Monday, April 20, 2009

arc one/almost done

I've never been overly impressed with the FX's ability to be efficient, but I'm guessing I may have to rethink that one. He really managed to outdo himself on Easter, by any standard you care to apply. In the period of about two minutes flat he managed to convince all three of his children that his girlfriend was more important to him than they were. And judging by their reactions to this, I think he's facing a real uphill battle to regain ground.

This episode is important on so many levels - the children obviously foremost - but for me it was the trigger that led to the end. In spite of my promise to myself to shut up and lay low, I just couldn't, and believe me when I tell you that I paid the price. My children, however, took the brunt. At first I would have said one child in particular, but a week later I'm not at all sure about that. The devastation was fairly equally distributed.

That was the day that the boys were going to celebrate the FX's birthday, the day they had been looking forward to. The younger ones had been with him since Friday night, Sasquatch had been in and out at home, with plans to meet up with them all on Sunday morning. Saturday at soccer Gumby had said something to me about their plans for the next day, plans which included an IMAX film about half an hour away. As soon as I heard this, I knew the girlfriend would be going, since this theater is right in her neck of the woods. Sasquatch is the only one who has never met her, partly by his own design. At home later, just Sasquatch and I, I asked him who all was going to the movies on Sunday.

"Just dad and me and the boys," he replied.

"Are you sure?" I asked.

"Positive, " he said. "Why?"

"Just curious, " I answered. "Surely dad would let you know ahead of time if his girlfriend was going with you."

"Of course he would," Sasquatch replied. "Dad would never trick me like that."

And there we left it.

I had just finished my Easter potluck lunch at work when I got a phone call from a sobbing Sasquatch. The kid was beside himself, talking in hiccupy spurts, breaking into fresh tears every couple of words. We all know he drives me to the brink of insanity at times with his attitude, but not this time. His pain was palpable. And this was the story he told.

He had spent the night at a friend's house (one of my best friend's sons), and had gotten a call that the FX would pick him up there and then head out to the movie. What he wasn't expecting was to be picked up in the girlfriend's car, with his dad driving, and the girlfriend riding shotgun. They stopped at a store to buy some snacks for the movie, and the younger boys went in with the girlfriend. Sasquatch took that opportunity to tell his father that he wasn't going with them and that he wanted to be taken home immediately. The FX asked why, claimed that he had told Sasquatch ahead of time that the gf would be coming along. His exact words, according to Sasquatch were "I told you it was just going to be us." Sasquatch said they had a very different definition of "us" , and then told the FX flat out that he didn't appreciate the way this had all come about. I'm imagining he was fighting back tears even then, but I don't know this for a fact.

Okay. So some wires were crossed. Neither one of them can communicate for beans on a good day. Maybe he did tell him. Maybe he didn't. This was still (sort of) salvagable, if handled properly. All it would take was a lot of finesse and some changing of plans.

It didn't happen. The FX told Sasquatch that he was really sorry, that he was sure he had told him - and then he drove him home and headed off to the movies with the younger boys and the girlfriend. Sasquatch was devastated. It took me fifteen minutes on the phone to calm him down. Then I called my friend Laurie to enlist her help. We have a ritual on Easter, families we always get together with. This year, for the first time ever, I was working and the boys were scheduled to be with their dad. A quick phone call later, it was arranged that Laurie's family would pick Sasquatch up on their way to the festivities and he would spend his Easter the way he always did -surrounded by fabulous extended family.

I did a slow burn for the rest of the day, and when I got home minutes after the FX and the gf had dropped off the younger boys, I went up to my room to cool off. I had a brief word with Sasquatch to assess his mood, which was quiet but okay, and then I sat on my bed and tried to breathe. Minutes later Surfer Dude and Gumby came up to chat about their day and their weekend.

"Sasquatch is still pretty upset," Gumby said.

"I know he is, " I answered.

"Did you hear what happened?" Surfer Dude asked.

"I did," I replied. "How are you two with it?"

Two blank faces looked at me. Two shrugs. No answer. I'd never before noticed how the two of them have become this kind of united front lately. Two boys. One persona.

"Listen, " I said. "You know you can always talk to me if you're upset. You can always talk to Sasquatch. He's always there. So is dad. You can always talk to dad, too."

Then they both looked at me and laughed.

"Right," they said. "Sure we can talk to dad. Just like this."

And then, so help me god, they launched into the most dead on imitation of the FX you can imagine, caught him squarely in the act of attempting to listen and take part in a conversation, but not quite succeeding. In about thirty seconds, they nailed him. It was eerie. When they were done, they looked at each other and chuckled. It was clearly not the first time they had performed their two man show for each other. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. It was a really tough call. In the end, I went with neither.

"So what's your point?" I asked. "You don't feel like you can talk to dad?"

"Oh, come on mom," they said. "We just smile and do what we're told."

"Why would you do that?" I answered, outraged. "Why in the world don't you tell dad what you really think? What you really feel?"

They shrugged.

"We just don't," they answered. "It's easier that way."

"So are you saying you just nod and smile like puppets?" I continued.

"Pretty much," they said. "Goodnight."

And off they went to bed.

The next morning Gumby woke up clutching his stomach and crying. Said he felt terrible and asked if he could stay home from school. I checked him out carefully. He really did look kind of crappy, so I told him to lay down and take it easy.

A while later I dropped Surfer Dude off at school. As he got out of the car he turned to me and said in a very off-hand way,

"Have you noticed that every Monday after we're at dad's house Gumby is sick?"

And as I watched him walk into the school all I could think was...

Oh, my god. He's right.


my two cents said...

The sad thing is it really is easier if they don't tell FX what they are thinking or feel. Luckily they can be honest with you. You may feel the lion's share of the burden, but it will pay off in the end. Promise.

Altaglow said...

Your calm mother has not lost her calm. Where's my baseball bat? Where's my gun? Where's my rolling pin? He best stay out of my way or I'll turn him into mulch.

sharon said...

First, thanks for letting me continue reading your blog, I went into hospital on the 17th and just got home this morning so have only now caught up with my internet world ;-)

You have a big well deserved hug from me for enduring what you have at the hands of the not lamented FX, but your boys have my enormous sympathies for the manipulative shit he is putting them through. It will eventually come back and kick the FX in the ass but until the boys (especially the younger two) are older and wiser they will continue to go through the mill unfortunately. You know that you and they will come through all of this as wiser and better people and I wish you the very best as you carry on with the Good Fight - all four of you xox

ped crossing said...

In the end you reap what you sow. You my friend, will be blessed and he will not. The boys will drift away from him because there is no real relationship there. But you are fully there through it all and they know it and that connection will not fade.

I know because even though my parents did not divorce, my mother passively participated in our relationship and now we don't have one. I was never her priority. Her loss.

Jen said...

First, I'm glad you're able to get this all out. Going private with your blog may have been a tough decision, but I think it's worth it so you have the ability to speak freely. As for the boys, I'm so very sad for them. I'm sad their dad is not as engaged as he should be, but it sounds like it's been this way for quite a while. Unless the kids tell him there is a problem, it likely won't change. And even then it may not. How crappy.

Frances said...

Though you didn't tell us this at the time, it came through with what you didn't say about FX birthday. You were half expecting some trouble and I remember you musing about how he was going to juggle girlfriend and kids, or if he was.
It seems he is unable to understand how they feel, or to see it properly. I'm going to email you to tell you why I think this might be so. My experience is not mine, so I don't want to publicise it - even 'privately'.
Hang in there girl. Those kids need LOTS of understanding.

Marti said...

Oh RC...Wow...I feel bad for the boys and that you. Give them all hugs and remember you are doing right by them and that is all that matters. They will remember that always.

Aoj and The Hounds said...

RC, I know that FX needs to get his act together somehow to try and mend this relationship with the boys, and I know that this is something that he needs to do on his own but, for the sake of the boys, is there anything you can say to him that might just make him see exactly what is so very wrong about what he is doing? I know also that you wanted to step back and let him stand or fall but your boys are suffering. Or is he too caught up in the flush of romance to see/listen/do anything?

As the product of divorced parents I feel for them immensely, I really do.

Frances said...

PS the kids need to be able to say they don't want to go to their Dad's if they don't want to.
Feeling sick and wanting to stay home the day after may be a pretty good sign - the only way you will find out is if you ask straight out and if they are sure you will accept what they're saying and go with their wishes.
They can change their minds any time. It shouldn't be a torment to them, they are just kids.
You don't need to fight with him about it.
You don't have to communicate with him about it either. If one or more don't want to go over, you just say they're not coming over and you don't need to explain.
He doesn't deserve any explanation unless he is willing to try and understand them. His problem.
Unless it's somewhere in your divorce settlement that you have to force them to go see him even if they don't want to....

Frances said...

PPS - FX's family are the only people who can tell him straight - you are too involved for him to think you are telling the truth. Maybe his sister?

Kaycie said...

My middle child is the sweetest boy on the planet. Even going through adolescense he's remained easy going and impossibly sweet for a teenaged boy.

Every single time he comes home from his father's house, he's a nightmare. It's been happening for years and I have no hope of it becoming better. It's the attitude the man has toward life, the kids, everything.

I know it's hard to pick up the pieces every other weekend.

Hang in there.

Mimi said...

Poor you and poor kids, RC. I agree with Frances that unfortunately the FX will not take it from you that the boys are suffering, it needs to come from his own family.
I suppose the one thing good in all this is that it reinforces how right your decision to split form him was/is. At least they don't have to deal with him all the time. Having said that, it must be difficult for you to paste them back together each time they visit him. So I sympathise with you on that score, for what it's worth. Take care of yourself, and it will be worth it in the end,they will realise what's going on, mimi

Tians.sis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maggie May said...

That is terrible.
The boys will probably talk to you in future, especially as you have tried to give them the option of talking to their father and they are working things out for themselves, like who they can trust.
He can't force this girlfriend on the boys. He will just end up losing them.
Just keep being you, RC and I can assure you it will pay off.

Tians.sis said...

Let's start with a steel toed boot to the groin,seem's that's the only place he has any feeling left.

Cath said...

My blood just ran cold.
It really has. Talk to him. Totally totally talk to him and listen.

Support him and protect him if you have to - it's hard when you're already seen as the "baddie" but that's what we do for our kids. So if he doesn't want to go, then he shouldn't go. He is old enough to express a preference and give a reason. But not too old to hug.

laurie said...

be careful. kids can read their parents very very well. be careful with this line of questioning with the boys.

Stacie said...

I don't have much to offer as far as advice, but I do send my love your way. The whole situation just sucks--for you and the kids.

Have you considered having the kids talk to a third party? Maybe a trusted friend or therapist? Just a thought...


ciara said...

that was so sad. my heart ached for sasquatch so much so that tears welled up. why do guys do this? my girls don't like to talk to their dad either. he always makes things feel like they're not as bad as they think it is and that they should be o.k. w things that go on. my oldest has told me that she can't talk to him about things like she does with me. my ex has his head so far up his gf's ass it's unbelievable. i need to read the other arcs now. i keep forgetting i have to sign in to read :-/ lol

Kila said...

Hugs to the boys.

Iota said...

Sorry about all this. Bad stuff, for sure.

Since you went password protected, you don't come through to my Bloglines any more. That's why I've been away.