Relatively new step-parent in need of advice!
Hi All! This is my first post and I'm hoping some of you can help with a bit of guidance ref. SD11. So I'm a relatively new step-parent, less than a year, and before now everything has been absolutle fine with the exception of really little things like the bio-hazard that is her bedroom of late where I've had to learn as I go but I'm now officially out of my depth and don't know of any other step-parents to talk to. It's quite long winded so please do stick with me.
So I'll start by saying that SD11 is usually a really lovely girl, she's good company and, asside from the odd white lie, I've not had any issues. However the last few weeks have just been one issue after another and I've no idea how I'm supposed to react. She's started telling me weird things about her dad (why now I've no idea, I've been in the picture nearly a year now) like 'he sleeps with his eyes open you know', he doesn't (I sleep next to him, I would know) but she was adamant. She's also very, very clingy towards me and rarely calls or texts her dad but can call me as many times as five per day (I'll answer two at most) but largely that has little do to with what follows.
So it all started with SD saying that she wanted to start ballet and join the dance school which my two neices are in. We explained to her before she started that it's an expensive and very committed dance school so if she wanted to do it she could start with the ballet and we'd assess it from there. After christmas she started ballet and enjoyed it so much the dance teacher asked her if she'd like to take part in their yearly show which has children from the dance school between aged 5-18. She auditioned and was placed in no less than 8 dances! Which is really wonderful for someone with little dancing experience but it meant that she had to be there every Sunday for a couple of hours until the end of July. She was very excited, it was expensive for her to take part and we clarifyied that if she were to do it she'd need to go as it was a big commitment for everyone. It worked really well for about a month.
Then she started moaning before and after every class, so naturally we asked her if she wanted to do it as it wasn't a problem at that stage for her to back out. She said she did, she continued. She continued to moan before and after rehearsals and then started coming up with excuses not to go such as 'I got my period I can't dance' where we explained to her she could dance with her period, as women we all just carry on and it's good experience, if the cramp is bad just take a break etc. We checked again before the last bill and she confirmed she wanted to do it but she was still skipping rehearsals etc and as a result she got cut from one of the dances. I asked my neice (14) to check with her that she still wanted to do it also, she also helped her with some of the steps she was confused by, and she still did so we paid the next round of fees, costumes, dancewear etc. but reiterated that if she didn't go she would get cut from more and more dances. She didn't go she got cut from two more dances.
At this stage the dance teacher had to phone us to check if she really wanted to do it as the absences were causing issues with her choreography, understandably. We sat her down and had a good long chat with her about how it really didn't matter to us if she wanted to back out, we would understand and that it was a really big commitment but she swore blind that she wanted to do it so we paid more money and that was that. At this point we're about £300 in.
Then! She broke up with her boyfriend of six months (i know, I know at 11 that's not ideal but it means next to nothing at that age so we've just let her get on with it) but as a consequence he and his friends apparently started calling her some pretty horrific names at school which you never want to hear came from an 11 year old. She was really upset and down (looking near depressed about it to be honest, but in a dramatic 11 year old kind of way) and so her dad phoned the school to find out what was going on, they pulled in all the children involved to discuss it and they were reprimanded HOWEVER they did say that it's not as one sided as she'd lead us to believe and that could we check her phone as several of the other students (and their parents) had some real issues with some of the messages she'd apparently sent their kids. Now this was completely out of the blue and we were quite shocked when they asked us to do this as she's always been afforded quite a grown up freedom with her phone as long as it's not abused and her dad and bio-mum have never felt the need to check it or intervene before. So her dad said he'd check it at the weekend when she was next due to visit but first give her the option to tell him in her own words what had happened.
Saturday morning arrives and she sends me a picture of her ankle with peas on it saying she can't dance. I, queen of falling on my ever crap ankles, said to send me a picture without the peas and asked if she could walk on it. She said she could and when the picture came through it was just a normal ankle, no swelling no redness, nothing. I said if she could walk on it she should try a little bit or it would stiffen up etc. She said she couldn't do dancing. At that point I mentioned to her dad and he, already quite mad about the school thing, said 'look if it's really bad of course you can't dance but you should at least go and watch or you might get cut again' she said she'd think about it and then text us and said she wasn't coming down that weekend at all now. Fine. She got completely cut from the show as a consequence and she didn't care AT ALL.
So I'm a bit mad that she wasted my money, I'd bought her the practice wear she said she needed just that week and then she wouldn't go. It's cost so much money and she doesn't seem to care at all. On top of that the lying with school just blindsided me and honestly I think she skipped the weekend because she knew the chat was coming and that her dad was away all this week so she could avoid being in trouble. It just puts me in an awkward position if I go and get her on his usual nights this week, which I usually would, because if I say nothing she gets away with it and if I say something I'm going to get it in the neck from bio-mum for reprimanding 'her child' so what the hell do I do?
Apparently the lying isn't completely out of character I've just not seen this in her before and that she can be quite manipulative I'm just blind to it. I have a four year old biological son but I've never in my life had to address this kind of issue with an older child and I don't know how to approach it and what I should say. I'm mad that I've wasted my money, but mostly just feeling like I don't know her like I thought I did.
So what do I say? I've spoken to her on the phone since and she's pretended that everything is fine though I'm sure she can tell from my tone that I think otherwise.
Any advice would be appreciated and if you made it to the end of this post thank you for sticking with me.