More about the Pants:
The Pants (featured in the previous post) continue to entertain me. I had to convince Chaos that it was time (and perhaps even past time) to wash them. Have you ever washed pants with chains permanently attached to them? It's loud. Have you ever seen a 14 year old boy trying to be cool about the fact that his most favorite possession ever is clanking around in the washer? It's funny. Chaos gave me a list of all of his friends who have pants like his - Nate has ones that have orange stitching, Galen has ones with chains that look like big safety pins, someone else is still waiting for his to come in the mail, and one of the other band guys has some with skulls on them. I said, "Oh, so it's like your band's uniform?" And Chaos (with a totally straight face) said, "Mom, it's not at all like a uniform. We wear them to be different." Ah. Middle school logic: five guys wearing the exact same kind of pants in order to be different. I gather the point is to be identifiable as a group that is different from the other groups.
Chaos ranted for a bit about how disgustingly preppy everyone else at school was. He told me they didn't "get" metal. Have I written about how Chaos has gone from listening exclusively to Eminem to listening mostly to Quiet Riot, Twisted Sister, Guns N' Roses, etc.? Not just metal - but ancient metal? It cracks me up. I love how much we get to talk about it all. He was under the (very mistaken) impression that this was the kind of music I listened to in school. I had to explain to him that while he was dressing like my crowd* did (chains, piercings, pre-goth black stuff, leather etc) - really our focus was more towards the punk end (Dead Kennedys, Sex Pistols, Dag Nasty) or stuff like Depeche Mode and Violent Femmes. I did once go to a Def Leppard concert (free ticket) and I was friends with a guy who was an Iron Maiden freak - but that was about as much cross over as was possible. Chaos and I talked about how music defines cliques as much as clothes and as a tangent, how music affiliation can dictate fashion choices. When I was in school it was the redneck badboys (and their skanky girlfriends) who listened to metal. The preppy kids listened mostly to Christian "rock". (Gag! I despised it but what do you do when Amy Grant comes to your school's assembly? I will never forget the weekend that the girls were in a huge dither about whether to go to the Michael W. Smith concert or the boys' homecoming dance. I was STUNNED. It took me a whole nanosecond to decide I was skipping them both to go to the B-52's concert. I had such a great time. To this day I love the B-52's. They're not punk or dark - but they are wacky and talented and skewed and FUN!) Even though I grew up in the home of country music - NO ONE (our age) ever admitted to listening to country music back then. It was a sure sign of leprosy. It's interesting to me how some of the cliques have shifted musical allegiances but how the dynamics still feel the same. I told Chaos that I thought it got better in high school because it seemed that the groups were more fluid and dynamic and folks were a bit more live and let live - but I could be wrong.
Chaos told me his father hates the Pants. Thinks they're hideous. That surprises me because Mr. Tapioca Head had major issues with how repressed by his parents he felt as a teenager - but I guess it's good that Chaos has ways to rebel against us both (i.e. the long hair for me and the Pants for his dad.)
Speaking of Mr. Tapioca Head -
I haven't written about court last week because I've been in a flat tailspin since then. In terms of personal process - it actually was good. I managed to control my adrenaline better than I've EVER been able to so I wasn't shaking and trying to talk through chattering teeth. However, that's about all that went well for me. I was prepared to "lose" the child support portion of the hearing. My focus was on the parenting plan part of things - in some ways because that was the only way to offset the child support stuff but mostly because I haven't been able to work through some parenting issues with my ex. (In our original agreement - we compromised and traded out some standard ways of doing things - and since he was undoing our compromises then that was the part where I got to present my "case" and get some of those concessions back.) The problem was that my lawyer completely screwed up. She neglected to file an amendment (or something) to our Answer/Counter petition. After three years of this craziness, I finally get the chance to have my "say" in front of the court - only because my lawyer didn't follow due process - the judge wouldn't hear it. My part of the hearing got thrown out unheard. Completely. Case closed. If I choose to reopen - refile - this time as a petition and not a counter petition, then I could maybe get heard. But otherwise that's it. Years of angst/stress (not to mention thousands of dollars spent) and the result is less than nothing. (In fact it's $700/month less than nothing.) In the interest of fairness - I do have to say that my ex did a totally decent thing in court. The hearing on the parenting plans had been thrown out and the judgment on the child support had been made - and it had been made retroactive to September. Nice. Not only was he getting a huge reduction in child support but he was getting essentially a three thousand dollar credit and wouldn't have to pay ANY child support until the credit was "used up." My ex asked the court if that could be changed so that the new child support order would be ordered as of the day of the judgment and not the day of the original petition for reduction. Mr. Tapioca Head said he didn't think making it retroactive was fair and he wouldn't do that to me. (Um - nothing about any of it was fair to my mind especially that he got the reduction, kept the tax exemptions which should be mine, and didn't have to have the insurance situation analyzed - but hey - it was a magnanimous gesture nonetheless and I appreciated it. He certainly could have just kept his mouth shut and screwed me and the kids just that much more.)
The next day he called me and wanted to talk. Egad. Would it surprise you that he was the very last person I wanted to talk to? But I met with him - and would you believe that we managed to do what I wanted us to do in mediation six months ago??!! We hashed through the parenting plans we had both submitted and made new compromises. Really, I wanted to bash his head in because I don't know why we couldn't have done this in JUNE but what the hell. I guess "winning" made him willing to listen. I don't know.
Sweet Hubby said (by way of consolation) that all my ex "won" in court was money. Custody hadn't changed. Money wasn't a big deal. It's the other parts - the parenting parts - that really affected the kids. He said he'd figure out a way to earn more to make up for the shortfall. He said that when he married me he absolutely pledged to take care of all four of us. That was lovely to hear and he's a fabulous man - but I couldn't help thinking about the whole thing from the single mom's perspective. What if I hadn't been remarried? What if I hadn't had the safety net provided by my new husband or my family or even by my ex's gesture? How would I have managed to feed and clothe and shelter the boys after that judgment? It's hard not to feel like the court process (my asshole lawyer included) let my kids down in a big way. Scary. I think that's where the backlash that threw me into a tailspin came in. I was fine in the moment and for some of the next day - but then I had used up all my coping energy. Really I started spiraling down and ended up totally flat by Wednesday. I didn't want to get out of bed or talk to anyone or care much about anything. I did the bare minimum in the parenting arena (which with our size family is still quite a bit of driving, figuring out of food, and basic cleaning/laundry.) Luckily for me, it just so happened that this past weekend I got to wallow. Sweet Hubby went to a sci-fi , VBGF had lots of plans with her friends and wouldn't be in town, and all the kids went with their other parents for the weekend. It was just me and the dog at home. I thought I would write on Friday or even yesterday - but it turns out that I had a LOT of wallowing to do. I read. I ate popcorn and drank wine and watched Sports Center. Wasabi turns out to be a great wallowing companion. I have a lot of newly read books to show for my tantrum/retreat from everyday life but I'm glad my withdrawal didn't last much longer. I feel a lot better.
Thanks for the emails and well wishes and good court mojo. As my mother says, "Good luck, bad luck, who knows?"
*Umm, "crowd" - yeah - I was a crowd of one at my school. I had great friends at my all girls, private, southern, college prep school - but none of them would have died their hair purple, worn leather and safety pins on the weekend, or gone to some of the clubs I went to with my friends from other schools. I had the advantage of doing theater around the city and knowing/hanging out with kids from all over. I was also lucky that I got to "try on" lots of different ways of being in the world without getting stuck in just one group with just one look and set of opinions. I had the best of all possible worlds and only truly appreciate it in retrospect. Is that the payoff of being 38 and not 14 anymore?