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What would you do?

Posted by imamommy (My Page) on
Sat, Mar 14, 09 at 0:12

There are two issues and I'd like some opinions.

One: SD has a major project that is her entire grade for social studies. It's a scrapbook on California that she was assigned in January and is due in May. BM has told DH and me that SHE wants to work on this with SD. She said she never gets to do anything for school with HER daughter and this is one she can. BM has done scrapbooking as a hobby for years... since she dated DH. She is very good at it. However, during January and February, she did not work on it at all with her. SD had to turn in 20 pts. in January and DH helped her with it because BM didn't. Then, last weekend BM called DH and criticized the scrapbook he started (saying it's too small) and said SHE is going to start a new one. He said he thinks it's fine but whatever.. she can do what she wants. Well, we got SD on Sunday and BM had gotten SD a new scrapbook cover and just put the pages from DH's scrapbook into it. It was the same size and no new points were added. We didn't make a big deal or say anything about it to BM. We think she is trying to get a reaction... we are letting it go and this is her project. However, DH has said that since SD's grade is this project, if BM does not work on it with her, he will at the end (he hasn't told SD or BM this) because he doesn't want SD to fail. I sort of agree but then feel like we are going to end up teaching SD that we will rescue her when she doesn't get things done. Honestly, SD can do this project on her own.. except she has to collect pamphlets and pictures of her in front of monuments or locations for extra points... so an adult would have to take her there and snap a photo. I've offered but she said her mom is going to do it and then BM was adamant that this is HER project. Since SD and BM are insisting this is 'their' project, I kinda disagree with DH 'saving' her if BM doesn't follow through. Opinions?

Second issue: Somewhat like the first problem, SD is in a play coming up. She has not brought home any information for us about it, the teacher mentioned it was coming up at conferences (which BM did not attend). BM's mother told SD she was making her dress/costume for the play. We have not heard anything about it since SD told us that a few weeks ago. The play is Monday and there is no dress/costume from SD's grandma that we know of. (unless grandma is going to send it with her on Sunday) but we have not been told anything and I have no idea what's going on because SD doesn't tell us. So, I asked DH to call her today and ask if SD will have a costume or if we are going to have to get one because I don't want to have to run around looking for something at the last minute. DH refused to call BM and ask her. He said he received two nasty texts from BM because SD wore the 'wrong' clothes back today and he doesn't want to deal with her.(SD had two outfits that BM bought at our house and wore one and BM was demanding to know where the other one was.. he ignored her text) He said if SD comes home with no costume, she will have to find something from her closet to wear in the play because we are not going to fix it since BM's mom said she would take care of it. I also have mixed feelings about that because it's almost like SD is being punished for her mom/grandma lying to her or not following through.. but then again, she doesn't tell us what's going on. We would not have known about the play if the teacher hadn't mentioned it last week.

The biggest problem I have with it is SD is capable of telling us that she needs help with her project or that there is a play and she knows her mom lets her down all the time but she hangs onto the hope that BM will do what she says and when BM lets her down, she expects us to make it right at the last minute with no warning. I think SD should at least tell us things like, when points are due on her project and if she might need help or when the play is and what she might need if grandma doesn't deliver.

SD is gonna be 10 years old this month. When is it time to start putting some of the responsibility on her to get things done and if she chooses to not keep us in the loop, should we let her suffer the consequences or bail her out?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: What would you do?

I don't know, Ima.

This bit stood out to me "but she hangs onto the hope that BM will do what she says and when BM lets her down, she expects us to make it right at the last minute with no warning."

SD desperately wants BM to be a "parent", but BM doesn't. SD feels hurt and let down.
I also worry about your SD getting into her mom's cycle of finding someone to take care of her and throwing herself head-first into them.

On one hand, if you and DH "bail" on her too, she may feel that she has no one to turn to or rely on.
On the other, she may begin to realize that ultimately, only she can take care of herself and learn to make good choices about who to rely on to help her with that.

I have no idea what you should do, but I understand that you're at a tough decision.


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RE: What would you do?

"On one hand, if you and DH "bail" on her too, she may feel that she has no one to turn to or rely on."

I agree but at this point, I'm wondering if it's 'bailing' if she didn't tell us about the play. The school sends out a bulletin each Friday by email and if it isn't in the bulletin, SD doesn't share things with us... except when she wanted me to bake cookies for her class party. But she was at the conference when the teacher told us about the play and she jumped in to tell all of us her grandma was taking care of her costume. I almost got the feeling she didn't want us to know when the play is. Maybe she hopes her mom will come if we don't know about it? (thus we won't be there and her mom and grandma will go) But, as far as we know, her mom has not come to any school events for the last two years... even though she had promised to come to her track meets last year... then made excuses each week. We didn't realize until today that the play is Monday because it was in this weeks bulletin that I got after SD was with BM's mom.

In a way, I'm hurt that it seems like she (SD) wants to exclude us or didn't want us to know about it but then I feel terrible for her because she wants so badly for her mom to be a mom and come see her play and maybe she believes (or worse, was told) that if we go, her mom won't. What a crappy position for her to be in!

On the other hand, DH is tired of BM lying to her and he thinks the only way SD is going to realize it is if he backs off and lets BM disappoint SD. He is also (and so am I) tired of fixing things when BM lies. I was going to say 'screw up' but BM does not screw up, she just lies and strings SD along.

I understand SD doesn't want to disappoint anyone so she would rather not tell us than to tell us she wants her mom there and not us... if she believes her mom won't come if we are there. I think it would be a double crush for her if she ends up with no costume AND her mom doesn't come.


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RE: What would you do?

wow - just had a similar situation last week, only BM didn't play into it. SD had a project she'd had since Jan. that was her grade for one trimester in one class. We pestered and reminded, but she said she had it all under control. Weekend before I helped put together her display board, and got to read the finished report. It was crap - not close to what was outlined in the project expectations she was given and obviously written in 15 minutes. It didn't take much to see her plan for her board and the effort into the writing was minimal at best.

The night before due day she was at her moms, and I emailed her the expectations to read over to see if she would 'get' that she had not done what was expected. She didn't, but did see she missed a huge step on her board. So, though I cursed myself for doing it, I saved her butt and did it for her. I just couldn't take the thought she would fail. She came to pick up the board in the AM and I expected a thank you call or text. Nothing. Nothing when I got home that evening, either.

I let her have it - my disappointment in her effort, lack of caring, acknowledging I saved her butt, etc. It was clear she expected me to do so and she wasn't even worried about it.

What did I learn from this? I should have let her fail. She didn't learn anything from me bailing her out. She expected me to because I always have. I now understand that she needs to fail to learn to succeed on her own. I won't save her butt next time her negligence puts her in such a situation.

I don't know if you are at that point with your SD as this isn't all on her - BM plays a large part in the negligence. But along the same lines setting the precedence that you will save the day when mom screws up may not be where you want to go . . . kind of like my situation with SD's highlights (which, btw, I did not have redone) SD may have to learn this lesson the hard way.

But God, that just sucks and isn't fair. I have no good answer for you.


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RE: What would you do?

She's only almost ten! And the assignment/need for costume clearly assume that these are not things the kids can do on their own, because they require adult involvement to get them done. I don't think it's fair to hit her with a "you didn't do the right thing, so deal with the consequences," under the circumstances. Her problem isn't that she isn't communicating that she needs help with the project or the costume-- it's that she's pinning her hopes on the wrong people. She's insisting on relying on them because she wants to prove that they care enough to follow through. She's not old enough to have the insight to understand that if they repeatedly fail on the small things, they're likely to fail on the bigger ones. Heck, even adults have a hard time accepting that sometimes.

Underneath, she probably thinks that if something is big enough and important enough, they'll really give her the kind of time and help she needs. So she's raising the stakes. I know someone who went through that sort of process with a largely absent father-- she said that the point at which she gave up was after a particularly big failure when she was 13 or 14. It takes a long time and a lot of build-up for some kids to give up on a parent in that way.

I think her father's approach sounds appropriate for both situations, given her age. It won't kill her to try to figure out a costume from her closet, because that's not a very big deal. On the other hand, flunking social studies for the year is a big deal. He's doing the right thing as a parent by saying he's going to pick things up when her mother fails her. It would be good to support him in that.


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RE: What would you do?

For the scrapbook project, since BM has asked for responsibility for this I would let it be her project. SD is old enough to know it needs to be worked on and REMIND her mom. Can you talk to the teacher and have her send a reminder when SD is going to be with her mom? Of course if your DH wants to bail her out at the last minute I don't guess you can do anything about that but I wouldn't do it. Clearly SD wants it to be mom's project so I wouldn't interfere.

For the play, again she appears to not want you involved so I would respect her feelings. Just assume GM is making her costume and if she doesn't then that should teach SD she can't be counted on. Maybe she will make a better decision next time. She can't expect you to do it since she purposely didn't tell you about it. If you and DH continue to jump in at the last minute and make things right what is she going to learn from it? Probably that she doesn't have to take any responsibility for anything and it will be fixed for her. If it were me, honestly I would back off until she lets you know she wants/needs you. I think she's going to resent it otherwise.

In my skids situation (I came into their lives just as they got grown but not mature) their dad fixed things for them and they thought they could do whatever they wanted because he would. He was a deputy sheriff and when they would get a DUI he would get them out ~ no consequences. So they kept doing it until he got tired of it and told them no more. One of them tried it again, got caught, no money to pay fine. DH let him stay in jail for 6 months. We haven't had any more problems with them, lesson learned. SS knows it was for his benefit that his DD did that and the others took note.


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RE: What would you do?

Thanks for the replies. I agree, if we 'fix' things at the last minute, SD will not learn to fix things herself. She did make a decision about the play and that is going to be a lesson. When we picked her up tonight, she lied to us about a few things but DH asked her if her grandma has her costume done. SD said the school has a costume closet so she told grandma not to make it. We don't know if that's true, but it shows that SD knows grandma is not making her costume after all. She certainly didn't ask us to get one for her so we are letting that go, see how she deals with it.

As for the scrapbook, she has done work on it. It doesn't look like her mom has helped her at all, it's poorly put together but again, she hasn't asked us for help. She'd rather do it herself than admit that her mom won't help her. Her mom was very good at scrapbooking and SD's looks like a 2nd grader did it with no help at all. In other words, SD isn't really putting much effort into it either.

Now, for another quick vent.... I mentioned in the original post that BM sent DH two text messages on Friday. SD had two outfits at our house and she wore one to her mom's Friday. Apparently, she wore the 'wrong' outfit. Then, we got there to pick up SD and BM started yelling at DH about the outfit and told him to take it to her mom's (grandma's) house tomorrow. He told her no, he has to work. He told her they are SD's clothes and what is BM going to do with them at her house if SD is at our house and SD can wear them whenever she wants. Well, that pissed off BM and she told him that SD better be wearing the outfit that is at our house and the clothes she is wearing better be in her backpack! Then she said she spends good money on those 'nice' clothes and she wants them back. So, DH told her not to send SD in 'nice' clothes. It is so damn frustrating that this woman is going to argue over an outfit (btw, SD told us last week that grandma bought it for her, not BM!) when her daughter has an F in math and is struggling in other subjects. She didn't bother to come to conference and/or talk to the teacher and/or help her with her homework.. but she'll start world war 3 over an outfit she didn't even buy and even if she did, it's the first thing she has bought in two years... (and she has yet to pay a full month of child support!)

That's another vent, the DCSS filed a 'seek work' order for her to appear on March 9th but at the end of February, she started to make payments (via wage assignment) of $61.38 a week. The last payment was made on March 5... the court case got dropped because she was working and they were collecting so as soon as she got out of going in front of the Judge, she stopped paying. If she quit her job, it will be another 3-4 months before they get another court date and if she gets another job, that song & dance can go on forever...

The good news... she was going off on DH about the outfit and he asked her (with SD right there) if she is going to get SD on her birthday in a couple of weeks. Last year she declined to take SD for her birthday and then told SD that we wouldn't let her have her. She told DH she will be there to pick her up the morning of her birthday. We'll see!!


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RE: What would you do?

I admit I've only just scanned these posts, and I'm going to go back and read them more closely later to get all the smaller details, but I'll share my impressions based on what I've read so far:

SD is in a horrible situation, as we know, with her BM's unreliable nature. Of course, Ima & her DH are in a bad bind, too, as is any parent is who has to step in and pick up another parent's slack. This tends to happen ---in varying degrees of severity--- in one way or another with almost all children of divorce. In that both parents essentially resent doing anything that smacks of what the other parent should be doing, according to them. Even in the best of situations, even when everyone involved is very nice and congenial and caring towards the child, there is bound to be some of this back-and-forth resentment and one or more of the parental figures feeling "put out" by the other. And too often the child is put in the middle of the conflict, and sometimes the resentment starts to get directed at the child, and the parents can easily underestimate how difficult that position is for the child to be in, because many children don't show their upset and sense of basic insecurity. Largely because they haven't yet reached a point in their lives where they can even comprehend it. They are thrust into a no-win situation that just isn't fair.

That being said, though, it's very important for SD to begin the lifelong lesson that the number one person she can rely on in this world is herself. It's sad that she has to learn this at such a younger age than many people, but the circumstances are what they are. In the long-run, if handled well, she'll probably be better off for it later. The key distinction that I think is crucial to make in this situation is the difference between making sure SD learns to be more independent and self-reliant not because there is something wrong with HER, but because too often there is something wrong with OTHERS who will not keep their word.

This doesn't have to mean either the extreme of breaking the 100% full-on truth about her deadbeat mom nor the extreme of taking the "tough love" (aka "tough s--t") approach of saying "you're 100% on your own, kid, can't help ya". There is a way to impart the helpfulness of the lesson of self-reliance without the risk of it being brutal. It should be explained to her that it's important to start to try being more self-reliant because what other people do/don't do is largely unknown and out of your control. They may or may not do what they promise, so you've got to have a backup plan because YOU are in control of what you yourself do. Explained this way, it doesn't badmouth anyone. And it also doesn't mean that ---at her young age, especially--- the situation should be such where she is truly without a lifeline if she absolutely needs it or if the circumstance at hand is larger than her capacity to deal with it. Everyone, including many fully-grown adults, needs some help every once in a while.

Any steps that any adult in her life would make to help her become more self-reliant should be very clearly understood by her to be truly helpful guidance and not a punishment for having a crappy unreliable BM nor for having tried to trust this BM. As long as that is very clear, the goal should be that every year SD is alive she will learn more and more to rely on herself before anyone else. And that's another key distinction: she doesn't have to grow up and be a totally self-reliant person *overnight*. There's no need for any sudden, 'shock-and-awe' type way of teaching these lessons. Every stage of this learning process, and the well-intended reasons for it, should be totally transparent to her so that she actually feels grateful for being shown in a positive way how to cope and feel personally empowered. This way she won't develop the sense of jilted and deprived bitterness that can develop when circumstances & people thrust a person very suddenly and mercilessly into the realization that life can be brutally unfair and ---what's more--- that everyone else is too busy with their own problems to give a damn. Unfortunately, that is too many kids' introduction to the lesson of self-reliance, and it doesn't have to be that traumatic.

So in a nutshell, the motto that seems very fitting for SD's main lesson from all this is: "Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst."


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RE: What would you do?

IMHO the girl is 10. Grades she gets on one project now are not going to follow her for life. Leave the things to BM that she promised to do. If she lets sd down then allow sd to be let down...don't jump in and save the day. Don't criticize sd for her bm's failure.

Say "I am so sorry your mom let you down and you have no costume...we will have to see what we have around the house that works." Then have her wear something from home--DO NOT GO SPEND YOUR MONEY TO FIX THIS!

Say "I am so sorry that your mom did not do your scrapbook project with you that she promised" Then let sd get the bad grade on it.

Then in the future when BM says "I want to do this with her" just say NO and remind her of these let downs and the results they had on sd. Don't allow her to do this again. Even if your sd says but mom wants to help me with this....just say no because last time your mom promised to help you she let you down and you got an F and had no costume.


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RE: What would you do?

my SD is 10 and honestly I feel at this age she is capable of putting a scrap book together. If I remember right you all have full custody of SD like we do right? If that is the case if I were in your situation I would let BM know that the scrapbook needs to be finished a couple weeks before the due date or you all will be doing the project with SD to make sure it gets done..I think you all have let her have too much control...for someone who can't even pay her child support (which should be top priority) she can't be trusted to do much of anything for her child, and as your SD main caregiver it is your s and DH's job to make sure things get done.....must be something about deadbeats and wanting their clothes back cause we had that issue a while back too....and honestly I don't think it has anything to with the flippin outfits..it's her way to throw her weight around and have some control...i wouldn't worry about the clothes...


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RE: What would you do?

i already expressed my opinion on homework issue. I think that teachers need to assign work that could be done by a child alone and does not require parental help. if her entire grade depends on this assignement it needs ot be done by her not parents. otherwise those parents who have better abilities to make scarpbooks would do a better job but who gets the grade? parents?

what about single men? they don't do scarpbooking so do kids suppose to fail? i think it is entirelly school's fault that SD is in this position.

now if teachers expect this scarpbook be done by a child alone, then she needs to do it alone. if it does not look too great then be it, it doesn't have to be perfect.

as about play and dress for that, I of course wouldn't expect kids to make costumes themselves. it was mom's job if she promised. mom messed up again. maybe teachers needs to told to send info to both houses. In fact they should send it to dad since dad is a custodial parent. maybe SD needs to be told that she must tell dad what is going on in school. Mom is unreliable. I also think dad should not trust mom anymore. enough.


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RE: What would you do?

lol, I took a closer look at the clothes she is demanding and they are 'faded glory' brand jeans ($12 at wal mart) and a screen print shirt that might be 7 or 8 bucks. You would think they were designer duds, the way she was carrying on! It was just irritating that she was yelling at my husband like she was his wife... Hell, I don't even boss him around like that. But, that was probably why she did it... and I agree, we've let her have way too much control and affect our lives way too much! She seems to have gotten on a kick to stir up crap ever since she found out we became grandparents.


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finedreams

"what about single men? they don't do scarpbooking"

I just want to say what a sexist comment THAT is! Why can't a guy scrapbook? Maybe most guys don't want to or have an interest, but it's sexist to say they don't BECAUSE they are men~ Is that just SINGLE men or can married men scrapbook? ... I just have a bit of a problem with sexist attitudes! That's like saying a woman can't fix a car or change a tire!

The scrapbook project is (and should be) for the child to do on their own. BM is the one that jumped in to say she wants to work on this with her daughter, but it doesn't require parental involvement to put it together. The parental involvement is more that an adult needs to take SD to different places on the list... a local firehouse, a state park, a historical site, etc. that are on the list. We live in a very historical area and there are lots of places she can get pictures for her scrapbook. It's HER responsibility to put it together.. but an adult needs to drive her and take her picture. That's the help she needs but her mom made it sound like she wanted the mother/daughter bonging experience of doing this together, including putting it together. Once again, she has let her daughter down and her daughter is getting it done with no help. She appears to be making due without having her picture taken and maybe she would rather collect the things from the list that don't require an adult's help than admit to anyone that her mom won't help her.


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RE: What would you do?

"I've offered but she said her mom is going to do it and then BM was adamant that this is HER project. Since SD and BM are insisting this is 'their' project, I kinda disagree with DH 'saving' her if BM doesn't follow through. Opinions? "

Make it very clear to her than you respect that it is her special project with her mom and that you understand that she and her mom will do it together. Then step back. Hopefully the mom will come through. If not, have sympathy and let the chips fall where they may. Keep doing this until the DD realizes she'd rather get it done and spend special time with mom in a way that won't impact her so much if it doesn't work out.

"When is it time to start putting some of the responsibility on her to get things done and if she chooses to not keep us in the loop, should we let her suffer the consequences or bail her out?"

My dd age six is responsible for getting her 1 hour of homework done per day after school, and getting it done correctly (I check and if it's wrong she has to go back and do it again) before she can go to her after school activities. She has to get the appropriate clothes, shoes, and water bottle (some days they "dress out" some days they don't) and be ready by the door when it's time to go. We have an hour and fifteen minutes from when we walk in the door after school to when we have to be out the door to go to her practice. Not much time.

IMO, your SD needs to learn to take responsibility for her own projects/sports/whatever. Parents need to help with the driving, etc. but the child is the one responsible for the organization (I need to be here at this time. I need these clothes. I need these accessories.) and they need to let the parents know in a timely fashion. I have told my dd before that we are not going to an activity because she can't tell me that afternoon that we have a special school thing that night and expect me to jump through that hoop. It only happened once or twice, and now she gives me ample notice of what's going on because she wants to make sure she's going to get to participate. It's rough on the kid at first, but in the long run it's really worth it.


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RE: What would you do?

Sorry ima, but i'm all for leaving BM take the fall on this one along with her mother. Yes your sd will be hurt. But why are you letting yourself feel guilty and have the need to 'fix' this.
your husband is right, no costume...too bad. Your Sd is old enough to learn a few lessons.
1. That even though she wants to depend on someone...she will learn that not always this person comes through. Very important lesson in life. Let SD deal with her mother and grandmother on this issue. THEY are old enough as adults to come through with promises for their little girl/granddaughter. If not...its their bad, not yours.
2. By you fixing this...she will learn that oh its ok if mom f's up. Stepmom and dad will save the day. WRONG MESSAGE, this enables the child to think that she' be saved at every crisis in her life. You will do her an injustice for this.
Let her fall. Let her get hurt. You are not the one who is responsible for this outcome. If SD gets angry, redirect the issue to her mother and grandmother. THey promised her the costume, they promised the time. SHE will deal with her motehr and grandmother on this issue. End of discussion.
To top it off ima, your sd doesn't communicate on the issues you posted because she wants it to be handled by bm and grandma. So step aside. Stop worrying. I know you are an adult. I knwo you know more than she is and can predict the outcome and can bet one million dollars onthe outcome.
Let it happen. Do not feel guilty. These are important lessons.
If BM is not responsible enough for her daughter, no one can force her and you cannot interfere with this by saving the situation , saving your SD feelings. Let her fall. Let her learn who to depend on....she loves her mom...but that doens' mean her love will change mom if she is the way she is. Let her learn.


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RE: What would you do?

I think earlier children learn to be responsible, better they will do in school. If SD already does poorly in school, I think she needs to take some charge for her own success. At the same time if she struglles academically, she needs tutoring or other academic servuices to get her up to grade level. Finding help for her is parental responsibility. She cannot do that on her own. Bailing her out or doing work for her maybe helps with her grades but in a long run it only hurts her.


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RE: What would you do?

I agree, it's all on BM this time. I feel bad but it's not my problem. We had a talk with SD last night and I showed her the first scrapbook I ever put together after our wedding... nothing fancy, I got it at the dollar store and put a few pictures from our wedding & when we were dating. When she got done looking at it, SD asked if she can start hers over again. We explained that she can fix the one she has and put more effort into it. We told her that the teacher didn't assign the project for us (any of the adults, including her mother) to do. She is to do it on her own and if her mom or dad or me help her, that's nice but it's HER project, not ours. We told her that it's up to her to collect the points and that the adults only responsibility is to get her around to take the pictures and if her mom wants to do that with her, then it's HER (SD) responsibility to remind mom or ask someone else.. grandma, dad, or me if her mom won't take her.. but SHE needs to get the project done.


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