Sasquatch and I had to have a long discussion today about the concept of "black and white". He's sixteen and he's male, so I completely understand that he sees the world in a very cut and dried way. I'm not sixteen and I'm not male, and I've learned that more often than not, grey is the overriding hue in the world. Things aren't usually cut and dried, they aren't usually all good or all bad, all right or all wrong. Life can be murky, but I think the ability to understand that comes with experience. Today, he got some experience.
It's no secret that he is very angry with his father and has been since March. He barely talks to him, and has spent only a couple of nights at his father's new house. The other boys go and hang out, but not Sasquatch. He stays here or he goes to a friend's house. I've talked and talked - to both of them - and finally realized that there's only so much power I have. At this point it's up to them. I can't do it for them. I know the FX wants to make it right, but doesn't know how. I know Sasquatch thinks he could care less about his father, but I don't believe it for a second. I know the two of them are so similar it hurts, but neither one of them see it. I'd laugh, except that it isn't remotely funny.
Sasquatch did not want the FX to come here for Thanksgiving. He's been saying for weeks that it would ruin his holiday. At first I tried to reason with him, then I tried to appeal to his better instincts, and then, having no success with either of those, I just started ignoring him. It was already a done deal. This was very important to the other two boys. I was beginning to suspect that it was more important to the FX than I might have initially thought. I was okay with it. I'm in this for the long haul, and was looking at it as the first of many such situations that I have to look forward to in my life. It's not negotiable. We will have an amicible relationship for our children. Period.
This isn't to say that we'll spend all of our holidays together. Far from it. But this is the first one (second if you count Halloween, and we did that together too), and I think the younger boys felt really good having it to look forward to. Not Sasquatch. So this afternoon we had another come to jesus talk in the kitchen while I was peeling potatoes. He was not happy, still convinced that his father's presence would ruin his day. Doesn't he have anywhere else to go, he asked? Does he not realize that he gave up family holidays when he decided to leave his family? How could he show up at your house and expect you to be happy to see him after the way he treated you? Don't you see how awkward it's going to be with our other guests? Can't you just call him and tell him not to come?
Black and white. Black and white.
It was hard to even know where to start. Our other guests were my friend Stacey and her family, and we've celebrated lots of holidays and occasions together. She and her husband are grown-ups, and I knew there would be no angst caused by them, even though they have stayed "my" friends. Your father did not divorce the whole family, he divorced me. I'm sure there are plenty of other places he could go, but he'd like to come here. Do you have any idea, I asked, what it must be like to go from living here to living all alone most of the time? Do you not think he knows how angry you are, or how helpless he feels in dealing with it? Do you think you could even remotely consider that at some point in your life you may change your mind and want a relationship with your dad, and that maybe it's a bad idea to slam doors shut too fast?
And then I played my trump card. Listen, I said, it's been a really crazy year. But if you're doing this out of a sense of loyalty to me, you need to stop and consider something. I'm happier than I ever remember being. I feel bad even saying it, but this has been one of the best things that's ever happened to me. If you're angry at him for you, that's totally okay. But don't be angry at him for me. Because I'm not anymore. I'm genuinely, truly okay. Could you just go into it with an open mind?
He wasn't happy about it, but he did. And we had a lovely night - all around. Sure there were undercurrents, and sure there are awkward things with the transition into our new life. It's hard to sit across a table from someone in a position you've been in hundreds of times and all of a sudden go Wow, this is totally different. It's weird to entertain someone in a house they use to live in. It's strange to see vulnerability in a person who has created such upheaval in your life. It's bizarre to realize that you really are done, and even wilder to feel more peaceful about it by the day. But in the end, I looked at my smiling kids - all three of them - and did say my silent words of what I was thankful for this year. I'm thankful for two adults who continue to put their children first, no matter what. May it long continue.
When everyone had left, Sasquatch found me in the kitchen again and thanked me. You were right, he said, that was really nice. It all worked out great and Dad and the boys seemed really happy that he was here.
I noticed he didn't add himself into that, but he didn't need to. I may not be big on black and white, but I can read grey pretty well.