I will not be getting any of these when we finish up school supplies shopping tonight. Maybe I'm wired differently than other parents, but if I truly felt like my kid would need one then I wouldn't be able to let them go to school - ever. Am I an ostrich? I know how random and unpredictable violence has gotten. Of course I think about Columbine and Virginia Tech. I just can't help but think that the solutions that lead to safety and peace for our children are not down the path of better defensive armament.
This week is filled with new student orientations, placement tests, and meet the teacher nights. I keep typing and erasing what I want to say about this. We had a short family meeting with the kids to get organized about the week and to say that we'd found out Mr. Tapioca was no longer moving here and that he was suing for custody. We told the kids that when they felt like sharing we wanted to hear how they felt. We had to make some decisions and certainly wanted to take their thoughts/feelings into consideration. I'm sure I'll hear more as I have more one on one time with my guys this week but it's hard. Mostly it's hard to see my kids now torn about investing themselves here. Chaos got home from the time with dad and didn't want to look at his schedule to see what classes he got. Havoc (the 8 year old) told me last night while we were waiting for the muffins to bake, that since I'd gotten to have him for the weeks and Dad had only gotten the weekends for the past six years, then he thought maybe he wanted to live with dad for a while. Very interesting to me that Havoc quoted the six year part. He doesn't track time like that. He's never once shown an awareness of how long his dad and I have been divorced. It was hard to hear him parrot his dad's type of reasoning. I let him keep talking and he began to sound more like himself - trying to find a solution, trying to put things together one way and then another. He told me it was hard - he didn't want to have to choose because really, he wanted to choose both. He said part of him wished dad and I hadn't gotten divorced so we could all live together still. Then he said that wouldn't work because he'd miss Linus. He said he'd still have gotten to see Bet (as she's known them all their lives.) He finished by saying he didn't know what to decide.
I told him that I needed him to understand some very important things - the first one being he never had to "choose" one parent over the other. He could say where he wanted to live, he could say how he felt - but he didn't ever have to make a choice of one over the other. He gets to love his parents as much as he wants no matter what the living arrangements are - and that none of this custody stuff changed how much we loved him. I explained that I needed to know how he felt because that informed my decisions, but that he didn't have to make any decisions, the decisions were for the grown ups to make. He said, "Yeah the judge." I told him I still hoped his dad and I could work this out without a judge but if we couldn't then yes, a judge would have to decide for us. My peacemaker middle child, Mayhem said whatever happened would be ok with him.
Interestingly, Mayhem just came in to snuggle and talk to me. God, I love my kids. They are so ... good. I keep reminding myself how lucky we are. This custody stuff sucks. I feel threatened. I do not want my kids taken away from me. I believe with all my heart that they are better off with us because we know how to be present, how to build family, how to help them with school and how to teach them life skills. Mr. Tapioca hasn't yet been able to maintain any of that even in the time with the boys he has now. He talks a good game - but work always trumps family for him. I can't imagine how he thinks he'd be able to do all that needs to be done in daily life with the boys. But for all that - even if the "worst" case happens and I lose in court - it has to be remembered that my kids are not in a war zone; they are not doing drugs or in trouble with the law; they are not being abused and molested. And in addition to all the bad things that aren't happening to them, they are, at heart, naturally sweet guys! They will be good men. Even if this patch for our family is rocky, they will be good men.
That helps. Some. I think the more I remember it, the more it will help. I had NO IDEA that parenting would require learning to give myself pep talks. Feel free to give me advice on how to do it better! I'm not at all sure I've got the hang of it.