General Question

rowenaz's avatar

What would be an appropriate response to these tween issues?

Asked by rowenaz (2421 points ) June 21st, 2011

A tween doesn’t clean up after herself in a bathroom during her monthly menses. Talking to and explaining hasn’t been working.

Now that I think about, it is all the same issue. Tween doesn’t “Look before she Leaves” and is always leaving a mess, that is bothering other people that she goes to school with, lives with, has events with….

Some advice and suggestions, please. Thank you collective.

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45 Answers

livelaughlove21's avatar

First I must say this…ew. Is she leaving blood on the toilet or is she leaving old tampons in the toilet? Both are pretty gross, but if she’s bleeding all over the bathroom, that’s a whole other issue. I’m going to assume you mean she leaves it in the toilet.

If she’s been confronted about this and simply doesn’t care (how can you not be embarrassed by someone bringing that up?), then she’s obviously just hard headed and still too immature to realize exactly how disturbing that habit actually is. Maybe when she gets older, she’ll get better. But then again, some people just have gross bathroom habits. I mean, how many grown men still pee on the toilet seat and just leave it?

I know my answer probably wasn’t very helpful, but if you’ve already spoken to her, what else can you do?

Stinley's avatar

I’ve got a parenting manual at home that I think covers an issue like this. I’ll have a look tonight and get back with any pearls of wisdom. I am feeling for you in this as my 10 year old is a similar “forgetful” type and I am dreading her hitting the hormonal stage.

wundayatta's avatar

Perhaps there is some psychological issue at play? Maybe she’s in denial that she is growing up? Maybe she thinks it is gross and is “not seeing” it in order to protect herself? Maybe she knows it is associated with becoming a sexual person, and she doesn’t want to for some reason. Maybe she’s afraid of becoming pregnant, and is ignoring it.

Anyway, I think investigating the psychological issues here, either with a talk with her that is open and not judgmental, or by sending her to a therapist might help see if any of these issues are in play.

rowenaz's avatar

Yeah, those are good answers, and yes, it’s gross. Blood on the toilet seat, smeared on the counter…

Cruiser's avatar

Personal hygiene is a lesson learned from their parents. I had to teach my boys how to properly wipe their ass and also taught them the importance of washing your hands after. I would think the same would apply to your tween in that you may need to re-visit the protocols of how to change and handle used tampons neatly and the importance of cleaning up after herself. And repeat as many times as necessary until she gets it right.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Inform her that she’s not the only one using these facilities and therefore has to make it clean for those that will use it afterwards. Punish by taking away things she wants or likes to do. The usual.

seekingwolf's avatar

I agree with @Simone_De_Beauvoir You may never know WHY she is doing this. Maybe she’s just lazy. Maybe it’s this deep rooted issue with growing up. Who knows? But we need to correct the behaviour. So start talking to her and telling her what you expect and why. When she does not meet expectations, then punish her accordingly.

gailcalled's avatar

You have to sit down and tell her that you and she need to have a conversation. “Talking to her and explaining” is usually a recipe for hostility, passive-aggressive behavior and tuning you out.

She needs to have the chance to speak, at least 50% of the time. If you ask questions,It is much harder to avoid answering than a statement is.

For example:

“Honey, as you know, we have a problem that affects the whole family. What would you suggest as a solution?”

Then, sit back, say nothing and wait. No squeaks, no “Ums, ” no grunts. Ride out the silence.

I don’t think that this requires an authoritative pronuncation followed by punishment. You are also teaching her either good or terrible techniques for conflict-resolution.

gorillapaws's avatar

Make a movie of the mess and threaten to show it to her girlfriends… If that doesn’t work, threaten to show it to the boys in her class.

Carly's avatar

I don’t think I was ever this bad, but I remember not caring at all about my messiness until I got into hs and someone directly made fun of me. It hurt at the time, but kicked me in the but to try to be cleaner and more organized.

For the bathroom, just ground her for the rest of the day every time you find it gross. It’s your house, so you make the rules.

SpatzieLover's avatar

She needs specific direction. If she’s not getting it, she’s not going to implement it.

She needs a waste bin with extra bags to hide her stuff in, a bathroom cleaner and rags/paper towels kept in the bathroom. She needs to be told that she may not flush pads/tampons. After usage, they need to be thrown away here. She may not place them on the bathroom counter. If blood, urine or feces gets on her hands, the toilet or the counter, she needs to wash her hands, then use the cleaner and wipe up her mess.

She needs to be told that when she leaves the bathroom it needs to look the same as when she entered the bathroom. This means that if you are not keeping the bathroom clean, neither will she. It’s on you as a parent to teach hygiene and cleanliness.

If after all of this she still is leaving a mess, I’d make a visual checklist for the back of the bathroom door (like they have at restaurants).

For our son, we have a laminated, photo sequence instruction sheet in the bathroom. That way he can look at it and know if he’s missed a step.

JLeslie's avatar

How is this possible? By 12 years old doesn’t everyone know how to flush after themselves, and that leaving pee, blood, or feces for all to see is not acceptable? Although, I have to say that public restrooms have become much much worse in the last 30 years. Adults are disgusting in public restrooms, and I would guess their children are as well, and possibly it happens at home also.

Is there any mental illness present?

Is there some sort of rule in the house not to flush the toilet every time? Either to conserve water or not wake people at night? If any of these are the case get rid of those rules. It is actually difficult for me to remember not to flush, because it is partbof the routine/ritual when I go to the bathroom.

Plus, how is it possible at home to bleed on the toilet seat? Isn’t she sitting down? Give her some tampons to control the bleeding more. Smeared on the counter? How often do we women ever even come into direct contact with the blood? It is very odd.

Kardamom's avatar

I would sit her down this weekend, before she is allowed to leave the house and have a talk with her. And what I mean by allowed to leave the house is that you literally do not let her leave the house. I’m getting the feeling that you have already allowed her to do whatever she wants, and then she does it (or in this case, doesn’t do it). You need to lay down the rules, and enforce them. You can’t be wishy-washy about it. I can’t imagine a 12 year old child (that doesn’t have developmental disabilities) that would think it’s OK to leave blood or tampons laying around or leaving blood on the seat. All of my friends, remembering back on that time period would have been mortified, and no one had to explain to us that other people would think this is gross.

Does you daughter actually know how to properly use her sanitary products (tampons and pads)? How do you now? Did you teach her? If you weren’t the one to teach her, she may have some sort of incorrect info that you are not awar of. Find out, for certain. Is it possible that your daughter has some sort of visual impairment that you may not be aware of?

Do you have a trash receptacle and plastic bags and toilet paper to collect the offending items in her bathroom?

If the answers to the above questions seem normal, then you need to sit her down and explain how things are going to change. You are going to take her into the bathroom and show her exactly how to wrap and dispose of sanitary products in the trash bin. Then you are going to show her how to get a paper towel or clean piece of tissue and wipe off the seat of the toilet, and tell her to use 409 or Simple Green cleaner if it needs it. Explain that she is not to leave the bathroom until she has flushed away all remnants of poop and blood and made sure that the toilet seat, toilet bowl and lid are clean. Ask her if she has a problem remembering to change her sanitary products often enough. Ask her if she has a problem with leakage or anything else. Do you know for a fact that she is actually using tamons, or is she possibly afraid to use them, or do they hurt her when she inserts them? Does she know what orifice to put them in? Unless you know for sure, don’t assume anything.

Just to make your point, and hammer it into her head. You might want to get a dry erase board with a chart and put it outside the bathroom or just inside the door she uses to leave the house. Tell her that she needs to sign and date the chart every time she uses the bathroom and if she doesn’t do that, then she will be punished by not being allowed to leave the house, taking away phone, computer and TV privleges or whatever else will be upsetting to her. And tell her that until she starts acting like a reponsible person, for her age, you will treat her like a baby and that you will check the bathroom each time she goes in there, until she learns how to act responsibly. Then if she keeps it up, tell her that you are going to make an appt. with her pediatrician and take her in for a consultation and that you will be speaking with her school counselor. Threaten to bring her friends and their mothers over to your house to “teach” her how to clean up after herself properly.

You have to be consistent and serious with your teachings and your potential punishments, if you don’t, she’ll never learn and she’ll do whatever she wants. If none of these things work after about a month, I would consider taking her to a pyschologist to find out if there is something else wrong with her. Do you suspect that there may be something else going on?

SpatzieLover's avatar

@JLeslie It’s not odd if it hasn’t been taught. My son’s bestie is a girl that has no clue how to wipe. If I hadn’t taught her, she’d still be getting pee on the seat & dribbles on the floor each time she uses our bathroom..If no one ever teaches, then this is the product of that.

JLeslie's avatar

@SpatzieLover I agree with what you said, that children need to be taught, and I hate to sound critical of this mother, but if she is bewildered by the mess her daughter leaves behind, I would think she has attempted to teach her daughter, and it is not working for some reason. But, maybe I am making too many assumptions? I mean, my mommy taught me to wipe front to back. I don’t feel comfortable unless I am dry after I urinate and have a bowel movement? It’s just hard for me to wrap my mind around. I do know that I have taught grown women to make sure the tampon is deep enough, because they say they can feel the tampon inside of them, and yes the two women I taught this to were raised in strict Catholic homes with never a mention of anything regarding this, and tampons were considered a no no, but if you read the directions it can help you figure it out. Still, my mom did specifically tell me to make sure it was inside of me deep enough so it is comfortable when I was probably 13 years old.

I have never urinated on a toilette seat or left blood behind, because no one in my family ever did either. When being potty trained we are told to get everything in the water, aren’t we? If we accidently drip our mommy’s clean it up, and we witness it, learn the expectation. I really have a hard time understanding it, and I grew up in a messy house, with books everywhere, not vacuumed enough, pots and pans always out on top of the stove, paper piles on counters and on the dining room table, but this I would not imagine. But, I am not judging, just find it surprising. If it is that simple, the girl just needs to be told the expectations and shown how to take care of it, then that is a great suggestion, definitely worth a try. Certainly I do know some parents who don’t realize some things are not automatic and need to be taught.

I am curious to know if the OP has addressed the issue in some way already and it isn’t working.

Oh, and the person who mentioned making sure there is a trash can in the bathroom, that was an important suggestion I think. I guess the daughter has her own bathroom? If the parents use it wouldn’t there for sure be a trash can in it? I visit my gay brother-in-law and his SO and their guest room has no trash can. I guess they are never thinking period.

JLeslie's avatar

I should add I don’t have children, all I can go on is my own childhood, and how my sister behaved as well, and my neice and nephew certainly never made a mess like this, even though they were a mess in their bedrooms. Mess is one thing, unclean is another.

YARNLADY's avatar

Perhaps she should be escorted every time until she gets it right.

BarnacleBill's avatar

I agree, direct handheld supervision. You have to convey not caring about whether she’s late for something, doesn’t get to go out with friends, misses sports practice.

Control your anger, because sometimes this sort of behavior is a bid for attention, even negative attention. You don’t want to set up a cycle of negative dynamics between you. You might want to think about having her evaluated for learning disabilities or attention deficit.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

If you’ve talked with her at home specifically about leaving the bathroom in a condition that won’t gross out others who use it and she’s not caring or bothering then meet her at the door when she comes out of the bathroom. Tell her to turn around and check for any “overlooked” mess, stand in the doorway and supervise while telling her it’s really a courtesy to others not to have to look at or clean up after her.

Hand her plastic bags and go with her to watch her line the bathroom trash bin and also to wash it out after her period is done with. Ask her that when she goes to other people’s homes and at school to wrap her tampons or pads in paper before throwing them away. Buy her purse friendly babywipes she can clean her body with and also the toilet seats she uses. Remind her to wash her hands so no blood get under her fingernails.

JLeslie's avatar

@SpatzieLover You mention your sons friend. Is she at the age of menstruation?

GladysMensch's avatar

Charge her (money, time, clothing… whatever is important to her) every time you have to clean up her mess. You’re not punishing her, you’re simply charging for your time and energy to do the things that she is fully capable and expected to do on her own. Don’t be angry, be empathetic and matter-of-fact about it.

Sorry honey, I’m too tired from cleaning up your mess to drive you to your friends house.

Sorry honey, it took a long time for me to clean up that mess, and it was really an unpleasant job. I charge $$$ to clean up other people’s messes. Oh, you don’t have that much? That’s OK, you can pay me in (clothing, toys, cell phone minutes). Or you can do one of the jobs that I could have done while I was doing yours. Hey look, the kitchen floor needs scrubbing.

Sorry honey, I just don’t think I have the energy to allow a sleepover. That would mean I would have to watch you and your friend, and I’m too tired from cleaning up that mess.

She’ll come around after she loses a few things that she really wants.

Stinley's avatar

Sorry, i can’t find the book I was thinking of. i am moving house and it may have been sold off…

I was thinking of what I would do and I think these answers have brought up most of the ideas I was thinking of – re-teaching her, supervising, taking away treats. I hadn’t thought of the idea that she might be troubled and in denial a little about growing up, which actually would go some way to explaining how she can behave out of character like this. How about thinking of nice, grown up things you can do together once she does start getting it right? Thus emphasising that it’s not all bad being grown up.

SpatzieLover's avatar

No she is not @JLeslie…but one of my nieces is. I have cared for a lot of children. One thing I know for certain: They do not all learn via the same method. Some children are highly visual. Without knowing more of this situation I can’t possibly do more than guess that this tween is in need of another teaching method to be employed.

@Stinley Great idea! This is a major transition for a girl. Some handle it well, and some do not. It may be that emotionally she’s not ready to deal with this. Positive reinforcement almost always goes well.

JLeslie's avatar

@SpatzieLover I agree with that too. I am a visual and auditory learner, not very good with the written word. But, blood left behind? By a teen? As @Stinley said a cry for attention, or how I stated it was mental health issues, but when I say that I meant the full gamut of at the least wanting attention to at the most a more serious condition. I guess it could be just teen laziness? I’ll assume there are no men in the house? I can’t imagine leaving blood that came out of my vagina around for my father to come across. But then I have a friend who was found out she was having sex because her boyfriend left a condom floating in the toilet, he was 17 at the time. Her father was freaked, and we women thought what an idiot to first try to flush something made of latex, could have clogged the toilet, and then second that he did not make sure it flushed down.

rowenaz's avatar

First off, she isn’t 12, she’s younger, and there’s a rubbish bin right beside the counter. There’s plenty of tissue paper, bags, etc. and she leaves this mess any way. Her father found the mess once, and I hoped that would mortify her enough to be more careful. To those people who are already all blame the mother, please
Go troll somewhere else, I’m looking for advice. I’ve gone over the how to’s multiple times, hence the frustration. It’s always “I’m sorry,” and it happens again. Charging her for cleaning is ridiculous, since I ‘d be taking my own money back, and an appropriate discipline has to relate to the action. She’s not allowed to use that bathroom? She won’t use tampons because the school told all the girls they’d get toxic shock. She’s a TWEEN, not a teen. Thanks a bunch of you who know who you are for your helpful comments.

JLeslie's avatar

I can underatand why it must be so frustrating for you. I figured, as I said above, that you had already told her the appropriate expectation, taught her what to do, and must be at a loss looking for new ideas.

Can you educate her on tampons being safe? Doesn’t she want to be able to swim in the summer? Or, if she plays sports, or dances she won’t want a pad on. The school probably warned about toxic shock and the girls twisted it all around, or the teacher sucked, but you can educate her on the reality.

Also, if I understand correctly, she is fine in the bathroom otherwise, it is just period related? If she is very very young, possibly she is really not very happy at all about having her period, and is acting out? Has she said anything verbally to imply that?

I’m just thinking out loud, but maybe take the focus off her period. Talk in general terms about leaving the bathroom in neat order. Every time you find it a mess, make her clean it and try your best not to interact much or get into any sort of argument, give her the least amount of attention possible regarding the mess, while still having her correct it. Or, you could try a reward system. Explain you realize it has been difficult for her to clean up afterwards, and if she keeps the bathroom clean you will buy her something new, or have a special day with her having a picnic, or whatever she might like.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

The only thing I can think of that might help (thinking waaaaaay back into time) is to talk to her more about her period, how she’s feeling, what symptoms are most uncomfortable, the length of the periods, which clothes are turning out to be more or less comfortable to wear during that time. Get her talking about it.

I remember thinking how old fashioned it was to look through a little book handed out at school about menstruation but it did have something priceless in there- a hot water bottle. Not until my 30’s did I try the heated bottle on my lap to feel better but it works well. I’m thinking if you can get her to share the experience with you then she’ll pay more attention to the details. Again, buy the big pack of unscented babywipes that have a resealable flap and put them on the counter or toilet tank to use for the body and any messes on the toilet, floor, sink, etc. Maybe she’s HATING everything about her period. I did.

What about googling some articles about TSS and menstruation, saving them in bookmarks and suggesting she read them to see if there’s any information in there she might find helpful to her particular periods? Maybe an article about first time tampon usage.

JLeslie's avatar

I suggest if she is having bad cramps to give her ibuprofen which is magical for most women. If she weighs under 130 try just two pills at first (400mg) taken with a little food and a glass of water. It takes 50 minutes for it to kick in. For me, when I finally could make having my period not “feel” like I had my period it was incredibly liberating. Rid of the pain and pads.

Kardamom's avatar

I get the feeling that most, if not all, of her knowlege about periods may have come from the school, otherwise she would know that tampons are perfectly safe if you don’t leave them inside for 8 hours, you have to change them more often. Were you the one who taught her about menstruation and how to properly insert, change and dispose of her pads? Or did you, or the school just give her some pamphlets and hope for the best. Even if she is only 10 years old, she should be old enough to understand how sanitary pads are used, and how often they should be changed and how they should be cleanly and discreetly disposed of.

Me and my friends were given a 2 week course at school (at aged 11) about where babies come from and what menstruation is and how to deal with it. Then, when I got my period, my mother showed me how to use and dispose of pads (even though I had an outdated booklet from my school that showed sanitary belts and tampons on the end of long sticks! They already had adhesive pads by the mid 70’s and no one from my age group ever used a belt and those stick style tampons had long disappeared, they already had the applicator type). If your daughter was given a class in school, she may have been given some information, which she blew out of proportion (about toxic shock syndrome) or the embarrassing topics of how to attach a pad to the inside of your panties and how to rinse blood out of your panties if you have a leak, and how to wrap a pad in toilet paper so that no one can see it, may have been skimmed over, too quickly. Most girls in my class would never had dared to utter a word or ask a question to our teachers, even if we had been uncertain. Unless your daughter has some type of developmental issues, that you haven’t mentioned to us, then she is probably just not “in the know” about how all of this stuff works. You need to sit her down and tell her and show her, step by step. Then hang out around the bathroom door and ask her if she needs any help in there. If she says no, hang around anyway, and immediately go in there and check. If the bathroom isn’t clean, she gets to go back in there and clean it. Keep doing this over and over until she gets it right. If for some reason, she can’t do it, I would suggest having her evaluated by her pediatrician.

You should also talk to her about possibly using tampons in the future. I didn’t want to use them right away, because my hymen was not broken and it physically hurt me to try to insert them. I tried again, when I was about 15, and broke the hymen with a tampon while inserting it in the shower. If she wants to try using tampons, she will either need to break the hymen herself, which could be very scary, and slightly painful, or you can take her to a gynecologist and have them do it. The gynecologist can also show her how to properly insert a tampon. It needs to be put in far enough so that it clears the pubic bone and then kind of sits on the edge of that bone (both to keep it inside, and so that you can’t feel it). She also need to learn how not to panic, if she thinks the string has come off or she can’t find it. This involves being able to be comfortable enough with your body to root around in there for a few minutes, and get a little bloody, until you locate the string.

If she is suffering from cramps, the only thing that ever worked for me, was Ibuprofen. But sometimes, laying on the floor on your side in a fetal position can work to help ease the pain, along with the medicine. Tell her to take the medicine at the first sign of cramps and not to wait until they get full blown. I’ve always been able to knock them out before they got bad. But when I was 12, they didn’t have Ibuprofen and Midol didn’t help at all. Asprin worked pretty well for many years, until it stopped working for me. If she takes Ibuprofen, make sure she eats a little bit of something, or else it will give you a stomach ache.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@rowenaz Is this unusual for her? Does she keep her room clean? Is she otherwise good with maintaining her hygiene on her own? (showering/hand washing/teeth brushing)

jca's avatar

I think when you have a conversation with her, get your husband in on it as well. This way the two of you are united, and perhaps your daughter will take it more seriously when it’s the two of you, and also may be somewhat embarassed at having to have a big discussion about this with her father. I have a feeling, knowing how teens and tweens act, that she is throwing tantrums when you bring it up and causing you to back off. I think sitting her down for the discussion with the two of you will prevent her from tantruming and cause her to take this issue seriously.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca Her dad? I don’t know.

I came up with one, this would be more along the lines of my mom’s way of handeling things. Threaten to take a photo and show her girlfriends. I am not recommending it, just putting it out there.

jca's avatar

@JLeslie: I was thinking it might be humiliating if she had to face her dad, who told her how disgusting it is to see her blood on the toilet. Maybe if it’s humiliating and embarassing, she’ll remember that next time she has her period.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca I am just afraid it is too mortifying.

gailcalled's avatar

Using techniques that humiliate, shame, embarrass or mortify will not work on most people, and certainly not in an already recalcitrant teen-ager.

It’s a serious issue, of course, but having a conversation (that means both you and she get equal time) is a much better way to resolve this issue.

Imagine how you would have felt (or, indeed, did feel) as a teen if or when someone used ridicule, derision, teasing (can’t you take a joke?), or some other demeaning tactic.

And bringing in her dad as the heavy (If you don’t straighten up, I’ll tell your father) is a very bad idea.

Remind yourselves of what good parenting skills are. Ganging up on her is not one.

jca's avatar

I didn’t mean to ridicule or tease her, I meant to sit her down and have a serious conversation with her, and the two parents, asking her “Is there something going on here?” and “How can we help you remember to clean up after yourself?” Not to use the father as the “heavy” but to all have a nice conversation and discuss this matter like people who live in the household and are concerned about an issue that affects them all. It seems as if the mother confronts her and she brushes it off. Perhaps if the parents present a united front it would help.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca I didn’t think you were purposely trying to humiliate her, I just worried no matter what the intention of the parents she would be mortified. I guess single dads handle these things somehow though.

Kardamom's avatar

Where did mom go?

rowenaz's avatar

Her father talked to her and told her how he felt when he went into the bathroom. I mentioned that I hoped she wasn’t doing this at school. I’m sure it WAS embarrassing, but maybe it will help for the future. She is getting better, in general, with her hygiene, but in general, it’s still a battle. Constant reminding and such. I also told her that she wouldn’t be able to use that bathroom (which is a nice pretty bathroom) and that I would have to escort her into the other bathroom to supervise her if that’s what it took for her to LITERALLY clean up her act. Because this is a general problem, I also told her she isn’t allowed to leave any area unless we give her the okay, and if she leaves and hasn’t tidied up, she has to return and clean it up repeating, “I look before I leave,” which is really irritating her. The threatened loss of bathroom use relates to the issue, so is an appropriate consequence, in my eyes, and I would follow through on it. So next month we’ll see how it goes. Thanks everyone.

jca's avatar

@rowenaz: If you would like to, please feel free to post an update.

JCA
The Update Lady

JLeslie's avatar

Thanks for the update. I don’t understand about losing her bathroom rights? What do you mean she won’t be able to use the bathroom? What would she use instead?

Stinley's avatar

@JLeslie she says there’s another bathroom, presumably not as nice or handy as the pretty one. hth

jca's avatar

@rowenaz: Please also be more specific about how the conversations went, what you said to her and her responses. Someone pm’d me and pointed out that the descriptions have been pretty vague, so far.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Does she have this same type of issue when doing school work? This still seems to me like something is missing from this picture.

EDIT: I looked back in @rowenaz‘s questions and found this one about her daughter’s ADHD @rowenz, it’s a great idea if when you ask a question, especially about children, you include all pertinent information.

Now that I know your daughter has ADHS, I’m going to say again, she will need a visual reminder in the bathroom A before photo (how it looks when it is clean) and a checklist of how to keep it that way.

If your daughter continues to have this type of a hygiene issue, I strongly recommend talking to a psychologist that specializes in Asperger’s and ADHD. Parenting a child with a special need often requires professional help and therapeutic implementations into the daily routines.

My son & husband have Asperger’s. Without a visual, neither would have any clue (no matter how much talking/conversation took place) about what was desired/expected of them.

As a side note: It is possible she was misdiagnosed with ADHD. Has she been re-evaluated by a neuro-psychologist at this age?

jca's avatar

@SpatzieLover: Good research! GA To you!

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