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Realization: I Don’t Hate Kids

Hastings's picture

Last night I was reminded that I don't dislike children. (Not that there's necessarily anything wrong with not particularly enjoying the company of kids.)

SS12 had a baseball game and we took our little dachshund with us. He's incredibly sweet and adorable and always gets a lot of attention when out in public. Before the game, Dog and I were standing a little behind the bleachers when two little girls (ages about 8 and 5) walked up. The older politely asked "May we please pet your dog?" I said of course and we all knelt down, they let him smell them, then petted him gently. We chatted about him a bit. Then, the oldest thanked me for letting them pet him and they ran off to play. After the game, the older one ran over to say goodbye.

Thry were adorable, well-mannered and a pleasure to interact with.I remembered: I do actually like kids.

Now, they could be little terrors at home for all I know. But five minutes with two little girls I don't know was more pleasant and rewarding than any of the time I've spent with SS. They were engaged and engaging. Even when he was younger, SS was not.

He's regularly got an attitude. He's a know-it-all. He's spoiled and entitled and lazy. To be fair, SS is 12, nearly 13. That is not an attractive age, in any sense of the word. But he's always been that way, which makes me think it's not just his age.

Yesterday he came home with his report card -- all As and one B. Very good. DH was effusive with praise. I congratulated him but wasn't quite as excited. Why? He's a very smart kid. But last year, when he didn't like having to put in effort, DH and BM let him drop from advanced to regular level classes. He's not exactly being challenged. At all. He's below his actual skill level.

But, good grief, the know-it-all stuff drives us both nuts. He's frequently wrong about things, yet digs in his heels. Or, if he disagrees with something we say, he's a little snot about it. A couple of days ago, the news was on and DH asked SS if they were talking about the war in Israel at school. SS responded like DH was an idiot "No." DH said right, SS wasn't in history this year (he was last year). SS was scornful "this isn't history. Besides, our books were old." DH and I were patient and said our teachers would often bring up current events and, since he learned some about Middle Eastern history last year, it might have come up had he still been in that class. SS just said "No it wouldn't." in a very snotty tone.

Again, he's at that age where kids can be little &$;(&&6. But he's always had an element of it. Recently, DH has noticed more attitude at baseball. When SS screws up or strikes out or something, the coach will point out what he should have done (you know, actual coaching). He's had the same coaches for four years and they're great -- they don't yell or berate, are good teachers, and put together a fantastic team. Every time a coach says something, he walks away rolling his eyes. Normal 12-year-old. Except I think it goes deeper.

This kid cannot accept any sort of correction or criticism. He wants to be on his school's track team in the fall and baseball in high school. I kind of hope he keeps up the attitude issues because he might have actual consequences. Coaches aren't going to put up with a little snot who won't listen or follow directions.

I will say, yesterday DH pointed out a standardized test where he was 94th percentile for math, SS smugly said "That means only six kids in the whole country did better than me." So, maybe he's not as smart as I think he is...


Rumplestiltskin's picture

I don't know if you plan on having kids or not but stepparenting is NOTHING like having your own bio or adopted kids. There's this built-in sabotage in place owing to competition, dysfunction with BM (even in unicorn situations there is dysfunction as the relationship failed but she's still around), and societal criticisms of stepparents. Also, stepkids whose parents are insecure in their attachment, neglectful, or in competition with each other are actually *trained* to be little shits, even though that's not the intention. 

Hastings's picture

Oh, I'm aware. I do not plan on having kids (never have really felt that urge). But I get stepparenting complicates those feelings. For instance, I feel much more affinity for my sisters' kids than for SS. That used to bother DH -- that I was easier and closer with them than with the kid I live with half the time. I pointed out that I met SS when he was 5. I was with my nephew and nieces from Day 1. I held them in the hospital. I sang them to sleep. I played with them as toddlers. That builds a bond. SS and I didn't have that early-life bonding.

I've read some about societal expectations and the effect of that on stepmoms and that has done a lot to free me from my feelings of guilt and uncertainty. Also, just the biology (or lack thereof) involved.

(I will say, though, I really do think my sisters' kids are just more pleasant people. At least they're not lazy or spoiled and entitled.)

ESMOD's picture

My brother was a bit of a smart alec too.. and I recall that in HS.. he and a friend of his were both trying out for the Soccer team.  My brother had played soccer growing up in various leagues. (this was way before the travel ball days)  and our HS was very small.. as in almost any sport you tried out for.. you could generally get a spot on the team.. (Cheer was an exception.. not many spots open).  But.. every year there would be a few cuts.. and you might not make varsity for most teams.

So.. he tried out for the HS team.. he and his buddy cut up as the little hooligans they liked to be.  His friend made the team.. he did not.  The coach said that they both were not paying attention.. and he didn't want them both on the team.. and his friend was just a little bit better.  Kids with much less talent DID make the team.. better attitudes.

My brother was also sent to the principal's office once by a substitute teacher for cutting up in class... the sub? OUR mom.. lmao

Hastings's picture

That's exactly the sort of thing I kind of hope happens. I think it would be good for him to be faced with real consequences. But, realistically, I doubt he'd learn. Any time he gets in trouble or there's any sort of consequence, BM gets protective and defensive (sometimes DH does, too), so SS just learns to see himself as unfairly victimized.

ESMOD's picture

I regretfully think you are right.  We had a different upbringing.. this was like 40 years ago.. back when there was a problem at school and the parents would look at the kid and say "what did you do wrong".. when NOW.... it's much more likely to have an issue and have a parent knocking on the school door attacking their treatment of their poor wittle snookums.

They call coaches and harrass them for not making the team.. they pester teachers for bad grades etc..

Hastings's picture


BM is particularly bad about it, but DH has been guilty of it, too. He talks a good game, but when faced with a situation he'll react by being defensive.

Two years ago, there was an incident at our neighborhood pool. Kids were playing a game taking turns throwing a ball to a kid coming down the slide. One of the players was a little girl with Downs Syndrome and SS threw the ball to her twice. The first time, he threw too hard and hit her in the face. Now, after that, whether the girl has DS or not, he should have realized he needed to adjust his throw. But the second time, he did the same thing -- with the same result.

I am far from SS's biggest fan, but I do not at all believe he was doing that on purpose to bully the girl. He is thoughtless and gets out of control and plays too rough sometimes, but I have never witnessed deliberate bullying behavior.

Anyway, after the second throw, the little girl's mother spoke firmly and sharply to SS. DH was pissed. He filled me in when they got home. I asked DH -- "did SS apologize?" No. He expected me to agree with him that the woman was out of line. Instead, I went off on him for missing a teaching moment. A chance to teach SS something about empathy and playing with others. I told him he was lucky I wasn't there because I (who have a younger sister with developmental delays) would not have been as restrained as that child's mother was.

DH has been much better since then, but it still pisses me off thinking about it. At least now DH is less reactive and more on board with natural consequences and SS experiencing trouble or failure.

Undrrneath, I think SS has a good nature. But he's being ruined by his parents.

Makes me appreciate my sister. She told me she sometimes quietly hopes her kids will get in trouble or fail at something so they'll learn not to get expectations too high, to work harder and to appreciate things. Result? Nephew (high school senior) is a ranked competitive tennis player being wooed by top colleges. Oldest niece (junior in high school) is in the top 5 students in her class of 600.

Rumplestiltskin's picture

"Undrrneath, I think SS has a good nature. But he's being ruined by his parents."

That's the problem with a lot of stepkids. They aren't born "bad seeds." Their bad behaviors are unwittingly reinforced by their parents, too distracted by the drama to teach the kids better. 

Hastings's picture

According to DH, when SS was a toddler, every time SS misbehaved, BM's parents fawned all over him, cooing how adorable he was. Drove DH nuts and didn't help their marriage when BM refused to talk to her parents about it.

No wonder SS can't handle the slightest correction.

Rags's picture

their ill behaved spawn under control or I would.  I have asked restaurant managers to get an ill behaved kid running around a restourant out so the rest of the guests could have their meal in peace.

I have firmly placed groceries in the chest of a kid who was throwing things out of the cart when Gramma had the GKs out shopping and the ill behaves spawn were screaming, yelling, and being intollerable little crotch pukes to their Gramma.

When I owned restaurants, I did not tolerate shit behavior from my guests. Regardless of their ages.

Parents who raise shit have no business smearing their shit spawn in the faces of the public.

As members of the public, we should not tolerate either idiot parents or their shit spawn.

As SParents, we should not tolerate our mates to be shit parents nor should be tolerate their failed family progeny if those breeding mistakes are toxic.


IMHO of course.

Yesterdays's picture

My SD was a lot like your SS and it drove me nuts. I think I could deal with the attitude if it were a once in a while thing.. Like a lot of kids. But it was literally EVERYTHING that I said... And not much of what my husband said. If I said black, she said white. She disagreed with EVERY statement I made. She was most often wrong. She got her info from Tiktok only. We tried to talk to her about reputable news sources, she didn't get it. She was a complete know it all.

We were at the lake and we had an argument over whether the birds were ducks or loons. They were green, and were obviously ducks. She wouldn't let it go.

She brought it up over and over again, repeatedly that I called those Timbits "donut holes" once, stating they are NOT MADE from the centre of the donuts so they are not donut holes..even though I thought people still call them that... But what do I know.. Lol.

She also looked at my Pinterest style board only to roll her eyes and proceed to tell me all my outfits weren't in style (in the snottiest fashion). Coming from a girl who wore only flamingo pajama bottoms all weekend.

She also nearly had a heart attack when I joked and did "the floss" proclaiming how absolutely lame I was

She made fun of my kids repeatedly for signing up for English class summer school by choice to get ahead of schedule in school.. While she proceeded to get bad grades and skip school often

I feel your pain... It is annoying to have a know it all child with attitude 

Hastings's picture

At least SS doesn't turn the attitude on me often. I think he's scared of me. (I'm physically tiny, but I've been told I'm intimidating -- LOL.) But bad enough hearing him talk to his dad that way.

Yesterdays's picture

I like kids too. I have many cousins I get together with and they all have delightful children they raised well and are so polite and I have so much fun hanging out with them, doing board games and discussing farming and whatever.. And they work hard too! They have funny and quirky little personalities. 

But with some of these kids that weren't raised with good manners it can be absolutely brutal 

Hastings's picture

Yes! There really is something about SS's personality. He's so self-centered and, well, dull. Most other kids I've been around say funny/cute things or engage in conversations about things they like. He doesn't. Never has. Once DH asked me if I ever text stuff to my family about SS (my sisters will sometimes send photos or share a particularly fun quote). I said yes. And I do. But only about stuff like a great baseball win. He never actually says it does anything worth sharing.

Crr18's picture

All of my SS friends seem to have better personalities then he does. I would much rather talk to them then him. They will have a conversation with me and not just grunt. I have four nephews that I adore and they have huge personalities.  SO can't understand how my nephews are so nice. They are not spoiled and entitled and know there are consequences if you do something wrong.

Hastings's picture

I know, right? SS just is just not an easy kid to connect with. At all. I have to be around other kids to see "oh, it's not all me!" And, yes, I'm sure my position as stepmother plays a role. But DH's attitude to SS is similar. He just doesn't find him particularly engaging.

Rags's picture

94 %tile means "Only 6 kids in the country did better".


Can't wait until reality plants its boot firmly up his ass and he learns how percentages actually work.

I would make baring his ass my fondest hobby starting with his idiocy on %ages.

As for his eye rolling crap, that is normal only for 12yos raised by dipshits without standards of behavior or standards of performance.  Quality parents don't allow it even once. Much less repeatedly.

Hastings's picture

I can't wait, either. And I often do enjoy correcting him. I let this one go because I just wasn't in the mood to deal with it. And I figured a teacher or friend or someone more embarrassing could take that on.

In my experience, it's typical for teens and preteens to work the eye roll -- but that doesn't mean it's ok. Still, he doesn't do it to me, so I don't call him on it. I've told DH, though, if he's starting to do it with coaches, he might want to stop letting it slide.