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By the way, you're welcome.

Neither of us write much here about the older kids in this family, because there isn't much that we can pull out of the situation that's humorous or light-hearted, and just like we do in our real world interactions, we avoid discussing the things about our family that we know VERY few people understand, can relate to, or can empathize with. And frankly, it's just damn depressing. The only people I see writing about their stepkids or writing about life as a blended family write things that are funny, and write about experiences that seem to suggest that maybe the Brady Bunch dynamic wasn't so far-fetched, after all. And let me be the first to tell you: there is no Brady Bunch dynamic in this household; never has been, never will be. That's not to say that we're any more "dysfunctional" than any other family today; it IS to say that blended family life is very hard, and very different, and what's worse is that society pretends it's taboo to admit this, and so the very families that need additional resources and attention just don't get it. Let's not call them different, they might get offended...oh, they're falling apart as they try to fit into the family mold? That can't be! They're just like all families! The majority of second marriages end in divorce (THE MAJORITY, not the 50% divorce rate of first marriages); I believe this is because most second marriages involve the blended family dynamic ("your" kids vs. "our" kids - whether spoken or unspoken), which is given very little if any additional attention or concern from most of society, including the blended families themselves, who subscribe to the same notion that they SHOULD be expected to fit into the "normal" family niche, because "not normal" means "bad" or "wrong".

All of my frustration and angst about this issue is in the back of my mind when I sit down to write an update about either of John's older kids. As a stepmom to them, I feel alone, resentful, and helpless in many respects (moreso even than about the challenges with my own two biological children). And as a stepmom in a society that pretends stepmoms and moms are THE EXACT SAME THING, I can't really say much about it.

With that as a back drop, though, I am going to attempt to simultaneously provide a brief update about Hannah AND portray some of the day-to-day frustration I feel in dealing with her. After months of "logical parenting" and "natural consequences," Hannah got a job at a grocery store near our house. I believe the final "natural consequence" that hit home for her was when John said, "If you want to see any more movies or buy any more candy bars, you'll probably need to get a job: as of today, this well's run dry" because making subtle suggestions and offering to help her find something to give her extra income wasn't working NINE MONTHS into the attempt.

Tonight, Hannah has to work, but John, who normally drives her to and from her shifts, is at a wedding all evening. Nobody made transportation arrangements for her, which we realized about an hour before John had to leave for the afternoon. When she came home from school, I told her I'd be giving her a ride there, and John's mom would be picking her up tonight since the kids would be in bed and I wouldn't be able to leave. Then I told her that in the future, she needs to take the responsibility to make sure she has a ride, not just to assume one of us will drop everything to take her. She gave me her typical blank stare and said she'd shown John her schedule, and didn't know he had a wedding. I said, "that's fine, but it's not HIS job to tell you his schedule. You are the one who needs a ride. It's YOUR job to determine if that ride is going to be available each time you need it. It's great that you showed him your schedule, but next time you specifically need to make sure he's going to be able to give you rides when you need them." She mumbled an "okay" and shuffled upstairs. Fifteen minutes before her shift (which was only about 25 minutes later), I started getting the kids into the car and called up to her room to see if she was ready. That's when my blood started to boil. She had gone upstairs and taken a nap, setting her alarm for 3:40, which is when we would need to be LEAVING the house. When she got to the car, she was sulky, and still putting her shoes on. Cue a big lecture from me on consideration for the people she's relying on, not taking a nap after school, being responsible, listening to me when I talk because for the love of god, before she took her nap I'd gone into a big discussion about thinking ahead and communicating with the people she relies on for rides, what would make her decide taking a 20-minute nap sounded like the logical step?!, etc. Right before she got out of the car, I said, "I just need you to act like an adult. Be a kid during other times, but when you have to work, be an adult, STAY AWAKE, and take care of the things you need to take care of, like getting a ride and giving people NOTICE that you'll need a ride." She looked at me with her uninterested, uncaring eyes, opened the door, said "Okay." and walked at her depressing snail's pace towards the door of the grocery store.

As I drove home, in a very mature, adult display to the two biological kids sitting in the back seat, I yelled, "YOU'RE WELCOME!!!" She just doesn't GET IT, and it drives me insane. Even my four-year-old says "thank you" when someone does something for him. She is 16. And was just listening to me talk about maturity and consideration. COME ON.

A few notes:
1.) Hannah has been diagnosed with clinical depression and is already on anti-depressants and in counseling. We aren't that stupid; we're aware there's more going on than laziness here. That doesn't make it any less frustrating or worrisome, though.

2.) I don't really expect her to BE an adult. I expect her to act her age. She typically acts about four years younger than her age, so to tell her to act like an adult translates to "act your age".

3.) There have been improvements in the past year, but again, the improvements have only brought us to THIS point, where there are still major problems, and while I can recognize the need to be grateful for progress, it's also so hard to stay positive when bust-your-ass progress only brings you from the ninth to the eighth circle of hell.