, and knowing when we were broke, and knowing that certain stuff is expensive. I sometimes felt that it sucked not to have expensive stuff, but I was never confused about it. Even when I got picked on for looking shabby, I didn't think "why are my clothes hand-me-downs?" I thought "boy, rich kids are jerks!" because I understood about what we could afford and what we couldn't.

Basically, my feeling is that when you're a family, you rise and fall together, whether it's in finances, health, or happiness, and while kids need to have some parental buffer to help them deal, they deserve to understand the life they're living, at a developmentally appropriate level, anyway. And if they're told the truth, they will be much better able to deal with what's going on, because they won't have to invent their own stories. I think medical drama is similar--I sometimes make nurses mad by telling my kid "this is going to be ouchy!" before a shot or "you're not going to like this part" etc., but if he's going to feel any sense of control over what's happening to him, he has to have good information and learn that he can trust me to be straight with him.

Lastly I'll pass along what my dad told me once when I was up to my neck in money difficulty: being broke is not a moral issue, so you shouldn't feel bad about yourself because of it.

You're doing great, and I'm sorry circs are so shitty. Is there any chance you qualify for food stamps, with having to feed the kids more often?

Becca

agree. and the kid is going to see (if he doesn't already) that mom is poor and dad is not, but dad doesn't help, even if they are his kids too. You are doing OK. (and I assume you keep the negative stuff you think and say about his dad away from him, right?)

K

I think it is okay to be honest, age-appropriately so, with a child about the family's financial situation.

You're a good mother. Please don't let anyone have you doubting that about yourself.

winecat

You did the right thing. The truth hurts but it's none the less the truth of your life right now.

I really wish I could take the XY and smack him upside the head, not that he'd probably notice ...

ina

Mama,
I grew up pretty poor, like "some days I didn't eat so my brothers could get enough" sort of poor (being the oldest in the family you get like that, all responsible and crud). But my mom was pretty up front about it and that helped a lot. And as a grown up I'm totally willing to take risks to do what I am interested in in part because I know I've already been through the bad stuff - what's the worst that can happen? I'll eat less, BFD. Contrast that with my risk averse hubby, who I love, but is 7 kinds of panic about improving his career and who thanks me every day for supporting him in taking risks because "what's the worst that could happen?" Look I'm not recommending poverty as one of thsoe necessary life time experiences, but knowing that you don't have everything can teach really good lessons (like that your teachers really care that you learn and that your parent really does love you, etc).

Note for Wacky Lisa: LOVE "braised cabbage poor" - can I steal it?

MFA Mama

Becca - oh, absolutely. About the worst I say about their father in their hearing is "that was a bad choice." Well okay, I also said he was acting like a butthead one time when yelled at me in front of them. He on the other hand has told them that I'm unfit, remarried stupidly, take all of his money, etc. Sigh.

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