Saturday, April 07, 2012

On Aloof Girl...

To be or not to be...concerned, worried, bothered, involved on one hand, or indifferent, detached, uninterested, uncaring on the other.  That is the dilemma I face now-a-days with regards to my brother's almost 15 year old daughter.  My brother who is a single parent lives next door with his two kids, a son and a daughter.  The son started college last year and comes home only during breaks while the daughter is still in high school. My brother works in another city four days a week. He goes every Friday afternoon and comes home early Tuesday morning, leaving my niece whom I shall call Aloof Girl with their househelp cum nanny during those days. Her mom usually comes to pick her up on Saturdays unless something comes up and brings her back on Sunday afternoon. Her relationship with us has been good until last year when her brother left. Since her dad and brother weren't around, I would watch out for her and she did not like it. She felt it was enough that her father knew her whereabouts and resented my monitoring of her activities which basically just consisted of being informed where she is going and with whom. She complained to her dad that I was trying to make her into a nun. Imagine that! I told my brother that for a 14 year old, she has been given too much freedom. She always comes home past 6 pm even when her classes end before 5 pm, does not talk much about her friends or activities even when asked, and has been caught a few times telling half-truths. However, my brother believes that he is being a cool, supportive and trusting dad.  I may not agree with his permissiveness but I can see how difficult it is for him to raise his children alone. Recently, she has become reticent, distant and generally uncommunicative towards me and my mom. If Aloof girl resents my intervening in her life as I am not her parent, then she should not run to me when she needs something or wants something to be done.  I should learn to look the other way when it comes to my brother's children. I am not saying I won't make myself available for them when they need me, but I will no longer take it upon myself to feel responsible for and act like a surrogate mom to Aloof girl, especially since she does not appreciate it anyway. Although it was my hope that my mom and I would be positive influences in her life, I now understand that I am not my brother's children's keeper.  I have to rethink my role specifically in Aloof girl's life. I thought because her parents are separated and her mother is not around that she needed a mom.  I took it upon myself to take that role. I realize now that she does not need another mother.  After all, she already has parents, albeit separated but still very much alive and kicking.  When all is said and done, Aloof girl's upbringing is her parents' responsibility, not mine.  Perhaps my role is simply...to try to be a friend.




5 comments:

  1. hi, care to exchange links? do let me know so i could add you in my list and would love to be back to read more of your blog. happy easter!

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    1. sure Ida! Checked out your blog too and will add it to my reading list. BTW, how did you find me?

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  2. Hello Maritel, I have now added you in my lis. You were in the links of other bloggers and I found your site updated and decided to add you. You have many blogs and I hope to learn from you during my next visits. God bless!

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  3. Don't give up on her. In all truth, her behavior is not that uncommon for a girl her age. I know it's much easier said than done, but give her more time and hang in there with her.

    I understand your frustration. I work at a school with kids ranging in age from 11 to 17. Really, they're only supposed to go up to 14 years at the oldest. But many have been retained in their grades because of failure. I teach reading, particularly to those kids who've had the most trouble with it. By the time they get to me, kids who have had a great deal of trouble with reading tend to hate it. They hate reading. They hate the class. Quite often, they hate me.

    Now, I'm one of those teachers who is extremely warm. I know that most of my kids have been trained to expect teachers to look for the worst in them. So, I do the opposite. I smile at them a great deal. I give them sarcasm when they say things that they think will upset me. I hit them back with love for their harshness. Not only this, but I go out of my way for their studies even in other academic areas. I have printed out assignments for other classes for kids who don't have a printer at home. I have even taken handwritten work and typed it into a word processor file for students who had trouble getting their work typed. I have spent thousands of dollars on these children to purchase everything from books, to school supplies, to food. But despite all of my kindness, they are still quite harsh to me at times. This is my very first year teaching, and already I have been hit (more than once), I have been tickled, pinched, and cursed at by these students for whom I have given just about everything but my very blood.

    I have given up more times than I can even recall. But every time I give up on them, every time I say to myself, "this child is simply a lost cause," I remember the fact that they may very well be a lost cause if someone doesn't influence their lives. So, I keep going.

    I NEVER wanted to teach this age. Before I even finished obtaining my degree, I knew that if there was one group I did NOT want, it was middle school. God had other plans for me.

    Looking back, I have grown more in the areas of patience, perseverance, and love than I knew I could. This has been the most difficult thing I've ever done in my life. But I am thankful for the opportunity.

    What worked for me is this: detach yourself from the event of misbehavior at hand. When she acts out, look at her as if you're watching a movie. Try to remove your emotions and view her as a biological specimen or something like that. Simultaneously, remember that, in a few years, she will realize the good in what you did for her; and if she has a great deal of sense, she will realize what she put your through. The amount of gratitude she will have for your sacrifice will far exceed its present misery.

    I don't want to fill up your entire comment block! Sorry! :0) But I just wanted to encourage you not to give up on the little brat. She'll pull around after a while. You seem like such a kind person. Even offering to help your brother out says a GREAT deal about your fantastic character. Here's your chance to continue refining your already great self. It's going to be hard. But the rewards will be worth it.

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    1. thank you so much for sharing your experience and really good practical advice. It was my birthday last Saturday and at the stroke of midnite she sent me a greeting thru text and was besides herself with glee that she got to greet me first before anyone else. Then when morning comes she is nowhere in sight and her brother called her to come over (we live next door) for dinner since it was my birthday...she sullenly comes, mumbles good evening and happy birthday in the same breath (no hug, no kiss) and asks, are we eating now? hahahahahah. Yes, hopefully things will get better when she gets older.

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