I inherited quite the snarky humor gene from my father. So did my brother and to a smaller extent my sister. I managed to pass it on completely to my youngest two sons, and to a lesser degree, my oldest. So, obviously, this is a dominant gene!
Conor (red head, youngest, 13 yrs, middle school) had to make up about 10 journal entries for English class. He’s soooo bad at doing it in the classroom we now have a Word Template for him at home. So I give him the list and template and insist he get started. His mood is COMPLETELY negative and when I read the entries they are dark and mean and absolutely NOT what the teacher is looking for. We leave it for the next day and this time I get him in a joking mood and go over answering the first journal question with him. This is usually all it takes to get his creative juices percolating. And THIS is some of what he turned in. (Which I didn’t read until after his teacher graded it with lots of “Haha, I love it” all over it.
If you could eat anything what would it be?
Lots and lots of junk food. Such as cake, cookies, ice cream, brownies, candy, brownies, chocolate candy!, ice cream cake, cake flavored pizza, pizza flavored cake, CANDY, and some stomach medicine.
Where did you go on your last vacation?
I went on a vacation a little while ago. I did absolutely nothing and I regret nothing. Deal with it (proceeds to put on sunglasses) And I should also mention that it was in Palm Springs.
What is your favorite movie?
Lord of the Rings. Great storytelling, amazing presentation, memorable characters, and a fandom so great to this day it still puts up a fight to all the Whovians of the worlds.
THIS is one of the reasons hanging with my kids is so hilarious. And probably one of the reasons their teachers rarely give up on them. When they DO participate they are smart, insightful and usually pretty funny.
A few weeks ago my kids, Evan and Conor came home from their Easter weekend with their father. And Evan was very upset. FACT…. He’s not a social being, just like his father was at his age. Hell, just like I was at his age! And he doesn’t like to socialize in general, much less with people he feels consider him an antisocial sociopath. With me and people he feels accepted and comfortable with Evan is a very fun person to be around, in a caustic humor kind of way. It’s not impossible to get him to open up but sarcasm and a mocking tone isn’t the way to do it. Socializing is not something that comes instant and easy for him. His father either does not see this or feels that it is somehow a character flaw that he much change.
Why was Evan upset THIS time? Because their father and his girlfriend, lets call her Boney, decided to celebrate Easter with an Egg Hunt. Now.. lets set the stage. The people in this household consist of my Ex- Brian (52); his girlfriend Boney (age undetermined… looks over 60) who owns the house; Boney’s daughter (over 20) and sometimes that daughter’s boyfriend; Boney’s son (over 18); and two weekends a month my son Evan (15) and my son Conor (13). There are no little kids in this group, so WHY an egg hunt? Because YOU want to have a social gathering. Fine. Do you factor in, encourage empathetically, or even ask the most reticent of social situations member in this household? No, you bully or snark comments.
Was my son entirely in the right? Absolutely not. Was my Ex entirely in the wrong? No. Did my Ex make is worse by venting at “the court” for what he has to pay to me monthly, the fact he longer gets to claim a kid on his taxes, and makes statements to his sons like “Beware who you marry” on the drive to drop them off? Yes, apparently he does this EVERY TIME the kids get in the car with him. Do I get to try and repair the emotional damage my Ex does? Yes, every time. Does this make getting schoolwork cooperation from Evan more difficult? Yes. Is my Ex really bad at parenting? Yes. Do I want to have a strong verbal battle with him, his girlfriend, and the principal of her school where she works? Oh yes… very much yes, so much yes it gives me pleasure to think about it. Do I want to write him a letter with copies to the judge who saw our last court appearance about how insulting his children and their mother to his children drives them to such sadness? Oh yes!
On this subject, Evan’s solution is to not have to spend any more time with his father, nor with a group of people who he feels hate him. People who certainly do not truly understand him nor accept him for who he is. On the one hand I feel sorry for THEM. They don’t get Evan’s wonderfully fun humor because they don’t create a safe, loving, accepting place for it to come out. And it is wonderful, that humor. So wonderful I’ve told him that HE is the son I want taking care of me when I’m old & stroked out. (My father and his life after stroke brings this home to me every week when I see him.)
And who will my Ex have to care for him if HE has a stroke? Assuming he doesn’t get tossed out of the house where he mooches off this girlfriend. Assuming she outlives him. He certainly won’t have his older children as he’s pretty well burned his bridges there by his actions, no matter how much I “reinterpret” his probable intentions to them. “Maybe your father mean to say this,” only flies so far with kids, particularly teens.
Sidebar example…. Luke came home from a dinner with sibs and Dad and said “Dad said Autism was not a genetic defect because it would have been bred away by now.” After a lengthy discussion of the falsehood of that statement and how genetics have A LOT of disorders you would think would have been “bred out”. I then turned to Luke and said, “Maybe what your father is trying to say is YOU’RE not defective, just cuz you have Aspergers.” It’s THIS kind of translating I do ALL the time for my Ex to try to keep the kids from hating him. Cuz, well, guess who also has Aspergers. Aaaaanyway….
My Ex is probably relying on Conor who understands him better than his other kids because Conor has my perception and empathy about people. Evan actually has the most sensitivity and perception but its just driven him away from people. Conor and I have a certain autonomous distance. This was how I understood my Ex. It was why I could marry him, and also why I divorced him. If Conor volunteers to be there for his father when his father gets debilitated I will be right next to my son. Reminding him that the State has program to pay for a home. In Wisconsin.
But the real point of this blog is this. Divorced parents should talk more between them. Married parents discuss these miscommunications and help their kids deal with the emotions of teen frustration, etc (I say etc cuz teens have soooo many emotions!). And my angry sons are teens!!! When divorced parents don’t talk then the only information one has is what is relayed by the teen. And we all know how accurate THAT can be. My sons aren’t lying to me, but their narrative is colored by their emotions and its difficult for me NOT to get angry when my kids are needlessly damaged by comments from “adults”. They get enough of it from the idiot kids at school.
But if communication were a strong point between my Ex and I…. well we wouldn’t have needed lawyers.
February saw the finalization of my child support case with the Ex. Did it go ALL my way? No. Did it go his way? No. Was it ridiculous? Oh yes.
See after being the sole support of our oldest son without financial help from his father for three years, I got fed up and took him to court. ONLY asking the court to make official the custody that had changed in 4 years PER THE REQUEST OF THE EX. And then asking for Child Support for said custody. Instead of complying The Ex argues it… to which we offer him full custody… to which he refuses. He argues ALL this other BS in court documents about my lifestyle, Sex God, the kids grades, my bad parenting… but not once offers to go back to the original custody arrangement. And drags the whole process out almost a year… incurring lawyer fees on his end and my end.
And for what? What reasoning did he have? If I’m such a terrible parent why doesn’t he take full custody? (Because I’m not, and his living arrangements [the GF] wouldn’t like that, and kids would hate it) His reasoning is he doesn’t want to pay me ANY child support and thinks bringing up my lifestyle will somehow eliminate the need to financially support our children when I’m doing the majority of the raising. Awwww….. poor, poor man doesn’t want to help support his children. (ok… to HIS mind, I can manage it on my own without dipping in to his pocket… but the attempt to do that in the last 3 years has proven to me, I cannot. He refuses to see that even when its obvious to the law.)
In the end.. I didn’t get what I should have received ($1,380 per month). I let them dicker me down to allowing Conor an extra night at his Dad’s (I will never forget the unhappy look on his face when I told him that… which passed as he got used to it.. but I won’t forget it.) and the lower amount of $1,206 per month. And then the judge cut in HALF the back child support my Ex should have paid me ($10,000) and made his payments $100 a month.
That all happened early in February… the love month. haha. And on that same day their father had the kids for dinner. And did he handle this with grace? No. He vented to the kids, in our local public park with take out for their dinner (no veggies) and outed me and Sex God to all three boys. Luke was so upset he ran home shaking and gasping that Dad was saying horrible lies to him. So I calmly (and individually as all 3 came home from the dinner at different times) separated the truth from the lies and admitted much to my kids.
And ya know what? They were fine with it. With all of it. Now I didn’t go into heavy details but I honestly answered any questions they had and told mine and Sex God’s side of the facts. And I also told them they do NOT need to defend me to their father. He shouldn’t put them in the middle of ANY disagreement that is technically between my Ex and I. Of course, he was furious when he had to write me an even bigger child support check than the temporary one he’d been ordered to.. so he wrote a lovely threatening/blackmail letter to go with it. (Now I have in writing, the person he is.) My answer to his threats is…. No. You have no claims. I will shout to the rooftops myself the secrets you think to expose before I’ll ever give in to blackmail from a man like you.
Luke now refuses to go to dinner with his father. No doubt, his father has “calmed down” from the frustration of having to pay me 1/3rd of what he makes to support his 3 children of which he has 20% combined custody, but since Luke is turning 18 in 7 months and the child support will probably go down by then perhaps that is what, no doubt, consoles him. Meanwhile, Geddes won’t be a money drain on my mother with my cut hours and I can go back to more diligent parenting of the kids. Costco hired back 11 employees, but I wasn’t one of them. Ah well, maybe next season.
And before you think things have improved financially for me let me shed some light on that. I lost the extra data entry job for the Minnesota properties as they changed ownership of them. I didn’t get to keep the extra income of the Costco job, although I may still keep trying for it. And my hours at Geddes was reduced to a salary of $2000 a month… leaving me in EXACTLY the same financial shoes as I started with the addition of legal debt.
Was it worth it? Yes. I’d been a doormat for my Ex over his disregard for the terms in the divorce agreement for far too long. If I didn’t take a stand, irregardless of how his hatred of me hurt our children (which is what stopped me in the past) he would have just continued. Now, if I’d taken the cut throat lawyer I’d first interviewed at the start of my divorce… I’d probably have a little more legal debt, but I’d have a share of his pension and child support from the beginning 4 years ago. I remember that lawyers’ words when I decided not to use a lawyer in the divorce… “Good luck with your Kumbiya divorce”.
I kind of wish I’d factored more long term then… but I’m glad I didn’t hesitate this time.