On Sunday we were subjected to another round of the emotional blackmail that the kids’ school uses to bleed us dry. Last year we declined to take part in the inaugural “we’ll frame your kid’s artwork and charge you $20 to take it home” art show but last year we didn’t have an easily heartbroken 6-year-old at school. Poss wasn’t thrilled about us not buying her handiwork but, because she is a big girl, she understood. There is no way on Earth we would be able to get Skunky (the child who wakes up in tears at 3am due to some random slight that occurred a month ago) to understand. We also couldn’t try to trick Skunky into thinking we’d just forgotten about the whole thing, Poss was singing with the choir to open the new school hall at this year’s art show so we had to go – and then we had to shell out $40 for both kids’ art.
To be fair, they were both lovely and we had fun watching Poss sing and oohing and ahhing over everyone’s art.
Skunky’s rainbow fish, or rainbow whale to be exact. Whales are an obsession he’s maintained since he was three. He’s got staying power.
Poss’ Mama and baby bird. I loved Skunky’s response to this, once he’d wrung from me the desired compliment (that I loved his best), he gushed about how beautiful he thought it was. I agree, she’s always been an obsessive crafter, our Poss. I can imagine how many hours she spent getting each piece of paper placed correctly, just as she did when she was four. She used to spend hours making sure the pages of her colouring book were coloured in perfect detail and inside the lines, no short attention span on that girl. You can almost see in my blurry photo that she’s included a darling caterpillar on a branch.
The big kids had spent the previous night at their Father’s house, this after he called Beefy (not me you’ll note*) to insist that he be allocated a weekend once a month for each of the kids so that he could spend time with them separately. I had to explain to Beefy (who would’ve realised eventually but is not to good at thinking on his feet) that neither child would be ordered to spend a specific weekend with their father at this stage of the game (about to be 13 & 16 respectively). Moron’s imagined that they don’t want to spend time together and that’s at the root of their refusal to go, because it’s not as though they live together or anything. Stupidity abounds over there. As expected the kids were unimpressed with his demands and also promptly agreed to go over for the night, TOGETHER. He doesn’t seem to get that:
a) This is their home, where their things and their respective caves of solitude are
b) They now have social lives, social lives that happen on the spur of the moment. He lives miles away and both of the kids have friends within walking distance here
c) They often can’t really be bothered with his house. The stepmother, who can be lovely and hellish in equal measure, and the fact that he and the stepmother do not seem to understand social cues very well make it a difficult place to be. Teenagers (or tweens) can be very “meh” about things, not because they don’t care (although often they don’t) but mostly because they can’t be bothered, Moron and The Stepmother don’t seem to grasp this. The kids have been taken home from a restaurant because Rhu didn’t seem appreciative enough that they were out for tea, he didn’t even say anything (in actual fact he just had a headache). The Stepmother threw a tantrum and insisted they all leave without eating. In essence they have never treated the kids like people, rather they are little monsters to be controlled and cajoled. The Stepmother has a short fuse and it is very, very easy to upset her, to the point that she screams and cries. Moron tried to force Rhu to give her a present, kiss her and tell her he loved her to make up for cracking a joke about a cake she made. Mama’s can’t afford such thin skin, and in any case it was really a joke, Rhu likes her and wasn’t trying to be mean. Anyway, they just can’t relax there, they have to be on guard and they’ll only subject themselves to that so much – now that they really have a choice.
d) They are nearly 13 and 16 respectively. They have not lived with him since they were not quite 2 and 4. During the intervening years he has breezed in and out of their lives (mostly out) sometimes not contacting them for (many) months at a time and when he has been in he has caused them both great distress at times. We used to get Rhubarb home from his fortnightly visits in such a state, he was out of sorts for a week after each visit, tears and tantrums, tears and tantrums. We would work to get him on an even keel again only to send him kicking and screaming back to them again. It broke my heart over and over. Moron either believes he can magic a strong relationship out of his arse or he believes that he already has one with his kids and I am being all evil and chaining them to their rooms and refusing to allow them visits. Probably both. He is not a man with a firm sense of reality. He cannot, for the life of him, understand why the kids won’t have their friends at his house or have birthday parties there, he thinks it is because I’ve been badmouthing him. He’s given the kids both talks about ignoring my relentless bashing of him, which they thought was hilarious. I didn’t agree. He even managed to imagine he could hear me saying nasty things about him to the kids whilst he was on the phone to Beefy (because that’s totally a likely behaviour for me to indulge in).
Anyway, the kids are soldiering on and will visit him as they see fit, which has been the arrangement ever since we came back from the UK over three years ago. They shall remain completely ignorant of his carry-on in the background because that’s the way we’ve always kept it but in the meantime I might go gray with stress, oh hang on, already happened. As you were.
*A while ago Beefy stopped me from talking to him, mostly to spare me the stress but also a little bit because I sometimes lose my shit when I talk to him, just a touch. He does not inspire my zen. Moron has caught on to this over time and doesn’t ever contact me directly now. That in itself has brought about some “ishoooos” but that’s another post entirely.