parens binubus

more than you want to know about a law school graduate/bar examinee who is also raising two children and doing her best at being a partner to her love.

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  • Friday, December 01, 2006
    Strife and Guilt and Manipulation and Guilt
    Here is an illustration in the kind of crap I often get from my ex:

    We have an agreement that sets forth custody and vistation with the girls. It was written when I lived in CA, and he already lived elsewhere (far away elsewhere). It is written with the girls' school schedule in CA, and not here. Their school schedule was different then - they got 2 weeks off at Christmas, and only one spring break. Now they have one week off at Christmas, and then one spring break in February, and one in April. The agreement, however, says that we alternate years with both Christmas and Thanksgiving. Pretty typical. It *used to be* that when the girls were with me for Christmas, they still had another week off, and went to his home for a week. But the year we moved here, I had the girls for Christmas, they had one week off, and I had them for the whole week. He had Thanksgiving that year, and it was actually the first year he took them for Thanksgiving (he had given it up twice). Becuase of the travel involved, they took the whole Thanksgiving week off from school in 2004. He never brought that up this year.

    So, this is my year for Christmas. he asked me, probably in September, if I would be willing for them to spend a couple of days with him and his parents in Florida. I thought it over, considered that Christmas itself is on a Monday, that I'm on co-op and may not have the week off, and that we had really anticipated the girls getting to spend extra time with him this year, since he's living closer. And I said yes.

    He then told me that he was going to be flying them to a sunny locale in the U.S. where his parents live. I said, "oh, the girls will like that" and I also said, "I am not willing to pay half of their tickets, though, b/c this is actually my year to have them." (It is also in our agreement that for these visits that he has according to the order, we split travel costs 50/50.) He didn't respond to that statement immediately, but later told me that his mother was going to buy the girls' tickets.

    But when I told the girls about the trip, they LOST IT. They didn't want to go. They cried, they complained, they refused. They said this was their year to be with US, and they didn't want to go, and they're sick of traveling during all their I didn't know what to do, b/c I had already told him yes, I did not anticipate that they would act this way.

    So there was drama, and tears, and talks, and eventually, they decided they would go.

    And then it came about that airline prices are SO HIGH this year. My sis probably can't come from CA, and the ex hasn't been able to find decent priced tickets for the girls. He told them that, and they took it to mean they weren't going. They did a dance. They giggled and smiled. When I later said he was still looking for better prices, they reverted to the same refusal to go, the proclamations that they would run away on the day of the flight (and return before bed) and so on.

    Today I asked him for a definitive answer - are they going or not? Because if not, I'm going to have to work out either time off from work, or childcare for the days that Beloved has to work - or something.

    His response? "remind me again your position on splitting the cost for the girls' travel for this holiday?"

    So I did. I said, "I'm unwilling to split the cost" (especially since tickets are $600/each right now!! I don't have $600!! I'm in LAW SCHOOL - and that is the equivalent of what he pays each month in child support)

    He said "well, our agreement says you have to split all travel costs, and it seems even more reasonable, since they didn't have to fly anywhere for Thanksgiving."

    I had to clarify- our agreement doesn't say "all travel" and if he wants to interpret it that way, then he's shooting himself in the foot, b/c if I have to answer every request of whether or not he can have extra time with the girls with a financial consideration, he's going to get more negative responses than if it was merely a consideration of whether I'm willing to go outside the agreement (which I am, and have demonstrated time and time again).

    I also pointed out that since he's planning on traveling 4x the distance from my home to his, even if it WERE his time with the girls, I would protest me paying that much in airfare.

    He responded:

    Ok. The girls and I won't be able to see each other this holiday season. I give you the choice of which of us should explain this outcome to [the girls]. I think they are owed an explanation. I am a bit surprised at your intractability on this issue.

    Which is pretty typical.

    My (internal) response to this?

    "crap, now i'm being unreasonable, should i just pay the $$? I don't want to be unreasonable."

    But I do not think I'm being unreasonable. I also feel 100% sure that his mother will pay "his" 1/2 of the tickets, and I will be paying my half. This isn't his time with them. If he's getting that favor from me, why do I have to feel unreasonable for not doing a second favor in paying for the trip?

    Furthermore, THE GIRLS DON'T WANT TO GO!!! I am too kind to say that to him, but when they find out it's a sure thing that they're not going, they're going to be relieved. They're not going to feel that they're "owed an explanation." They're gonna do a happy dance. He has to know that, though. E. told me that he brought the trip up over Thanksgiving (asking if they still want to go), and they just "said nothing" and he changed the subject quickly. Since he's "given me the choice" I should just let him tell them that they can't go, and he'll have no choice but to confront the reality of the situation.*

    And I hate that he will present it to his mother (and the entire extended family down there) as him not being able to have time with the girls, and them all not being able to see the girls, b/c I was unreasonable and intractable. Because I refused to pay even my measley portion of the girls' airfare.

    * It's really not that they don't want to spend time with him. They're glad he's coming for the play this weekend, they're glad to see him every time they do. They just do not like to travel, and do not like spending time at his house so much, b/c he works a lot, and they have little to do. As it turns out, even, they're all up on popular culture in ways I had no idea. At my house, they watch silent films, musicals, and an ocassional travel show. They don't ask for more, complain that they don't get to watch any particular shows, or show any unhappiness with our lack of popular culture television and movies. The other night, though, we watched an American Girl Doll movie on the Disney Channel, and they knew all the shows, characters, everything - including this High School Musical movie and games and stuff. It was very weird to me.

    My POINT was - it's not that they don't like him, or don't want to spend time with him. When he comes to Boston, and spends time with them here, they're very, very happy.

    Labels: , , ,

    posted by Zuska @ 11:18 AM  
    • At Friday, December 01, 2006 2:52:00 PM, Blogger MadMom said…

      Ex-husbands can be so difficult! If he's adamant about them going (and they want to go), then suggest he split the cost of travel with his parents. After all, you're already making a concession by letting him have your holiday.

      Our (my ex and me) general rule is that the person for whom the concession is made bears the cost of travel of said concession (e.g. if I let him have my weekend, then he has to come pick up our daughter whereas I usually drop her off at his house on his weekends).

      Of course, our homes have never been more than an hour apart and our parenting agreement forbids out-of-state travel over Christmas without the express written consent of the other party...but I digress.

      If your ex balks at paying, then just keep the girls home. If he only wants to see them on his terms (after you've generously given up the week!), then screw him.

      Anyway, I'm sure the $600/mo that he sends can be put to better uses than a sunny vacation. You may need to remind him of that. Good luck! MM

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