Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Magnifying Glass

Nothing is ever easy. Anything worth having is worth working for. All the clichés fit here.

It seems to me that there are people who are determined to cause difficulties in any situation. There is no "status quo," there is no "live and let live." There are those among us who simply cannot let things lie.

I began to encounter that with the kids' Mom after a few months. Apparently she would press the kids for every detail of our time together, and then pick them apart to point criticism. What time they went to bed, what meals they ate, what shows they watched. Nothing seemed good enough.

I don't want to turn this into a B-bashing party. I won't. She had her issues with me. I think she'd wanted to see me crumble under the pressure, but when I didn't, she became intent on turning up the pressure.

My kids were normal, everyday kids. They did well at some things, but, typically, messed up others. I don't pretend. Life wasn't perfect. I don't think any life can be. I think that's realistic. Kids are kids. But everything that didn't go perfectly was somehow blamed on the failed marriage, or my shortcomings as a single Dad. There was no allowance for "kids being kids."

The first sign of trouble came with schoolwork. The older two slacked off somewhat. And my oldest girl was not above blaming laziness on "the situation at home." But it really was laziness at play here.

My son was particularly slacking off. I sat him down.

"Mommy said you're having a lot of problems at school with your work. Well we all know that schoolwork is my specialty here, so this is what we're going to do: We're going to get all your grades for the next week, see where you're having trouble and then you can come live with Daddy and we can tutor you, go over your classwork, and do your homework every night."

I could see the blood draining from his face as I spoke. I didn't holler, threaten, or anything like that. I took a very calm, quiet approach, but knew I was making my mark. Long story short, the following week his tests and homework folder came home. All 100%'s, all A's all gold stars. It was the kick in the butt he needed, and I new it. Crisis resolved. He just needed some motivation was all.

But that wasn't good enough.

The kids were given some test, I believe it was the Terranova test, that was a test of their aptitude. The two older kids took the tests and did not perform well. And I knew why: my oldest...if she is in the mood, she'll do well. If not, look out. My son was doing his usual daydreaming. And I knew it.

B. worked at the kids' school. Some of the other faculty teamed up with her to come after me. At a parents' conference, I was told that the strain of the separation was taking its toll on them. Family counseling was suggested. Now I had become very familiar with the School Counselor- a leftover hippy whose ideas bordered on the ridiculous. I made it clear that I would gladly get involved in counseling, but that it would have to be a neutral, outside third party. The deck was stacked in that school, and I believed any counseling would have to be objective and unbiased. While I was certain of the cause (having once been a kid myself), there was no upside to me being resistant to counseling. I got them to agree to my conditions.

And so it began.


  1. This is interesting; it's letting me glance into situations I've never personally encountered and making me very thankful!

  2. Yikes. Not sure if I could have handled all that so calmly.

    If I knew my ex was slamming me, I'd have been too furious to remain calm, cool, and collected. :(


  3. For the kids sake, being calm and not striking back is the high road. It is not always easy though. At least you seemed to have been dealiing with a mentally balanced person.

  4. Ditto to Ken's remark!

  5. This has been so intresting reading. My uncle had nothing but problems with his ex and has never gotten to see his daughter much who will be graduating high school this year. His case has gone on since I think the mid '90s. And like you, they grilled his daughter for every tidbit of information. It's so sad when this happens, and it happens all to often when parents put themselves above what is right for the child. I can go on all day over that kind of stuff. Have a happy weekend JP. Luv ya!

  6. Jimmy how you could keep so calm under those circumstances is beyound me ~ I'm looking forward to hearing more ~ Ally x

  7. There never seems to be any easy way through something like this is there? It sounds like you handled yourself as well as anyone possibly could. I'm sorry you had to endure all this. And I'm glad you're such a great dad.

  8. I am so sorry to hear all you dealt with back then. She wanted you gone and you left and made a life for yourself. What did she expect you to do?

  9. Ok, your school counselor description made me chuckle. ;-) It sounds like you did everything in your power to make things good. It always saddens me when one side tries to pit the kids against the other. So sorry.....

  10. The hardest part was not putting the kids in between the two of you. My ex tried to do that on any and every occasion he could. There wasn't a decent name in any book in what he labeled me with. Me? I chose not to bash him, in time Skye grew up and learned the truth of the matter for herself.

    Any parent that takes the high road and refuses this easy outlet of bashing the other, is worthy in my book. (Hugs)Indigo

  11. Good Lord Jimmy...seems like your x wasn't happy with herself or her life so she had to make yours miserable as well...I applaud you for being able to keep a level head...I probably would have become a mega witch.

  12. OMGWAID6:02 AM

    "It was the kick in the butt he needed, and I new it. Crisis resolved. He just needed some motivation was all.

    But that wasn't good enough."

    Duh,stupid, it's "knew". I come here after years of not visiting your site and this is what I come to? Guess who!:D

  13. Oh my goodness, sounds like first wife trying to put you through a nightmare.

  14. Okay, I kind of wanted to cheer in my desk when you had that conversation with your son. That was awesome.


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