Friday, March 7, 2014

Stairway to Hell

My younger son, the not for much longer, small one, although his scrawniness will continue to make him seem smaller than he is, is either getting sick or getting hormonal. Everything has him near tears, even cute animal videos, in fact, he is able to produce an impressive single tear that slowly runs down his face. Baz-zing, arrow through the heart, that is one powerful saline droplet. He’s lamenting that he’s not great at anything the way his brother is at sports because tall one is bouncing a pilates ball against the wall, while tossing a baseball up in the air, despite the 18 years of me asking him not to throw balls in the house. He’s a ball thrower, he was born a ball thrower, he will die a ball thrower, I just want the ball throwing to be elsewhere, especially at 9p.m. To the small sad one, I tried to explain the whole practicing thing, and the sticking with it thing, and the not giving up, and quitting thing, for which he has a propensity after a single bad day or lesson. Suddenly, he’s decided he would like to play the trumpet, playing the trumpet would be "cool". Oh, why not a nice, affordable acting class? I don’t want to pay monthly to rent an instrument that ultimately, will gather dust... we rented a clarinet for so long, we own it, it’s rotting in a closet. The tall one had an affinity, but no desire. I wonder if that skinny, little body has enough air in it to blow a horn. I know he is musical, and that I should pursue this. I can easily picture him playing the trumpet and hell, he didn't pick the tuba, I'm grateful for that.

There is a special place in hell for the “big projects” assigned in school. The one’s that are supposed to be “creative” and done at home. J has to do a time-line of the events in the civil rights movement, 32(ish) entries, but it can’t be in a linear time line, it has to be done in an “unusual” format. Oy! I mention a flip book “someone’s already doing that”, a scrap book, “someone’s already doing that”, I mention this and that, and either someone is already doing it or it’s “stupid”. To no avail can I explain that two flip books would not be the same, they would each have their maker's originality. My son, I learn, has come up with the idea of a staircase. He has 32(ish) large pieces of poster board cut up and taped together with other lopsided, folded pieces, laying in a heap. Each entry will be large, containing pictures and 4(ish) sentences, I'm not listening all that well. I can’t think of any way to engineer this. How the hell would I get this long, flimsy thing to stand up like stairs, he thinks it’s easy, will just require a few pieces of tape, tape has always served him well, but ultimately, it’s my job, because I’m the one who makes things work, I’m the problem solver. I don’t have a clue. I finally admit, that, “honey, this just isn’t possible, I have no idea, just no idea how to do this.” Goodbye sanity, he insists it must be done because the teacher already approved his idea. Wait a minute, rewind... the teacher listened to this hairbrained proposal and said go for it? Thanks a lot Teacher X. Isn’t your job to weed out and refine the ideas so that they’re possible? Does he assume the child’s parent is a structural engineer? And because this project is approved and my child can be OCD(ish) he’s hysterical, because in his mind, there’s no turning back now, if I fail him on the staircase, all is lost. Oh misery cloud, why doth thou hover over my house at bedtime? We went out for chinese, a lovely early dinner. We had such a nice time, I was relaxed and content, that might as well have been years ago. I’m a terrible, terrible parent because I can’t conjure a staircase-shaped timeline and by the way, the stairs are supposed to go up and then down again. Dad’s a hero because he took him out for Chinese last week, I just suck. Come to think of it, why didn’t this get done at dad’s last week while I was away? And if dad is supposed to take the kids for a week twice a year so I can go on vacation, how come I have to make up the days and he’s in the midst of a 10 day stretch sans offspring himself? Do I point that out, tell him my week didn’t count because I just made up for it? Paid him back the time? He actually goes a week without the kids every other week by his own choice, yet it seems like such a big deal for me to want and have a week, to travel, to catch up on work, or just be. I feel guilty even wanting one, but parenting is a job like any other, it’s the job I applied for and the job I love, but everyone needs days off. I think you either need an in tact family to share the work, ideal of course, or 50/50 parenting split, or someone drowns. I feel like in mediation we could have discussed this stuff, each left with a deeper understanding of the others needs and points of view, but there’s no place for that in the realm of lawyers, you pay a lot more, and get a lot less. But that, I think, is exactly why he didn’t want to go back to mediation, he didn’t want to hear, what he didn’t want to hear. Mediators talk about ethics and fairness and responsibility, lawyers talk about what you can get away with.

Older brother actually chipped in on the brainstorming of the project of doom in a helpful way, whig is quite unusual and greatly appreciated, small miracle accompanies misery cloud, but I am still cursing teacher in my mind, in my soul, my whole inner self is shaking angry fists at the teacher. We came up with a new cuckoo idea which involves an electric drill, lots of carboard and rubberbands, a pole, a base, and behold, the weekend awaits.

Oh vacation, were you only a week ago? Yes, I’m still in a much better place, but I’m slammed at work, and well, stuff. I saw my lawyer today to go over the final divorce papers and I was asking advice about how to get more time, and how was I supposed to be financially self-sufficient when I’m so busy with the kids, this same redundant question. He said he really didn’t know, that the letter of the law was against me. He told me it was an unusual case because usually the dad’s are fighting for more access to the kids, not less. He said he was really surprised by my husband’s lack of desire to spend more time with his children, it’s usually the opposite these days. He could request more time and the courts would order it, but the court can’t order him to have more time if he doesn't want it. I had a hard time parting with the kids at first, but it’s been a few years now and I’m drowning sufficiently in the day to day that the only solution I see is for the kids to spend more time with their father, but that doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen which is a shame for everyone. J had a good time being at his dad’s while I was gone, they built some momentum, but momentum has to be sustained and I see it circling the drain already.

I salute you, single mothers everywhere, I don’t know how you do it. And those of you with extended family, relatives who take the kids on trips, or overnights, all of those whose children have involved grandparents, aunts and uncles, god-parents, whatever, I envy you, boy oh boy, do I envy you. Those people are freaking necessary, indeed, it takes a village, takes a whole town, city, all of it. Somewhere along the way, I played my cards wrong because I am on my own, seriously, really, on my own.

Come the advent of spring and a more hospitable environment, I have to summon the courage to start exploring and the like. I have to stop assuming that a relationship makes life harder, ideally, it should make life, if not easier, more fun. There’s got to be a nice, divorced dad, scuba diver out there somewhere and hell, he doesn’t even have to be local, we can meet up in Mexico.

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