26 December 2010

The Grinch


It is "Boxing Day," the day after Christmas. I am visiting my parents. The plan had been to have August and Douglas join us. The picture here is of August, taken by Douglas last summer. Of course, the plan didn't work out because August's mom decided that she was not going to bring him to the east coast for the holidays. She is, as specified by our divorce agreement, supposed to do that every other year. This is the second time running she has not complied with the agreement in this regard. The last time I let it pass without much comment here. She has now had two tries and so is batting 1000. So, it seems appropriate to start talking about this in public.

My parents are in their 80s; Doug is in school and plays a sport, so he does not have the opportunity to travel much. They didn't get to see August this Christmas, or last, or the one before that. It is unlikely that they will get to see him until next summer. (And, of course, the reverse is true too - August didn't get to see his brother, grandparents, cousins, aunt and uncle ...) So, the Grinch is taking out her psycho-pathologies* on August, his brother, and his grandparents. Of course, the divorce agreement is explicit about that too - neither parent should knowingly disrupt August's chance to have a relationship with his family. Perhaps August's mom has lots of reasons to dislike me. Does that afford her any excuse for acting so cruelly to others who are wholly uninvolved?

If you know August's mom and the subject should come up (please feel free to raise it and see what fantastic tales she can spin), she surely will offer a list of self-serving excuses and rationalizations. Believe what you will; I am sick of deflating her tiresome claims. Maybe - despite the lesson we learned in kindergarten about there being multiple sides to any story - all of her complaints are true. But ask yourself, what possible inconvenience would suffice for you to keep a five year old boy from seeing his family at the holidays? Shouldn't the obligation be to bend over backwards to do what is best for your son? For most folks that is Parenting 101. Apparently not for August's mom.
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* "Narcissism . . . describes a devastatingly vulnerable person, compensating for a deeply imprinted inadequacy with a desperate need for admiration, and a grandiose self-image." Benedict Carey. 2010. "Narcissism: The Malady of Me," The New York Times (4 December). I am more than happy to chat about this admittedly non-professional diagnosis any time.

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3 Comments:

Blogger noto said...

There is not much to be said, except that you have all my simpathy.

I went trough a divorce and always did bend over backwards to accomodate for my child's need. I tolerated a lot of this type of abuse from her mother. Transfering the consequences of adult conflict to children is forbidden in my book. They are not guilty of our shortcomings.
My daughter now -20 years later- is closer to me than to her mother and doesn't trust her or her vision of things. All without me ever passing a bit of my frustration or anger to her.

The thing that puzzled me then and still does now, is what to do: if you go to court to enforce the agreement you risk losing more than you gain. If you don't, you're tolerating a behaviour that is damaging for all involved. And what's worse, encouraging it.

Though decision.

By the way, there may be multiple sides to any story, but the cold facts are what they are.

Hope it turns out for the better.

28 December, 2010 17:57  
Blogger greg said...

This spring I flew to Australia to visit my 3 year old daughter. Upon arrival I was informed that I would have access to her for only 3 days per week. I get sick to my stomach even thinking about that moment.

06 January, 2011 00:47  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

Greg,

My stomach hurts thinking about the situation you describe also. Truly. My ex pulls similar things all the time and we will likely need up back in court. But I want to have a life, not a court battle! Fortunately, August (nearly 5) knows how much I love him. And we have loads of fun when we are together. One trick I have resorted to (since my ex took him away to rural Oregon it takes nearly as long - no less that 13 hours - to get there as to reach Australia!) is to send him cards, usually goofy postcards several times a week. He looks at them and tosses them into his closet (so he says) but it is tiny reminder that I am out here.

Best of luck and thanks for writing.

06 January, 2011 09:35  

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