Second - a Tapioca Report. I have tried not to say anything about the man recently because...really? Who wants to hear me rant like a crazy person? I did manage to have a civil conversation with him a couple of days ago - but it was through sheer will power. He called me to ask me how "we" should "handle" Christmas. By this, he specifically wanted to talk about things like did we want to do Christmas stockings and Santa gifts at both houses or did "we" think that since the kids were with him for Christmas Eve that he would just do all that. He also asked what size coats the kids wear because his mother is getting them winter coats for their visit to Ohio (<-first I'd heard about an out of state visit btw).
Now, for any new readers, these might sound like reasonable things for divorced parents to talk about. But we've been divorced for FIVE years! This is not a new situation - this concept of Christmas being celebrated in two separate households! I told him (without a hint of sarcasm or snarkiness) that I thought we should do things exactly the way we've done them before (please note that I used the word "before", not the phrase "for the last FIVE years". I want extra credit for that because it took a LOT of will power not to give him some clue as to how ridiculous I think he is for bringing this up now.) I told him that the years he had the boys for Christmas I didn't hang stockings but that Santa did leave one present here for each of the kids because Santa understood that both parents enjoyed the spirit of Christmas and wanted to share it with their children.
As for the coats?? (Oh, there is so much passive-aggressive bull shit back story here with the winter coat situation that it would take me hours to go into it all and you would be shocked by his pettiness and also? Bored stupid. So. I'm not going to go into it other than to say this is the very top layer. Yes, the boys need new winter coats. I had, indeed, planned on getting them coats sooner - but not getting a penny in child support since OCTOBER has made that trickier to figure out. See how good I've been about not ranting about him since that icky day in court? I don't think I've mentioned it even though it's been totally stressful - but he's paid NO CHILD SUPPORT. He blames it on paperwork and the new job, the mail through the holidays, the check's in the mail - blah, blah, blah - but no pennies - not one since the month that begins with "O"!) But back to to answering his question about what size coats they wear... Hmmm. First of all, I have to admit that he had left a voice mail message asking this question last week.
- Relevant Point One - His message actually didn't even ask me - it more stated that he "needed" me to do him a favor if I would and send him an email with their coat sizes.
- Relevant Point Two - He left me this message about an hour after he dropped the kids off after having had them for the whole weekend. How hard would it have been for him to take 10 seconds out of the two days he had them to check their sizes?
- Completely Irrelevant and Snarky Point One - For a man who insists (while managing simulaneously to clench his teeth, growl at me, AND sneer) that he's a father 24/7, 365 days a year - he sure doesn't seem to want to do some basic, you know, parenting things.
Right...I get more extra credit here!! Someone's keeping track of this, right?? I did not say - you are required to give me notice about taking the children out of state. I did not say - Fool, I purposefully didn't answer your question earlier in hopes that you'd do some parenting. I do have to admit that I answered his question about their coat sizes by saying that their coat sizes were the same as their clothing sizes (<-which while true, was also passive-aggressive on my part. I hate it when he's that way with me and I've worked very hard in therapy to learn how not to respond back in the same vein, but rats! Sometimes it slips out before I can see it for what it is! So minus one extra credit point for me.) But then I earned it right back! When he said he hadn't the foggiest idea what size clothes the kids wore, I did NOT say "Duh" or point out that this didn't square with his claim of having bought clothes for the children recently. I just told him what sizes they wore. I also told him that I had gotten them new coats for Christmas (without saying "I had to borrow money to do it because you lied about sending the child support") and I offered to have the children open them early so they could have them on the trip. He told me he'd prefer if they left those coats here. Ok.
Then (since it would save me an hour or two at the keyboard sending him an email I'd been meaning to write for two days anyway) I brought up two parenting issues of my own, both of which concern Mayhem. I'll probably say more about them later - but the point here is that in both instances, my ex belittled my decision (and Mayhem's own request!) to go see some specialists. In one instance, Mr. Tapioca Head even said that he would "insist" on a second opinion if a certain diagnosis came back. I kept my inner shrew firmly in check and refused to get caught up in his adversarial pattern. When that didn't get a rise out of me, he brought up something he should have told me about weeks ago when it happened. I seethed inside, wrote a note to myself to check in with my kid about how he was doing about it, and politely ended the conversation with my ex. I had to spend about tweny minutes after that call reminding myself why I work so very hard to keep myself from calling him on out on this stuff. Oh right - I refuse to spar with him because if I say anything it makes it WORSE for my kids - no matter how right I am and how very wrong he is. If I say anything, he makes life worse for my kids. If they were in immediate, concrete danger from my ex? I'd have them away from him in a heart beat and the law would be on my side. But the fact that I think they're being emotionally poisoned by him in a long-term kind of way? Turns out, he has a legal right to do that. The only strategy I have is to try to make them immune to his toxicity by empowering and strengthening my kids the best way I know how. And "the best way I know how" includes never, ever, ever saying anything negative to my kids about their father. It also includes not making it worse for them by getting suckered into unhealthy and pointless fights with him. That's the heart of it. It sucks. I hate it. I long to call him all the names in the book. The Mama Lion part of me wants to fight back! I get so tired - achingly tired from holding back. It takes more effort than I imagined to side step his confrontational ickiness. But I would do anything for my kids. Anything. Even co-parenting with integrity and civility in the face of dishonesty and bullying. Soooooo. That's where I was on Monday.
This morning he called at 6:30. He's in the hospital. In Michigan. He's not sure they'll release him in time for him to get back here to get the boys for the weekend. What's wrong? Diabetes and pancreatitis. "I didn't know you were diabetic," I said. "Neither did I," he said. "But my blood sugar is 300." (I don't know anything about blood sugar numbers but I'm assuming from the way he said it that that's pretty bad.)
I wish I could say that deep down, I'm a genuinely and wholly, nice person - but as it happens, I think I must not be. I had mixed feelings about all this. I am sorry he is sick and in pain. I don't think anyone "deserves" that - even criminals and other people quantitatively ickier than my ex. But there were certainly other thoughts in my head and my heart besides worry/concern for him. For instance, I thought, "Well, that means the boys will get to help pick out and decorate the Christmas tree this weekend. Yay!" An even less nice thought was, "What are the odds he will listen to the doctors this time?" (You see - six years ago - in the middle of the divorce - I had a chance to go to San Diego for a mini vacation and he was to stay with the boys. I was gone about 10 hours before my mother called me and said I had to come right back because he was in the hospital with pancreatitis. The only bright spot in a very, very dark time and he managed to squash it, too. On top of that - pancreatitis is a terrible thing, painful and horrible - but there are many things a patient can do to prevent another bout - like diet changes, exercise, etc. Did he change a single thing when he got out of the hospital? Not one.)
I am going to admit another thought that went through my head - and this one is even worse than my less-than-nice thought! I thought, "What is the likelihood that he's up to date on his life insurance?" (<--He is required by law to maintain life insurance for the security of his children but it has been a bone of contention - big time - because he has not maintained it. Apparently if he's not here to get "credit" for being a "father 24/7, 365 days a year" then he doesn't care if his kids are taken care of.) See? I have a heart of darkness. There is a vile streak in me. The man calls me in pain and while I do have a sincere yet slight upswelling of compassion, I mostly have "silver lining" thoughts of spending extra time with my kids and grouchy thoughts about how he could possibly leave his kids in a big lurch permanently!
Arrrgh. I don't want him to be sick. I just want him to move to Mars! Is that too much to ask?