My Daughter Turned Into Trailer Park Trash

This has been a very difficult experience for my wife and myself.  Before our eyes our eldest daughter is quickly morphing into a classic piece of Trailer Park Trash (TPT).  We live a middle class existence in a suburban neighbourhood in a very large Canadian city.  There are a couple of trailer parks in the area but they are small and my daughter has not associated with any residents of those parks.

Every attempt was made to provide a liberal educated environment for our three children.  The eldest daughter participated in a gymnastics program at an early age and progressed to a national competitive level in which she was active until this sudden turn into TPT.  Until the last few years she was a good student with 'A's and 'B's.  She is a very bright girl and was able to pick things up fast. 

She was in French emersion until grade five and handled both French and English well.  She completed a number of years of Chinese language education with mainly 'A's and 'B's.  She was sent on trips to SE Asia on three occasions, one trip to Europe, a number of trips to the USA with her gymnastics club plus a number of trips to various Canadian locations as a gymnast with her team.

Racially I don't know if you can call her white trailer park trash as her mother is Chinese and I am of Ukrainian / Romania descent.  When she was younger she appeared part Chinese but in recent years she pretty much passes as a white person.  She lightens her hair with some sort of rinse which hides an apparent Asian trait in her appearance.  Her physical appearance is not Asian in any way.  She hates to be referred to as Chinese and prefers her friends not meet her mother.

Spiritually she was raised as a Catholic, her mother's religion.  She was confirmed at 13 years of age and it seemed to be something she wanted to complete.  Her mother is pretty much a laid back Catholic as she was raised in Singapore and the Catholic faith pushed in that society is pretty mild compared to that pushed in North America.  Regular church services on Sunday were not part of the household routine.  Attending church services was pretty much restricted to Christmas Eve and Easter.  I am not religious but I never spoke of my beliefs to my children.

Some time around 13 years of age she decided she didn't have to listen to her parents and we had no real control over her.  Over the years she pushed this idea further, after pushing to the edge of complete rebellion she normally would retreat and again accept some control.  Her school grades started to fall during this period and she decided that straight 'C's were good enough for a pass and therefore were good enough for her.

In competitive gymnastics there are a lot of full university scholarships available for girls/women as US universities must offer each gender an equal number of scholarships.  She had been scouted and if she had carried on in gymnastics with even a reasonable effort she could have received a full scholarship to a US university.  She had even worked out a plan to finish high school a year early to be available in a year when there was a larger number of scholarships available.

We noticed she kept changing her friends.  At one point a school counsellor stated she was a floater between groups in her school and she wasn't connecting with any group.  The concern at that time was the prospect of her joining a bad group.  It took a few years but she has managed to become a member of what may be considered a group at the bottom of any status totem pole at school or even in life.  A number of members of her group have dropped out of school already and she is about to be thrown out of her school only a few months short of completing the school year.

While she likes to think of herself as white some of her friends are of a visible racial minority.  Her beliefs are so strong that she recently advised her mother to get back on the boat and go back to China.  Of her current peer group the girls are her age or a year younger.  The boys tend to be a few years older and a number are out of the school system without obtaining a diploma, in other words a bunch of school drop-outs.  One of her close boy friends is of African descent so I guess her racism is limited to Asians.

In the last few years it has been a battle trying to enforce some sort of reasonable control over her.  Within her peer group many of the parents of the girls let them run wild or don't check up on them to confirm they are staying with specific friends and that they are under any sort of parental supervision.  Over the months since her big breakaway we have had only two parents call to state Heather was staying with them.  She leaves for a week at a time, takes no clothes, and manages to stay with friends most of the time wearing borrowed clothes.  Of the boys in the peer group most are beyond parental supervision and a few might not even have anything they could call a home.

Her appearance is distinctly TPT.  She is a big well developed girl so she has to try hard to look TPT.  Her efforts have been rewarded with a look which would probably win awards at a TPT beauty contest.  She uses way too much makeup, doesn't take it off at night and thus we often have a Tammy Faye Bakker look-alike running around the house.  At this point in time the TPT look seems to be a fashion statement most teenage girls strive to achieve so one can’t complain too much over her appearance.  To top off the appearance her attitude and language mesh completely with the TPT persona. 

The look, the attitude and the language I could tolerate and learn to live with a piece of TPT in the house.  What I can't manage is the two-bit con artist tricks which apparently are part of the TPT persona.  As a youth I had contact with almost every type of con artist and drug addict and experienced their behaviour.  I have tried real hard to get above it and live a life without resorting to lying and cheating to get a few dollars ahead. 

I worked as a car salesman selling junk, nothing but junk, they never gave me anything good to sell.  I worked for lawyers and was trained to never tell the truth.  Actually to never say anything until you know what the other party wants to hear and then you don't tell them as it may be of more value in the future.  I worked for a deeply religious bunch who while advertising their Christian status never believed a business deal had to be a mutually beneficial arrangement, they always had to be on top and doing the screwing.  I worked in the high tech field for years and again there was a big issue in actually telling the truth and advising the customer how well your solution worked in the real world.  I purchased in the asset disposal world where no one ever told the truth, you just ground them down until they were almost giving it away.

After leading this type of life for many years one must decide if you are a scumball or do you actually have a bit of humanity in you.  By the time I got around to the raising a family part of my life I had decided to attempt to act like something other than pond scum and live a life which didn't depend on lies and cheating.  A life where trust is a valuable commodity that must be earned on a continuous basis, by telling the truth and living up to your word whatever the cost.  Admit mistakes and take responsibility for your actions and try not to offend people.  My kids have never seen any of my past behaviour but only a person striving to do the right thing in life by telling the truth and not cheating people.

One expects their teenagers to lie to them.  From a teenager point of view the lies are of the "Little White Lie" variety and generally are harmless enough that one just ignores them or humourously advises the teen that you don't believe that story.  We expect teenagers to lie to us in regards to where they are going and who they are hangin with some if not most of the time.  Going to the mall is usually code for some other destination which changes frequently. 

Most parents will accept some level of lying from their teenagers as part of the growing up experience.  When the stories start to sound like the script from Trailer Park Boys or the lyrics of a country and western song you know you are dealing with a person whose goal seems to be eventual residency in a trailer park.  When you decline to believe the stories and confront the teen and they insist they are telling you the truth you know you are dealing with TPT.

Stealing is a subject on which I have a big problem accepting at any level.  I have been very consistent in this with the kids from the very start and they should all know this by now.  The problem daughter, like many kids today, seems to think if you are not caught red-handed you are free and clear.  Even though all indications point to them as the perpetrator they continue to deny all responsibility. 

A recent example, middle daughter gets a new pair of pants which she buys slightly large for her as she is growing quickly right now.  She is almost the same size as the eldest daughter and she leaves the pants in the dryer.  The eldest daughter making one of her occasional appearances at home and being short of clean clothes because she is too lazy to so her own laundry decides to grab the pants and disappear for a week.  We search the house and the pants are no where to be found.  The eldest daughter is confronted on the issue of the pants and denies any knowledge of the whereabouts of the said pants.  At this point I have no problem recognizing where the pants have gone, the eldest daughter took them and probably left them somewhere on the path of her travels or she traded them for some other item.  Stealing someone's clothes is already a pretty low trick.  Denying responsibility when confronted when you are clearly responsible for the event is at best irresponsible and probably more criminal in nature.  Put these actions together and you have TPT.

A good example of bad behaviour is a recent incident where the TPT got mad when I made her leave the house after trash talking to her mother.  I told her to take a walk and return when she was willing to act in a reasonable manner to other residents of the house.  She stated she was going to injure herself and go to the police and report she had been beaten by her father.  A number of hours later a social services representative called and asked what happened.  Talked tto them for a while and they stated her claims were not credible and would we allow her in the house.  A little later the police called and I had to pick her up at the police station.  She was very subdued compared to the state in which she left the house.

Wanting to fulfill the persona of TPT she was heard stating to an acquaintance at a party that her father comes home drunk every night and beats her and other family members.  I almost never drink outside of the home except for the occasional party of which we don't attend many these days as we are afraid to leave the home unsupervised for any length of time.  On the same occasion she stated she had broken into the house and stolen a number of items, we took her door key some time ago.  The reality was she took a spare key and sneaked into the house and liberated a few food items. 

Kids in this situation must get a lot of coaching from their peer group.  One day she came home and I was talking to her at the front door wanting to get a promise of good behavior before letting her in the house.  She wanted to give no such promises and stated that I was responsible for her until she was 18 years of age and she was going to live in a foster home and I would have to pay for it.  She must have gained this idea from someone in her peer group.  Just enough knowledge to prove you are an idiot.

Trust is a commodity teenagers tend to squander with no concern to its value in life.  You tend to want to trust your kids so they see no value in it as they have never had to earn it.  Parents in some circumstances give their children far more trust than deserved.  Just look at the number of kids who commit serious crimes whose parents stand behind them in court stating they know their child and no child of theirs could commit such a crime, even if they are caught red-handed.  You know your kid is TPT if the trust they are expecting from you demands that you become delusional.  When the storylines and scenario they present to you seem like some weird "B" grade science fiction movie plot you know your kid has gone TPT.

The most difficult part of having this piece of TPT around is the lying and cheating she tries to lay on me.  I have seen and experienced a great deal of people trying to con me.  On top of this I was in management for years and experienced almost every type of scam an employee tries to exert over management.  Even if it is a new scam I have never experienced before I can usually see through it quickly.  I find people trying to scam me very offensive and I am willing to walk away from friendships no matter how minor the scam.  You don't scam your friends!  The big problem with con artists, scammers and grifters is they usually have no real friends.  Everyone is a potential mark!  Most addicted personalities exhibit the same behaviour, they will con anyone and everyone to satisfy their itch. 

It is very painful for me to admit to myself that my daughter has turned into TPT.  I tried very hard to instill a higher quality of morality into my kids but I must admit failure in regards to my eldest daughter.  I grew up in what could be considered a lower middle class neighbourhood and there was no shortage of juvenile delinquents in elementary and junior high school (grades 1 to 9).  By grade 9 most of them where gone already.  Some had quit school and moved on to the working world and some were in jail or locked up in what was the juvenile justice system in the 60s.  I tried very hard to get past these people and even at the time I saw them for the losers that they were at the time.  To have a daughter turn into a lying thief is a very painful experience and one for which I will have a very difficult time ever forgiving her.

I feel so strongly on the subject of integrity I have devoted a web site to exposing and attempting to make humour of what I consider inappropriate behaviour in the corporate world and the high tech business fields.  Now to have a two-bit punk kid trying to pull her scams on me is just too much.  You try to be a little forgiving with your children and casually brush-off with a little humour their exploration of human relationships and how far they can push things.  But when your daughter turns into a full-blown piece of TPT with all the associated behaviour one must seriously question the relevance of parent-child bonds and do what is right.

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  May 11, 2005