So, after Fruit-Flakes-gate, I dug deep. Very deep. Parenting these children pushes you to find things inside you that you never knew you had. I made repair with Daughter. Even though I didn't want to. Even though I was still really pissed with her. As soon as she came out of school, I offered the olive branch and she, as always, readily accepted. And the relief I felt was immense. I don't like not feeling friends with her.
Later we talked about trust, and how we needed to be able to trust each other. She had to trust that I would give her everything she needed, and I had to trust that she wouldn't take things she knew she wasn't supposed to. People who love each other, must trust each other, I said. I felt we'd connected. That night I left a loving note for her to find in the morning, because she had written me one the day before. All was well.
Then we went to Husband's parents on the Saturday, and whilst there my Son told me that Daughter was keeping some of the cake sprinklers she had stolen in her handbag and they were eating in the car on the drive over. The £4 worth of cake sprinkles she had taken before the Fruit Flakes, that she hadn't yet admitted to me that she had taken. I got straight up off the table, where we'd all just eaten a lunch, and went to where Daughter had left her bag. Sure enough. sprinkles. And I recalled all the whispering and giggling in the car on the way over and I knew now what that was.
I acted with restraint. I didn't go into my parents-in-law dining room and throw her bag at her whilst screaming obscenities, like I wanted to. I swallowed my rage and carried on with the afternoon - apart from one comment I made to her when she was eating pudding I'm surprised you've got room for that lemon meringue after all the silver ball sprinkles you ate on the drive over. The look on her face told me I'd got it spot on.
I kept wondering why I was so angry. I mean. I'm getting pissed over cake sprinkles, really? But I've realised this. It's not about the cake sprinkles. It's about trust. Trust and the fact that she doesn't trust me and I don't trust her, and that's dangerous.
I know this but she doesn't.
I'm the one who knows all about attachment theory and the importance of building bonds. I'm the one who works my arse off trying to forge the sort of trust that is the bedrock of the parent-child relations. I'm the one who's read all the book, been to the seminars, and knows all the theory. I'm the one who knows how important attachement is to her recovery and her future, and has in mind all day every day that the health of the relationship between us is of vital importance to her.
And she's the one who couldn't give a stuff about any of that.
She still thinks it's all about getting what you can, when you can, because selfishness served her best in the past.
We're operating from completely different priorities. She's not trying to attach to me, she's still trying to survive.
But I know her future doesn't look bright if she can't form a normal, trusting relationship with someone and continues to think that other people are for manipulating and getting one over on.
And the fact that she could be giggling about the cake sprinkles in her handbag after the major blow-out over the Fruit Flakes, after the talks we had had about trust and honesty, after the loving notes we had swapped, was just one big raspberry blown in my face. She wasn't really sorry, she was only sorry she had been caught I took the Fruit Flakes because I wanted them and she would take them again tomorrow.
So, natural consequences. She got about 10 small cake sprinkles rattling around in a bowl, which I had taken from her handbag, instead of the large scoops of delicious icecream Son got for afters. No more fruit flakes for the lunch box. No more chocolate bars for after school snack, or mousse for pudding. Nothing like that in the house at all. I'll be fagged if I'm going to spend any more of my time hiding confectionery. No money for snacks at school. All because I don't trust her
Perhaps if she can see that breaking someone's trust is a bad choice, that you get less if you take what you shouldn't, maybe I can rewrite the script in her head that says that low cunning benefits more than being trustworthy and honest.