Actually, I like worms. Maybe I'm feeling like a maggot.
I have guilt issues. I always want to fix everything and make everyone happy. Let me tell you, this is not the easiest trait to have when dealing with discipline and children. M was just caught out in a lie she has been sustaining for over 2 weeks now. I pretty much knew she was lying but didn't have proof until Friday. I gave her lots of chances to fess up without outright accusing her of lying. I was afraid if I was wrong that she would never trust me. Well now she has been found out and was grounded for the weekend. It's been pretty hard on her because I went to look at a house for sale with K and not her yesterday, and today some family friends were doing a birthday thing she is missing out on. She just cried herself to sleep on the couch. I feel like I'm kicking puppies. She says she doesn't understand why she is in trouble for longer than K (K is 5), that she feels left out, and goes back and forth about whether she even lied.
She started her new school a little over 2 weeks ago. We asked every day if she had homework. She said no all but 2 times. I was sure she had some so I gave her a chance to admit she wasn't doing it. I told her I would be very surprised if she wasn't getting homework; she said she was doing it in school. I finally got her grade log in to work on Friday and the highest grade she has is a 30%. She hasn't turned in a single assignment since she started the new school. When I confronted her she claimed she didn't know she had to do them, but I found most of the assignments blank in her notebook. I know she has memory problems so it was conceivable she forgot they were there, but then she kept changing her story. I am pretty convinced she knew she had homework and chose to lie, but I think her motives were not laziness (more on that in a minute).
I knew this was a problem she had with her previous school so I did everything I could think of, short of following her to school, to help her get a better start. It wasn't the grades themselves that caused the discipline, it was the lying. I was not completely on board with punishing her but backed up my husband when he said there should be consequences for lying. My gut is telling me that this is the wrong way to handle it but I can't tell if that's because I can't stand to see her hurting, or because this is not the best way to help her.
I personally don't think she understands that staying home and not having fun is a consequence for lying. I think she feels rejected and isolated, and doesn't understand why. I know her previous foster parents were even more punitive, and screamed a lot, but that doesn't make me feel any better. I feel in my heart there is a better way to get through to this kid. I think she lies because she has been trained to. She is used to getting screamed at for bad grades, never mind that she has never been in the same school for an entire school year, her father sometimes "forgot" to even send her to school, and she has had more homes in the last 9 years than many people do in a lifetime. She's expected to get passing grades and no one has even evaluated her for learning problems. So to keep from getting screamed at she lied about getting stuff done. She was going to get in trouble anyway, so why not prolong the inevitable by lying? So how do you work with that? Yes, lying is a serious issue that needs to be addressed, but can we really expect someone that has been lying her whole life just to survive to change the minute she moved in? How can I get that concept across to my husband? What do I even do with that? Should I not punish her but just point out what she could have done instead? Will she really learn anything that way? I'm so lost with this stuff. I thought I'd have a better idea of how to handle this stuff with all my research, but most of the things I read dealt more with violence and out of control behavior. I am out of my depth with these somewhat subtle destructive behaviors.
I tried to make sure she knew she hadn't lost our love. I stayed with her while she cried and told her I loved her and I wasn't trying to make her feel bad. I told her I was sorry she was feeling so bad. I hope that is enough for her to feel less rejected, I'm worried that it's not.
What I DID NOT do, which my stupid co-worker who adopted a baby said, was tell her that "if she wants to be in this family she has to take school seriously and try her best". What an a-hole he can be sometimes. I really hope his daughter doesn't have issues when she's older, and I hope to God that they never let him adopt an older child. That's a great idea - tell a kid that's had 3 failed adoptive placements that she can't be in our family if she isn't getting good grades. Idiot. The sad thing is that his feelings are not unusual. I don't understand why people are so willing to throw kids like M away. I just wish I knew the best way to help her.