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What do you do when there is nothing left to do?

post #1 of 76
Thread Starter 
I look at some of these posts and just have to laugh!! (Laughing because I wish it was me!) We are so past "I don't want to yell at my kid".

What do you do when spanking them with a wooden spoon (how I was) sounds just about right (I won't of course)? Or a good soap in the mouth washing? Or giving them away to another family for a couple of days?

I swear I am ready to wash my hands from three of them. I dislike them. They are rude. They are mean to each other. They have attitude problems. They are lazy and they are incredibly ungrateful. They are basically horrid. I feel like a witch in Roald Dahls "The witches". That is how I would describe my kids lately.

They are 4, almost 7 and 8. All girls.

Example: I like a clean house. It makes my brain work better. My house is not only messy, but dirty since the twins were born. I spent a good portion of X-Mas eve cleaning. I re-arranged rooms and sleeping situations. My eight year old has her own room now, and the middle two have theirs. It was clean and organized. That was only a couple of days ago. I worked my butt off, away from the babies, to get it done.

IT. IS. A. MESS.

Not only a mess, but dirty. They have no regard or care for anything given to them. A beautiful puzzle box from Grandma is strewn across the floor and bed, a piece completely missing. This was a thoughtful, kind EXPENSIVE gift to them. They don't care. Clothing piled. Christmas clothing heaped in a pile. Paper torn up and thrown around. I am appalled at them. These are two of the laziest kids. They don't seem to care about anything. When I get to the yelling point, my four year old says that I don't love her, and won't do anything. My seven year old will sit there on her bed for HOURS and not do anything.

My standards are set. I am not just going to close the door and walk away. That does nothing but teach them that disrespecting their things is not only okay, but acceptable. It is not. It is rude and horrible. They really honestly don't care about anything. I throw things away...they don't care. Timeouts...they don't care. Name it, I have done it.

This extends throughout the whole house. Dishes left where they ate. Clothing scattered throughout the house. Tissues on the ground.

It has gotten worse and worse and worse. I don't know what to do anymore. I am at a loss. My eight year old is a little better, but has been into the eyerolling and attitude lately.

I really don't like my kids at all anymore. I love them...but I am done.

Right now this very minute they are in thier rooms not cleaning it up, screaming at each other (two babies sleeping) being horrible to each other. I want to go in there with a trash bag and throw it all away.

Sarah, horrible rotten mother
post #2 of 76
Two things:

The kids do not sound horrible, they sound like most children, but...

You sound completely and totally burned out, to the point that you have lost perspective and as a result, connection. I know you already know this, but it might help to hear a fresh voice saying this is not about the kids behavior at all, this is about your own state of mind right now. You are in crisis.

I would strongly suggest some kind of counseling for yourself--a safe place to recharge your own emotions. If that isn't feasible, you must get some time alone to recharge. The children absolutely feed off your state of mind! If you are not feeling confident, calm, and in control, they cannot provide you with that via their own behavior. The parent sets the tone. You know how a flight attendant says to the parent "Put on your own emergency survival gear before helping your kids"...same thing here--if you are drowning, the kids cannot save you. The parent has to get in a better place emotionally, and THEN address any discipline issues.

I am so sorry you are feeling this stress. Parenting is so draining, and with twin babies (how old are they??) I am wondering if you have some hormonal issues adding to the mix of overwhelm and fatigue.
post #3 of 76
I read your post and had to comment. First of all, I just want to say, wow! you have five children, and two of them are nursing babies, I have no idea how you even do it. So forgive me if my suggestions sound naive, as I am only a mother of 1.

Were your twins were born recently? Your dds are probably still adjusting to not having as much time with you. What your 4 yr. old dd said kind of makes me think they might feel a bit disconnected from you right now. Maybe you could try spending some one on one time with each of them? I know that must be very hard to try to do with 5 kids, but i think that would help.

As to their behavior, I wonder what would happen if you just stopped and "closed the door and walkied away," as you said. Right now, they are able to disrespect their belongings with no consequences because you go in and fix everything for them after they make a mess. Explain to them that from now on they clean up their own rooms and help wash the laundry and wash their plates(or watever you think is age appropriate.) Do not buy them new clothes or toys when their old ones are not taken care of. If they want a clean plate, they must wash the plates or at least bring them to sink, you get the idea. You sound like a bit of a neat freak, and I don't mean that in a bad way, so this might be really hard for you at first but I think it would really pay off in the end. Eventually, they will feel embarrased about wearing dirty clothes and want some toys to play with and hopefully learn that they msut take care of their own things. Ofcourse, some of what I said won't apply to your 4 year old and this works with some kids and not others, but I think it's worth a try.
Also, you are not a bad mom for wanting them to act civil with each other and clean up after themselves. I think you are a great mom for having the intuition to know it isn't right for children to treat their parents like housemaids.

My parents never taught me to clean and if i didn't clean my room my mom would go in and do it for me. Now,I am a chronically messy and porcrastinating person and this has hurt me in so many areas of life. I battle with it every day and I really wish my parents had taken a hard line with me in regards to cleaning and organizing, because now it's very hard for me to change old habits. So I really commend you on at least trying to get your kids to learn to clean, because it's so important to learn that at a young age.
post #4 of 76
Thread Starter 
I also wanted to state that I am sick with a head cold and I am sure that is part of this. And that there is a difference between normal kids being kids, and the lack of care that they seem to feel towards the things that they are given.
post #5 of 76
Perhaps if they don't care, you can take away those toys they don't care for. If clothes are left on the floor, bag them up and donate the clothes. (Up to a limit, of course, because your children need clothes, but if there are any excess of clothes or favorites that they just drop on the floor).

Prior to using this method, I would recommend first discussing it with them and maybe even writing it down on paper for them to see so they know you will do this if they don't put their clothes and toys away. I'd recommend much discussion on the topic before actually taking anything away. Then I'd say the first time, maybe take the toy/clothes away for a period of time if you prefer that instead of permanently taking the things away.
post #6 of 76
This is not parenting advice really. It is very, very general advice that I use for dealing with people who upset or disappoint me in any part of life, kid or otherwise: I decide that for the next x amount of time (hour, day, week, year, whatever fits the situation) I will take their most upsetting behavior as an immutable given and work around it. (Ex.: My boss was very critical when I was first learning my job, so I decided I would just expect criticism for a certain amount of time.)

You may or may not be able to apply that to your situation.

Another thought, you said something about wanting to farm out your older children for a while. Do they have friends and/ or relatives with whom they could do a sleepover?

And finally, this is counterintuitive but not taking care of their things doesn't necessarily correlate to ingratitude or not caring. I sometimes have been known to have, shall we say, unrealistic expectations about the durability of certain objects which were nonetheless important to me. Especially when I was a child, but it happens even now. So it's important not to assume malicious motivations.
post #7 of 76
I agree with everything annettemarie said. You children are acting absolutely normal. In fact, they sound like me. My natural inclination is to leave puzzles on the ground, and tissues, and clothes . . . it is how I am and have always been. I try to do differnet and be better, but I'm a work in progress, and I'm an adult. Having strict and firm standards isn't going to make your children suddenly capable of change. It's only going to make them feel how acutely they just don't measure up in your eyes.

So here's what you need to do.

First off, you need to be able to make the house clean for your own mental sanity. This is not your children's responsiblity. Your comfort and mental sanity is not their responsibility. It is YOUR responsibility and perhaps your husband's, depending on how you have decided to have household responsibilities split up right now. Responsibility doesn't mean you yourself need to do it, but that it's your job to see it gets done. When you yourself cannot do it, it is not appropriate to delegate responsibility to children who cannot handle it. You can ASK them for help, but don't expect much. Just because they CAN physically put the puzzle away and put the tissues in the trash, doesn't mean they have the mental ability and presence of mind and motivation to do that at all times. The best way to teach them is by motivating with love, and by example, but this will take time-- as in, they may be better helpers by the time they're 10 or 12-- not now. (If they were naturally neat kids, they might be better helpers sooner, but all kids have differing personalities and talents and apparently neatness isn't your kids strong suite, which is normal.)

Delegating is a good idea, though-- when you delegate to a maid, a teenage helper (12-13yo kids who live in your neighborhood are GREAT for this!) or to your husband or another family member. But not a young child.

Another great thing to do a a busy mom with limited resources is get rid of stuff. Declutter. Try simpler living. Modern living comes with so much extra STUFF and it is so stressful and unnecessary. Have you seen this blog? http://www.walkslowlylivewildly.com/ It is very inspirational to me. Visit the Decluttering and Simple Living forum right here on MDC.

Secondly, you need to learn to accept and love yourself unconditionally. Then extend that compassion and generous spirit to your children. But you can't love others when you don't have love for yourself. I hear a lot of self-loathing, as well as loathing of your children, in your post, and those are connected to each other. The book Raising Our Children Raising Ourselves proposes that we reparent ourselves first. Usually it's not our kids who need to change-- it's us. You need to nurture yourself and heal your heart.

Basically, you just have way too much on your plate right now, and since your older children are the lowest ranked citizens in your house (they have no power or leverage), they are bearing the brunt of the anger and stress, which isn't fair. You need to take that burden of stress off of yourself before you pass it on to them. I strongly recommend flower essences, especially Rescue Remedy. Please take care of yourself!
post #8 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by DoulaSarah View Post
I also wanted to state that I am sick with a head cold and I am sure that is part of this. And that there is a difference between normal kids being kids, and the lack of care that they seem to feel towards the things that they are given.
I am sorry you feel sick.

I don't get why people are supposed to care so much about THINGS. Maybe your kids are wiser than the average American in that they get that STUFF is just STUFF no matter how much it cost. I would recommend encouraging this attitude of non-materialism by guiding them in getting rid of a bunch of stuff. It would make all of your lives easier.

And really, it REALLY IS just normal kids being kids. I don't know of any kids who treat their stuff with special care. EVERYTHING you've mentioned, every example, sounds typical to me. I'm sure neat kids exist-- I think I've heard stories before-- but it is not the norm. Really and truly.

And even if they were below-average sloppy and uncaring-- SO? What would it hurt to accept them unconditionally anyway? That might be the best way to help them change.
post #9 of 76
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by heartmama View Post

you must get some time alone to recharge.
This is part of it. I have two four month olds and when I am alone, it is to clean someone else's house. My husband is awesome with giving me time, but I clean about seven times a month, and it adds up. I don't often get three hours alone to do nothing. I miss that. I know that it will come again, and I love babies...but I sure there is stress with the constant needing of me.
post #10 of 76
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LionTigerBear View Post
I don't get why people are supposed to care so much about THINGS.
It has nothing to do with the stuff of it. It has everything to do with it being a gift. Someone took the time to think of them, to put love into something that they thought expressed who they were...and they treated it like crap. It breaks my heart for my mother in law, who gave of herself in this way, and they don't care. That bothers me. The thing is that the know what they are doing, but do it anyway.
post #11 of 76
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by heartmama View Post
I am wondering if you have some hormonal issues adding to the mix of overwhelm and fatigue.

I don't think so. I am pretty aware of my hormones. I think that I am just fed up, mixed with a head cold, brewed in a Minnesota winter, and dashed with a pinch of the holidays!!
post #12 of 76
Thread Starter 
Solose-

Thank you for the wonderful advice. I am going to try some of it out and see what happens!
post #13 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by LionTigerBear View Post
I agree with everything annettemarie said. You children are acting absolutely normal. In fact, they sound like me. My natural inclination is to leave puzzles on the ground, and tissues, and clothes . . . it is how I am and have always been. I try to do differnet and be better, but I'm a work in progress, and I'm an adult. Having strict and firm standards isn't going to make your children suddenly capable of change. It's only going to make them feel how acutely they just don't measure up in your eyes.

So here's what you need to do.

First off, you need to be able to make the house clean for your own mental sanity. This is not your children's responsiblity. Your comfort and mental sanity is not their responsibility. It is YOUR responsibility and perhaps your husband's, depending on how you have decided to have household responsibilities split up right now. Responsibility doesn't mean you yourself need to do it, but that it's your job to see it gets done. When you yourself cannot do it, it is not appropriate to delegate responsibility to children who cannot handle it. You can ASK them for help, but don't expect much. Just because they CAN physically put the puzzle away and put the tissues in the trash, doesn't mean they have the mental ability and presence of mind and motivation to do that at all times. The best way to teach them is by motivating with love, and by example, but this will take time-- as in, they may be better helpers by the time they're 10 or 12-- not now. (If they were naturally neat kids, they might be better helpers sooner, but all kids have differing personalities and talents and apparently neatness isn't your kids strong suite, which is normal.)

Delegating is a good idea, though-- when you delegate to a maid, a teenage helper (12-13yo kids who live in your neighborhood are GREAT for this!) or to your husband or another family member. But not a young child.

Another great thing to do a a busy mom with limited resources is get rid of stuff. Declutter. Try simpler living. Modern living comes with so much extra STUFF and it is so stressful and unnecessary. Have you seen this blog? http://www.walkslowlylivewildly.com/ It is very inspirational to me. Visit the Decluttering and Simple Living forum right here on MDC.

Secondly, you need to learn to accept and love yourself unconditionally. Then extend that compassion and generous spirit to your children. But you can't love others when you don't have love for yourself. I hear a lot of self-loathing, as well as loathing of your children, in your post, and those are connected to each other. The book Raising Our Children Raising Ourselves proposes that we reparent ourselves first. Usually it's not our kids who need to change-- it's us. You need to nurture yourself and heal your heart.

Basically, you just have way too much on your plate right now, and since your older children are the lowest ranked citizens in your house (they have no power or leverage), they are bearing the brunt of the anger and stress, which isn't fair. You need to take that burden of stress off of yourself before you pass it on to them. I strongly recommend flower essences, especially Rescue Remedy. Please take care of yourself!
Thank you for that. I think I also need to put this advice to use.
post #14 of 76
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LionTigerBear View Post
I agree with everything annettemarie said. You children are acting absolutely normal. In fact, they sound like me. My natural inclination is to leave puzzles on the ground, and tissues, and clothes . . . it is how I am and have always been. I try to do differnet and be better, but I'm a work in progress, and I'm an adult. Having strict and firm standards isn't going to make your children suddenly capable of change. It's only going to make them feel how acutely they just don't measure up in your eyes.

So here's what you need to do.

First off, you need to be able to make the house clean for your own mental sanity. This is not your children's responsiblity. Your comfort and mental sanity is not their responsibility. It is YOUR responsibility and perhaps your husband's, depending on how you have decided to have household responsibilities split up right now. Responsibility doesn't mean you yourself need to do it, but that it's your job to see it gets done. When you yourself cannot do it, it is not appropriate to delegate responsibility to children who cannot handle it. You can ASK them for help, but don't expect much. Just because they CAN physically put the puzzle away and put the tissues in the trash, doesn't mean they have the mental ability and presence of mind and motivation to do that at all times. The best way to teach them is by motivating with love, and by example, but this will take time-- as in, they may be better helpers by the time they're 10 or 12-- not now. (If they were naturally neat kids, they might be better helpers sooner, but all kids have differing personalities and talents and apparently neatness isn't your kids strong suite, which is normal.)

Delegating is a good idea, though-- when you delegate to a maid, a teenage helper (12-13yo kids who live in your neighborhood are GREAT for this!) or to your husband or another family member. But not a young child.

Another great thing to do a a busy mom with limited resources is get rid of stuff. Declutter. Try simpler living. Modern living comes with so much extra STUFF and it is so stressful and unnecessary. Have you seen this blog? http://www.walkslowlylivewildly.com/ It is very inspirational to me. Visit the Decluttering and Simple Living forum right here on MDC.

Secondly, you need to learn to accept and love yourself unconditionally. Then extend that compassion and generous spirit to your children. But you can't love others when you don't have love for yourself. I hear a lot of self-loathing, as well as loathing of your children, in your post, and those are connected to each other. The book Raising Our Children Raising Ourselves proposes that we reparent ourselves first. Usually it's not our kids who need to change-- it's us. You need to nurture yourself and heal your heart.

Basically, you just have way too much on your plate right now, and since your older children are the lowest ranked citizens in your house (they have no power or leverage), they are bearing the brunt of the anger and stress, which isn't fair. You need to take that burden of stress off of yourself before you pass it on to them. I strongly recommend flower essences, especially Rescue Remedy. Please take care of yourself!

Thank you for this whole entire post. It is so very very true. I am expecting too much from them and from myself. I do have self loathing in the sense that I am gross. I have the worst body image and I won't go into because I will manage to offend someone in describing my body. I hate it.

I love my kids, they are so great and funny and wonderful. I think that I need to let somethings go...(starting with a clean house though!) Then I can keep up. I am sick and tired right now, and I just wish someone would help me catch up.

Thank you so much for putting it like it is.
post #15 of 76
I was lucky enough to previously click on the pictures of your beautiful family and be impressed by the love on each of your faces.

Your children are picking up on your stress, you do need a break, and I hope God provides someone to give you the time to recharge.

I have two destructive little boys that act like, well, little boys. Your children are acting like children as well. I am trying to conquer the clutter and destruction of gifts by simplifying our lives. Less toys leads to more respect of the toys. You can go through and have them help decide which ones to keep, to donate, and which to put away for later (cycle the toys). Go through the clothes as well. Have a family meeting where you discuss how you would like their help and ask what do they think they could do to help keep clean.

I will pray for peace for you.
post #16 of 76
We've found that having a very predictable, consistent routine helps. I've tried to get decluttered, get the house organized, and have set times that the kids are to help out. Right now the main things are clean up time once a day on school days, putting away laundry every day (I fold it and sort it, they put it in their drawers), cleaning rooms once a week (reminding them that cleaning will be easier if they put things away right after using them). I actually have scedules printed for each day, stuck in those plastic sheet protectors so they can check things off with wipe-off markers. It has helped a lot. The afternoon, for example looks like this: play, snack, homework, play, chores, practice, play, help with dinner/shower/set table (depending on the day), play, dinner, ready for bed, sleep. Each thing happens at a specific time, with some flexibility if needed, and we use timers as necessary. The kids have learned that getting their responsibilities done more quickly means more time to play. I did work hard to make sure that it's a balanced schedule with plenty of downtime, and broke up chores into 15 minute chunks so it's not overwhelming (and I have learned that you can really get a lot done in 15 minutes). And my kids really love the schedules (they are 5, 7 and 9). My oldest especially just thrives on this kind of thing, and keeps telling me how much she likes her schedule. I avoided this kind of thing for so long because I thought they'd hate it (projecting my own preferences onto them, I think). They love the markers, they love the responsibility, they love that I don't nag nearly as much anymore (I only have to point out what time it is, and remind them to check their schedule). I am enjoying not functioning as their brain as much anymore.

It's the age-old advice: supervision and consistent routine. Rinse, repeat. I hate it, it just does not come naturally or easily to me to maintain a structured routine, but it really, really works.

Also, I do think taking a step back and creating time to enjoy each other does help ease the tension and help kids cooperate better with us.
post #17 of 76

The holidays can be tough, and with twins? You need an award mama!!!

I totally get what you are saying about the house, and the kids, and I too do not function well in a messy house, yet I am HORRIBLE at cleaning it soooooo, we have found a way to make it work without driving everyone crazy, including myself. Oh and the work when you do all that extra cleaning and you turn around two seconds later and it is destroyed? Enough to make your head spin. So these are a few thigns that help us make it run more smooth(I don't have twins, but I have a 9yo and tornado 4yo and dh and I run a small business).

I have extra cleaning help. That is HUGE. Even to have someone come in once a week, or once every two weeks, whatever you can afford, but it was a huge thing for me to take off my plate and accept that I needed help, and that didn't mean I am less of a person because I am not superwoman, and asking for it.

I minimized/am minimizing the boys toys. Half are in our storage and we rotate. Sometimes kids rooms get messy really quick because there is too much stuff in them. I find they actually play with their toys more this way when there are less, then they actually know what they have to play with.

I also have reached out to my family to see if I can get extra help with childcare, or just having someone come over and I can get time to myself.

Is there anyway you can have your older girls have some kind of chore to do everyday? Something simple and easy, yet something they can do daily? In our family we stress that it takes everyones help to run the house, which includes the kids.

:

Take care of yourself mama!
post #18 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by DoulaSarah View Post
Thank you for this whole entire post. It is so very very true. I am expecting too much from them and from myself. I do have self loathing in the sense that I am gross. I have the worst body image and I won't go into because I will manage to offend someone in describing my body. I hate it.

I love my kids, they are so great and funny and wonderful. I think that I need to let somethings go...(starting with a clean house though!) Then I can keep up. I am sick and tired right now, and I just wish someone would help me catch up.

Thank you so much for putting it like it is.
Awwww, you're not gross!!! I know what you mean, though, I'm pregnant and I don't like my haircut right now (which doesn't help) and I'm developing a slight double-chin when I smile and blah blah blah. You know. : It's yucky to have to deal with body-image issues. And it's hard to work on your body when you have little ones, let alone twins! You need help!

The flower essences are a little bit expensive (well, for me they are-- like $8-$15 a bottle I think, but you might be able to find a better price online.) But they are so helpful. I need to get some more. Crab Apple is supposed to be great for body image issues and interestingly, it's also indicated for neat-freak and germophobic issues, and allergies. Wonder if those issues are linked somehow? They have quizzes you can take online that can help you pinpoint which essences would be most helpful to you. I find such relief when I take them, after taking a dose I just feel a huge breath of relief and it feels like a weight lifted off my shoulders.

Also I hope you can get some physical help with the household stuff too. Take care!
post #19 of 76
I have a 2.5 yo and a 9 mo, so it's a bit different, but the mess really gets to me, too. My dh is a SAHD and he doesn't clean (ok, occasionally he does the dishes, and he does the laundry, but aside from that he just MAKES messes) and so I have to work, be the organized person, and keep the house tidy and clean. It's an impossible task.

One of the things I've done is hugely reduce the amount of stuff that's around that could be made into a mess. I don't know how we acquire so much stuff . . . argh. But at least once a month, I go around and anything that's been sitting or disregarded or no longer of interest or superfluous . . . goes in a box. I have LOTS of plastic boxes stacked up in the basement. We now rotate them out when dd gets sick of something.

I also had to just wildly change my expectations. As a kid, I always kept track of every accessory to every toy. I took very good care of my things. My dh doesn't get this at all. He loses all the accessories to everything. My dd has no socks, despite having received 10+ pairs of socks in the past month, because he loses them. WHERE DO THEY GO? I don't know.

Solution? Clothing that doesn't require socks for dd.

I also do not give dd any "precious" toys, books, clothes, etc. Anything that I feel has value that I want saved, preserved, etc. I put away. Dh doesn't take care of her clothes, toys or books and lets them get manhandled and destroyed. So dd has the least interesting of the second-hand books, some plastic toys I don't really care about but she loves, and a bunch of playclothes I got at garage sales. Her nice things are tucked away. I either bring them out once in awhile for a brief time for us to play together or wear a special outfit to an event, or keep them tucked away.

These are the things that help me with my sanity. It's imperfect and I lose it sometimes, too. Not so much with the kids, since they're so young, but with dh. I try to find creative solutions to not be so unhappy with the situation. It's not a cure but it is a palliative.

Things will get better. I too sense that you have a stong need for some time just for you, to breathe and reconnect with yourself. For the purposes of maintaining your happiness, sanity and self-respect, I would schedule that 3 hours a week and fit it in NO MATTER WHAT. It sounds absolutely necessary and you do deserve that time.
post #20 of 76


Tissues on the floor made me think of the time my co-leaders and I were frustrated with the Girl Scouts (6-11 years old) for being so messy when we spent a weekend in a lodge at camp. In addition to the tissues, they did things like spilling some juice and leaving it on the floor, strewing clothing including dirty underwear throughout the lodge, tracking in mud, and disappearing in the middle of a task as soon as the leader looked away. We were constantly asking them to clean up and help with chores, and we got a lot of snippy attitude. : So, at the next meeting after camp, we leaders presented two skits showing The Wrong Way and The Right Way. (This is a format kids really enjoy, and I think seeing Wrong first helps to reinforce the Right.) The other leaders pretended to be girls while I was their leader. I narrated my feelings to the audience: "Hey, that hurts my feelings! And now I have to pick up her slimy tissue, ewww!" When we did The Right Way, the "girls" still did the sloppy things but responded immediately and cheerfully to my requests and then didn't do those things again, and we ended with, "Wow, we're done cleaning up early, so we have time for an extra game!" We've done about 4 more camps since then and have a much easier time getting the girls to be neat in the first place and to do chores.

So, if you can get a few friends to pretend to be your daughters, you might try that approach!
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