Wednesday, June 20, 2007


I looked at my watch. 5:00PM. My kids get off the bus at 4:10. They're supposed to call me first thing when they get in the house. It was part of the deal to have them watch themselves in the afternoons. I'd been so busy, I hadn't noticed the time.

I called my house. The friendly recorded voice told me that the call could not be completed at this time.

It used to be that I worked less than a mile away from my house. 18 months ago, my office got moved out to the suburbs. If I drive 10 to 20 mph above the speed limit, I can make it home in about 15 minutes.

Instead of that option, I called my friend Nancy. She works from her home three blocks away. She would be happy to go check on the kids.

It takes about five minutes to get from Nancy's house to our house. Longest five minutes in my life.

The storm that passed through knocked out the power to my street. Since I have a VoIP phone system, when the modem goes down, the phone goes down. They were home but couldn't call. None of the neighbors that they knew had phones that worked either. It wasn't until Nancy got there with her cel phone that they could call me.

I drove home early. They were fine, but I didn't want them to be alone much longer without power, and Nancy had plans. I wasn't there for more than five minutes when STBEW came walking to the door. She had tried to call, and since she's relatively close, she walked over. I took her back to her apartment, and the kids went inside to get some stuff she had for them.

So last night we were without power. Actually, we were without power until just a few hours ago. We had dinner in a cheap restaurant, dawdled all the way home, sat out on the front porch until it got too dark, then went to bed early.

My kids bedroom is the hottest room in the house in the summer. It's the only room with air conditioning, because without it, the room's a sauna. Because of that, the kids slept in my bed with me last night. I kept waking up, because neither of my kids are very passive sleepers, and finally around 5 am I got a blanket and slept on my lumpy couch until 7.

Our morning ritual is pretty well set, and I kept to it as best I could. A very important part of the morning ritual is when Daddy Throws our Clothes on our Head. I nailed my daughter with her shorts and T-shirt, hit my son with his T-Shirt, and then grabbed the shorts he was going to wear. They were yesterdays shorts (he had grabbed a pair of jeans for today, but didn't want to wear them because it would be too hot). Something jingled in his pocket, so I didn't throw it. Sounded like a lot of change. In fact, it was more than three dollars' worth of quarters. Not a lot of money, no, but more than he should have had in his pocket.

Questions led to evasive answers and outright lies. He told me his mother gave it to him to give to a teacher who bought a book for him. That didn't sound right.

I called their mother on my cel phone. Turns out she had given him the money to sneak back into my change jar.

How did she get the money in the first place? She had shown up one day while I was at work and asked to play a video game on my computer because one of her current ex-boyfriends won't let her into his house anymore. While she was there, she sneaked into my room and grabbed some money from my change jar.

So to sum up: the kids, against my wishes, let their mother into my house, who in turn, stole from me again, and then enlisted my son's help in sneaking the money back unnoticed.

Excuse me for a minute while I go emit another strangled cry of frustration. I've been doing that with some regularity today.

Okay, I'm back. Didn't help much. Well, it helped a little.

So now, the task at hand for me is to convince my kids that they did nothing wrong.

Because they didn't.

It's easy to see what STBEW did wrong here. Perhaps it's a bit harder to see my failings. The main thing I did wrong was to tell the kids not to let Mom into the house. What pre-teen can do that? Hell, what adult can? It's Mom, after all. I put them in a situation where they had to go against someone--either Dad, who's not there, or Mom, who's standing right in front of them. They had to disobey someone. What a horrible, horrible decision for a kid to make.

I do not ever want to put them in this situation again.

So tonight, I will sit them down and apologize for doing this. I'll stress that this isn't their fault. None of it is. They got caught in the middle of a sucky situation. I will tell them that the only thing they are required to do is call me and let me know she's there. As far as the change thing, I'll apologize to my son for assuming he did something dishonest.

As for their Mother's behavior--I think I'll stress that what she did was dishonest, and manipulative, and leave it at that. Perhaps I'll tell them how sorry I am that she put them in this situation.

Another issue entirely is their 'home alone' status. It's what they've been doing since February--which was when their Mom stole some checks from me and cleaned out my bank account. For the most part, I think that they do a great job looking after themselves for those two hours after school. It's just a pity that the biggest danger they face is from the woman who bore them.

I've also spoken to their mom about what happened. It's her contention that this is nothing big, that the kids have done other things more dishonest than this, and that the major issue here is that I'm just trying to get revenge because I wasn't able to arrest her for stealing from me.

But the worst part is that they're going to be at her house this afternoon. I had already made arrangements for them to be there when the power went out. I didn't want them to have to go home to a powerless house, and once again, I was sucked in by her faking of sanity when she came to check on the kids.

It's been said that one definition of insanity is repeating the same actions and hoping for different results. A variation of that is knowing which actions will work, and failing to do them.

I think I'm covering both bases here.



Blogger fatrobot said...

i keep money in a Jar-Jar
no one wants to touch it

4:09 PM  
Blogger terry said...

gaaaaaaaah. it never ends, does it?

11:01 PM  
Blogger Timmy said...

fatty....i am almost too scared to ask what a "jar-jar" is.

BP -- sorry man, that sucks!

7:57 AM  
Blogger Balloon Pirate said...

Fatro: OOOO! Meesa no tinka dat!

terry: it will end when one of us dies.

timmy: thanks for the sympathy. Did my response to Fatro give you a clue?


8:39 AM  
Blogger Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Keep screaming.

It'll help even if the neighbours get freaked.

9:27 AM  
Blogger United We Lay said...

My kid had his first real fall and first real boo-boo the other night. I guess it starts now. Daddy was worse off than J, but it might get easier as time goes on.

I'm sorry to hear that she's playing the kids, too. That's rough. You're such a strong person for putting up this.

9:58 AM  
Blogger Heidi the Hick said...

I'm sorry but I have to say this first:

Your ability to meld two themes and wrap it all up together at the end, to make your point, astonishes me.

And now on the topic:

this is soooo frustrating. But I'm glad you're talking it out with your kids. You've been really sensitive to their feelings.

Also I agree with Daniel.

11:07 AM  
Blogger cadbury_vw said...

that's so shitty

i have no advice, and few thoughts

I am stunned by the deflection "It's her contention that this is nothing big, that the kids have done other things more dishonest than this, and that the major issue here is that I'm just trying to get revenge because I wasn't able to arrest her for stealing from me."

that is classic drug user thinking



7:03 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

I have to disagree with you. You absolutely did the right thing telling your kids not to let STBEW in the house. Even if it's a bad situation for your kids and they let her in now and then, I can't imagine the trouble she'd cause if she knew she had an open invitation.

You value their honesty. That's the most important. Still, they need to call you and get your express permission before she walks in that house.

By the way, have you let your school know that you don't want her pulling them out of class, taking them home, etc.? Please do that.

6:03 PM  

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