Friday, July 9, 2010

Lovely Day Until...

I took the girls and my mom to the Butterfly House. It really was great. The girls and I had been there two years ago and I went a few months ago with the kindergartners at our school but it was Mom's first time there. She was especially delighted and cute. Every time she took a picture of a butterfly she told it "Thank you". They also have a section of exotic bugs and DollFace was really fascinated by them. We rode on the carousel they have in the same park. It was a good time.

Then we went to Jilly's Cupcakes for lunch. Stretch is a very picky eater who has been indulged by her parents. Stretch said she wasn't eating anything because there was nothing on the menu she liked, but she would have a vanilla cupcake. And then....I made a big mistake. Without even thinking about it I said if she wasn't eating lunch, there was no way she was going to eat just a cupcake. This place has amazing huge cupcakes that are stuffed and topped with two kinds of icing. Anyway, this threw Stretch into an attitude and stupid me thought that since I'd said that I had to carry through. Stretch went to the bathroom and called her mom on the sly. C asked to speak to my mom and proceed to yell at her about me "starving" her child who had not had anything to eat all day. Ummm sorry, hon, it's NOT my fault you did not feed your kid breakfast. They have the poorest nutrition in that house. If you ask C about it she'll tell you her kids just aren't big breakfast eaters. Hello? Who is in charge of breakfast? Are the kids mature enough to decide if they are breakfast eaters or not?

Mom said I should let her have the cupcake and so after pushing the issue and saying things I probably shouldn't have, I did. I asked Stretch what her mom would have done if they had gone into a place where there was nothing Stretch liked. She said they would leave and go somewhere else. I just don't agree with that. When is the girl ever going to learn to eat something besides chicken nuggets.

Mom said that C was very mad and I could probably forget taking Stretch anywhere else this summer. I really felt badly that Mom got put into the middle like that. Damn C...I've about had it with her! She just makes it too hard on everyone for me to take them places. I'm sure she thinks I'm the one causing all the problems. I agree that I should not have forced the issue like that and it's certainly not my job to fix the nutritional problem they have created with their child. I'm supposed to be the fun aunt. But I always mess it up.

I'm supposed to watch the children when C and E go to Mexico later this month. It will be interesting to see how that plays out. I imagine she will have her parents watch them now or at least Stretch will stay there or with a friend. I feel as though I'm really losing Stretch. I'm really disliking my sister in law right now.


  1. Sounds like C would have been upset no matter what you would have done. If Stretch had gone home and told her mom you only fed her a cupcake, you'd have caught hell for that too.

  2. how about the concept of trying something before saying you don't like it. I would have been highly annoyed too. How about getting a cell phone scrambler for when they are at your house. LOL!

  3. Oh, Paige, you have no idea how much I can relate to this post and my heart goes out to you.

    Many years ago, when my nieces and nephew were young, my divorced older sister gave me this blah blah blah speech about how it takes a village and all that stuff and how she's relying on family members and friends and neighbours to help raise her children well. Stupid me - I took this plea to heart and so when her kids were with me, my husband and I treated them the same way we treated my stepchild (taste something before you decide you don't like it, no dessert until you finish your dinner, go to bed at a reasonable time, etc.). Because my sister was neglecting to raise her children with such er, common sense methods, unbeknownst to me, my nieces and nephew ended up deciding I was horrible (which I think my sister secretly enjoyed and encouraged because she was so insecure with her own parenting and didn't really want them to love and respect me in the first place). To add insult to injury, my sister wouldn't even call me Aunt Maddy in their presence, so I was constantly asking them to call me "Aunt Maddy" instead of "Maddy" on top of it all. It really hit home one time when one of the kids was going to be joining us at my mom's cottage...My sister was apparently telling my mom on the phone about her reservations about her child being around me (!) and my mom said, "Don't worry - I'll protect him from Maddy"....WTF? Protect him from eating vegetables before chocolate cake?? And another time, maybe 12 years ago, my mom apparently told my sister to go easy on me about this because, "Maddy may not ever be able to have children of her own, so your kids may be all she ever has."

    So, all of this to say, I get what is going on in your situation all too well, and I'm sorry that C is not a great mom to your nieces and that she is putting you in such a terrible position of having to decide whether to do the right thing for them or indulge them like she does. I feel like my sister took advantage of the fact that I wanted so badly to be such a good aunt and to have a great relationship with her kids - I felt like she poisoned them against me and yet wanted me to babysit them whenever she needed it. In my case, once I figured out what was happening and that it was a losing situation for me, I backed off completely. I didn't try so hard to have a relationship with her kids and focused my energy instead on kids that were being raised in a more emotionally healthy way (i.e. my friends' kids and my husband's nieces and nephews). I continued to send my sisters' kids cards and gifts and let them know I loved them in whatever ways I could, but I stopped trying to be a good aunt in other ways, such as teaching them healthy habits.

    I don't know if hearing about my story has helped you at all, but hopefully it gives you some food for thought. Just like my sister, C seems to have a lot of power in this scenario - controlling whether you see your nieces and when and how, and also controlling how they view you. Bad Aunt Paige who won't let Stretch eat sugar for lunch. One thing that would disempower C is if you no longer seem in such need of a close relationship with your nieces (I totally get and appreciate your desire to have this, as I used to have it, too, but C is abusing this and this is a way to protest yourself and make her stop). For what it's worth, my suggestion is to get yourself a puppy - this would serve two purposes: one, you will have someone all to yourself to pour all your wonderful, nurturing energy into - training, walking, playing, etc., and two, Stretch and Dollface will be asking C to go hang out with Aunt Paige all the time instead of the other way around!

    You clearly have such a kind heart and your intentions are good - it's not you, it's C.



  4. P.S. I meant to say "protect yourself", not "protest yourself". Sorry for the long comment! Obviously your post really got to me! ;-)

  5. I'm sorry the day didn't end well. It sounds like C is putting you in a bad position and I hope you can work things out with her and Stretch. Hugs to you.

  6. It's really hard seeing these kids you love, being brought up wrongly (nutrition wise) and you can do nothing about it.
    And I agree with inBetween, your sil would probably been mad at you, no matter what.

  7. You are a great aunt and I think that the day sounded wonderful and lovely on the whole. I can imagine how upsetting C's phone call was and the fallout with Stretch. My recollection of being Stretch's age is that there was something that would set me off to make me disagreeable / act in a frustrating way nearly every day. So the rubric for a successful interaction possibly should factor in that irascibility. You give so much love to Dollface and Stretch--I admire you and you'll be such a fabulous mom!

  8. IMHO, it sounds like your sis-in-law has the issues, not you so don't beat yourself up. I don't think it's appropriate for a growing girl to only have a cupcake to eat all day! But you're in a tough place since you just want the best for Stretch but since she's indulged by her parents, you come off as the bad guy...take care!