July 2009

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.