I know it’s been a while since I wrote anything. We’ve been going through a lot here. My blood sugar levels are so unstable right now that it’s all I can do to get through the day half the time. Having our food stamps cut definitely didn’t help our situation any. It’s getting pretty rough on us. The kids are hungry. I’m unable to maintain my blood sugar and iron levels. The only person who isn’t effected by the lack of food is Oz, and that’s only because he’s taken to not eating at all. He doesn’t eat much when he’s depressed. It’s going to be rough on us for a little while.
Then there’s everything else going on. It’s been hard enough on all of us with the food, bills, and all of that. Now we’ve got a whole new issue with Corde that we just can’t ignore. She’s back to stealing food at night, eating the juice mix straight from the container, and those sorts of things. I wouldn’t care so much, but that’s why my blood sugar has tanked, because she’s eating everything I have stashed away in case of emergencies or that I snack on to keep everything level. The whole stealing thing, I’ve already told her in most cases I don’t mind sharing stuff that’s specifically for me, if she asks. Unfortunately, now we can’t have soda, cookies, or any kind of sweets unless we want her to sneak it in the middle of the night when she’s supposedly sleeping. She claims it’s because she’s hungry, but it’s nothing that ever fills her up. In the case of the juice mix, I’ve had that stuff before. It tastes pretty nasty. I can’t imagine why she’d ever want to eat it.
These patterns start every time her dad pops up in her life. Every phone call, every promise, it all triggers a back-slide. Maybe if he’d kept his promise about taking her and her brother for the summer it would be different, but as always, it turned out to be a lie and I was responsible for bearing the bad news. He didn’t want to tell her himself. Hell, I had a hard enough time getting him to tell me anything. It was about a week before he was supposedly coming out to pick them up when I begged him for details so I could arrange transportation that he finally said he couldn’t make the trip. I was about ready to tell him that I couldn’t allow the kids to visit anyway because I couldn’t arrange transportation to and from the airport last minute like that.
Normally the back-slide is over in a month. The first couple of weeks are horrible, but by the end of the month she’s mostly back to usual. It’s been a month since the start of school marked her father’s inability to keep to his word, so she should be getting back to normal. She should at least be on the way to getting back to her normal self. This time nothing has changed. We’ve already gotten to the point where we can’t keep soda in the house (a 24 pack of cans only lasts about 2 days and it’s too expensive and too unhealthy for that). If I want something quick to grab to even out my blood sugar it’s getting to the point where I have to hide it. I just don’t feel comfortable sneaking away to snack on something so I don’t pass out because if she sees that I have it, she’ll tear the house apart the moment I’m not there to watch her to find it. Oz is really no help on this. As much as I love him, he’s glued to his video games so he doesn’t notice when the kids are scrounging around our room looking for whatever they may be looking for. It’s extra frustrating because a month ago she never would have done any of this. She’s been improving slowly since January.
Feeling the need to find the root of the problem, I started talking to her. I know she’s never going to tell me what the real problem is, even if she knows. Oz thinks it’s because she wants him to leave so her father can come back. Personally, I think it has to do with the way she’s treated by the other neighborhood kids. It’s not just the start of school that triggered this change, but that’s when she met the other neighborhood kids.
Slowly I’ve had a lot of information leaked to me about the other kids in the neighborhood and I really don’t like what I’m hearing. Corde is constantly complaining that Maddy is telling her mom that Corde and Beekee do everything wrong so she doesn’t have to get in trouble. Maddy tries to blame Corde and Beekee so her sister will be mad at her too. I’ve even seen Maddy lie straight to my face before. There was one day she put some frogs in an old soda 24 pack box. I told the girls not to do it because Maddy originally had them in a Ziploc bag, and though it was open, she was holding it tightly and the frogs were crying. Corde went to bring the box in, realized something was in the box, and dumped it. When I asked who put the frogs in the box, Maddy and her sister both swore it wasn’t them, but Corde didn’t answer. She was too busy trying to find the frogs to see if they were alright. She was horrified at the thought that she could have dumped them out and hurt them. That’s how I know it wasn’t her. She wouldn’t have been so upset if she’d known the frogs were in there all along. I knew it was Maddy because her sister had been hounding me every five seconds to play with the boys who were too busy watching shows on survival and disasters to play. Maddy was the only option that seemed reasonable. Maddy has lied to me about having permission from her mom about things, like asking if Corde could sleep over because her mom said it was okay and then saying, “Let’s go ask my mom!” She’s not exactly the most honest sort.
It really started to get bad when she began causing problems between Corde and me. I told Corde and Beekee they could play out in the yard. Normally I let them go where they want as long as they ask me, but it was getting dark. I told them they had to be in by dark and not to leave the yard because it was so late. The sun went down and I waited. Then I waited some more. Finally, about fifteen to twenty minutes after it had been good and dark I packed up the baby in the baby hawk, dressed up Sander, and went looking for them. I was furious. Not only had they stayed out past when I’d asked them to be in, but they took off without even telling me where they were going. It turned out that Maddy convinced them that they should go over to the new neighbor’s house and it would be okay since they were right next door. It was pretty much the yard. Then she dragged Corde over there by the arm. I don’t doubt that because I’ve seen Maddy pull Corde around, and Corde is too afraid of losing a friend to stand up to her.
Maddy really is a controlling bully. Corde’s not allowed to play with any of the other neighborhood kids if Maddy isn’t around. Corde doesn’t care and does it anyway, but Maddy throws a fit every time she does. “Maybe your friends will get jealous if you play with other kids.” Corde, instead of standing up for herself as one might expect from Miss Attitude herself, she just backs down and lets Maddy boss her around. Maddy is the only friend that’s out to play with every day so Corde is terrified of losing her. That and Maddy kind of controls who plays with who of the kids their age and younger, so if she ticks off Maddy, Maddy might not let anyone else play with Corde. For all those people who say that kids who aren’t in school will never learn how to deal with bullies, this is evidence of how wrong that statement really is.
That’s when Maddy crossed the line with me and I’m still not sure how to handle it. Maddy decided it would be fun to try and kill one of the frogs she caught. It was bad enough she wanted to torture them by bouncing them around in boxes, stick them in ziploc bags and hold them until they scream for mercy, and try to climb trees with them because “they can hop from branch to branch. It’s safe.” Corde was very upset about that last one because she knows frogs, or more accurately, toads, don’t belong in trees. If they were equipped to climb trees they’d do it themselves. Now Maddy decided to take their lives in her own hands.
It apparently all started with Maddy trying to stab a frog with a supposedly play syringe. In this neighborhood I wouldn’t put it past her to have found an actual needle and Corde just didn’t know better. I wish she’d told me about it at the time so I could know for sure. Maddy was trying to stab the frog and draw it’s blood, but she couldn’t get through the skin. Corde thought this was weird, and thought that maybe they shouldn’t be doing it, but was too afraid to say anything. If she did, Maddy may never play with her again.
Unfortunately, that’s not where it ended. Maddy’s next brilliant idea was to have one of the kids try and run the frog over with their bike. Corde said the frog didn’t die right away. They just kept running it over again and again. They even tried to get a car to run it over. Corde thought it was better that the frog didn’t die right away because it had a chance to escape until I explained that what they were doing was torture. It would have been better if they’d just killed the frog quickly because it wouldn’t have had to suffer so long. Again and again Corde has told me “I just keep seeing the dead body. Why would they want to kill a frog? That’s so wrong.”
I’ve tried talking to Maddy’s mother about it, but I just don’t think I can ever really get through to her. She always takes everything negative I have to say about her daughter so harshly. It’s like I can almost physically see her closing up and cutting off. I doubt she ever said anything to Maddy about killing the frog, well, toad. We have toads here, not frogs. Still, I doubt her mother brought it up. Maddy’s probably forgotten about it until the next time she does it and doesn’t even feel bad. I’m really not sure I want Corde hanging out with a bunch of children who feel it’s okay to kill and torture animals senselessly.
Worse still, now I have to deal with Corde being upset because the image of that dead toad’s body keeps haunting her. She’s angry and frustrated at Maddy blaming her for everything. She’s really upset that Maddy keeps deliberately trying to get her in trouble. She’s especially angry because I’ll find things, like the kids having drawn on the railing of my porch, toads stuffed in a box, or even the craft supplies all torn up and tossed around. Maddy and Mackenzie are both always so quick to blame Corde. In arguments where one of the neighborhood kids is upset over something Maddy and Mackenzie did, both of them are always swearing it was the other kids’ fault, and they didn’t do anything, it was Corde and Beekee. I’m getting fed up with Corde coming in every day from playing to complain about how incredibly horrible Maddy was to her and all the things Maddy shouldn’t be doing.
It’s getting to the point where I really don’t want Corde hanging out with her anymore, but I know I’ve got to let her make her own choices. At the same time, I’m starting to think the way Maddy is treating her has a lot to do with the way Corde’s acting out. I’ve talked to her about it time and time again, but she doesn’t seem to have a solution.
At this point I can’t wait until we can afford to get a car so I can get Corde involved with some better kids. She might start making better choices with her friends, or feel like she’s got other options than just befriending the neighborhood bully. She’s got to learn something from her time with Maddy, so it would totally defeat the purpose to make her stop playing with Maddy all together. At the same time, I know she’ll make a better choice when she’s finally got a few more options.