Saturday, August 12, 2006

How to be Nice with Niece

Posted by Anonymous.

If you'd like to use this space to tell stories/secrets/confessions of your dangerous maternal (or paternal!) mind, send me an e-mail and you too can enjoy the refuge of the Basement...

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I'm plopping on the couch here in the basement. I have a confession that I cannot tell anyone about. Maybe my best friend (ok, I did tell her), but it's something I cannot even mention to my very loving husband. If I did confess, he'd be furious with me and see me differently. I also know that my confession would hurt him deeply, and so I keep it to myself.

Confession: I despise our 8 year old niece. With a passion. One might read this and say, "Big deal"...after all, who doesn't have an annoying relative? But this is complicated...you see, I am currently responsible for watching the spoiled brat several days per week-and this responsibility is going to continue for a while.

I am off during the summer months. Hubby's sister is a single parent, doing the best she can-and not making it. Her loser of an ex pays minimal child support. She was able to land a job near us and is planning to relocate as soon as her custody hearing is over and done with. In the meantime, she has needed to start the new job, since she had to quit the old one. Since the new job is near us, and we are the only people she knows here, guess who watches the little brat while Mommy works? That would be ME.

I am trying. Really hard. The kid is going through a LOT...as much as we've tried to shield her from the custody battle, she's not stupid-she knows what is going on. Besides that, she suffers from a toxic case of what I refer to as "Only Child Syndrome" (those of you who are or have only children, please don't be offended-I was an only child until my teens, and I totally suffered from this very same condition-not all only children have it). She is SPOILED...because her mom can't afford nice things for her, the rest of the family spoils her...and yes, Hubby and I have contributed to that by buying her toys from time to time. But it's not just that she's spoiled by having the material things. She is used to having HER way, being first at EVERYTHING, running the show, and getting away with whatever. Her mother suffers from the guilt that plagues many single parents (again, not trying to offend, I was raised by a single parent who suffered this same guilt), and gives in to almost every whim.

And now I am expected to watch her while Mommy works. I ADORE her mother. I love her as a sister and a friend. But her kid is a pain in my ass. And not only do I have her to keep an eye on, I have my own child. A child, who, at almost age 2, is easily impressed and tries to do what Big Cousin does.

I feel like a horrible person...I've been entrusted to care for the most special person in the life of someone I care deeply for-and I can't stand it. I dread mornings when she is dropped off here and I count the hours until she's picked up. I make the effort-I take her (and my kid) to the park, I read with her, play computer games with her...and when it's just us two, she's not so bad...but heaven forbid, she share the spotlight with my kid-she turns into a brat. She complains about the brand of jelly I buy (it tastes funny), the type of ketchup I buy (which is the same effin stuff that's at HER house), she will mess up my kid's toys and refuse to put them away...

When I return to work, I'll be watching her in the afternoons after I get home until her mom gets home.

Yes, I signed on for this...it was the only way that my sister-in-law could take the job and get out of the rut she was in. I knew what I was getting into, but I guess I was a tad unrealistic. I truly thought that with the gift of time, this little girl and I would bond and that I'd come to love her like a second child. NOPE. Granted, she is reaching out to me more than she did before this arrangement was made (I was often viewed at the 'strict' aunt)...she calls when she's not here and asks to do stuff with me, so I know she's enjoying my company at least a little-so I must be doing a good job of pretending to like her. But I just don't enjoy her company...I can't say she's BAD...but she is annoying.

And that's so cruel to say of a child going through so much...it's not her fault. I also resent how watching her takes time away from me spending time with just my child.

I would never hurt her. I would never let on to anyone how much I despise her at times. I would never mistreat her or act differently towards her. When she sees me, I am all smiles, ready to take on the day...we go to the park, we read, we fingerpaint, we talk, we watch movies...and all the while I am rolling my eyes on the inside. CRUEL, I am.

Deep down, I do know that I love her. If anything happened to her, I'd be devastated. But I am frustrated and overwhelmed by her. Because not only do I have to watch her, I feel I have to be 'extra cool' in doing so...the court date for the custody battle is fast approaching, and the asshole of a father she has would love nothing more than to march into court and state that he's hearing how unhappy his little girl is when she's with me...so I REALLY have to turn on the charm and be sweet AND cool so that she'll go there and go on and on about how much fun she has when she's with me.

OK, I fessed up...call me a bitch, a cruel, insensitive human being. After all, I am a recovering Only Child Syndrome case...I was raised by a single mom for years...and I teach young kids for a living...though I dare say it's far easier to teach a room full of little girls than it is to babysit them all day. I should know better, I should be above this petty cruelty...she's a little girl.

But she's such a BRAT.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

I do not think you are terrible by any means. We are all entitled to feel how we want to about other people. We are expected to like all children, just because they are children, but some of them are awful. When I keep the church nursery every week, there are children that I HATE to see comming. I can not wait for them to start walking and get out of my class. Their parents would never know it. I even sacrifice attention and holding my own child so I can play with their overly needy brat/monster that they have created.
You are not alone.

Piece of Work said...

I think you're doing an amazing thing. Some kids are brats, and it's your right to feel that way about her. It's also your duty to not let her know that, and to treat her as kindly as you can--and you are doing all that. That has to be infinitely harder than babysitting a kid you actually enjoy. So pat yourself on the back for a job well-done!

Anonymous said...

I have a foster son whom I LOVE and yet he tries my patience every day. My sister is the baby sitter for her best-friend's son (and has been for the last two years) and she often speaks of how much she looks forward to the day that she stops watching him.

Children are trying (in general) and some are very difficult. It does not make us bad people to admit that we have a difficult time with dificult children.

And I know you know this, but I wanted to remind you that his little girl does not need you to be "cool." More than ever, in a time of stress and change, she needs you to be stable and set reliable boundaries. Remember that YOU are in charge of this situation!

Awesome Mom said...

You are not a horrible person at all. I think that you are great for doing this and not letting your niece feel that she is not wanted.

Annie, The Evil Queen said...

When she is grown, her times with you are likely to be the highlight of this troubled period in her life. You are giving a difficult child in a difficult situation a chance to be normal and safe for part of each day she is with you. I think that is a wonderful gift.

julia said...

When I was a kid, there was a little girl who lived next door. I was best friends with her sister, but she was a bit of a nudge. She'd come over and drive my mother batty, but my mother always made time for her. She'd complain about her after she left, but to this day, that girl has really great memories of my mom and thinks she's a wonderful person. I'd be willing to bet that's what this little girl will think of you, too.

You can't like everyone. Even children. Some of them are much, much harder to like than others. Most people just can't admit it.

I think you're being a bit hard on yourself and you're being wonderful to this girl.

Anonymous said...

Hi-original poster here.

Thank you all for your support and kind words. I feel so much better...first, getting my rant off my chest, and second-reading all of the supportive words you've written. It helps so much.

I can hope that when she looks back on all this drama many years from now, she'll remember the role I played in my attempts to keep things normal and sane for her. Even if I go crazy in the process, as long as she turns out ok, that's all that matters.

Again, thank you girls so much!

Anonymous said...

You are not horrible. You're providing stability and most of all EFFORT for a little girl who needs that most of all right now in such an uncertain time in her life. Even the more difficult children need what she's found at your house. She also might feel she's somewhat responsible for her parents' split, and acting out is the only way she knows to express her frustration. She's also pretty young, and even though the time you spend with her is hard on you, maybe the more of it she gets with you, the less Only Child Syndrom-like she'll be, being forced to share toys and your attention with your child. She may think of you as more strict, but she's obviously happy with you, so your goal of being there for her and her mother is being met. Sometimes, for bratty children, more structure is exactly what they need.

Hang in there. The longer this arrangement lasts, the more she'll grow up and improve in attitude, however gradually. She'll get used to not being the only child at your house. You may even end up being her favorite aunt because you spent this time with her. The more comfortable she becomes with you, the more she'll rely on you to help her through this and maybe by that point, you can point out to her some of her bratty behavior and how it's inappropriate. Don't worry so much about being cool and fun for her. Being there for her will only help, even if you have to hide your eye rolls. I bet, over time, you'll be rolling your eyes even less. That's the thing about children growing up. It's pretty much inevitable.

Jenn said...

Sounds like you were talking yourself out of your feelings as you were writing them down. Your not horrible. Not at all. My cousin was such a huge brat when she was little. She had "middle child" sydrome instead. *shrug*

Now if you told us that you secretly beat her cause she's annoying then YES you would be horrible. But it's natural to be annoyed at a bratty kid that you HAVE to spend every day with.

Hopefully it gets better soon =) Hang in there!

Anonymous said...

You have no idea how many times I have thought about plopping down in the basement and spilling my guts about my neice AND nephew and I how I can't stand them or their mother and father. I am too terrified though that all of the detail I would give would rat me out if my husband were to ever come across what I wrote. Not that he ever would but I just can't take that chance because if he knew how much I disliked them, he would hate me.
Thank God I don't have to watch them every day though. I applaud you for what you are doing. Man, do I ever applaud you.
I will say this. I'm pretty sure I'm also known as the mean Aunt b/c unlike everyone else, I will lay the law down with those two b/c 1) they need it and 2) I don't really care if they don't like me. But the thing is, when I show up, they run up to me and hug me and want to play and show me stuff. I guess they actually respect me for telling them no sometimes and for caring about what they do instead of ignoring them. Go figure.
Hopefully you will have a positive influence on your neice and she'll change for the better and grow up and out of her brattiness and she'll have YOU to thank for that.

crazymumma said...

There are some kids, these little people, these egos, these personalities....that we cannot find a ground with. I commend you on what you are doing. Perhaps with some guidance she will be more likeable and cooperative.
Good luck and dig deep....

Angel Baby said...

Well, she might be annoying, but it sounds to me like she's just being eight years old. I personally find eight year olds to be annoying, so I can totally relate to you. Except that I don't feel guilty about it. There are some ages that I like more than others. Some people out there LOVE LOVE LOVE third graders. I can't stand them. Three/Four is my all time favorite age and I've met people out there who can't deal with all the "whys" and "how comes", so it's just personal style/taste/opinion.

And I think by pretending to like her you are are doing the best you can and that's good enough for now.

I also think you are doing the right thing by coming here to bitch about it. Get it all out in a safe place and maybe that loving spot in your heart for your niece will grow just a little bit bigger. Okay, maybe it's not loving, but it's the tolerating spot. Or the grin and bear it spot. (grin)