When I am calm (and verbose, this is a long one). If you ever encounter me in a situation where I should be spitting nails, gouging people’s eyes out with a hot poker, and shouting obscenities with my head spinning around yet I am popping pistachios instead of Xanax and eating ice cream, well, you can then say, “Poke her, she’s done.”
Most people, I think, would prefer that I be the obscenity spewing, head spinning, nail spitting crazy bitch, because, you get a real feel of where I’m coming from. Pistachio popping and ice cream eating normally leaves people wondering what the hell is going on. Maybe that’s why I do it. Its the secretive dark side.
Then again, it could be because I prefer life on THIS side of the iron bars.
Honestly, its because I’m so angry that I’ve had to shut down in order to prevent serious bloodshed, nail spitting, eye gouging… etc. etc. It makes me exceptionally clear-headed and focused.
It all started with Nate lying to his dad about his homework. Now, if Nate didn’t lie (by omission – “I can’t remember if I have homework” or “I’m not sure what homework I have”) then I would take his temperature because my son is sick if he isn’t trying to dodge homework. This is Nate, this is Nate on school, 36 weeks out of the year.
Nate didn’t actually lie to his dad, he told his dad the truth, then lied to his uncle and his uncle’s girlfriend who he was staying with while Jeff was at school and I was at work. Naturally, and understandably, this made Jeff very angry when he returned from school.
I called up and Jeff told me what was going on, then said it was probably a good thing I was coming to pick him up, then called back and asked that I not because Nate should finish his homework there first. That sounded reasonable and actually a bit mature. However, I was also concerned given Jeff’s short, short fuse with dealing with Nate on homework.
I then received a “distress” TM from Nate. It said, “Help.” This could mean many things. I believe that a parent should have authority over their children without interference from the other parent, especially given our situation where we live in two different households. I wasn’t going to rush down and “save” Nate simply because his dad was being a hardass about him doing his homework.
Nate shouldn’t have lied. He should have done his homework. Tough love is just that – tough love.
Following the third distress TM, I thought better of any nobility and called Jeff. He seemed to be holding it together fairly well. I could tell he was getting more agitated and he bitched me out because he said this was so aggravating and he didn’t need the aggravation of dealing with Nate and his homework. Surprise! That’s part of being a parent to Nate. To any child, aggravation and all. He then backpedaled and said that he was as much to blame because he doesn’t regularly and consistently check Nate’s bookbag, binder, or assignment book.
I thought this was a step in the right direction. Instead of just blaming me, he was shouldering some of the responsibility for the aggravations of child-rearing. Things sounded rather chill, so I hung up and cleaned out the junk in my car.
Jeff called back and all hell broke loose. He was on a rampage. I started the car and began the short, but ever so long drive to pick up Nate. I can’t verbatim tell you the entire conversation. The most important part for me was, “Since I can’t euthanize Nate, I’m going to kill these damn dogs, because he loves these damn dogs and I don’t need the aggravation!” He repeated over and over that he was going to kill his dogs (two Rat Terriers and an old mutt) and then was going to take pictures of their decomposing bodies laying over a hillside as birds picked their eyes out.
People, I can’t make this shit up.
At some point I called him a sick, insane fucker and told him he had finally dropped off the deep end and what the fuck was he thinking? I was so overwhelmed that I couldn’t even form coherent sentences at one point. My thoughts were with my son and my heart was heavy, especially knowing what he and I had experienced with the loss of our pets two years ago. It made the situation even more heinous and evil, if that’s even possible.
Oddly, I had no fear, no knotting sensation in the pit of my stomach, I wasn’t trembling, crying, or even yelling. I walked into the lair of the viper without nary a worry in my heart about what would happen or what I would say. I didn’t say anything, I just looked at him while he spewed hateful degrading words at me and all I could think was, “Wow, so that’s what you really think of yourself.” I just looked at him and shook my head, gathered my child, what things I could, and we left.
Nate gave me a rundown of what had happened and the homework he had finished, which really wasn’t supposed to be finished until the following day, and then the letter he wrote his dad begging him not to kill the dogs. I was very calm, logical, and methodical as I pointed out to Nate that whatever happened with the dogs was not his fault, that his dad was using his feelings to manipulate, control, and harm him and that what he was saying and doing was completely unacceptable.
This really doesn’t help when your child is sobbing uncontrollably.
Nate’s sister was waiting for us when we got home and of course he told her everything that happened. Her mom looked at me and said, “You know, you can’t let him go back.” I said, “I know.” She asked me, “Why are you so calm?!?”
I said, “Because I’ve made up my mind.”
I had long talk with Nate about everything, including his lying to his uncle and the appropriate consequences, and about his dad and what his dad said etc.
Nate told me, “I bet he shows up at school tomorrow.”
I told Nate that if he did and tried to take Nate off of school property he was not to go anywhere with him and he was to call me.
The following day I went to pick Nate up from school and he came out and said, “I told you he would show up.”
What had happened was that Jeff has sent me a TM a little after 1:00 in the afternoon. I recognized it as a forwarded message and I knew it was from Nate’s sister. I can tell almost verbatim what it said: I never want to see your face again. You are an asshole. I can’t believe what you do to your children.
I knew that she had gone home from school early that day because she was upset over this situation. I also knew that Nate’s phone was at my house. Jeff had gone to the school on the pretext that Nate and his sister were TMing each other during school hours.
Whether he was trying to cover his ass or felt true remorse he told Nate’s Vice-Principal and school counselor what he had said to Nate the previous night. I asked Nate what happened after that and he said, “They agreed with him.” WTF?!?
I talked to my friend Juan later than night and he said, “It doesn’t matter if they agree with him or not, it only matters if they will write it down and testify to it in court.”
I let T-Bird do all the yelling, nail spitting, and obscenity spewing and so forth over the very idea that anyone would agree with this man. I still remained calm.
I went with Nate to school the following morning and when I walked into the office I saw his counselor. She looked up and said, “Oh, let me get another cup of coffee.” I’m sure she was waiting for me. Its not like we don’t know each other. I’ve been to the school several times about Nate. Luckily, we have a good relationship.
I got the ball rolling by telling her that Nate had told me that Jeff had been there and that he had told them what he had said to Nate and that they agreed with it. Her eyes flew open and she said, “NOT AT ALL!” (Note: When Nate is under severe distress he remembers about every fifth word in the wrong order. He said he was so sick to his stomach he thought he might throw up. I can’t even begin to imagine the stress he was under at the time, which is exactly why I went in to find out the whole story.)
She then went on to describe what all had happened, including having a counseling session with Nate and his dad regarding appropriate discipline and obviously after Nate left, she had talked further with Jeff and he had cried and said he was going to call his counselor and he didn’t understand why he got so angry and why he can’t control his temper.
I filled her in on Jeff. The alcoholism, the PTSD, the police department, on and on. I told her that I recognized the cycle we were in, that I had taken steps to break that cycle (re: hanging up when he was drunk, not letting Nate around him until he was sober, etc.), but, it wasn’t enough. I told her that regardless of his problems that he was not my concern. My concern had been torn between trying to encourage Jeff to deal with his problems, facilitating a relationship between him and Nate, and working with Nate on everything.
No more. My only concern is Nate. Nate is 12, his father is 44. Nate is my son and I’m here to protect and nuture him, not subject him to any more insanity under the guise of fairness and relationship building. Jeff is dead weight. He is severely mentally ill and has ruined every relationship in his life.
I’m not saying that Nate will never see Jeff again. I’m certain that he will, but it will be under completely different circumstances. Jeff may or may not be getting help. He may have scared himself or he may just be looking for pity. I’ve given up caring what he says or what he promises. Honestly, he’ll have to let me talk to his counselor, who I’ve known since grade school, before I’ll let him have Nate overnight or even be alone with him.
It will be a long time. It may never be until Nate is old enough and emotionally strong enough to walk away on his own two feet if his dad starts being emotionally and verbally abusive.
I don’t think he’ll fight me on it, then again, I didn’t think he would walk into Nate’s school and admit what a crazy fuck he is either. However, by doing so, regardless of the reason, he gave me what I needed. Independent adult verification of what he did, from his own mouth.
Before, all I had was my word and the word of my 12 year old and his sister. I’ll also be getting some electronics to be able to record conversations for future reference. Just in case.
And so you know, I have not spoken to Jeff since I hung the phone up last Tuesday. I don’t plan on speaking to him until this coming Tuesday and that will be to retrieve what belongings Nate has at his house. If he declines, he declines. It doesn’t matter to me. I would prefer not talking to him at all. I don’t want to talk to him, I want nothing to do with him. I may not. I may leave the clothes, buy Nate a new Nintendo DS and a new Pokemon Platinum and call it a wash.
Yeah, I may just do that. I know its too much to hope that he will just be too ashamed to call. I know its too much to hope that he saw the finality in the look on my face. Oh, I know too well, it wasn’t. It never will be. But none of that matters anymore.
What matters is helping my son have healthy relationships, building friendships, building his self-esteem, and overcoming the pain in constructive and positive ways. That’s all I can do.