Oh, I still want you. Don’t know if I need you, dear readers, but I want you.

But what is there to say? K. continues to be who he is. He was, for example, 47 minutes late last Wednesday because (I surmise) he stayed at Jezebel’s and didn’t have the correct clothes for his parents to take him out to a Fancy Dinner at Superexpensive Trendy New Restaurant of His Choosing, so he had to drive all the way back to his buddy’s in the ‘burbs. This took precedence over a)his promised arrival time and b)my picking up my friend visiting the U.S. from overseas who had no phone for me to call.

Thing One continues to vacillate between wanting his daddy and wanting his daddy to go away. This morning: “When I was three — when I was not three and a half — Daddy was crazy. He hurt you and me. He didn’t hurt [Thing Two]. Why didn’t he hurt her, Mommy?”

Then he said he never wanted K. to come again because K. was mean all the time. Then when K. came, he was fine with it.

I am starting to move on, with thanks to the friends who’ve given me other things to do and think about. I thought, this morning, apropos of the counselor who egged K. on to leave and referred to me as “insupportable,” that either that counselor is god and I should thank him for his intercession into my unhappy domestic life or that counselor thinks he’s god and could use a beat down. Whichever. Which is another way of saying that I am glad to not be with K. now. For as much commitment as I had to my marriage and family, these months apart from K. have shown me that a)He was never a man I could admire — or even enjoy as much as I ought to have, and b)He has become even less worthy of respect as his commitment to his children and family has been diminished by his desire to indulge himself. He’s leaving town this Wednesday, for example, the night before Thing One’s fourth birthday, and he’s executing only half of his Wednesday parenting time, and will miss several days, and this is not something that causes him to suggest making up time or connecting with the children in any other way. That’s who he is. And I am lucky because, as First Cousin said some time ago, “one less asshole to be married to.”

My in-laws were in town last week. They did buy a condo, which I assume K. will move into. I am not going to enjoy watching their continuing cycle of enabling and currying favor unfold, but it’s their deal — too bad they’re not going to ask K. to pass the savings onto us by paying the full amount of child support he should.

I don’t know how or whether I will keep this blog anymore; it has been a good place to chronicle the happenings of my process of getting through this, but there are several people who are aware of it whom I may not wish to follow me through my future life and musings. I am thinking of a similar project, though, so if you’re interested, drop me a comment with your email on it and I’ll drop you a line if I get another thing going. Whatever it is will take a slightly different shape, probably less of a diary and more of a collection of essays.

And thank you, my friends known and unknown, for reading.

The stasis was before I got home and:

1)Thing One apparently got rowdy in the bath, so K. angrily said, “I’m leaving” and left the two children alone there. Thing One promptly slipped and fell. In the bath. I ran to help him. Thing Two slipped and fell while I was picking up Thing One.

2)Thing One continued to hit, and hit K. on the leg in the hall. K. yelled loudly to never do that and then shoved Thing One, by one arm, roughly toward his room.

Sigh. Thing One was crying and hitting in his chair, and I had just had a talk with him about how NOBODY is allowed to yell or be rough in our house. And he’d been doing so much better.

So. Things are settling into a sort of stasis. K. is not stellar, but he’s at least been on time and present on his two afternoons a week. I am trying to do what my old friend suggested and view him as a babysitter. He’s an adequate babysitter, and yet at times I’m struck by how the scene, players, and script seem to mimic so exactly the time when we were married. This is not as incongruous as it sounds, I realize, because we still have the same problems: we don’t communicate often enough or well enough; I don’t think his parenting is adequate, etc. The difference is that now, there’s no interaction between us at all, and no affection either. This is more my doing than his, probably; the deep interaction being gone, I have nothing to say to him. I’ve never been much for casual friends or small talk. I don’t tend to spend (waste) time chatting with people I don’t care for and deeply approve of. And so, while K. seems happy to spend ten minutes discussing the genius of Sacha Baron Cohen, as Brüno, writing an advice column in Esquire, I stare at him blankly and wonder why his mouth is moving.

My inability to connect with him is further exacerbated by his relationship with Jezebel. I don’t spend much time thinking about it, and it’s not a constant issue in my life, but when I’m confronted with it, such as today when I offered to get his sunglasses for him so he could take the kids to the park (no-shoes household, etc. — pure utility), and the phone is ringing in his jacket pocket and it’s her. And of course I look, for exactly the same reason as we look at a gory accident on the freeway, at the phone screen as I’m pulling the glasses from his other pocket, and it’s her, and I want to vomit. Because I can’t believe that he’s unaware of how he built a haven with her to run to when he dumped his family. Because I don’t want someone like that in my children’s life. Because he still isn’t forthcoming about her (and I don’t want details, but a one-sentence acknowledgment would at least give me the ability to feel a tiny twinge of respect), and that makes me despise him.

Because, basically, I have the moon in Scorpio. If you think I’m kidding, you’ve obviously never met anyone like me. Partial forgiveness is not my forte, nor is forbearance. I don’t idealize the people I love, but I do tend to want to totally dismiss the people I see as lacking in ethics or brains or heart. So when people utter well-meaning platitudes to the effect that I should just give it some time, I will feel better about K., I will forgive him, etc., I suffer through it and then change the subject. I know that it’s likelier that I’ll always struggle with wanting to remove myself and those I love as far as possible from a person I consider toxic. I can act with forbearance, but that’s not the same thing as feeling it.

So when, for example, the kids and I stop by the bookstore where K.’s uncle works to get a birthday present for a party they’re attending, and when we see K. outside smoking a butt with said uncle, I tell the kids, “Let’s go say hi,” and walk across the street. But everything in me wants to run away, and the uncle, if not K., knows it. And when I tell K. why we’re there and he whips out a twenty (not least because, I think, this particular kid’s parents are rock stars and he always thought they were cool) and says “Buy Janus something nice,” I decline, but I want to push his hand away. And the whole time, my thoughts are full of judgment, along the lines of if-you-have-time-to-hang-out-and-hit-the-shops-why-the-fuck-don’t-you-have-more-time-to-see-your-kids.

K. apparently told Joaquin, when he left, that I was always disappointed in him. He wasn’t totally right then. He’s right now.

Meanwhile, I’m tired. Tired of tabulating the ways K. disappoints me. Tired of thinking about whether to take him to court for the child support he’s not paying. Tired of hearing his grandmother and parents advocate for my not doing so, and tired of knowing that his mother, who’s a huge double agent, is going to argue his point of view (as she imagines it) every time I tell her something that’s going on. I should learn not to.

I have a feeling I’m just going to stay tired.

Hello, Internets.

I’m kind of tired. We’re back from the road trip through California that followed the plane trip to Hawaii.

If I were going to really do this justice, I would write four posts:

1)IN WHICH pictures of K. and Jezebel, her arm round his neck, on the beach appear in my Facebook newsroll, and I am forced to reflect that a)she, at least (who posted the pictures and tagged him), appears to have come out with the relationship he repeatedly denied and b)he has ripped off my debonair, romantic trick of drinking champagne on the beach with real flutes instead of plastic and c)it is ironic that he is on the beach in Oregon with his chippie while I am on the beach with HIS ENTIRE EXTENDED FAMILY in Hawaii;

2)IN WHICH one of the pictures posted by Jezebel contains K. holding a new car stereo box, and I wonder if this is where the extra child support money went; on his first visit, today, July 5, I see that he does, indeed, have a fancy new car stereo (but I am out, as of the first, a total of $618 in withheld child support);

3)IN WHICH, on the streets of San Rafael, where we are visiting my delightful and child-loving cousins, Thing One says to me: “My daddy doesn’t love me,” and I reply,

“Your daddy loves you and Verena.”

“My daddy DOESN’T love me!”

“I think he loves you more than he loves anyone.”

“He doesn’t love me. He’s not nice to me.”

“Well, maybe he doesn’t know how to show anyone love. But you are very important to him.”

“He doesn’t love me VERY MUCH.”

4)IN WHICH I decline to give K. back his housekey (he had had it since he moved out, and I had needed it for the housesitter while we were gone, and I’d decided that was probably a good juncture for him to not have a key to the house anymore) and he refused to take the kids to the park or anywhere, ever, because HE NEEDS A KEY FOR CONVENIENCE, and none of my offers (to put the key on and take it off his ring, which he insisted he needed, to hide a key outside for him) were sufficient because he insisted that he had to have HIS OWN key to my house; Thing One was pleading with him to go to the park and I was pleading with him to take the “guest” keyring for the day, but he insisted that if he couldn’t have his own key he would never take them anywhere. This was finally resolved by my offering to escort them to the park, at which point K. told me to go ahead and he would catch up; he showed up nearly 1/2 hour later, and I was so over his company that I then went home and promised to stay here to let them back in.

Yeah. Those are the blog posts I would write. I might add an addendum about how my friend Nadia is totally skulking around her own house, she volunteered to me, because she sees K. hugging Jezebel and leaving her place in the mornings all the time — apparently it’s about two doors down (and confidential to Nadia: why are you telling me this?) and doesn’t want to run into him. I hope Jezebel has enough respect for the children to at least not encourage K. in things like the key tantrum, but I kind of doubt it given what little I know of her.

I really, really wish K. weren’t being so dishonorable, disrespectful, and disheartening as a “co-parent” to me. I really, really wish that the one time he’d called me when we were away, last Tuesday in California, he had thought to ask after the kids or ask to speak to them. But he didn’t. He told me he was upgrading the phone plan, which we still share to save money, because he’d gotten a Blackberry, and that he needed to get the access code. Then we hung up the phone.

The funny thing is, despite the withheld child support and the not calling and the refusal to take the kids to the park because he’d rather have a power struggle with me about how he’s entitled to a key to my house, I think he really believes he’s a loving father. In his own mind. One who takes the best care of his kids he can. And maybe that’s even true.

But even if it is, it seems like it’s probably time for some Facebook unfriending. Sad that this is how we express our dislike, disavowal, or disapproval these days. But really: I don’t need to look at the evidence of the relationship K. has been developing with Jezebel since last September on Facebook. I don’t need to look at it at all. All I need is for K. to be a decent, honorable father. And I guess that’s all I’m not going to get.

Someone’s been drinking Mai Tais.

I’m up at five Hawaiian time on Day Three of the Webber family reunion. That’s right; the kids and I flew halfway across the Pacific, on a journey you probably already know gave me grave misgivings, to attend a reunion put on by my ex’s grandparents and which would include seventeen members of my ex’s extended family. In a house. Together. Plus the three of us.

There are advantages. Back when the reunion was being planned, K. and I were still together, and I was one of the original advocates for Hawaii, largely because a)I thought it would facilitate K.’s aunt, who is recently out of a correctional institution and still on…probation? Parole? (I think parole. Clearly, I never watched enough crime TV) attending, as she lives here, and b)I thought it would be a fun and easy vacation with the kids. When I went to Kauai last year, I was struck by how pleasantly low-fi the island seemed, how attractively run-down and second-world with just enough limping American infrastructure to make it unintimidating, and by the general attitude toward children, which seemed indulgently tolerant rather than the dominant North American attitude that children should be not seen and not heard or else they should be plastered, in ghoulish exploitation, on beauty pageant ads and movie billboards, their red cheeks made more appley by the lavish application of rouge and their cherub-like affect made more cherubic by the judicious application of Prozac and valium. Basically, I think most of us on the continent are encouraged to view children as things: things to be clucked and cooed over, things to manage, things to avoid at all costs, things to exploit into an industry, but always things. I’d bet money that if a stray Hawaiian dude says hi to your kids, there’s something like a 50% lower chance that he wants to put them in a porn film.

Anyway, so we’re in Hawaii. The trip over, with my sister-in-law, was awkward — she didn’t ever respond to my letter telling about the child support imbroglio and, though I certainly appreciate the feels of conflict she must be having, I guess I was also wondering if she’d finally step up and communicate about what’s happening rather than just avoiding it (I hate avoidance. It gets under my skin like scabies. This is why I’m bad at politics, family reunions, and department meetings; I have to either check out entirely or appall half the room). I appreciate her being willing to coordinate itineraries and “help out,” although I don’t need help now as much as I used to, and it’s a rare person who can really offer active help when they enter our circle.  But it made going to the bathroom easier.

And now it’s Sunday and the bottle of Mr. and Mrs. T’s Mai Tai Mix (shouldn’t it be illegal to make “tropical” cocktails from a plastic bottle of reconstituted juices and sugars that was probably imported from the mainland? It’s an amazing world we live in where you import your “island flavor” — and yes, I know Mai Tais are not native to the islands and that they were invented in Oakland by Victor Bergeron, aka Trader Vic. I used to be married to a booze worshiper, remember? And even before that, I had a fondness for tiki bars) from somewhere around 37′ N 122° 23′ W on a diesel-powered freighter. But I digress.

Before we left, I had been trying to get my own rental car. For one thing, I had some research I wanted to do, and for another, I had the distinct feeling that being trapped in a rental house on the North Shore with no way to leave except the stroller might cause me to become even more irritable, nigh desperate, than the prospect of being surrounded by so many people making so much noise and watching so much TV for so long with an escape hatch. But for some reason, the other members of the party were dead against it. “We’ve rented a seven-passenger vehicle,” they said. “We’ll drive you places,” they said. “We have a car you can borrow, one that belongs to the cousin who can’t be here,” they said. “Why do we have to rent a car seat? Bring your car seats!” they said. I tried to explain that checking car seats is dangerous and that being a single parent hauling two kids and bags through the airport is challenging enough without the added complication of hauling two car seats, but the flurry of emails continued. I was tired before I even left.

When we arrived in Hawaii, my parents-in-law picked us up in the promised seven-seater — which had no cargo room and required us to cram our luggage onto our laps and the stroller into the seventh seat. They got lost a few times on the way to the house — “I don’t know why,” said my mother-in-law, “We followed the directions exactly,” — and by the time we got here, I had been massively dyspeptic and on the verge of losing my airplane pretzels for a good half-hour. So the car situation seemed dire. Car-related communications all seemed to revolve around the Hawaiian resident family members using the promised loaner a lot, and any use on my part involving specific negotiation. Then my grandmother-in-law, in a fit of bureaucratic micromanaging, tried to broker car borrowing for me (why are we trying so hard not to rent another car? Do we hate the car rental industry more than the Imported Mai Tai Industry? At least, to my knowledge, there are no auto plants on Oahu, but there are plenty of pineapples and blenders. Trading in the cramped 7-seater for two compacts would only be $100 more, and I’d gladly pay it personally to avoid having to put someone out every time I want to go somewhere), which resulted in awkwardness, and Resident Cousin kindly offered to negotiate directly, and things were more or less OK. But I still sense that I’m just going to have to suck it up and not go anywhere for the most part, because the Car of Absent Cousin is really used by Resident Cousin and her mother, and the only other car they have is a truck, and etc.

So after the Epic Battle of Social Awkwardness, Incomprehension, and Different Assumptions, with a dash of Controlingness and Attempting to Arrange Other People’s Lives for Them, Especially Through Charts Which Are Bound and Available for Filling Out On the Kitchen Table, I was in possession of a Rav-4 with a sticky shifter…

…which was essential, as my cousin from Kauai had flown over and gotten a hotel room so that we could spend the day together.

After I stopped fearing I was going to kill my children by not being able to find second gear, the day was great. We picked up my cousin at her hotel in Waikiki, an area which, despite my lingering fascination with it from a childhood of watching Magnum, P.I., we did not explore; instead we took a road around the coast to the east, stopped at a beach park with the most stunningly turquoise water I’ve ever seen, made cakes in the sand, had shave ice at a local plate lunch place where the Spam was flying fast and furious and there were bible verses painted on the walls, and took the Pali, a highway of beautiful Western vistas that climbs precipitously into the Koolau range, back to Honolulu.

Once back in the city, we had a brief driving tour, during which I saw many old and beautiful buildings the likes of which don’t exist on Kauai, and then we admired the view (parking lot/ocean) from the three-inch-wide “lanai” in my cousin’s hotel room. We capped off the evening in a Japanese restaurant in town, which had amazing homemade tofu and some pretty good gyoza that the kids actually ate. It was a great time.

As we pulled onto the H1 from Punchbowl, the light was behind the Waianae mountains to the west. The sky was a slatey blue ringed with large, blue-grey clouds, and the silhouettes of palm trees stood out starkly against it. Thing One was admiring them, talking about the palm trees and the ocean and how the ocean was behind the buildings, and then out of nowhere he said,

“Remember when Daddy wouldn’t let me eat my potatoes?”

I did remember. It was fairly recently. K. was apparently fed up about Thing One not finishing his meal and had laid down the law that there would be no more food unless he ate his lentils. Though normally the stricter parent, I am not a believer in forcing people to eat; I had come in unknowing and told Thing One that he should have a few more bites of his lentils, which he did, and then he could have some sweet potatoes. Essentially, I unwittingly countermanded K., which I apologized for later and asked if he would like me to do things differently in the future (he demurred). Anyway, like so many things, it was about a three-way split between parenting style clash, miscommunication, and poor mood/anger management. But what Thing One remembers — judging by how he talks about it — is how angry K. was.

I assented; yes, I remember.

“I don’t want him to come ever again,” he said. And then he went into a short monologue about how K. wasn’t proper and he wasn’t nice but he was a little nice but he wasn’t very nice and he didn’t know how to be nice and he, Thing One, didn’t want him to come (the bottom lip came out) EVER AGAIN. NO! NOT OK!

The he was quiet. And the light faded behind the palm trees as we drove north.

The kids were asleep when we got back. I carried them to bed. K’s mother, sister, aunt, and cousin were playing cards. They did not invite me to join them. I did not insert myself. I stood at the kitchen counter, ate some lychee standing up, and briefly contemplated having a Mai Tai.

Then I went to bed.

Yeah. Right. So:

“You’ve eviscerated all goodwill. You changed my son’s name. Fuck you.”

And therefore, he is paying $300 less in child support tomorrow. Because apparently, the child support is “my only way to express my protest.” And apparently, it has nothing to do with the children. Apparently, it’s all about me.

I tried talking to him about the importance of our having a good working relationship. I tried asking him if I had treated him with the disrespect he was showing me. He couldn’t think of anything except the name change, which he contends was ALL ABOUT HIM and disrespectful, exactly the same as his telling me “fuck you.” He also contends that I have no reason to be upset with him.

Oh, to be so solipsistic. Meanwhile, he’s right: I won’t retaliate because it would further negatively affect our “working” relationship and the children. But does he realize that he already has negatively affected the children?

We’re getting used to it.

You probably figured that out already, but the rhythm of life in its new configuration, up to and including K.’s parenting time and his occasional flakiness (in his defense, he has been no more than ten minutes late recently — the state says after fifteen we don’t have to wait for him). Perhaps even up to, and sometimes including, K.’s parenting, which by all accounts (even his adoring mother’s) leaves much to be desired.

Part of it is that there’s only so long you can rail against something. Part of it is that I’ve developed an acute consciousness of all the other things I have to pay attention to, as well as an awareness of the fact that really, I am very lucky, all things considered. I’m lucky because there has been relatively little caviling and even less serious dispute over terms, because K. acceded to my having the house, sole custody, and nearly 100% parenting time — and to his parenting time taking place only in my house and with no corporal punishment, visitors, or drugs present, per the decree –, because he waived the right to “sixty mile notice,” which means that I can move more than sixty miles distant and not give him advance warning or the ability to protest it, and because his having done so puts me in a good position to defend the rights and safety of the children. Such a good position, in fact, that as any chess player knows, it’s not worth engaging over the more minor points. Eyes on the prize. If he’s a little marginal as a parent, if he’s occasionally passing out and late and verbally aggressive with the children, it might be worth letting it slide to preserve this status quo in which, basically, the power rests on my side. That sounds terrible; it feels terrible too. I want to engage on every point. I want to protest the times he’s quelling, harsh, angry, neglectful. But I know that none of his recent behaviors — at least not the ones I’ve witnessed — are probably going to cause a court to restrict him further, and part of that is because his interaction with the kids is so narrowly and strictly defined.  And I’ve learned, in my dealings with courts, that it is probably better for me to simply maintain what is rather than open a dispute that could involve my losing ground — and my children becoming more likely to be actually endangered.

Thayer always says, “you’ve got to pick your battles.” She knows; she’s been in a lot of them. And so, though many of my friends say “Don’t let him see the kids!” “Tell him not to come!” “Scary!”, and though I agree; it is scary, it’s not responsible, and it doesn’t inspire confidence in K. as a parent, I take the part of discretion and try to approach things subtly rather than head-on. When I talked to a lawyer, she agreed. “You’ve done an amazing job,” she remarked, “and it sounds like you’re in a good position to make sure your kids stay safe and happy.”

So when he says, as he did when we first argued about the name change (for which I offered as my central argument the fact that Thing One is living with me and should therefore have my legal last name), “Well, what about a few years from now, when they’re living with me?”, I don’t start enumerating all the reasons why I doubt that will ever happen, which range from the commonsense and general (they need continuity and security, and barring any disability on my part, there’s no reason they’d ever be living with you more than half-time) to the specific and protective (you are a volatile and relatively unskilled parent, and your sleeping, mood, and anger issues make it so that I don’t believe they should ever live with you unless you radically clean up your act). I just nod and smile, nod and smile, and think my thoughts.

But as a more general rule, I don’t actually think it’s good for most kids to split time equally between households. That to me seems kind of like that old biblical story where King Solomon settles the dispute over whose baby it is by threatening to cut the baby in two; parents fight over the baby and end up tearing it asunder, unless the one who can’t bear to see the carnage gives in — because unfortunately, in most custody disputes there’s no King Solomon saying, “Oh yeah, you? The one who’s willing to give up the baby that it may live? It’s yours.”

So I’m kind of surprised when K. alludes to them spending half the time at his house in the future, which he has once or twice. This is all, of course, very hypothetical; it’s meant to happen in a distant, shadowy future when K. has his own house, no roommates, and a more settled life. (I wonder if, in this hypothetical future, he also has  a day job and meds for his mood issues, as well as perhaps some parenting classes under his belt.) But it surprises me. Because K. does not, to my knowledge, believe that’s what’s best for children either. The 50-50 split. Because K. has not ever shown a desire to devote that time to his kids, not when he lived with them, not since he left six months ago. Because K. and I used to discuss how tragic it was to be divided that way, constantly shuttling from one home to the next, constantly packing your bag with the things you needed and learning to sleep whereever you lay down your head.

Don’t get me wrong; I think children should spend time with both parents. I think they should have relationships with both parents and access to both parents. And I think they should be able to rely on the involvement of both parents. But I also think — and I think this in part because I was a child of divorce who shuttled back and forth — that they need a primary home, a base, a place of their own. Of course there are exceptions; my friend Joaquin, for example, has a 50-50 split. But in his case, it’s less that exactly half is the best for his daughter and maybe more that it may be the best he can get; he’s told me that he’d love to have his daughter all the time, and from the sound of things that might be better for her, but his ex won’t give up any of her time and it may create more strife than it’s worth to try. But as a general rule, I think it’s better for kids to have a primary place to live. I’d love for K. to become someone who could have the kids at his place ten or twenty or maybe even thirty percent of the time. But I think that’s enough.

And to look at overnight percentages as a measure of parental involvement strikes me as reductive in the worst way. Because, as any of us who’ve conducted important relationships with people we’re not living with know, there are other ways to stay in touch. There are other ways to stay involved. You can come by. You can call. You can leave notes or text or email or get involved with school. You can do all manner of things.

K. has done none of these things. Thing One is certainly old enough to talk to his daddy on the phone, but K. never has called. Not once. Not even when Thing Two went to the ER with pneumonia on Friday, and I called K. to tell him, did K. call later that night or the next day to see how she was. He waited until he came over. And I know that he probably doesn’t think he should, necessarily call. But I think he should. I know I would. And I also know that you can say a lot of things about men and women and different communication styles blah blah blah, but the bottom line is this: the kids don’t know he thinks about them when he’s not here if he doesn’t call. So if he wanted them to know, wanted to touch base, wanted to feel connected, that’s what he would do.

What K. may be responding to, in his projection of this hypothetical 50-50 split future, is the concept of equally shared parenting, which I wrote about in the predivorce section of these pages and which advocates for both parents having equal involvement in work and kids. That was what I wanted from our home life. I talked about it. I read the book Halving it All. I advocated. Yes, I wanted K. to spend as much time with the kids as I did. Yes, I thought we should have equal weight and importance in that regard.

But that was then, in the context of the four of us as a family. In the context of the four of us as two families, I don’t believe that’s what’s best. There’s a wealth of literature that supports that idea — particularly at this young age, many children are better adjusted if they only sleep in one place, and one study shows that babies and toddlers who have two cribs in different home may develop attachment problems with both parents — as well as common sense. Is it important for kids to spend time with the nonresidential parent? Yes. Should the time be split exactly evenly? Nothing indicates that it should. Quite, in fact, the contrary.

So the subtext of all of this — the paltry time K. does now and the massive time he hypothesizes he might spend in the future — isn’t anything I’m on board with. And the unfortunate thing is that K. doesn’t even know it, that he doesn’t see that by choosing the life he’s chosen now, he’s made it very, very unlikely that he will ever have his children for even close to half the time, unless something catastrophic should happen to me. And that is unfortunate. Because there may come a time when he is a little stabler and a lot saner and when he wants that time, and he probably won’t get it. Not because I won’t “give” it to him, but because the children will have lives by then, they’ll have routines, and while they will probably want to shift and flex those routines to spend more time with their father, they won’t want to give them up entirely.

Postscript: This post grew out of the events of last Sunday, which were disturbing and somewhat tragic, at least affectively: returning from my customary work time, I got a call from my old friend Shane. Shane is a book dealer who’d come across a copy of Joint Custody with a Jerk and brought it by for me. He was calling to find out if I was home, because he had, in fact, seen my car outside, but when he’d rung the doorbell he’d heard a sobbing Thing One approach. Thing One had opened the door, sobbed, “I want my mommy!” and shut it again. Shane heard th esobbing retreat. Then he opened the door back up, thinking that K. must be right behind Thing One. There was nobody to be seen. “I had thought you were home because of your car,” he exlaimed to me on the phone, “and when Thing One opened the door and said ‘I want my mommy’ I wondered where the adult was.”

I still don’t know what, exactly, happened. K. says he was upstairs and had sent the sobbing Thing One downstairs because he misbehaved. But if Thing One is going to be opening the door to anyone who rings, maybe that’s not such a good idea.