Being pregnant and hormonal and somewhat self-absorbed, I haven't spoken about the stepkids for ages. Being teenagers and hormonal and somewhat self-absorbed, their reactions to the baby news has been all about how they feel this will directly affect them. Tiger seems most excited and talks about it constantly when he's with us. He hopes it's a boy so her can teach him to play golf, if its a girl he doubts he'll have much to do with it. Batman seems a bit more ambivalent, but I think that is probably to be expected since he will be 19 when bub is born. His mother says he is upset and worried about it but he has recently started spending one night a week at our house because, in his words, he wants to spend more time with us.
Rosie is the one who concerns me the most. She started at a new school this year and found the initial adjustment very difficult. She was very anxious the first few weeks and not eating or sleeping well. The new school is a religious one, so during a pastoral class the students were asked how they were feeling about the new school year, at which point Rosie burst into tears. The school acted very quickly and she has been having regular sessions with the school counsellor ever since. After that first session she said to DH "I told them EVERYTHING Dad".
The counsellor rang DH a few weeks ago and told him about her discussions with Rosie. Apparently Rosie has spoken of her concern that the baby will take our attentions away from her, that she loves DH and I and would prefer to live with us but fears her mother's reaction. We knew all of this but the level of concern the counsellor had for Rose's safety at her mother's house was a bit of a shock. Rose talked alot about the level of violence in the house and her fear of her mother's boyfriend has them worried. DH asked the counsellor if they were concerned about sexual abuse, because that seemed to be what she was tip-toeing around, and she said that was a concern that the school was taking very seriously.
Obviously I am thankful that the school is aware there are issues at home, so they can keep a close eye on her, and she has an objective adult to talk to about any problems. But I am concerned though that they think there may be a sexual nature to her fear of Loser Boyfriend.
As a child victim myself and former child protection worker, I maintain that the child must always be believed so it would be totally different if Rosie accused Loser Boyfriend of anything sexual, which she has not. But still it goes against my grain to say what I am about to say.... Rosie is a drama queen, and, just like her mother, she likes people to think she has a hard life and to feel sorry for her. It has becoming increasingly difficult for us to sort the truth from the chaff in most conversations with her. She lies to us a lot and some of her bullshit is just so fanciful we have to laugh. I know her mother has the same issues. I defy anyone with a teenage girl to say her daughter doesn't lie to her. It's just the nature of the beast.
I think she is being honest that she is scared of Loser Boyfriend when he is drunk, but I think that perhaps she has exaggerated how bad things are at home. If it was that bad and she was that frightened, surely she would come live with us? DH and I have done everything in our power to make this a possibility for her.
I'm not so old that I don't remember life as a teenage girl. The raging hormones, the changing body, the belief that other girls are always looking at you and judging you. That insane need to be accepted, to conform, to be considered normal when in your mind you think you are anything but. Desperately wanting to be attractive to boys, to be loved, but terrified of what that means. I was shocked when I dropped Rosie at school last week that 4 out of 5 girls had the exact same haircut - dead straight, far side part, covering at least one eye. Rosie has gorgeous, naturally curly hair - no wonder it takes her over an hour to get ready - she has to hide each one of those pesky non-conformist curls! I wouldn't want to be a teenager again for anything in the world.
As much as I try to empathise with her, I must admit she is starting to piss me off. Everything about the baby is negative at the moment for Rosie (although it's always possible I am being overly sensitive?). We have conversations like;
R: "Mum says that the baby will affect me the most because I won't be the youngest anymore"
ME: "Excuse me if this sounds selfish at all, but I think that it might actually affect ME the most"
R: (laughing) "Oh yeah, I hadn't thought of that"
R: "I don't want my bedroom to be near the baby's, I don't want to hear it crying"
R: "Little kids really annoy me"
R: "Doesn't your stomach hurt? It looks REALLLY painful"
R: "Have you always wanted to have a child?"
ME: "Yes, but I have a problem with my ovaries and thought that I couldn't have children"
R: "So this baby is like, a miracle"
ME "YES! So treat it with the respect it deserves and stop being such a selfish little twat!"
(ok, so maybe I didn't actually say that last bit... but by god I wanted to!)
DH wants for things to remain the same as much as possible for the kids, and I understand where he's coming from... but, you know, a new baby is a huge change, I don't see how (or why) we can protect them from that. Isn't there a saying "The only constant in life is change"? I think the kids are just going to have to adapt. I can see a future where baby and I are the ones making all the concessions, tip-toeing around the older kids so we don't disturb them, even though we are the ones who actually live here. Frankly, it scares me and it's keeping me awake at night.