Friday double-whammy

It’s Friday, which means a movie review. But I also have a commentary on a news story that broke yesterday. It’s a local one, but it is significant for several reasons.

Yesterday, police were called to a home in Bonney Lake, WA, after calls from neighbors that they heard screaming from the garage for over two hours. The woman living at the home opened up the garage to police to reveal her stepchildren, ages 9 and 10, tied up with zip-ties (the 9 year old girl tied to a water heater) and gagged with masking tape. Two other children, identified as an 11 year old and an infant, were not in the garage, but were removed from the home by Child Protective Services as this woman and the father of the 2 kids in the garage were arrested for child abuse.

Okay, here goes. Long prison sentences for these two and immediate stripping of parental rights to all the children, because it is obvious that they are incompetent and evil. No child should have to live through this. What incensed me, though, was the neighbors saying that they can’t understand why this happened. I’m not faulting the neighbors for what happened, mind you – they did the right and sane thing and called the authorities before any more abuse could happen. I’m not a psychologist or a therapist, but I think I can tell you why this happened: the abused kids are not the woman’s biological children, the unpunished 11 year old and the infant are.

Sick as it is, some women who marry men with children do not accept those kids as a legitimate part of their lives. I am assuming a lot, but bear with me. The 11 year old most likely does not have the same father, so let’s assume that this child came from a previous marriage/relationship. The infant probably belongs to both parents in the home. And I’m guessing that the already uncomfortable environment in the home got worse for the 9 and 10 year old when baby showed up. Clearly, this woman did not like her stepchildren, did not want them around as a reminder that her husband had a life before her, and took it out on those kids and protected her own. And that makes the father almost more evil than she is, because he had to have known what she was up to, and stood by and let it happen. No real man would allow his children to be abused by anyone, even if he is sleeping with that person.

We’ve had a recent case in this state of a stepmother actually murdering a four-year-old girl after the child was taken out of a foster home that wished to adpot her, but DSHS insisted on returning her to her “real” family – bio-dad and stepmother – because of their policy that “family reunification” should be the goal. Nice, but not realistic. The stepmother in this case had (surprise!) her own kids with bio-dad and resented having to take in this stepchild, apparently a product of infidelity (bio-mom is in jail and is a drug addict). So, after she is returned to the home, the little girl dies of a fractured skull and lacerated liver (stepmom’s original story of the child swallowing a cleaning solvent obviously fell apart with X-rays).

So, here is my final warning – think LONG and HARD before marrying ANYONE WITH CHILDREN. Part of the deal is taking on kids and caring for them as your own. I’ve cited some extreme examples here, but I’m sure there are thousands of kids out there who could tell you that a stepparent preferred their own biological children to them after a remarriage. Those kids call shows like Dr. Laura’s and show up on Dr. Phil all the time. Remember that as an adult, you signed the deal, not the kids, and the kids shouldn’t have to suffer for it. I wish children didn’t have to suffer for the mistakes of adults. Unfortunately, that’s not the kind of world we live in right now. All I can do is make sure that my own Munchkins and those I interact with are protected as much as possible. Do the same for yours and we might start making a difference – like the neighbors who called police yesterday and ended the abuse for two children.

Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system… movie time! Last weekend, the Webmaster and I celebrated the anniversary of our first date and actually went out to a movie (the Munchkin enjoyed some playtime with her grandparents and auntie). Fever Pitch is a hilarious piece of work for people who like baseball, even if you aren’t a Red Sox fan. Stars Drew Barrymore (best work since “The Wedding Singer”) and Jimmy Fallon (best movie yet, miss seeing him on SNL), rated PG-13 (not sure that I would take a 13-year-old to see it, as the sex references and implications are pretty full-blown), but I enjoyed the mindless fluff of the comedy and the baseball more than the plot.

So, everyone have a good weekend and hug a Munchkin when you get the chance. We all need a hug every now and then.

Update: This article goes into more detail about the Bonney Lake case. The abused kids’ bio-mom is deceased, and their father has convictions for domestic violence. 11-year-old is indeed the stepmom’s biological kid, and the infant 10-month-old belongs to them both. Bingo.

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