Being a parent is one of the most difficult jobs you’ll ever do. Being a single parent is even more difficult. Typically, there’s no one to hand off responsibilities to when you’ve had a long day, no one to help when you’re at the end of your rope. If you’re lucky, you have family nearby, or even in your home that can essentially be that second parent for you.
For the past two days, my two year old and I have been staying with my in-laws, due to Hurricane Dorian threatening our area. Their home is a safer structure than ours, so it just makes sense. Not for my sanity necessarily, but for our physical safety.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my nephew, who as of today, is 18 months old. And it isn’t his fault that he has no home training. But his behavior affects my child’s behavior, and I have a serious problem with that.
Children are little parrots. They mimic behavior. My son sees his cousin behaving like a wild monkey on crystal meth, so he thinks this is acceptable behavior when he’s at Mema’s house.
This is most assuredly never acceptable behavior, no matter where we are.
He literally bounces off the walls, loses the ability to hear, aggravates the dog to the point that he (the dog) growls at him (which never happens at home), slams doors, and just generally loses his fucking mind.
My child is far from perfect. He does not sit still with his hands in his lap and listen to every little thing I say when we are at home. He’s two, he has more energy than the nuclear power plant, and I expect him to. But, he knows his limits, he tests them at times, but for the most part, he does what he is told and he goes about his day based on his routine and schedule, and it’s all good.
My nephew, on the other hand, has zero schedule.
He gets up around 0600, isn’t given breakfast. That blew my mind. My sister in law just opens her door and lets him out of their room. He runs through the house, screaming at the top of his lungs, waking the entire house. She goes back to sleep. Since I’ve been here, I change his diaper, put him in his high chair, and give him breakfast. Unlike her, I let him feed himself. He’s more than old enough. Sure, he makes a mess, but we have the ability to clean.
Two hours later, she’s still sleeping. And he’s still yelling and throwing toys. He doesn’t talk. He grunts and points and yells. In two days, I’ve gotten him to say about 10 words. Ish. They sound close enough to the word that you know what he’s saying. Instead of letting him run through the house, throwing his books around, I have taken them and him, and sat down and read them with him and my son.
That’s what they are for, right?
She rolls out of bed approximately four hours after she releases him from their room. I’ve been told this is typical. Normally, my mother in law takes care of the child while she’s sleeping, so he doesn’t just run free. But she shouldn’t have to, and I know she’s at the end of her rope, so I’ve been trying to help. Plus, my kid doesn’t get up anywhere near that early, and I don’t want him to start. So, I’ve tried to keep the wild child quiet.
It’s so bad, my father in law has essentially moved into the garage. He can’t stand the constant whining and screaming.
When she finally dragged her ass out of bed and came out to the screened in porch, I turned to her and in my calmest tone began to speak.
Me: You know your child has been awake and going strong for four hours, right?
Me: So? So, why is it someone else’s job to take care of him? You don’t work, you really don’t do anything else, he’s your responsibility.
Her: <eye roll> I’m so tired of hearing about this. I’ll raise my son how I want to. Mama doesn’t mind watching him.
Me: You’re not raising him. And she does mind. You need to grow up, seriously.
Not once did she ask had he been fed, changed, nothing. She’s 22 years old, not a teenager, though the above conversation would say otherwise. Her sole concern in life is to make the world of Facebook and Snapchat think that her son is “her world”, and find a man to take care of her. Period.
That child is an afterthought.
Her family has enabled her, for the majority of her life. She’s been handed everything, and never truly been made to do for herself. It’s always been easier to just do it for her, rather than argue with her and show her or teach her how to do whatever it is, the correct way.
Now, they are reaping what they’ve sown.
Now, there’s a child involved, so, tossing her to the wind and saying, learn to fly or fall isn’t an option. Allowing a child to suffer isn’t an option, and she knows that. I am 100% convinced that her getting pregnant was intentional. I believe that part of the reason was an attempt to keep a man, which failed miserably; and the other reason was so she would always be taken care of, through the child.
That is sad and a little bit pathetic.
I refuse to allow it to affect my child. My husband and I have worked hard to get him where he is right now. When he came to us, he didn’t talk, had no schedule, and just generally didn’t function like a two year old should, due to his circumstances before living with us. Thankfully, he didn’t have behavior issues, but there were enough other problems. He’s good now, and that’s due completely to the hard work my husband and I both put in.
That’s not going to be stripped away by someone else’s laziness.
But I also refuse to keep quiet. I will continue to tell her what she’s doing wrong. And I’ll keep helping my nephew. Because he didn’t ask to be here, and he definitely didn’t ask to be a pawn in her fucked up game of life. He deserves his best chance. He may not get it with her, but he will with the rest of his family involved, doing all we can to teach him how to be the young man I know is in there.
Because at the end of the day, no matter how angry it makes me, if I have to enable her in order to empower the child, that’s what I’ll do.