“He blames you, you know. If you would have let my brother out in the real world he’d know not to stand behind someone who is swinging a hammer,” my eldest son reported of his father’s views on his younger brother’s recent injury.
It’s true, I haven’t had my bouncy eight-year-old around big drunk men swinging hammers—not at all.
“That is seriously whacked,” my daughter ruled.
“Who do you think is at fault for your brother’s injury?” I asked. The boy considered the matter for a minute, looking very much like his grandfather. “The carnival operator,” the boy pronounced. “He should have made sure there was no one close enough to be hit.”
“Um, I don’t think so,” my daughter put in.
“Perhaps partly,” I said. “Still, when I turned you over to your father’s care, he assumed responsibility for the safety of you and your brother.”
The boy also mentioned that while they were golfing his father said, “I’m sort of glad your brother isn’t here. I’d probably hit him with a golf club.”
“Was your father drinking while golfing?” I asked.
“Well, I was driving the cart,” the boy answered.
“This,” I said, “is exactly the legacy I do not want you to inherit from your father.”
You see, Readers, for Ex, everything is someone else’s fault. The world (most especially me) is out to get him and that is the source of much of his misery. Happiness—the real deal variety—is a long-shot in most lives anyway, but add a chronic blame-others disadvantage and there isn’t a snowball’s chance in H-E-double-hockey-sticks of arriving at life’s party a happy, healthy, well-adjusted individual.
Today, we got school supplies and haircuts. A week from today, I’ll be rushing through the first day packets and we’ll be settling into our school year rhythms. Be assured, Readers, every single day between now and the day the boys finally see Ex again, I’ll be reinforcing an ethic of personal responsibility. I hope that eventually, in similar circumstance, each child will independently say, “That is whacked,” as my daughter did—and that each of them will resolve that their psychological wellness, their happiness will not be constrained by Ex’s defects.