All Quiet on the Northern Front

On Father’s Day, we were up north, but I made sure The Boy called his dad. He spoke with him briefly, spoke to both of his uncles briefly, and spoke to his grandpa briefly. The call lasted 7 minutes.

I tried to think back to the last time they had spoken, and couldn’t think of a time since he had dropped The Boy off with us in January, at the end of his winter break. I checked my phone bill and I was wrong.  He did call once in March, and they spoke for 9 minutes.

For those of you keeping score, that’s 16 minutes in 6 months.

There hasn’t been any attempt to get any time with The Boy for the summer break, and there has been no discussion of when the next visitation might occur. Maybe it’s because I told him unequivocally in January that The Boy flying alone on a plane wasn’t going to happen any time soon. “It’s not a good idea,” were my exact words.

Is this the beginning of the end? One initiated contact in the past 6 months?

I don’t have any words. Just sadness.

when the school calls...

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Demands, Airplanes, and Christmas

Text from the ex (summarized by me): Hey, you haven’t told me if I can get The Boy for a week after Christmas, and oh by the way, I can’t do Thanksgiving. And I want him to fly up because I can’t get off my sorry ass and drive.

I can’t tell you the last time the ex has spoken to his son on the phone. He hasn’t seen him since last Christmas.  He’s made one piddly child support payment in the last 60 days, but he is going to text me and all in one breath tell me he’s cancelling his next visitation but wants to put him on an airplane after Christmas and could I hurry up about getting back to him because he has to buy plane tickets.

How about you hurry up and pay child support?  How about you hurry up and call your son?  How about you —

Deep breath.

Only four more years. Putting him on a plane will never happen because it would take money and planning skills, neither of which he obviously has.

smh

Update: Since this was written, I texted him to ask what he had found out about airline assistance programs. He promised to call Sunday to talk about it. Never called.

stress by bottled_void

Summer Break Doesn’t Mean Vacation at Dad’s

Friday, The Boy came home telling everyone he was going to miss school Monday because he was going to visit his dad.  There were shared looks all around, between us adults in The Boy’s life, because we wondered where this was coming from, and how best to let him know that this was not happening.

I took the lead and explained that no, he was going to his last half-day of school on Monday, and then Grammy was taking him to lunch.  If he wanted to call his dad to discuss a summer trip up to his place, he could do so, but as of right now we have no plans.

This took a few repetitions from all of us.  Then he decided that Grammy would take him to Myrtle Beach on Tuesday… Wha?? Again, we explained that a trip like that takes some planning and no little amount of money.

“How much?” he asked.

“At least $200,” The Man replied.

“I’ll have to find a way to make some money…” The Boy said.

He wants to be on the road again...

He wants to be on the road again…

We’re still not sure if it was conversations with other kids at school who were either going on vacation, or visiting their own dads in other places, or something else entirely that triggered this fantasy-plan.  It may just have been the strong association he has that summer break equals a trip to dad’s, even though it didn’t happen at all last year.

He’s reluctant to call him, at any rate.  And I doubt any plan would come to fruition, anyway.  The ex has been more and more absentee the past few years, and I don’t see that trend changing as The Boy gets older, and possibly harder to relate to. I suspect the ex is dealing with his own unemployment and demons right now, anyway, if the absence of child support means anything.

Monday came, and a meltdown ensued at school, which necessitated a pickup by Grammy, and a very rocky afternoon when the Boy realized he was done for the year and couldn’t go back. Eventually, an ice cream sandwich and a trip to McDonald’s for lunch helped him turn the corner.  Was it the bus being late to pick him up that morning? Was it the fact that many of his friends were not there that day? Or was it the fact that his plans were not turning out like he’d hoped, and he finally understood that he was not going to his dad’s? I’ll never know.

Usually these fantasies indicate something he really wants to do, but this one is just not in my power. Hopefully, we’ll be able to talk him through and out of this idea into what our real summer plans include. I hope it’s enough for him.

An Open Letter to the Ex

Our son is thirteen now. I wonder if you are shocked by how much he has grown every time you see him. The last time it had been over a year. This time, eight months. I know he’s grown because I have to buy him new pants for every band concert. The size 18’s from last spring were way too short last week so we bought some 29/30’s. I wonder if headlines with autism catch your eye, or if you’ve ever read anything about it. I wonder if you remember anything from the year and a half between the diagnosis and when you left. I wonder how you spend time with him when he’s with you – do you try to connect or do you just coexist? Feeling a little schadenfreude as I hope you experience some of the pubescent rage we have witnessed this fall. But not too much because I wonder if you could handle it, and know I’d rather not find out. In a few years we will have been divorced longer than we were married and the boy will have lived longer without you than with you. That should scare the bejesus out of you, but it doesn’t seem to even register on your radar. Shocking to realize his speech teacher at his school last year who saw him once a week spent more time with him than you have in the last year, and knows him infinitely more than you do.

I wonder a lot, but it isn’t my place to know. That’s between you and him. The question I will never get an answer to is how. How do you live without him?

So I shake my head, sigh, give him to you for Christmas and cross my fingers. This never gets easier.

On-Again, Off-Again Dad

The ex has called a couple of times over the past month or so, after a couple of months of not calling. He said, “I get him for Christmas this year, right?” Ummm, ok. So after making use of your liberal visitation schedule for two weeks out of the last 104, you want to stake your claim? Sure. Yes, you actually are supposed to have him starting on Christmas Eve, as it is an odd year. “I’ll try to get some time off, then,” he said. Sure, I thought.  Like last Christmas.

He called once more, spoke to The Boy only for a little while, and that was the last we heard anything about Christmas.  The Boy’s birthday was Wednesday, and his mom had sent gifts, one from her, and one from his dad. Her card said they were looking forward to seeing him at Christmas.  But the ex didn’t even call his son on his birthday.

What?

My mom told me that recently, she and The Boy were at Walmart and he said he really hoped he’d get to see his dad at Christmas, because he hadn’t seen him since April.  Yes, it hurts him more than he’ll admit to me, and yes, he does keep track.

As The Man says, kids are only young once. He’s going to miss it completely.

Angry for The Boy and pity for the ex. And partly angry for me too, really, because I have my own life and family that will be affected by his inadequacy. But mostly angry for The Boy.

First Visitation in a Year

Saturday, we hope to take The Boy to meet his dad so that he can spend the week with him.  He hasn’t seen his dad since last March, last spring break.

countdownThe Boy is excited, especially knowing that his dad has a new puppy to meet and a new car over which to obsess.  I am happy that he is excited, and happy that his dad seems to be making an effort this time around.  But, as always, it is with guarded optimism.  The Boy has been hurt too many times for me to blindly accept that all is sunshine and lollipops.  I won’t trust that this all will happen as planned until we actually see his dad on Saturday.  And not for one second do I believe that there won’t be an impact after Spring Break.

Even when trips like this have gone well in the past, there has always been an adjustment back tour normal routine, household rules, and expectations.  And I am preparing everyone here that hasn’t experienced this first-hand before.  The Man says he understands and is ready, as do his teachers – I have prepared everyone to the best of my ability for the inevitable transition that will occur when he returns.

And if it doesn’t go well, or doesn’t go at all, it’s a whole ‘nother story, as you can imagine.

But right now, we are cautiously optimistic, glad to see The Boy’s excitement, and holding our breath for now.

Is it Time to Call a Spade a Spade?

I described the ex’s latest cancellation the other day, and The Boy’s reaction.  I am always the one who has to relay the news to The Boy, and I am the one left to field questions to which I have no answers.  I am the one to deal with the acting out that quite often happens after one of these cancellations.

The ex will never change, but does that mean I shouldn’t try to show him what he’s missing, and what he is doing to our son?

English: : A mirror, reflecting a vase. Españo...

Time to hold up a mirror so he can self-reflect?…

I’m thinking of sending him a text (he doesn’t even access his email, and I don’t want to get into it with him on the phone) to point out that he hasn’t seen his son in eight months, and to ask him to imagine not having his own dad around for that long a time period.  Explain that I understand money is tight, and that he has a hard time taking work off, but that if he saved a bit out of every paycheck, and told his boss months in advance (instead of days), he might be able to swing it.  Ask him to stop “trying” to make plans and only tell The Boy he will see him when he is sure he can.  Point out that his son is sad and angry at him, and that he deals with this by acting out, often at school.

He will undoubtedly get angry and not speak to The Boy for months after I send it, because that is his MO.  But I feel I have the right to ask someone who continually hurts my son to take a moment to realize he is doing it, and to please stop.

I know he won’t change, but there’s a chance he has simply not given a thought to the effect of his absence and broken promises on his son.  And if there’s a chance, it’s worth trying, right?

Get Used to Disappointment

One of my favorite lines from one of my favorite movies (the Princess Bride, which I have seen probably a kajillion times).  Not one of my favorite things my son has to go through.

Broken Reflection

Broken Reflection, Valerie Reneé

Because the ex couldn’t manage to see his son for Thanksgiving, I offered (at Grammy’s urging) to give him the week between Christmas and New Years for visitation.  I suggested he or they come down to the beach for a few days, even rent a house real cheap to see The Boy.

I hadn’t heard anything more about it (although Grammy had overheard the phrase “meet you somewhere” in a phone call between The Boy and the ex), so I texted him last night to see what was up.

I expected him to hem and haw a bit more, but he said straight out he couldn’t get any time off, and couldn’t do it.  Sorry.

I expect this every time, and yet every time I cannot fathom why.  I don’t know anyone (besides the ex) who is or would be completely comfortable not seeing his or her own child for eight months or longer, nor speak to him for a month or more at a time.  I cannot understand his excuses, knowing how much I would do to ensure I would see my child.

But he is not me.

The Boy seemed a bit upset and irritated when I broke the news this evening.  “Why?” he asked.

“Because he can’t get time off from work,” I said.

Why can’t he get time off from work?”

I paused.  Good question, kiddo.  “You can ask him,” I suggested.  “Want me to text him and have him call you?”

“I’ll think about it,” he said.

He’s getting as tired of this game as I am.

This Close

Icon-type silhouette of an airplane. (Mainly t...I am THIS CLOSE to telling the ex to stop even trying to bother.  Over the past couple of months, he has cancelled his August visitation (which has happened three out of the past four years, probably even longer), and then immediately promised The Boy he would see him for Thanksgiving.  His “plan” was to have his mom fly down, fly back with The Boy, and then he himself would fly down again with him to drop him off, and fly back.  He claimed his mom offered to pay for her tickets, and he (the ex) would pay for his own and for The Boy’s.  Did you count how many tickets that was?

I knew before the words were even out of his mouth that it wouldn’t happen, but per usual, just nodded my head, and said, “Sure.”  And The Boy has continued talking about seeing his dad’s kitties in November (the only part of his trips he is verbally concerned with).  And every time, I remind him that it might not happen, and I-don’t-want-you-to-get-too-disappointed-if-it-doesn’t-happen…  “I know, Mom,” he says.

And he does.

The text came tonight, saying he couldn’t afford the airfare, but that his girlfriend has a cousin in our state who will be alone for Thanksgiving, so they might…

JUST STOP.

That plan won’t happen either, because you will ask me to drive four hours, one way, to the middle of nowhere the night before Thanksgiving to make this work for you, and when I won’t, it will be my fault again that you will have missed another opportunity to spend time with your son.

I’m over it.

He’s over it.

It’s so much energy on everyone’s part, and the only thing created is headache and disappointment.  I am THIS CLOSE to asking him to quit trying.