The school year normally starts with some kind of taunt. “Are you going to help with back to school items? I have to work so you need to watch the kids. Are you going to help pay for their extracurricular activities?” These are the type of questions we get in August almost every year.

This year was no different.  Bella needs braces (a fact that I’ve known since she was four years old). Tanya wants her to get them now. It was presented to us something like this. “Can you watch the kids? I have to work. And because Bella needs braces, and because I have to pay for that, I was wondering if you would be able to help out and get their school supplies.”  Seems innocent doesn’t it? Well, let me flesh it out for you.

1. This is the first year EVER that Tanya has asked if my husband could watch the kids.  Normally it’s a forgone conclusion that they will be with Tanya’s mother. Otherwise, he would be told that he had to watch them and she would say this just a few days prior to their needed visit. I was surprised, to say the least, that she was asking us three weeks in advance but wise enough to anticipate what the other shoe-drop was.

2. We have NEVER EVER been able to exclusively pay for school supplies!  Sure, we have been told (in not so many words) that we can certainly purchase the mundane school supplies (socks, tennis shoes for Scott, tennis shoes that Bella picks out, school uniforms, and the like) but the big time exciting things like the book bag, clothes, accessories, lunch box etc were exclusive to Tanya and her mother.  They wanted to be a part (in control) of that process. We were not allowed to participate because we have differing viewpoints on acceptable attire and the amount we are going to pay for backpacks and the like. So now, I am supposed to believe that ALL of that autonomy is going to be given to us?  I wasn’t born yesterday.

My husband came to me after speaking with Tanya, and asked me for my opinion.  I told him of course the children could come over. (Let me clarify that my husband works and the children’s stay would be on me. Tanya doesn’t acknowledge me in their stays but I am more than very much apart of their time here).  Regarding the braces, I told him it was no surprise to me that she needed braces.  I was surprised that Tanya acknowledged that Bella needed braces. I wondered aloud if her reasons for getting Bella braces had to do with assisting in Bella’s social status. I also informed him that the cost we were presented ($5000) was about right but that a payment plan could be set up.  I also informed him that orthodontist, especially orthodontist who are seeing patients that don’t have ortho coverage (Tanya’s dental insurance does not include ortho. She and I both (individually not collectively) were surprised at that),  receive payment up front, at the front door, before the patient is seen. Tanya neglected to mention that. Since my husband would be the parent to make the initial visit, he would be responsible to pay any and all upfront fees for the visit.  Had I not known, we would have been walking blind into that.

The bright side is that because we are aware, it will not be a shocker to us and we can plan accordingly.

I had a chance to speak to one of my cousins who has a blended family.  He too has a bonus child that needs braces.  Ask he spoke, I asked God to let me receive the Truth; not to hide from it or justify my actions. From listening to him as he spoke, he hit a key point for me that spoke to my heart.  The child needs braces.  It’s a need not a preference.

I had to acknowledge that this is a need Bella has.  I’ve known it for a while. I wasn’t sure that her parents (my husband and Tanya…especially Tanya) would ever agree to that. I have a thing about teeth that my husband and Tanya do not share in. But, now that Tanya has decided Bella needs it, forward progress is being made.  I had to come off the pocketbook (at least mentally) so to speak.  I had to stop emotionally holding my wallet because of how Tanya presented this to us.  The need doesn’t diminish because the adult communicated foolishly or deceptively. I wish that were the case. I certainly have been behaving according to that rule for the past 10 years but that is not true.

I always felt like I was conceding to whatever  Tanya wants when I respond to the real need. For example, when she didn’t want to make the drive to our city to pick up the kids, she said she didn’t have the gas to make the trip and told us to meet her so she could pick them up. I would see right through this.  It wasn’t the gas money that was the problem.  It was that she didn’t want to make the trip.  Gas money might have been a factor but that doesn’t mean that we could afford it anymore than she could.  She got her way because the children had to get home.  I felt that she got over and I resented that…BIG TIME.

I can’t resent that anymore. I have to and do forgive. The Bible says you reap what you sow (Galatians 6:7), and I am glad I am not holding her back of seed!


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