Okay, he’s not exactly The Dark Lord, but it rather feels that way today.
We received a reply almost immediately to my email inviting Ex to come to Zeep’s upcoming promotion ceremony. The email was addressed to the boy and I was cc’ed. Ex wrote definitively: “I will be there.” His sister wanted to come too; and would the other children be available?
[Your sister] is entirely welcome to come as are [your other sister and her husband] and your mother…. At 6 p.m. that evening, we are hosting a cookout at the house in [Zeep's] honor. You are both/all invited to come. Additionally, [Zeep] is available to visit with you on Friday afternoon, on Saturday, or on Sunday morning.
[Sissy] will be at a conference from the 20th to the 25th. [Little Man] is saying that he does not wish to see you at all, but he would like to visit with [your sister] if it can be arranged.
Ex wrote back before the day’s end:
Flights are already booked. I’ll arrive in DC Wednesday afternoon/evening and leave Friday afternoon @ 3:30. Would like to see the kids as much as possible. What is going on between 9 and 6 on Thursday?
Upon receiving this news I had a most unattractive vent session with those closest to me. Let me take this opportunity to publicly apologize for subjecting some of my favorite people to what might be best described as a complete loss of composure. (The truth is: I lost my sh*t.)
Poor Mr. Tall, Smart, and Wickedly Witty now knows that there are certain words I might occasionally use that can ruthlessly diminish the humanity of another at a whit’s drop. He had the distinct misfortune of stepping in it with a suggestion that, hard as it might be for me, Ex’s visit was probably good for Zeep.
[Ex] is the worst possible role model That [Zeep] identifies with him undermines [the boy's] success Plus the stress on everyone else Especially me Who picks up the pieces [Ex] is a drunkard, a depressed, narcissistic loser with nothing to offer [the boy]
If that doesn’t scare MTSWW away… Well, anyway.
Most of y’all know the back story by now.
Though I would never… advocate a kid be parent-less… sometimes I think that would hurt a whole lot less in the long run. If “dad” just disappeared, then there are no expectations and when there are no expectations the risk of hurt feelings goes down exponentially.
She is right in many respects. Ex may come through for the boy this time, but forever after? There will likely be another disappointment, another disappearance, another set of letdowns, and another, and another… until Ex suddenly finds himself an old man. He’ll probably then ask the kids if he can borrow some money because “…things are a little tight, you know?”
I have to acknowledge my own feelings here. It is ire-raising that Ex can come in for the victory lap, that he can come to celebrate a success he contributed NOTHING to, a success that he at various times actively undermined. Ex has never once stood looking over the boy’s shoulder to make sure the required homework is done and done well, as I have regularly on school nights for the last three years, often at the expense of time needed by siblings. Ex has never red-penned even a single draft to help teach a kid with a profound writing disability to learn to revise and reword such that he will eventually be able to write a college admissions essay. He has never lost sleep in support of a due assignment or a neglected project. He has never fielded emails or calls from teachers, counselors, administrators, and psychologists. Ex has never had to make that trip to the principal’s office, the one that makes a parent feel personally responsible for the alleged transgression. He has never had to hold Zeep uncomfortably accountable for anything.
Then there is the issue of child support and such. Zero. Zilch. Nuthin.’ Of late he hasn’t even been making the $25 payments to keep his diver’s license. Note to self: Call Child Support Recovery. AGAIN.
Ex will show up next week. He’ll puff out his chest, say how proud he is, and he’ll pretend he is a real father. He’ll probably even snap pics with his Blackberry to prove it. Maybe he’ll upload them while Zeep stands awkwardly by.
It’s pretty telling, I think, that your analysis of the role men play in raising boys is built around comic books and superheroes. Yep, it’s no more complicated than that. Fathers are just overgrown boys, aren’t they? We like comic books, and when our boys get bigger, we teach them to love tits, cars, beer and sports. Being a father is pretty easy, isn’t it?
Holy snark-fest, fratman. To “Tyler,” the dude who takes his nom de plume from one of the most misogynistic characters in modern film—a sick figment of a man’s degenerating mental state—I say this: FUCK OFF. (I really try not to drop the f-bomb, but … I’m feeling a little unhinged.)
I have no doubt that being a father—a real stand-up father—is hard. I watch great dads in our community do it regularly. They dig deep to find patience, biting back words. They make sacrifices, standing up and showing up every single day for the a job that is most-often thankless. It isn’t easy.
It is also roughly half of what I do,”Tyler,” old boy, as a stand-up mother with a drop-out, deadbeat baby-daddy. What Ex —and too many others like him—do isn’t fathering at all. What Ex does is to claim some unearned gene prize. He gets to show up for the victory party because half of the biological stuff that started this boy’s life came through Ex’s dick. Yes, I just wrote that. On the internet. You can feel free to leave a self-righteous comment below telling me how much I will one day regret it. Maybe you would be right, but I don’t think so.
You see, I believe these words:
Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women. —Maya Angelou*
The other children have some feelings about all this too. Little Man told his father on the phone last night: “I’m going to be at the party, but I am not going to see you because you have been nothing but a jerk to me for pretty much my entire life.” Ouch.
The boy did not wait for a reply, but thrust the phone into his brother’s hand.
When I told Sissy Ex had confirmed that he was coming she sighed heavily.
“It doesn’t really affect you,” I said, “you will be away.”
“It will upset everyone,” she said, “and that affects me.”
She is right.
Even so, it’s what Zeep wants and ultimately, he has to decide for himself what all these relationships are to him. Me? I just have to do right by the boy and keep my zen.
This visit couldn’t happen at a better time. We’ll be surrounded by good, kind, supportive people—likely including the kindest man I have ever known and MTSWW.
Ex, Kindest Man pointed out, doesn’t really resemble The Dark Lord at all anymore. He’s more like, maybe… Gollum?
Bring it, Gollum.
*I love this quote and posted it on the Facebook page a few weeks ago—like the page if you haven’t—bonus content and friendly banter!