Bill: So-cratz – “The only true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing”.
Ted: That’s us, dude.
– from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
I’ve decided to shift gears a little bit with this blog. I have been noticing a trend developing here for a while, and it took my favorite WordPress “follower” to confirm it for me: This blog is far too much about “rehashing Rob” and not nearly enough “Rebuilding Rob”. That changes now. Besides, I have things fermenting in the legal arena in regards to Jabba and The Kid that I don’t want to even begin to discuss here. Instead, I’m going to write today about something that has been stuck in my craw for quite a while:
I don’t know the first thing about being a step-dad.
As i said, I’ve wanted to write about this for a while; but the other day, I took 1B to a doctor’s appointment. The doctor came out to the waiting room and addressed me as “1b’s step-dad?” I have no problem with her referring to me as her step-dad already. In fact, I’m flattered and honored. My big problem – as it is in so many other aspects in my life is my penchant for erring on the side of caution.
I don’t want to step on other people’s toes. I don’t want to put off, offend or unnerve anyone – sometimes to a fault. Sometimes, I err so far on the side of caution that I end up coming across as distant or aloof. Here’s a completely random example – and no, this is not me bitching about a particular incident – sometimes I’ll try so hard to give The Auteur and 1B some alone time that I end up removing myself from a conversation; or physically removing myself from a room – and then I come across to them as upset or angry when I’m far from it.
People like to say “there’s no instruction book that comes with being a parent”. This is absolutely true and for the most part, you don’t really need one. As a parent, you’re pretty much able to make up the rules and routines as you go. As a step-parent or a step-patent-to-be, you’re entering into someone else’s relationship and you don’t have the luxury of making things up as you go. As a step-parent, you are the foreign element being introduced. You are expected to conform to the rules and routines that are already established in the family. There are certain tasks, duties, responsibilities you are expected to perform; and others that are considered way out of line for you to address. It is a proverbial tightrope that is walked by the step-parent.
Why, may not that be the skull of a lawyer? Where be his quiddities now, his quillities, his cases, his tenures, and his tricks?
(Hamlet, 5.1.97), Hamlet to Horatio
Friday, I finally heard back from The Kid’s “counselor” whom I shall call The Headshrinker – no disrespect to psychologists intended. I told him the situation involving the Kid, Jabba and my thoughts on it. He told me straight-up that The Kid’s name did not ring a bell. He said that that could be a good thing or a bad thing. He wasn’t in his office at the time, and said that he had his office people double-checking his records to see if The Kid had, in fact been in to see him. He also promised that he would be back in touch with me , whatever he finds out.
To be honest, I was amazed he discussed as much with me as openly as he did. I half-expected him to tell me that he had to verify my identity; or that he had to talk to Jabba before he could say anything to me. I was a little taken aback when he described his experiences with that which I’m convinced has happened here: that Jabba is making this whole thing up and that The Kid has never been in to see him; or The Kid has been in to see the Headshrinker only because Jabba put him up to it.
Maybe I’m looking to into the conversation, but I feel like I gleaned a whole lot from very little factual information. My gut tells me that this guy hasn’t even seen The Kid. When he was running through the different reasons/scenarios as to why he might not remember the Kid’s name, it felt like he was trying to tell me something without actually saying it.
Please don’t misunderstand me: my worst fear is, of course that The Kid did in fact say that the he wishes he was dead / wants to kill himself. But again, I do not believe it. Nothing I’ve seen or head thus far has me suggested to me that Jabba is telling the truth.
This wasn’t the only big news of the last few days. Monday I decided to start making some phone calls, in the event that I have to put together a custody case. I called a few lawyers here and was told I would need to talk to a lawyer in South Carolina, as my divorce took place there – unless I can get the case moved here – which would probably be next-to-impossible.
I decided to call Greenie’s office – to see if they would send a letter to my ex-landlord as I’m still on the lease for the house Jabba and The Kid live in. The paralegal informs me that since our lease was only for one year, I’m basically “in the clear”. When i asked her to have Greenie write a letter to my landlord, informing them that I’ve been out of the house for 18 months, she informs me that Greenie died last week.
I was stunned, in that way that people are when they hear something come out of left field like that. Instinctively, I asked “are you serious?” which I’ve always thought was a really stupid question at a moment like that. Fortunately for me, my divorce case is final – as far as I know. I was planning to file a grievance with the South Carolina Bar Association for the way in which he handled my case; but that’s irrelevant now. I didn’t really know this guy personally, and I can’t stand him professionally; but I’m amazed at how much Greenie’s death has affected me personally.
I think in moments like this it’s normal to think about one’s own mortality. Greenie was 31, or 8 years younger than me. I’m assuming he was never married as he was dating one of his paralegals. Thinking about what little I knew about Greenie personally forced me to reflect on my own life. In spite of how many years I’ve spent in school and feeling like I’ve been spinning my wheels – at times – with teaching, I feel that if I were to die tomorrow, I’ve lived a pretty good life. I had a dream job; I pursued it, and I became a teacher. Sure, I spent too many years in a failed marriage; but I got the greatest son in world out of it. Today, I’m in a fabulous relationship with The Auteur. We love each other, and we share the same view of what love is and what love should be. We are both finally divorced and are absolutely psyched about the future. I have absolutely no plans on checking out anytime soon.
Picard: Someone once told me that time was a predator that stalked us all our lives. But I rather believe than time is a companion who goes with us on the journey, and reminds us to cherish every moment because they’ll never come again. What we leave behind is not as important how we lived. After all, Number One, we’re only mortal.
Riker: [smiling] Speak for yourself, sir. I plan to live forever.
Captain Picard to commander Riker: from Star Trek: Generations
There’s an old Jabba story that Mother likes to tell. I’m going to share it with you all now, as it speaks volumes about the kind of person Jabba is, was and always will be:
Thanksgiving 1995: Jabba and I had only been together for a few weeks. This was in fact our first “couple” holiday. Jabba wanted to bring some kind of dish to my parent’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, as is the custom – particularly when formally having dinner in a stranger’s home for the first time. She decided to pick up a pie from the local Kroger (a regional grocery chain). No big deal. When Mother and my grandmother sliced up the pie to pass it around, they complimented Jabba on it. It wasn’t anything real specific. The exact wording escapes me, but it was something general, along the lines of “this pie is really good, Jabba.” It may have even been more direct and included a “Where did you get it?” Rather than simply saying “thank you” or telling how she found it at Kroger, Jabba took this as an opportunity to distort, twist and re-shape the truth to suit her own ego. “Oh, I made it myself” she explained.
It was blatantly obvious to anyone who saw this pie, or the package it came in that it was store-bought. It came packed in one of those clear deli-style boxes and included a Kroger label, complete with a list of the contents, ingredients, a UPC code and all. Instinctively, I called her out on this.
I looked at her incredulously. “No you didn’t. You bought this at the store.” I even asked her about it later in the day. “Why would you tell my family you made that pie? They don’t care that you didn’t make it fresh”. This was the first, stark example I would have with Jabba and her affinity for bullshit.
Mother and my grandmother saw right through it from day one. But like the rest of my immediate family and friends would do for the duration of our marriage, they looked past it. Not because they thought so highly of Jabba; but because they loved me.
It wasn’t a big deal; just a little white lie. But it served as a precursor of what would come in the months and years ahead. Jabba and bullshit is a love affair that continues to this day, with my last entry being the most recent example.
If that last post feels like I didn’t finish it, it’s because I probably didn’t. Frankly, even thinking about last Thursday’s conversation gets me riled up. I had my freak-out period, calmed down and returned to my two initial conclusions:
Assuming that Jabba is telling the truth: This would mean that The Kid has been seeing a child psychiatrist for a comment he made upwards of four months ago. Furthermore, it would mean that Jabba knowingly allowed The Kid into a situation that she knew would make him uncomfortable – namely seeing me and even the possibility of seeing me with The Auteur. Also, it would mean she put him into this situation without saying one word of it to me. Finally, it would mean that she has footing the bill for the psychiatrist herself, despite the fact that she has been hounding me about starting child support payments and medical reimbursements. If this is the case, then shame on her.
Or the other, more likely scenario: Jabba is lying. The Kid hasn’t seen any psychiatrist and she is that desperate to get a rise out of me or to try to undermine my new life. Were she as concerned about The Kid as she claims, she would have told me immediately about what he said. She would have temporarily ignored her personal beef with me and we would have just talked about him. Alas, she had to fall back on her typical, petty mud-slinging and screaming. Such a level of out-right lying and fabricating facts takes a level of depravity and desperation that I would have – at one time – thought to be beneath even her. If this is the case – as I believe it to be – then shame on her.
This is a pretty black-and-white issue. She is either telling the truth, or she is lying. Shame on her, in either case. Furthermore, if she feels she has lost control and is sinking to such levels of desperation, then I fear what she may try to say, do or accuse me – or one of my loved ones – of doing in the future. My concern now is how and where to go from here. I have some thoughts on that – but nothing I am willing to commit to HTML. Yet.
I got an e-mail from Jabba on Sunday night. Up until now, I’ve been reluctant to talk about it, let alone share it; but a phone conversation I had with her last night has prompted me to finally open up.
The Kid had a meltdown last night. He said some really frightening things and some that I will spare you. It was a gut wrenching night. The issue was his trip to Michigan.
He told me that “I wish my daddy didn’t have a girlfriend because then he’d love me.” He never mentioned The Auteur’s name as he likes her. He doesn’t like the idea of her. He is afraid that you are going to marry her and have a baby and forget about him and not love him. His biggest complaint was that he isn’t get to see Mother, The Old Man and Phred enough while he was in Michigan. He has asked me to speak with you about this. He has asked me to ask you that when he comes to Michigan that he wants to stay at Mother and The Old Man’s with you. It is much the same as what he said while he was up there. He told me that he tried to speak with you about it and that you wouldn’t listen to him so he thinks “he needs help from an adult.”
I ask you to hear him out and follow his lead. This is not about you. This is not about The Auteur. This is about The Kid not being emotionally it psychologically prepared to deal with this right now and you respecting his feelings. The way you handle this can help him accept The Auteur’s role in his life or reject it. Similarly, it will do the same for his feelings for you.
Please speak with him and more importantly listen to him
I was tempted to ignore it altogether; not even dignify it with a response. Fast forward to last night: The Kid and I are talking on the phone when he tells me that Jabba wants to talk to me. He apparently misunderstood her as she just wanted to know if I got the e-mail. I confirmed for The Kid – and Jabba – that I did.
Obviously, this is a topic that Jabba and I needed, and need, to discuss. At the behest of The Auteur, I decided to give Jabba a call Thursday night so we could stop tip-toeing through this. As I mentioned in an earlier entry HERE, I don’t believe that The Kid truly feels the way that Jabba claims he does. As the old saying goes: I haven’t seen it myself; therefore I don’t believe it.
The Hutt reached an absolute new low last night: She told me that The Kid has been seeing a child psychologist and said that he wanted to kill himself. Upon hearing this, I immediately asked for the name and number for this child psychiatrist. She refused to give it to me, stating that she is reluctant to take that “safe place” away from The Kid. Needless to say, I am now exploring my legal rights on this matter.
What was most striking to me was that this alleged bombshell she dropped did not change the course of our discussion. She did not set aside any animosity she has for me in an attempt to get to the heart of this matter. No; instead she reverted to her typical name call and cursing at me. So I took a page out of her book: after warning her several times to stop the name-calling, I told her that I would continue this conversation when she was ready to talk like an adult. I told her “have a good night” and I hung up on her.
Of course, if my son is feeling like this, then I will do everything in my power to help him. But the fact of the matter is that it is highly unusual for a six-year-old to even have suicidal thoughts. Furthermore, there is absolutely no indication in any other aspect of his life that he is anything other than a happy little boy. I have spoken with his school teacher and she has said repeatedly that he is a both happy and precocious. In fact, when she e-mailed The Kid’s report card, she even said he talked about how much fun he had with me over Christmas break. At the time, the comment made me feel really good. Little did I realize just how important that remark would become in just a few short weeks.
People think that getting a divorce decree is the final step in the whole divorce process. I’m coming to the realization that it is just the beginning.
As I posted earlier here, this past Christmas, my divorce and my interactions with The Kid and with Jabba were taken to a whole new level. One would think that once the divorce was finalized, or at least very close to being finalized, that things would start to settle down – adjust to the New Normal if you will.
HERE, I’M GONNA SAY IT: I believe that The Kid was – and continues to be – manipulated by Jabba. I think he was coached and coerced into saying “Dad, i feel like I’m being replaced” and “I’m not here to see the Auteur; I’m here to see Mother and The Old Man”. I saw what a good time he had while he was here with us. I saw first-hand how willing he was to confide in The Auteur; and the fact that he seemed like he would genuinely miss her as he was getting ready to go home.
The Kid’s word continue to haunt both me and my relationship with the Auteur. Even before this Christmas visit, I already had some real concerns with The Kid’s mouth. He’s becoming a smart-ass. He is very sarcastic, particularly for a 6 year old. He is, as mother put it best, “his mother’s son”. The sad reality is that there is very little I can do about this.
Two things prompted me to create this post tonight: a post on a blog that i follow HERE and a phone call I had with the Kid a short time ago. He and I spoke briefly tonight – he had a friend staying the night at his house. He informed me about a fishing trip Jabba is taking him on later this week. He told me “I wish you could go” which really struck me, I think because he is still only 6 years old but he is maturing and I see him developing a sense of empathy. This conversation, the aforementioned link and the fact that I’ve never written about this topic – to the best of my knowledge – are the brainchildren of tonight’s post.
Forgive me if I’ve posted about this before. I haven’t gone back yet to review my earlier posts.
Far and away, the absolute hardest part of my divorce was saying goodbye to my son; more specifically, my decision to leave him and the home in which he lives under the care of Jabba. It was not an easy decision for me to make; and to be fair, it’s not an easy decision for any father worth his weight to make. I can’t speak for all fathers who have to – or chose to – move out of their homes, leaving their kids in the care of their moms. But in my situation, I had to make the decision to leave for the proverbial greater good.
Let’s face it: my marriage dynamic was a fucked up situation I simply wasn’t happy in it and I didn’t want my son to grow up thinking that the way that Jabba and I were living was normal. I wanted – and want – The Kid to see me as a proud, happy, hard-working, productive human being. Ideally, I would have like to have done all of these things while living under the same roof as him, but that was simply no longer realistic. Unless they are psychologically unfit or abusing the kids,the moms generally get custody of the kids, period.
The worst part of this whole mess is missing out on the everyday – day-to-day stuff. The Kid is really interested in fishing; a passion I was and am not around to see develop in him. We speak on the phone an average of 6 times per week, but it simply isn’t the same as having a daily presence in each other’s lives. I don’t get to see him come in from school and tell me about his day. I don’t see his school friends. I absolutely despise the fact that I miss out in him reading books, discovering new foods, and seeing him accomplish something that he wasn’t able to do the day or even the hour before. When I get to see him, it seems like he’s growing by leaps and bounds. There are times when I hardly recognize him from one photograph to the next. I hear stories about countless dads who simply don’t want to be involved in their kid’s lives and it makes me sick. I would give anything to have The Kid living here with me full-time. I know that it’s all relative though. There are some dads who live within earshot of their kids and never get to see them. There are other like me who live 5 states away and get along with their kid fabulously but still can’t have the relationship they want.
IN OTHER NEWS: I tried to add a couple classes to my school schedule tonight. I have to talk to my academic adviser tomorrow to get that going.
UPDATE 1.2.14 1:13 PM: I talked with my mom just a few hours ago, just to shore up plans for Phred’s upcoming birthday. I informed her how The Kid had told me when we talked just after midnight in New Year’s Eve/Day that he had tried to call my parents. Mom informed me that he made no such attempt to call; not on his phone and not on Jabba’s phone. I’m not mad at him. There’s no doubt in my mind that Jabba told him to tell me that, just to fuck with my head.
Also, I managed to get signed up for Winter classes finally. I continue to move forward.
THE NEW YEAR’S REVOLUTION CONTINUES
A good how-to for people who live within close proximity to their ex.
This is the first of rather unusual two-part entry…
With some prodding from my mom, I called Jabba today to inform her that I won’t be picking up The Kid for Thanksgiving. I have been avoiding this conversation and I definitely didn’t want to do it this weekend, as I knew I’d be home alone with The Auteur shooting a movie this weekend. It went surprisingly well; as it was both the longest and most civilized conversation we have had since before I left South Carolina.
Now bear in mind that I’m taking all of the information that follows with a grain of salt, as I am absolutely convinced that Jabba is a sociopath.
- I told her about Thanksgiving, expecting her to go bat-shit crazy. Not only was she okay with it, but she even suggested that The Kid spends his entire Christmas break with me. She said that it was important in that Christmas is the only time The Kid gets to see my extended family. This was an interesting curve ball.
- She still claims that her lawyer has sent the divorce papers on to my lawyer, and that he is apparently holding up the entire process. This may or may not be true. I have expressed some frustrations with the speed at which Greenie has handled things thus far. My question remains: what would he possibly have to gain from dragging things out?
- Furthermore, Jabba claims that her lawyer has been in contact with the judge in regards to our divorce proceedings – and yet, there has been no movement.
- Jabba claims that the insurance company stopped coverage on me effective July 1, 2013 (which they did) but that she is still seeing the deductions on her paycheck – even though i’m not longer covered, mind you – because we are not yet divorced.
- She knows about The Auteur and 1B,
- She speculated, admittedly, that The Kid feels that I love The Auteur and 1B more than him and I have “replaced him” with them. He had definitely, in the past at least, felt this way in the past as he and I have had discussions about it.
- She seemed almost apologetic about “playing hardball” with me, i.e: using visitation with The Kid as a negotiating tactic. I warned her that should she continue to do that, I will go through the lawyers to stop it.
- I told her that if I find out she’s bullshitting me about any of this, I will be upset.
- I informed her that she needs her to inform me when she and The Kid leave South Carolina and that I would put that into our settlement should she fail to cooperate with me.
All in all it was an intense, yet civil, conversation. Could this be the start of the next step in my relationship with Jabba? I’m very skeptical about it ; but the conversation was a pleasant surprise nonetheless. I find myself emotionally drained in the aftermath of it. A LOT of things were said by both of us. Things that we’ve both needed to get off of our chests for a while.
I don’t want to be hostile with her. I really don’t. The two of us have to find a way get along well enough to co-parent The Kid. That’s all I want out of all of this. We may have finally taken a big step toward that finally happening.
With all due apologies to any native Virginian who may read this post…
The Boy finally calls me back at 10:30 last night, only to tell me that the STBX is taking him to Jellystone Park (A Yogi Bear theme park) in Virginia today. As we conclude our conversation, I politely ask him to put his mother on the phone. He agrees.
I ask her if it would be too much to ask if she could give me a “heads up” when she and The Boy were leaving the state. She gets all defensive, about child support and visitation, etc. At which point I finally ask her, “what’s going on with our court proceedings”. She goes on to tell me that her lawyer is waiting to hear back from my lawyer. The entire reason I even brought up our courtroom drama is because I haven’t spoke with my lawyer since before the July 4th holiday.
I explain to her what happened in court last month – as it was explained to me by my attorney. She tells me flat-out that everything was discussed in court, including the amount for child support payments. In turn, I tell her flat-out that my attorney gave me a radically different story; explaining how her lawyer went on record stating that he had nothing and was not prepared for court that day. To me, that suggests that the STBX has not paid her lawyer, thereby holding up the entire proceeding. I didn’t call her a liar per se, but I made my thoughts very clear without doing so.
All that she has ever been about is money. I told her as much and said that she wouldn’t be happy if I was sending them $1000 each month, which sadly is true. I just want this divorce settled, so I can move on with my life.
The song in the video is really speaking to me right now…