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Like water off of a ducks back

But why is the rum gone's picture

*to the tune of the Sesame Street theme song -- sing it with me now: 17 days, until he goes away. 17 days, until my house stays clean. Can you tell me how to get? How to get and keep sanity?*

(HINT: It's totally disengaging - that's how you get and keep sanity).

SS goes back to his mom for the school year in 17 days (including today). I totally haven't had a countdown written on my work calendar since his last day of school (I'm lying - I have). I can't fucking wait. I've done a decentish job of disengaging - I'm still working on it and figuring out what works in my house, but ignoring his self-made drama and walking away has helped me. My mantra lately has been "Be like a duck getting rained on. Let it roll off of your back". I can't shake the feeling that I am the interloper in my own house, but I'm gonna keep working on that. 

Since my last post, SS's behavior has actually gotten WORSE. Even after daddy gave him the WiFi password (against my better judgement and against literally every study to the contrary re: kids and screen time, but whatever). And, OH NO, the evil bitch stepmother put parental controls on everything so it shuts off at 10. Wah. Tragically, I am still out of fucks to give. I checked winter coat pockets, checked the lint trap in the dryer, checked under the couch and didn't find ONE single solitary fuck. I do not anticipate a new supply of fucks any time soon. They've been out of stock in-store & online at my local Walmart & Target for at least three months now ROFL

If my husband won't monitor his screen time, neither will I. I will set parental controls on the WiFi access and that's it. Not my circus, not my monkeys, not my problem. Husband can pony up the $$ for the next pair of glasses the kid is gonna need because his eyes are getting progressively worse. That shit isn't coming out of our joint account. I'm not his parent and I will not be acting like his parent. I'm just an adult who lives in this house, too. Go ask your dad. 

The other night, he comes out after his devices shut off & asks me if it's 10. No, we had a selective power outage that JUST affected your devices. Yes, it is 10. Same as it was last night when your devices shut off & you came out and asked me the same question and same as the night before that. So he goes back in his room. Five minutes later, comes out HYSTERICALLY crying/sobbing (hard - to the point where he was about to make himself sick) because he misses his mommy. He saw her that day and was gonna see her in <12 hours - and I know the woman, there really ain't much to miss. But you know, you see a sad kid & regardless of how I feel about his behavior, I'm gonna give him the benefit of the doubt that he actually does miss that succubus that birthed him. He says he wants his dad - which is fine, I get it - I'm not his parent, so I go wake my husband up. He throws a fit on par with how his son acts when he doesn't like the outcome of something, yells at *me* for waking him up (like...WTF did I do? Damn, dude - and you wonder where the kid gets his bitch-ass attitude from) and stomps downstairs to console said child. The kid didn't miss his mom - he wanted dad to bring his phone down and watch youtube videos with him until he fell asleep. AND HE DID IT. I can't even with this bullshit. But again: Not my circus, not my monkeys, not my problem. 

After the last trip we took to a water park, I told my husband flat out I do not want to go anywhere else with the kid for the rest of the summer (or next year {actually, ever} - husband wants us to take him on vacation with us next summer - to quote Randy Jackson from American Idol: That's gonna be a no for me, dawg). Because it's just not fun for me to be at a place for ~10 minutes and have to listen to whining the rest of the night (and my god can you even imagine a weekend away? I've done those before and they're absolute hell - I won't do another unless it's something he absolutely HAS to do, like his dance group trip - we can go on that with him and that will be our family vacation - I'm not taking him anywhere else). Like...I'm not sorry that I'm going to choose to use my precious few free hours outside of work NOT being whined at and having this tiny terrorist dictate my day.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Against my better judgement, I gave him another chance (because I'm just a fucking idiot who always wants to believe people can be better - spoiler alert: they never are). We went to a carnival type thing. Paid like $25 to park in a garage because of the event rate - we were there for ELEVEN MINUTES before the kid started whining and telling his dad that "SHE (meaning me) NEEDS TO - " - he wanted me to stop taking pictures - I leaned over like "she needs to what? Pay for parking? She already did that. Pay for food & entertainment this evening? She did that too. Don't tell me what I need to do. I am an adult, I will do what I want". Once I saw how much my heart rate rose via my fitness tracker, I walked away. Dad can deal with it. So he sits him down and talks to him - IDK what he said because I walked away. I look back and the kid is sitting there all sulky glaring at his shoes. Don't want to get reprimanded for being an asshole? Don't be one. Simple as that. 

We have an outing planned for labor day weekend and it'll be my only time getting to go to this amusement park this summer (his grandma bought him a season pass and they go like twice a week) - he ruined it last year for me (within the first 10 minutes of being there - have we noticed a trend?), so I started talking to him *now* about how I am so excited for this outing and last year was bad and how I really hoped that this year would be a good outing and that nobody would ruin it. He goes "you know, my mommy said the same thing". 


Did she now? So you DON'T exclusively whine and act like a jackass when you're just with us? You do it with your mom, too? Awesome.  

This past weekend, we went to my friends house and he didn't want to go. So the whole drive home, he made himself try and burp until he puked. In my car. On my upholstery. That is not leather. And then cried because it got on him. Well what have we learned? STOP MAKING YOURSELF FORCE A BURP. By this point, I had told him multiple times not to do that because, if he continued trying to force a burp, he was going to throw up. Clearly, he had to test that theory. The worst part of it is that I'm a sympathetic puker so I had the opportunity to choke back my OWN vomit for the remaining 5 minutes we were in the car. And then I had to stifle it because I had to scrub my car. Because he puked in a bag and then SWUNG it up front to his dad. But the kid was FINE enough to wolf down a giant candy snake and park his ass in front of the fucking tv as soon as we got home. Like, dude, I thought your stomach hurt and your head hurt? And you're gonna eat what is basically a long, gummy piece of corn syrup (we did have actual real food in the house - but according to him there's no other food) and play a video game? I know this is really going out on a limb here, but I think he was FINE and just didn't want his dad and I to go out that night (he knew we had plans and he was going to grandmas - I can't prove it, but I know that's why he made himself puke, that little shit). We went anyway. 

Having this site to rant to and vent to and just knowing that I'm not alone has helped me immensely. The comments and feedback I've gotten on my other posts have been helpful and supportive and I am so, so glad I stumbled upon this community. Thank you, all. 

That said, does anyone have any advice on disengaging? Is there anything I can be doing aside from diverting any and all 'parent' inquiries to his dad? I will still feed him (obviously -- I'm not gonna cater to his whim, but there are meal/snack options here for him), I will still make sure his home is clean and comfortable and make sure he has clean towels/clothes/shower supplies - shit I'd buy during a normal shopping trip. I'm not going out of my way to get him anything special, I'm not buying him anything (frankly, he has too much shit as it is), I treat him with civility and kindness - but is there anything else that I'm missing? I'm still learning how to disengage and what works in my house, and there are still times I want to step in and guide him - like the other night, he brushed his teeth for 15 seconds and I sent him back in to do it for two minutes. He instead chose to jump on my scale like a trampoline. And blame his cavities on his grandma giving him chocolate milk as a baby. At that point, I said fuck it and yelled for my husband to come supervise him brushing. Not my circus, not my monkeys, not my problem.

Maybe that should be my *new* new mantra. Not my circus, not my monkeys, not my problem.


Siemprematahari's picture

I personally don't know how you do it. I don't know the kid but DO NOT EVER want to be around him. I would disengage 110% and that means I wouldn't do anything. Let his father deal with meals, entertainment, driving him around, etc. I wouldn't want to go to any amusement parks, trips or anything of the sort. I do think he's a manipulative child and has his father wrapped around his finger. He knows what he's doing and there are no consequences for his behavior.

I treat him with civility and kindness

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ this is all you can do and pretty much detach and disengage. You have to do this for your own sanity.

But why is the rum gone's picture

I don't want to be around him, either. But stuff like the amusement parks/trips - stuff like that where it's my ONLY chance to go for the year, I don't see why I should have to stay home because he can't act right in public, you know? And when I bring it up to his dad that I don't want to take him, he bitches that it's not fair to the kid. Not fair to the kid? Who is a spoiled, entitled brat who gets to go to these places multiple times a month? It's not fair that we don't take him and let him ruin our day? OK. So I go, I hope for the best & prepare for the worst. I'm better prepared for next summer when I'll be able to go and do these things with my nieces (4 and 2, who are WONDERFULLY behaved, everywhere we go), but this year I failed to adequately plan (and maybe, stupidly, hoped that the kids behavior would improve - NOPE!)

Yeah, I'm still trying to get a handle on the 'detatch & disengage' - I'll never be unkind to a child, but sometimes it's very hard to keep my opinion to myself. 

moving_on_again's picture

Not to be rude, but that's pretty dumb of your husband not to allow you and him to go on a date to the amusement park when the kid goes twice a week. I would understand if he never got to go but that is so far from the case. 

But why is the rum gone's picture

Oh, I don't think it's rude at all. I do agree that it's dumb as hell. The thing we're going for is a large group type event, so we can't leave the kid home since other family members/family friends will be there (the silver lining to that is we're usually able to pawn him off on his aunt & uncle for about an hour before they get tired of the whining and bring him back, so that hour is nice). The group event is the only time of the year I get to go because admission is regularly SUPER expensive and when we go with the group, we get in for a discounted rate (I'm super cheap and am all about discounted shit). I'd love it if that could be a date type thing, though. Maybe I'll suggest it and I can save up for the tickets for us to do that next summer -- framing it as a date would guarantee we'd go without the kid. Thank you for the idea! 

moving_on_again's picture

Ah, that makes sense. Still sucks. I would just start leaving him home until he stops whining. My son woudn't go anywhere with us for years. Now he's 19 and he told me the other day, "I don't know why I didn't want to go, I missed out on a lot." Yep. Hindsight. 

But why is the rum gone's picture

I wish. He's 8, so we can't leave him home alone. We left him in a hotel with his dance group for 15 minutes and he called his mother like we abandoned him. We did TRY TO start leaving places as soon as he starts whining (which sucks - especially when we pay to do something and we're there for 11 minutes and he starts with his shit), which you would think would act as a deterrent. Nah. In his mind, if we leave because of his behavior, that just means he can come home and play video games. Not like dad's gonna discipline him, you know? No consequences for shit. And as it stands, I'm the only adult who actually wants/tries to enforce this. So my husband, his ex-wife, his family, her new husband -- they can all wash their hands of it, not act like the adult and raise an entitled shit. I don't care. He can live in his mom's or his grandma's basement once he fully completes his metamorphosis into the south park world of warcraft guy (probably right around when he turns 18 - I'll give him a ten year window on that). IDGAF. My basement ain't finished -- you don't have to go to your mom's, but you can't stay here. 

TrueNorth77's picture

Since you mentioned the video games thing and turning them off at 10pm- this is classic. So I'm helping SD9 look up learning games on her phone (she asked if I would help), and this email address sexoffendor898@ gmail or some crap pops up. SD has no idea what it is. I tell SO. He suspects it's SS12, as do I (but I let SO figure that out on his own). He asks SS about it while i'm at work. SS denies, denies, denies. He didn't make it, has never seen it. SO isn't buying it, and says, really? You didn't make it? And then proceeds to go through the lost-password steps, which ends with Google sending a text to the phone # associated with the account...all in front of SS, who is still denying and letting my SO do all this work. Text from Google is sent, and ding! SS's phone rings when the text comes in. My SO was not happy. Honestly, SS should know better than to try and lie to my SO, because when he's pissed, he lets them have it. My SO is telling me this story, and I was all, OMG! I can't believe he lied the entire time!! Thinking, this kid is toast! He's going to be in so much trouble! Then SO tells me what the punishment is. Are you ready? I was not ready. My SO is going to TURN OFF ELECTRONICS AT 11PM for the remaining 5 days we have skids before school starts. 11pm. "School hours", as my SO says, since that is what time they get turned off during the school year. Are you f'ng kidding me??? That is what time most kids get their electronics turned off during the summer anyway! If not later than most!! Wow, you really showed that skid SO! Unreal. I never thought of him as a pussy before, but he has some major dad guilt happening I think since we don't have them as much during the summer. I almost can't wait to get back to having them 10 days in a row during the school year (just kidding, I can totally wait) so my SO won't be as afraid to discipline them when they F up. I'm so annoyed. 11pm is like no punishment at all, for lying through his teeth repeatedly. Grr.... 

But why is the rum gone's picture

11PM is school hours? 

Yeah, we have no punishments, either - also likely due to dad guilt. Our arrangement is flipped in the summer, so we'll have him much less once school starts. Thankfully.

notasm3's picture

Here's my advice on the amusement park - separate from them, do your own thing and meet up with them later.  I know you'd prefer to enjoy it with your DH - but that is not going to happen.  You are going to be pissed off and frustrated with the Little Prince Efftard who will make it all about how miserable he can make you be.  He'll puke at least once.

I've been to Disney World solo in the past or separated from friends who wanted to do different things.  Had a blast.

But why is the rum gone's picture

Little Prince Efftard!! *ROFL*

I'm dead. I'm sitting here laughing so hard at that. I love it. 

I was thinking about doing that - going off on my own. My husband won't be happy about it, but eh. Better him than me, I guess. 

Cover1W's picture

I've been at events with DH and the SDs and found myself alone - like, they decided to do something entirely different than planned.  So now, I either 1) don't do anything with them as a group - esp. if SD14 was involved - and I most especially do not plan anything alone for everyone.  So 2) If DH wants to do something with everyone HE must initiate the planning and stay with me while it's planned or nothing happens; SM doesn't help plan on her own, ever.  And 3) I am perfectly happy to leave whining children with DH if he doesn't parent.  Done it with not one shred of guilt.  If he wants to sit with them on a bench doing NOTHING while they whine about whatever then so be it.

But why is the rum gone's picture

I'm trying to move us towards "not doing things as a group". Outings with my husband and I alone are usually fun. Day trips with just us are great. But if it's a group outing, it's miserable. We drove to a city like 2.5 hours away last year -- we did not make it 20 minutes from our house before the kid started whining. We stopped to get gas and he gets out of the car with me like "I'm gonna get this snack and this snack and this drink and this treat" and I stopped him like "are you paying? No? Ok. You can have ONE snack for the car and water - you cannot have caffeine" and he wants to cry about it. can cry all you want. It's my money I'm spending here and you'll get what you get and you don't get upset. You say "thank you" that someone purchased something for you. Ugh. 

TrueNorth77's picture

I can't believe you cleaned the puke up!!! Nope, go get a towel DH. I feel for you, this all sounds like a sh*t show.

Side note, notice how I had to put a * in the word sh*t? It's because I have no fewer than SIX messages in my inbox yelling at me for my language on this site. SIX. My posts get edited by Admin. I fear i'm in danger of being kicked off ST for having trucker mouth. All I do is throw out an occasional F bomb or call BM c*nt!  I thought this was a safe place....

But why is the rum gone's picture

If my husband had tried to clean it, I'm sure he'd have made it worse. And my car is my baby - it's literally the last thing I have that I feel is truly MINE. He did come out with paper towels to try and clean it, but by that time, I had already almost finished and just needed the upholstery cleaner to spray on it (resolve makes an awesome one with a brush in the cap that I bought for a coffee/couch incident and I'm happy to report that it works just as well on car vomit). 

And that SUCKS about the language emails. I have the trucker mouth & basically use the F word like a comma. It's one of my favorite words because it's just so versatile haha. That's what the F really stands for: FAVORITE.

Cover1W's picture

If said kid doesn't stop when you tell him to stop, you pull that darn car over and put fear into his heart.

I did this once with SD12 (then 11) and her troublesome friend after they thought it would be funny to put a bug on my shoulder while I was driving.  Thank goodness I am not that scared of bugs but dammed if I didn't pull over right then or there and threaten that if they ever, ever, every mess with a driver like that again they would be summarily kicked out of any car I was in and they could walk home.

They don't mess with me any longer in the car.

But why is the rum gone's picture

I tried that once. You yell at him and he cries so hard he makes himself sick. Although once, I did scare him without yelling - I told him I was going to leave him and make him call a cab home. And that I was going to take his watch that calls people and he'd have to figure out how to use a pay phone. 

Better familiarize yourself with Uber & Lyft if you're gonna be an ass in my car haha 

But why is the rum gone's picture

He's eight, nine next month. But he cries like a toddler. Is "terrible tweens" a thing? 

SteppedOut's picture


Mystic18's picture

is my favorite too.  So is Efftard.  That made me die. 

I kid you not, the first summer my kids went to spend time with their dad and his new bride, I called her to make sure they were treating her with respect.  It was a humbling moment but important to me that they weren't going to be little sh*tbags to her.  They weren't.  Great.  That was 15 years ago. 

Now, I find myself a stepmom to an 11 y/o Autistic child.  Some would say he's high functioning, but it's hard for me to tell because I don't have a ton of experience with kids on the spectrum.  That being said, he doesn't towel off when he gets out of the shower (leaving a lake EVERY TIME), he doesn't flush, he chews with his mouth open, leaves toys and pieces of toys and crap all over my house,  my daughter found a marker in the bathroom sink with poop on it (WTF)...the list goes on and on.  He too is EXTREMELY spoiled and will often stomp off to throw a hissy fit if his dad and I are on the deck and he's left to read a book or entertain himself in general.  Keep in mind he gets 'daddy time' for the full 9 hours a day I'm at work but an hour is too much in the afternoon? Mkay. 

Teaching someone else's kid proper manners and boundaries is like pinning jello to a tree.  I have completely detached from all things caregiving - I understand you on that level completely.  I am civil and his basic needs are provided.  Aside from that, I f*#*ing can't.  It's way too much.  

But why is the rum gone's picture

Like pinning jello to a tree. I love it. I'm going to start using that when describing things that are futile (like trying to get the kid to have proper manners/hygiene skills). 

You know with the tooth brushing thing, this is the second time we've had to institute supervision - last time was when he was 7 and eating toothpaste - I told him don't eat toothpaste and he cried like I just beat him, so after that, his dad or I would watch him brush. We stopped because we thought (obvs, incorrectly) that he had a handle on it. When we went up to see my nieces this weekend, the 4 year old was so excited to tell me how the dentist said she has perfect teeth and how much she loves to brush and how she wants a travel toothbrush for when she starts school. I high-fived her and SS just glared, like I'm a bitch for encouraging positive behavior. 

I hear you on the being unable to entertain themselves for an hour - minimum - when spending time with their father. do not need to be the center of attention 100% of the time. Shut up, stop repeating "daddy" like a broken record - he sees you, he hears you, and you're jumping around trying to interrupt. Unless you're on fire, stifle it and wait your turn. 

Cover1W's picture

Ok, regarding the other things like toothbrushing...I tried that, I tried chore charts, I tried instituting a pajama insead of dirty clothes to sleep in rule, laundry baskets, etc.  It worked with SD12.  It failed like a lead ballon with SD14 - because she ran to DH every time "it's too hard" or "it takes too much time" and he caved with her each and every time.  So I stopped helping with toothbrushing and bathing and all that stuff - UNLESS SDs asked me.  And SD12 did, she's pretty good about all that now.  SD14 still doesn't brush her teeth, bathe enough, put ANYTHING in the washer (it's disgusing, just like her teeth).  And that's it. You cannot force him to brush his teeth unless both adults stand there and watch him. Every time. 

I mean, I told DH that you are going to have major dental $$ with SD14 as she gets older (told him this when she was 10) and he told me that was ridiculous and not the point.  OK then, you get to deal with it. 

If SD14 inturrupted us when she was younger, and DH allowed it, I walked away or simply stopped talking and refused to take up the conversation again.  I told her when we had company to NOT inturrupt and find something else to she walked away crying - not my problem she didn't learn manners.  She still interrupts, and if she does (well, if I ever see her again), I just say, "Excuse me, I am (or SD12 is or your Dad is) talking right now. Please wait your turn."  Said with cold calculation.  She does it on purpose.

Unless the kid is breaking my things or I catch them actually doing something dangerous or something that will cause a problem for other people I don't correct.  I throw stuff away if it's left out over 24 hours.  I don't buy extras unless I want to, not out of obligation.  I don't do their laundry (after teaching them how to use washer/dryer).  I don't give rides any longer unless I'm involved in the planning.  If I am uncomfortable doing something, I listen to my gut and go from there.

But why is the rum gone's picture

I do the same with the interrupting. And since I'm so petty that I'm about to free-fall into a last dance with Mary Jane (call me Tom!), whenever he starts talking, I interrupt him. Repeatedly. As he does to us. 

And then he complains that the interrupting is annoying.

Well...yeah, dude. That's the point I'm trying to make here. 

Re: the extensive dental work this kid is gonna need because his baby teeth have broken off at the gumline from lack of care and shitty dental hygiene - not my problem. Dad can pay for it out of his account. His teeth are not a household expense.