Today’s post is going to deviate from my normal tone and will instead be a bit heavy. As in, “I want to drop an anvil on someone’s head” kind of heavy. Or maybe, “How do you justify calling yourself a parent when you’re so obviously not interested in your child’s best interest*?” kind of heavy.
How the hellz am I supposed to be funny today?
My daughter’s court appointed attorney, referred to in Latin-legal-booga-booga-language as a “guardian ad litem”, or even more adorably as a GAL, will be visiting my home tomorrow.
My shitty, falling-apart, yellow house. The one I didn’t want to buy because I knew the lawn would get overgrown and important things we can’t afford to replace would fall apart (and, oh boy, have they!). The one which, two days after we moved in, developed an unrepairable leak in the ceiling. The one whose floor tiles cracked and became unstuck after a mere two weeks. The one whose doors and windows and walls don’t quite fit together properly so everything leans like the frigging Tower of Pisa, resembling a fine artistic mix of a Dali clock painting or an Escher self-portrait. And did I mention it is fucking YELLOW? Don’t underestimate the importance of this, my fwends. Even our seven-year-old knows this is evil.
But let’s not worry about the house.
Putting aside my frustration with home ownership, let us concentrate on the more pressing issues at hand. For example, why is there a GAL assigned to my daughter? And why is a GAL visiting my (fucking YELLOW) house? What kind of douchery IS this?
Why a GAL?
My daughter has a GAL because that’s what happens when two supposed-adults are fighting for custody rights. Or, in our case, when one immature parent decides to engage in emotional warfare at the cost of his child, just to display a show of power. Or, also in our case, when one parent is being pushed by his fiance (referred to henceforth as The Knocked-Up Flavor of the Month, or KUFOM) to steal parenting rights out of pure vindictive malice and zero concern for the child.
The GAL is visiting our home because the EX is being pressured, after four years of almost complete UN-involvement, by his KUFOM, who wants to compete with me for Mother of the Year. Suddenly he swoops back in to play DAD, and wants to “adjust” our Shared Parenting Plan” in such a way as to grant him custody. The GAL has to visit the homes of both parties to ensure no one is making the kid sleep on glass or eat rocks, and that there are no crack heads involved. She has to meet-n-greet all household members to make sure they aren’t rapists or meanie-pantsez. She has to speak one-on-one with the child in question to get HER take on all this madness.
Depends which kid you ask. If you ask my eighteen-year-old son, who was raised by the EX for five years, he is pretty pissed over the whole deal. This guy he calls DAD hardly ever calls him, never attended a single wrestling match his entire senior year, didn’t do a damn thing for his eighteenth birthday, and is now trying to further engage in fuckery that is causing a lot of stress and strain at home. His sister is the point of concern, while (from his perspective) he’s pretty much been dropped like a hot potato. And add up court costs during his senior year — that’s money his parents can’t spend on him when he needs it the most. This kid’s opinion is that his EX DAD is giving him a pretty shitty ride. And on top of all that, he has to skip school, thereby screwing up his perfect attendance this quarter, to meet the GAL. He has a lot to tell her. If the EX was smart, he would build a time machine and use it to go back and build a relationship with the son he no longer has.
But what about the Little One?
While my son’s position in all this is tragic enough, the most heartbreaking thing is what’s happening to the baby. She doesn’t understand why we all can’t just live in the same house. She doesn’t get why she has to go back and forth. Lucky for us, we are the residential parents, which means the hubz and I get to decide her school district, make medical and emergency decisions, and basically be her point of contact. And it shows! Even though she spends three days a week with her “real” dad (which leaves the other four for us), when she draws a picture of home, or family, or her parents… it’s all us. She knows we are HOME. She knows we are her parents. This is made especially obvious in that, for the last year at least, she has taken to calling the hubz DAD, and refers to the EX as “my other dad”, or “my bald dad”. Until this weekend.
I don’t know. I wasn’t there. But GOD, to have a bug in their house, or to be a fly on the wall, so I could hear the conversations they must exchange to confuse and persuade my poor baby-kins. Most of the time when she comes back home to us after a stay with “them”, we spend the entire first day dealing with tantrums, putting her to bed early as she’s so exhausted it’s obvious they keep her up super-late, and reassuring her we love her no matter what. This has been the case since the EX brought his KUFOM on board, so we’re pretty used to it by now. But this weekend was WAY worse than usual, and I seriously hate him for whatever he or his KUFOM must have said to her.
A change is in the air.
Suddenly she isn’t calling the hubz “DAD”. Out of the blue, 100% of the time, she is back to calling him by his first name — which is fine, as we have never, EVER pressed her one way or the other — we want her to know she can call him anything she wants. Yet, she curls up in his lap even more than usual (which is saying a lot), and gives him extra hugs and snuggles, almost as though she’s trying to make up for it. Or as though she feels badly about something she can’t, won’t, or maybe “isn’t allowed” to say. Here’s the telltale sign of external pressure on her: When we lightly asked her about it, she flipped out, started bawling, and repeated in a panicked voice that she didn’t want to talk about it. Um, okay.
There are other signs, too.
She refers to the situation in the third person.
“It’s not fair to my other dad that he doesn’t get as many days as you.”
“My other dad should get more days with me.”
“You’re mean because you won’t let my other dad see me as much.”
More signs of tampering:
“My dad says I have a cold because there is mold in the yellow house.”
I ain’t no counselor, by any stretch of the imagination,
but I’m pretty sure that shit is extremely fucked up. Still, we bite our lips, since we’re the good guys in all this, and refrain from bad-mouthing the monkey-brained-butt-head in her hearing. Never doubt though, we are fucking SEETHING. Trust. We are fit to be tied. We are pissed as all hellz. Because they aren’t making a play for a better parenting situation. This is, pure and simple, a stupid contest.
See, I pissed off the KUFOM.
After having the KUFOM’s finger pointed in my face, on my own back porch, by someone who isn’t even legally involved in parenting my child, I indicated to the EX that he needs to “control his thing”. And okay, I guess that was a pretty cheap shot, calling her a “thing”. But did I mention the finger in my face? I hate that shit. Especially when I know I’m in the right.
I also made a couple “ridiculous” requests:
Please don’t smoke in the house or car. No-brainer, anyone?
Lest we come across as holier-than-though hypocrites, let me be up front in letting you know that yes, we smoke. But no where near our precious children, because we actually give a crap about their lungs. We’re those weird people you see running away from you in the parking lot so our second-hand smoke doesn’t float over in your direction. The hubz and I are the most conscientious smokers you will ever meet. After all, if you’re going to engage in stupid, unhealthy activity, the least you can do is keep it away from other people — particularly the ones you supposedly love most. RIGHT?
Please have the sweet-pea dress appropriately for gym class — no skirts or jeans. I hated running around in denim as a kid, on the days I forgot to wear the correct gym attire, and assumed everyone else felt the same way, so erroneously thought this a perfectly reasonable request. Apparently I was mistaken. But rather than discuss their displeasure, they went so far as to CONTACT THE SCHOOL to inquire after their dress code. I shit you not. They found no stipulations on wearing skirts or jeans, and have continued to dress her in such ridiculous manner, on and off, all year long.
And finally, I made the tremendous error of thinking we were all on the same side — the side of the kids. Because to us, they are what matters most in life. They are our joy. Everything we do is for them. I’m sadly disappointed to learn this isn’t true for the EX or his KUFOM. And even more dismayed to realize this is a personal vendetta for what happened between us so many years ago.
What went down?
I am a terribly, horrible person. After five years of marriage to a man who ignored my pleas for help with my depression, who told me to grow up get over it, I took his advice and left his ass. I got involved with my best friend, who helped me hook up with a counselor to help me unpack all my nasty emotional baggage. I got on prescription medication to help level out my crazy hormones so I would stop having anxiety attacks or fall into bed for days, suffering suicidal depression. I grew up and got over it, just not the way he wanted or expected. And he says this ruined his life. Apparently I have a LOT of power, because that’s a pretty bold statement, by my estimation. Since our divorce he’s been able to spend more time with his band, which has really taken off. He has an adorable baby boy with his KUFOM. He’s in a great position at his job. All these things are wonderful reasons to celebrate our separation, since none of it would have happened if we’d stayed together. But I guess none of this good stuff is as awesome as I was. I mean, I *AM* all that.
So that’s what happened, and this is where we’re at:
A great attorney and a really sympathetic GAL to represent us in a completely unnecessary court hearing.
A pain-in-the-ass EX and his equally crappy KUFOM who are very likely to lose shared parenting after all this is ended.
A shitty yellow house filled with a nonetheless very happy family.
*The principal flat-out told me that it is quite apparent the EX does NOT have our daughter’s best interest at heart. He used these specific words. And her teacher, along with the school counselor, agreed. See? I’m totally right.