Who put this hot potato in my lap??

This weekend the Husband took the kids to Milan to visit his family. The kiddos love spending time with their Nonni (grandparents) and I get a relaxing weekend at home… alone… pure bliss! Though, I do miss them lots (between cocktails and visits to the spa and hanging out with my friends with nary a child in sight…) Also, my Husband’s family gets to do whatever they want, feed them candy, take them on adventures, without my disapproving, party pooper presence. So it works out all around.

Friday night I had “the girls” over for dinner, mostly because I needed to practice my Margarita making skills – on a side note, it took me thirty minutes in front of the liquor aisle at the supermarket to locate the tequila, there were 25 different types of rum and more different grappas than I could count but only one, lonely, half-hidden, bottle of insanely expensive tequila, which I thought was pretty weird… Anyway… one of my girlfriends wanted to hone her cosmopolitan making skills as one of her 40 things to learn before 40 bucket list, so much alcohol was consumed. Surprisingly, everyone was eager to taste test our creations. We had a lovely meal, followed by drunken dancing, and then we sobered up with a hilarious movie before bidding each other good night at the ungodly hour of 2am. All this happened while wearing drawstring pants, not a stitch of make-up and with nary a high heel in sight, basically, the perfect evening!

This is the second child and Husband free weekend I’ve had this year, and I’ve got to say that every couple of months or so it really is a lifesaver (or, less dramatically, sanity saver).


The Husband came home Sunday night and asked me to consider having his 16 year-old niece come to live with us. I know, kind of an intense subject matter for a Sunday night post relaxing weekend.

His niece, is a really sweet, slightly troubled, girl. We had actually considered this two years ago when she started high school, but decided we couldn’t accept the responsibility of a fourteen year old (the Husband had just had the second transplant and the Girl was one and a half). And now the situation presents itself once again, and I’m unsure what to do.

Our niece, let’s call her R for simplicity’s sake, has just been suspended from school for two weeks, she’s probably going to fail the year, she got recently put in a body cast for a pretty severe scoliosis that nobody noticed, and is generally left mostly to her own devices. I’m not making any judgments on her parents and their parenting, they had an ugly divorce, and other varied and sundry family drama, and since I’ve never gone through that and don’t have teenagers I can’t say one way or the other where the blame lies (if blame can even be assigned in a situation as this one). What I do know, is that we could give her a stable family environment. What I don’t know is whether I’m capable of handling a teenager, cause if it’s your own teenager you’ve raised her year by year yourself and you sort of ease into it, we would be leaping from preschoolers to at teenager with no intermediate preparation whatsoever.

I wouldn’t want to screw up the situation more than it already is, but on the other hand, we love her and want to help her, and maybe being in a new environment, having to make new friends, away from all the drama that inevitably falls on her doorstep every day, could be beneficial.

Right now we’re trying to think of all the possible scenarios, and we’re trying to figure out if we’re up to it and how it would affect her, us, and our children, then we’re going to sit down and talk to her parents (separately, but hopefully also together) and to her. In the meantime, I wonder, does anyone have any advice?

4 thoughts on “Who put this hot potato in my lap??

  1. Okay, before I throw my 2 cents in, I must ask: Does she want to live with you? Or will you be getting a teenager who not only has a chip on her shoulder because her family life has sucked, but now because she has to live somewhere she doesn’t want to go??

  2. Yikes. This is a tough one. If she wants to come, I think you should do it and try to give her as much love and understanding as possible. But, prepare yourself for the worst. Teenagers are nearly impossible to deal with under normal circumstances.

  3. Situations like this rip me apart: I have a big heart and want to do the right thing, but I also realize it could be very tough road ahead of me. Decisions like this will keep me stewing for days!

    My first reaction was, Yes, just do it. Maybe she is struggling because of her past and will love the life of a scheduled family surrounding. Meals together, shopping together, someone who is concerned about her studies and school. She may thrive in it, or she may hate it. I let my niece come live with us a bit after my sister died. My niece was only 9 when she passed and by three years later, I had people calling me to tell me they saw her out walking on the streets with her friends at 4 in the morning. My BIL was so clueless as he struggled with his own grief and dealt with it by drinking and sleeping; he had no idea my neice was sneaking out all night to do whatever the hell she wanted. My sister would have thrown up if she had known what was happening.

    So, overwhelmed, my BIL asked if she could live with us (even though she didn’t want to) and let me tell you, for us, it was tough. She had been allowed to do anything and everything she wanted for so long that to now live somewhere with actual rules, she rebelled and it was HELL. No amount of love in the world would have knocked the chip off her shoulder and she was only 12 at the time!! But with time things got easier and we settled into a routine with only the occasional bumps in the road. She only stayed for 14 months or so and then went home and picked up where she left off to some degree, BUT she left knowing that my husband and I were here for her. She recently turned 20, just graduated beauty school (do they still call it that?) and got a job cutting hair. She’s had a serious relationship with a really nice boy for 3 years now and really seems to have settled in to her life.

    Would I do it again if I had to? Yes. Would I want to? No. But seeing that I made a difference in the long run -cause I sure couldn’t see it at the time- made all the yelling, sadness and worry worth it.

    You will never regret helping another human being out. There may be moments where you’ll question your choice, but I don’t believe you will ever regret it. Just make clear rules and make sure she adheres to them, because most importantly you must make sure the Boy and the Girl are not disrupted too much in any way. Sure bumps along the way give our kids fortitude, but you don’t want them to be devastated by all the changes in the house.

    Keep my email address because I have an excellent contract for kids (that I’ve shared with many families) that not only teaches them about rules, but it gets them helping out around the house willingly, gets them to stop whining and has turned around the nastiest kids. It works because it is easy and it deals with something every older kid wants: money. I really think it worked wonders on my niece and on my daughter (17) as well, who luckily, hasn’t gone through icky teenager stuff but just needed some fine-tuning. Let me know if you want a copy of it. Best wishes and good luck. Hugs!

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