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I was a Big Evil SM :(

(200 Posts)
size4riggerboots Wed 27-May-15 03:11:59

Well, I feel like I was anyway.

Since I last posted here over well over a year ago ( backstory here: www.mumsnet.com/Talk/stepparenting/1846550-Hi-New-here-just-trying-to-figure-a-few-things-out-advice-welcomed ) things have been going well. I've been away at work for 253 days out of 365 (I just did my tax return), we bought a house, which DS loves too. She is now 8 and a half, and we still have a great relationship, still struggling with knife and fork, can read and tell the time but doesn't want to bother so says it's too hard. Plus, DP and Ex have got on well for the longest time ever, even now things are going tits up!

FYI I have been at sea since just after Christmas, and came home for 6 weeks leave at the end of April, so we've had 2 weekends with her.

1st weekend: So here's the issue: she sucks her thumb. (Ok, so she also needs asking 15 times before she does something and flies into a tantrum when she doesn't get her own way but we're mostly competent at dealing with those things). I realise that there are people who will say it should be stopped because of how it may affect her teeth, and those who will say let her do it it's a great comfort, and I understand both of those view points. Personally I think it encourages her to be babyish (there a multitude of other babyish habits, but that's for another time), and is possibly contributing to her being bullied at school. For these reasons, her mum is also of the opinion that she needs to stop sucking it, but her greatest weapon seems to be the threat of removal of the all hallowed i-pad. (Knowledge gained in the conversation I had with Ex herself, after the event..)

I (and DP) believe in the power of consequences, (frankly if I thought for a second I would ever in a million years get away with a short sharp smack across her bum, I would [never did any lasting damage to me and I damn well remembered the lesson]) so I threatened her with something much worse. Pepper sauce on the thumb. She looked suitably terrified and the thumb was absent for a while, over the rest of the weekend I continued to try this and it worked pretty well. She had a sleepover with 2 friends at our house (Ninja surprise attack of "Dad, can they sleep over?!?!?!" ....."Errrrr, if their mum doesn't mind" sigh) and was knackered on sunday morning. And when she's tired the thumb automatically goes into the mouth... Now, after telling a child the same thing over and over again every minute or so for half an hour (this may be an exaggeration but it felt like it) I was getting pretty damn annoyed. And I got the pepper sauce out of the cupboard.

Meanwhile her dad is also getting frustrated, for the same reasons as me, we're all in the kitchen at MIL's house, so she's talking too, and (Oh the power of hindsight and analysis) poor wee DS is getting just as fed up with it all as we are, and she's tired, so the thumb just keeps popping into that mouth.

I wasn't thinking like that at the time though. I felt like she was just doing it to piss us off. So I did it.

She was (understandably) not happy at this turn of events. However, the fireworks only lit when she licked it. I put tabasco-frikkin-sauce on her thumbs, how frikkin dumb am I?!? I realized immediately that I had gone too far, but hindsight, even a second after, is too late. Of course she rubbed her eyes then because she was crying. Oh god I felt bad. We washed her eye and then MIL swept her away from me for cuddles and comfort (she was [again, understandably] pissed off at me right then). When we'd all calmed down, I did apologize to DS and we had cuddles and then lunch and then the long drive north to return her to her mum. She called her mum from the car and I was surprised (and relieved) to note that she did not mention the incident. I decided that I ought to admit my mistake/fuck up to Ex at the handover and when I had she said that she'd rather I didn't do that I agreed and apologized again, deeply aware of how well within possibility it was that she could have thrown a huge fit at me (heck if the shoes were on the other feet..). I got hugs and kisses as we said goodbye (from DS, not ex!)

2nd weekend: So, it kinda felt like we'd gotten away with it. We had a great weekend, on friday I had a meal ready and waiting when they got in, bedtime not too unreasonable, saturday we visit my sister who has a toddler, DS and my nephew get on like a house on fire, DS is asking questions about whether she'd be part of mine and my sisters family if DP and I got married, lots of hugs all round... Sat eve we have the usual phone call to mum/ex and she comes up with the idea of a treat if DS only has to be told to stop sucking her thumb say, 3 times in a day. More than that, no treat. Super idea, says I, lets try that, and because she's been so busy and engaged all day we've barely had to tell her to take her thumb out so she gets a small chocolate egg and everyone is happy smile Sunday, I'm making my first ever roast leg of lamb (It was home grown, I come from a family of sheep farmers, this is as close as I come to religion) MIL comes over to us, they all watch a film, I cook in a happy domestic bliss... Watching TV being the second primary trigger for unconscious thumb sucking, it's popping into her mouth more and more, I'm keeping away from this though, it's her Dads job to deal with this one, I overstepped the mark once, not going to risk it again. So last weekend DP came up with the idea of masking tape around her thumbs, and decides to try this now. And actually, it works.

It worked up until the point that DS was told that, now the film was over she needed to practice her lines. (She wants to audition for a drama school). Didn't want to practice her lines. Gets out her phone and calls mum. Mum says she should do her lines. Suddenly the masking tape on her thumbs is the most awful thing ever, she can't get it off and she won't let anyone take it off because she's scared it will hurt. I do my very best, I'm on my knees, calm and soft voiced, offering to help but she doesn't want any of it, so I suggest that she needs to calm down and then tell us what she wants because we can't actually understand what she's saying, and maybe she should go and sit in her room while she calms down. She calmed down a lot after that, (perhaps because not being seen while you're being upset is not as effective). So after that's all cleared up, we have a lovely lunch (she ate everything and asked for seconds which is high praise indeed) and in the car journey north I only have to tell her three times to take her thumb out (so no treat..). Handover is happy happy, DS is excited about the prospect of next time we have her which will be a bit longer (half term) and we can go visit my folks in idyllic ...shire, (she LOVES the dog), Ex and I have a genuinely fun chat about DS's "boyfriend"... everything seems pretty peachy.

And now DS is apparently refusing to come down to see us, to the point where she would rather stay in her grandparents caravan than go home with her mum because "Daddy doesn't know where to find her and can't come and take her away". So suddenly we're at the point where Ex is saying she's going to break the court order, and we're going to have to pay for mediation, play therapy and generally jump through hoops again so that DP can see his child. The fact that Ex is still being calm and friendly and genuinely perplexed as to the origin of this behaviour is good, but I don't trust her parents not to be muttering things into DS's ear (their dislike of DP is intense, vitriolic and longstanding. In the years before DS was born, when DP and Ex were together and we were all friends she told us herself on may occasions how manipulative they were). However, I'm deeply worried that one of the driving factors may be that we've gone too hard on her about the thumb sucking thing and she now thinks that we're going to demonise her about it. The fact that she won't talk to her mum about it either suggests to me that perhaps we've almost gone too far on providing a united front...

It could be something completely different, but I really needed to vent all that anyway. I apologise for the ridiculously long post and thank you for bearing with me if you got this far.

AvaCrowder Wed 27-May-15 03:38:20

Why do you care, whether your step daughter sucks her thumb?

Why would you put pepper on her hands?

Is ds really dd?

NickiFury Wed 27-May-15 03:42:07

You sound like a complete twat. I wouldn't be responsible for my actions if you did the things you describe, to my child.

ItsRainingInBaltimore Wed 27-May-15 03:51:43

I really dislike thumb sucking outside of baby and toddlerhood too but there's NO WAY I would EVER put tabasco sauce on the thumb of a little girl - what kind of an nasty idiot are you to think that was an okay thing to do? And you only did that because you know you wouldn't get away with 'a short sharp slap across the bum.' ? shock For thumb sucking? At eight? Are you even for real?

Especially as she's not even your own daughter to take such liberties with - that was way out of line.

And if she's your stepdaughter then you call her DSS for Dear Step Daughter.

DS is Dear Son.

CinnabarRed Wed 27-May-15 04:03:38

If she were mine, she'd not be coming to yours either. What a nasty, cruel way to treat her.

size4riggerboots Wed 27-May-15 04:09:43

Ava I care because both her biological parents do, I care because of what it might do to her teeth, I care because we fear it may be a cause of her being bullied at school. Why would I not care?

Why did I do it? Because I was at the end of my tether, because I felt unable to not follow through on a threat, because of the fear that she'd think she could do anything and there would never be consequences, because I made a bad call. I'm human, so shoot me.

DD? as in my actual daughter? Ha! I'm as likely to have a child as I am to go to the moon!

----------

Nicki You sound like a very good friend of mine, she'd say exactly the same thing! I know I screwed up, which is why I was surprised at Ex's calm reaction. I'm not all bad though, I know the focus of my tale of woe is on the thumb sucking and how we (Both DP and I) dealt with it badly, but those two bad moments, over the space of two weekends, are actually balanced out with a lot of fun, love and happiness.

------------

I wasn't expecting a pat on the back when I posted this.

WhereTheFuckIsMyFuckingCoat Wed 27-May-15 04:13:34

There are so many things wrong with this I don't even know where to start! I was and am a step mum, to one sc who lives with dh's ex, and one who lived with us for a very long time (think 10yrs ish), so have no beef with sms, and in fact usually have a lot of sympathy, but fuck me sideways, this is all shades of shite wrong!

Firstly, although a short sharp slap to the arse might not have done you any long term damage - to even consider it as a prospect for an 8yr old sc is ridiculous! Most people who believe in a smack on the bum wouldn't entertain smacking any child other than their own. (And for most people these days, that too is questionable!)

Then there's the thumb sucking. You admit yourself that it's mostly sub conscious. She cant help it. To apply Tabasco sauce is bloody barbaric, bordering on assault. The poor lamb rubbed it in her fucking eyes ffs!? Have you ever rubbed your eyes after cutting chillis? It hurts like a bitch! And to say that by not having to confess to the ex that you got away with it? Wow.

The incident with the masking tape isn't much better tbh. She sounded traumatised by the thought that it was going to hurt her.

If I'm being honest you don't sound like you much like her - your post is littered with subtle criticisms of her - you sound more affectionate towards the ex!

I'd say mediation, play therapy etc is getting off lightly. Hate to say this, but if it was any of my dcs who were going through this at your house I'd have had to talk fucking sternly to myself to stop me giving you some fucking Tabasco treatment. In all seriousness though, I wouldn't have been merrily sending them off for their next contact visit!?

I think you honestly need to step waaaay back in regards the thumb sucking (and I'm not one to suggest that sps shouldn't be involved in discipline/rules etc), and suck up the exs suggestions.

And I'm off to read your other thread now, in case I've somehow spectacularly missed the point, but I do somehow doubt it.

CinnabarRed Wed 27-May-15 04:14:26

So what were you expecting?

FWIW, two moments of monstrous cruelty will more than outweigh two weekends of love. As your DSD is demonstrating by refusing to come to you.

If there is an issue that needs to be tackled it is for her mother and father to deal with, not you. Don't even attempt to discipline her; then you won't need to make threats that you can't follow through.

KensingtonRose Wed 27-May-15 04:16:33

I don't get why thumb sucking is such a massive issue for you. Sounds to me like you need to choose your battles.

Meanwhile if you came near my child with pepper sauce or masking tape I would hunt you down. How would you like it? She's 8 years old and away from her mum, she must have been scared and homesick.

The fact that smacking a child for sucking her thumb (or anything el a else for that matter) is appalling. Think of it this way, if you behaved like that towards an adult in the workplace you'd have been sacked, so what makes it acceptable to do it to a child.

Pick on someome your own size angry angry

CinnabarRed Wed 27-May-15 04:17:09

WhereTheFuck - I never minded being reprimanded by my DSF - I think step parents can have a valid role in disciplining - just not this step parent.

WhereTheFuckIsMyFuckingCoat Wed 27-May-15 04:17:19

And I'm afraid your sentence about having children and going to the moon has highlighted something glaringly obvious there too, op, in relation to your treatment of/thoughts towards, your partners daughter.

captainproton Wed 27-May-15 04:18:10

I think what you did was awful! my mother put English mustard on my tongue once for something similar, I can tell you that was one of the moments I really truly began to hate her. Children who thumb suck do it as a psychological need for emotional comfort. You have dramatically decided enough, to hell with your feelings, and have a bit of punishment too. Pepper or masking tape, whatever it's cruel. I suspect you and your partner are sticklers for strict discipline, harsh punishments for minor misdemeanours? I'm not suggesting Disney dad but softening your attitude wouldn't hurt.

Exploring why the child needed to thumb suck in the first place, providing reassurance would have been much better.

Of course you maybe inclined to stick to old school discipline, so was my mother. It made going no contact incredibly easy, and I spent many years wondering what I had done to be treated like that.

The child is probably frightened and tbh if you do go through mediation, court etc then it may all come out when cafcass speak to the child. If she is scared of you and your DP then good luck with re-establishing contact.

How old is the child anyway by the time they are 13 the courts usually ask them what they want to do.

cakeface16 Wed 27-May-15 04:18:22

My mouth is agape. I cannot believe you hurt a child like that. I cannot believe the child's father is allowing you abuse his daughter.

Kids grow out of thumb sucking. That's why you don't see many adults doing ithmm.

I'm so sad for that little girl.

WhereTheFuckIsMyFuckingCoat Wed 27-May-15 04:19:13

Cinnabar, reread my post, I wrote:

I think you honestly need to step waaaay back in regards the thumb sucking (and I'm not one to suggest that sps shouldn't be involved in discipline/rules etc), and suck up the exs suggestions.

NickiFury Wed 27-May-15 04:24:37

I hate the descriptive way you write about it too, almost like you're enjoying it. Full of self justification and woe is me and "oh I am SO worried about what I did": Makes me feel quite nauseous in fact.

Quite frankly you've no right to be implementing those kinds of punitive measures on any child, putting aside the fact that she isn't your child. And her horrible father is just as bad dreaming up punishments for his child, wrapping her thumb in masking tape? Ffs! What a vile pair.

CinnabarRed Wed 27-May-15 04:24:48

I was agreeing with you, Where! Just clarifying that I also am not one to say SPs can't get involved in discipline.

WhereTheFuckIsMyFuckingCoat Wed 27-May-15 04:29:02

Oh sorry, Cinnabar! I just misunderstood. Too tired!!

As a side note, am currently reading your other op, op, and I have to say, I can see where things have/are going wrong I think.

Another point worth mentioning, is that for long periods of time, you don't even see the little girl, but when you do, this is how it goes?! Boggling really.

size4riggerboots Wed 27-May-15 04:30:09

What was I expecting? This actually, for someone to tell me off, for someone to tell me I was out of line, for someone to actually point out clearly and bluntly where the fucking line is. My framework of parenting is based on how my parents brought me up. However what works for one child doesn't work for another, our situations are wildly different, so where's the fucking handbook or manual? The definitive guide to getting it right? There's countless books and blogs and forums, but there's conflicting advice everywhere, and no, pepper sauce has never been advised anywhere, I was at that time following the most frequent and apparently worst piece of advice, which is "Follow your gut". My gut was pissed off. As I have already said, I realised how badly I screwed up immediately, and I also know that I have quite probably irrevocably screwed things up.

I came here to be put in my place. And yes, I will be following your advice.

Annabannbobanna Wed 27-May-15 04:39:06

Maybe those short sharp smacks did you far more harm than you thought? Maybe that is why you are so abusive now?

NickiFury Wed 27-May-15 04:42:35

I've read your other thread too. You sound obsessed with discipline and moulding this child not to be "spoilt" to be behaving as she should be (in your opinion). You don't actually seem to see her as a child with actual feelings and emotions and you certainly don't respect them, preferring to write them off and suffocate them in the name of "discipline". Super Nanny is NOT the be all and end all and in fact many parents think she's a right twat too! You seem to believe that are the absolute authority on how to deal with this little girl, with all this talk of telling your DP how he should deal with his own child and him coming round to it, the RIGHT way to do things etc.

I tell you now this child will HATE you as she grows older if you carry on, she's not a naughty little doll you get to practice your ideas and opinions on. You need to back off and leave it to her actual parents because misguided or not you are emotionally abusing this child. I think if you ever have a child of your eon you will cringe at how you treated this little girl.

NickiFury Wed 27-May-15 04:42:53

I've read your other thread too. You sound obsessed with discipline and moulding this child not to be "spoilt" to be behaving as she should be (in your opinion). You don't actually seem to see her as a child with actual feelings and emotions and you certainly don't respect them, preferring to write them off and suffocate them in the name of "discipline". Super Nanny is NOT the be all and end all and in fact many parents think she's a right twat too! You seem to believe that are the absolute authority on how to deal with this little girl, with all this talk of telling your DP how he should deal with his own child and him coming round to it, the RIGHT way to do things etc.

I tell you now this child will HATE you as she grows older if you carry on, she's not a naughty little doll you get to practice your ideas and opinions on. You need to back off and leave it to her actual parents because misguided or not you are emotionally abusing this child. I think if you ever have a child of your eon you will cringe at how you treated this little girl.

ItsRainingInBaltimore Wed 27-May-15 04:48:04

If you can get to the end of your tether over someone else's child's thumb sucking that affects you not one jot, then I truly do hope you never decide to have children of your own, because you'll be crap at it with ridiculously unrealistic expectations, and they'll be miserable as a result.

ChannelingFlop Wed 27-May-15 05:05:05

Both your posts seem very focussed on discipline as if this is the primary role that you should have as a step parent. It isn't. It sounds like the little girl is scared of you now. Where to go from here.... No idea. Stop being nasty?

KensingtonRose Wed 27-May-15 06:02:13

Why was your gut pissed off over her sucking her thumb? If that is the worst this child does to annoy you then she sounds like an angel.

I read this the first time when I was up in the night with my baby and I couldn't get back to sleep thinking about how scared that little girl must have been to be away from her mum and being bullied by you.

My advice would be to leave her alone. Let your partner restablish access through conact centres or whatever but you need to stay away from this child that seems to piss you off so much for very little reason.
Maybe the smacks you received as a child are the reason you are now an intolerable bully.

KensingtonRose Wed 27-May-15 06:04:16

Why was your gut pissed off over her sucking her thumb? If that is the worst this child does to annoy you then she sounds like an angel.

I read this the first time when I was up in the night with my baby and I couldn't get back to sleep thinking about how scared that little girl must have been to be away from her mum and being bullied by you.

My advice would be to leave her alone. Let your partner restablish access through conact centres or whatever but you need to stay away from this child that seems to piss you off so much for very little reason.
Maybe the smacks you received as a child are the reason you are now an intolerable bully.

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