So, I spent most of yesterday in a panic thinking about how we were going to deal with the issue of the girl stealing. First, she took money from my son, then my husband, and finally me. We've been keeping our money safe now and hiding it from her, but we have to address the issue in a way that won't escalate tension. This is our plan: talk to the son beforehand and tell him to just be quiet during the family meeting. We start with a discussion on allowances asking "Do you have enough money?" Of course, both kids will say they don't. Then we will say, "You get money for birthdays and new years. Also, you get a base of 1000 yen a month and you can work for a maximum of 1000 yen more by doing English sheets or housework. Let's work together to figure out the value of things like washing dishes, sweeping the floor, etc. And, if you have a school trip or ｓｏｍｅ special outing, you can ask for more money. However, we noticed recently that money seems to be missing, which makes us sad because we want to trust everyone, so please don't just take it because that's a bad habit and a crime and it's not nice to take money from people who have worked hard to earn it."
We will also tell the kids to keep their own money in a safe place and to count it to make sure nothing is missing and that we will start doing the same thing.
We figure this is the best way to deal with the situation because I've read that foster kids steal because they don't like being dependent on people they don't trust yet and they are afraid for their own survival. The fact that the girl spends the money soon after taking it shows that she knows it's bad and she probably wants us to stop her. I did a lot of reading and it said that a direct confrontation will result in lies and denials.
We also told the caseworker and hope she can give us some more helpful advice.
So that's one thing.
The good news is that we visited the school yesterday to talk to her regular teacher and her special ed teacher and both of them said she was making great strides, had lots of friends, was showing her personality in class in a good way, and seemed to be much different than she was in April when the semester first started. There are still bumps here and there, but not with the same intensity and frequency as before. The caseworker attributed it to her being in our family (the girl refers to us as her parents apparently -- we had no idea because she still doesn't call us by name, but that might be so she doesn't stand out like she did when she was living in the orphanage -- however, it's good, right?). They are concerned about her studies a little bit, but are content to wait for her to settle down further. I'm thinking of offering a part-time job to one of my students to be a "homework coach"to help her along (and the boy if he needs it).
We were so happy to hear that news, that we bought treats for dinner, but had a face full of anger from her because she wanted to go to a festival unsupervised with friends and we said no way. She kicked and punched us a bit and walked away from dinner, but played piano loudly in her room until she'd calmed down, then ate a bit, went out and played basketball in the driveway with the husband, and came in and ate some more and invited me to play Uno with her over dessert. After that, she took out her homework and spent about an hour on it, which was, frankly, unbelievable. She came to sleep with me very late and kept turning the lights off and on and singing loudly until I took the remote control from her (by force, but making a game of it).
She is really forcing me to parent her and damn if I'm not doing it. Hard work, but it seems to be worth it -- I kept wiping my eyes in the principal's office yesterday, because I was overwhelmed by all the good news.