The Oral Report

Standing up in front of the class was never so much fun!

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Location: River City, United States

The rantings and ravings of a mom of three wonderful girls as she finds new love while working like a dog and shaking her fist at the system. You know. Pretty much like everybody else.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Say It Like You Mean It

Last week, I had a pretty crappy day. (A few actually, but let's not dwell on that.) It's taken me nearly a week to get to the point where I want to talk about it here.

And, well, venting will ensue. It is the way of things. Last chance to bail.

Let me just start by saying that I'm tired of worrying about who may, or may not be, reading this public journal. I've taken steps to provide for anonymity, but dammit, this is my life and this is my place to talk about it. Good or bad. I am not, as a very wise man told me, going to begin redacting whole sections of my life, marking through them in black ink, as if they were a matter of national security. They simply are not.

If someone doesn't like me, and no longer has even the most specious of reasons to follow my life, and they still feel obligated to check my site two or three times a day...every day...to see what I'm up to...well, they should be the ones to examine the motivation to do so. Or, perhaps, get the assistance of a professional therapist. The sooner the better, actually.

In the meantime, my ex appears to be dating again (I'm crossing my fingers) and I'll just have to hope that he's gained enough wisdom (since the last time) to avoid pointing new paramours to this site, jumping up and down, and excitedly announcing, "That's ME! That's ME! That's ME she's talking about!!". I suppose we'll just have to see. Until then, I'm shaking it off and moving on. Thanks to all of my friends out there who have urged me thusly. I deeply appreciate the support. Always.

That said, Buckle Up, Boys and Girls! (Shoulda bailed while you had the chance.)

Most of my regular readers know that money’s been kinda tight around Castle Anthrax lately. The kids need things that I simply can’t afford to give them. And it’s frustrating. Many of you are in similar circumstances, I know.

Carrying a balance of nearly $2000 on an interest-free “loan” for my ex is made that much harder when I have to tell my kids that I can’t afford to get them things they need. It’s easier when it’s just clothing, but last week I had a hard one. To be honest, I'm still dealing with it.

[Kid 2] and [Kid 3] both need some orthodontal work. [Kid 3] is just getting to the age to be able to benefit from it, and [Kid 2]’s work was postponed for some personal reasons (to her) that I won’t go into here. During her last dental visit, however, our dentist recommended that we shouldn’t wait any longer. Her jaw is becoming misaligned to the point where she’s grinding her teeth down and becoming a key candidate for some TMJ.

So, I took a long lunch, last week, and routed both girls to an orthodontist (to whom we were referred by our dentist) for an evaluation. I went with the knowledge that this would be a very expensive venture, and that there was likely no way that I could afford to have both children treated simultaneously. Consequently, [Kid 2]’s teeth would take priority. I’m also aware, having known folks dealing with ortho costs, that, in most cases, payment plans are available.

I was told, that [Kid 2]’s mouth was in the “moderate” range, for the amount of work she needed. And just so you can put a dollar amount with “moderate”, that’s about $5,695.00. Okay, it’s exactly $5,695.00. And, no, I don’t have it.

The payment plan would be $171.00 a month over 24 months, with a $1200 downpayment. I’m not sure how I could swing the $171, but that’s irrelevant until I can figure out how to come up with the $1200. (I'm not even going to mention [Kid 3]'s prognosis, which will involve oral surgery and a gum graft, BEFORE we start ortho.)

Having recently met with my ex about modifications to the child support (as [Kid 1] turned 18 the end of last month), I knew he’d be of limited financial help, but I had to at least try. I mean, if I had the money he owed for the kids, it wouldn’t be an issue at all. I could make the downpayment for [Kid 2]'s work and either increase it to minimize the monthly payments, or apply the balance towards the work that [Kid 3] needs to have in the next six months prior to ortho. But that's simply not the case.

This is all made worse by the fact that he was recently featured in a newspaper article here in River City. He helped co-found a toy collector’s club here in River City and the article featured the club. He, himself, started collecting these particular toys in about 1991, I think. I remember that it was after [Kid 2] was born, anyway. (Though, that’s not really pertinent to the discussion at hand.) In nearly 17 years, he's amassed a pretty impressive collection.

He was quoted in the article as saying that his collection was worth $12,000 (which comes as no surprise to me), and then goes on to state that he “has no plans to part with his collection…but if it turns out my daughters need money…I’d cash them in.” (I won’t link to the article as there is personally identifiable information in it, and to do so would be terribly unwise and vindictive…and that’s not me.)

Aggravating as it was to read all about how if his kids’ needed money, he’d make it available…despite the fact that he’s done no such thing for the past many months that he’s owed the arrearages…I thought I’d call him and explain the situation and give it another shot. When your kid needs medical help, you have to explore every option.

Once he was on the phone, I went through a detailed explanation of what the orthodontist found and the total cost and the terms of the payment plan, etc. He seemed genuinely concerned, but then asked what he could do about it. I explained to him that his daughter needed the work, urgently, and that I simply didn’t have the money for the downpayment, and I asked if there was anything he could do.

“No.” He didn’t have it either. So I took a deep breath and said, “Look, I can’t borrow it. I don’t have a home I can mortgage. I don’t have an asset I can sell, or I would. You indicated, in print recently, that if your children were in need, you had $12,000 at your disposal.”

There was no shrieking. I’ll give him that much. But he said, “You expect me to sell my [toys]?” I told him I planned to check with some other orthodontists in town and check into anything I could to provide some cost savings, but that I didn’t have many other options at my disposal and I thought, since he seemed to indicate that his childrens’ need was of import to him, that he may have financial options that I did not.

His reply? “Well I didn’t expect that article to be used as collateral. And I didn’t say I definitely would do it. I was simply musing.”

What a shocker. I'm quite sure the statement in the article was meant to make it look like he's got loads of expendable income and is a caring dad. (Pay attention all you single babes!) I suppose the reality that his children or I (or anyone else for that matter) might expect him to be a man of his word wasn't really a big concern.

When we bought the house that he now lives in, I cashed out my retirement account to come up with the lion’s share of the downpayment and closing costs (the balance was obtained through short-term loans from my parents and his). I’d asked him (as had his mother), to sell his collection to come up with this money, but he refused. There was no mention, at that time, of the children (three by then) being a factor in his decision. He simply didn’t want to sell them. End of discussion. The kids have become a convenient excuse subsequently.

It's aggravating. Especially when I see Highlander pulling pieces of his own prized collections to sell in effort to help these children that he loves so dearly. Of course, that doesn't make him a good parent or anything. I mean, after all, he still doesn't drive (see below for clarification).

Please be advised that the management does not, for an instant, feel that good parenting is, in any way, tied to an ability (or inability) to drive, dance, twirl plates, catch lightning bugs, or shovel snow.

In fact, the management feels that parents who do not drive (dance, twirl plates, catch lightning bugs or shovel snow), but who are emotionally and financially supportive to their children, are far more effective than those who do drive (dance, twirl plates, catch lightning bugs, or shovel snow) who are not emotionally and financially supportive to their children.

The crux of good parenting, in the humble opinion of the management, being more related to the "support" qualifications, and less to the "driving (et al) skills" qualifications.

Attempting to follow logic that Better Drivers = Better Parents will, and I mean WILL, make you weep for humanity. (I mean, really, how many moms in the fifties didn't drive? Bad parents, all? Please.)

Consequently, the above statement was included for ironic emphasis and should not be taken as a factual interpretation of the information.

The Management

10 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know what to say.
But you might want to redo the last two sentences. It sounds more like the ex talking than you. I know you'd never say Highlander isn't a good parent because he doesn't drive.

Tony C.

6/26/2007 3:00 PM  
Blogger SuperWife said...

Yeah, Tony, you're right. I'd never say he isn't a good parent for a reason like that.

At some point last year, an enumerated list (as to why Highlander was not a good parent) came to me (it was technically from my ex's ex, but it was the party line that I'd already heard from him, as well). I can't remember every bogus reason on the list (and every one of them was), but couldn't get over that ANY adult would actually include "not driving" as a valid reason that someone could not be a good parent. Woe to the parents who use public transportation. Child Protective Services will be at your door post haste.

(I should also note that emotional and financial support were no where on the list of good parent qualifications. Which I found not only odd, but very, very sad.)

I'm certain that Highlander knows I find that outlandish logic to be spurious, but I'll make a little revision to the post to make it more clear. Thanks!

6/26/2007 3:45 PM  
Blogger SuperWife said...

I’d also like to note, because on re-read it’s not very obvious, that I have not been “needling my ex to sell his collection for years” (else I would have insisted he do so when we divorced). I just wanted to point out that when we needed the money, it was more “reasonable” (in his eyes) for me to cash in my retirement account, than it was for him to part with his collection. I can respect the passion that one has for a hobby. I honestly can. In addition, I am fairly supportive to that end. (Both then and now.) It’s a matter of priorities, I guess.

6/26/2007 5:45 PM  
Blogger Opus P. Penguin said...

Now I, for one, would never co-parent with a guy who couldn't collect lightning bugs. ;)

Seriously. Major ex-marital points off for the ex for hoarding his toys. But I'm glad that Highlander is doing the stand-up thing for the girls. You did good.

And I'm glad you're still out there blogging. Nobody puts Baby in a corner!

6/29/2007 10:22 AM  
Blogger AaA said...

Mr T. Pities da foo who doesn't agree wholeheartedly with everything written here.

Mr. T once pitied dat foo Chuck Norris, and he wept inconsolably for days.

6/29/2007 11:40 AM  
Blogger Spider Girl said...

Difficult to balance between "do what you want with your life" (i.e. blog about whatever you feel like blogging about & if you dont like it, don't read it!) and "avoid unnecessary drama" (i.e. nasty emails/phonecalls/arguments with an EX until you finally submit and pull out the black marker!)

I am struggling with that now, my blog is so superficial when I have to censor it!

6/29/2007 2:09 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Mark and I both have our "collections", but we would both sell them without a second thought if they would bring in money for something Only Child needed. It's hard for me to imagine any true parent who wouldn't. Hang in there, SW. We will be sending good thoughts your way.

7/01/2007 10:19 AM  
Blogger SuperWife said...

Busy, busy here so I haven't had a chance to get back here more quickly. I have read each of your comments and wanted to thank you all for the support, and to offer a few notes/comments in response...

Opus -

Yeah, me too, on the lightning bugs. I'd never choose to, anyway. But I think he could still be a good parent. I'd have to assess actual parenting skills to be sure, though.

Btw, the Dirty Dancing comment made me laugh out loud. And I've DEFINITELY needed more of that lately.

Nate -

You're deeply disturbed. I never thought I'd see Mr. T quotes on my blog. Well, to be honest, there's quite a bit on here already that I never thought I'd see. No sense drawing those lines now, huh?

Spider Girl -

I know you understand, entirely, my situation. My ex assures me, anew, that reactions to anything he reads on my blog will not be met with "real world" anger or hostility. Do I believe that? Not really. But, I suppose we'll see. I'm tired of the superficiality. Oh sure, everybody has some of that from time to time. But I want to be able to say what I want to say here. It's important to me. Good luck to you in your similar struggles.

Lisa -

I have a few things I collect, too. None of them worth any money, but they are sentimental things, nonetheless.

The latest is that he's asked his elderly and ill mother for the money. It's sad (she has a limited income and another son who considers her a soft touch...regularly), but whatever. If I can get my kids the help they need, that's the most important part.

Oh, and "J", in response to your private message (advising that if we didn't want you to read our blogs, you wouldn't), I'm pretty sure that D and I have both asked you, more times than either of us cares to count (both on our blogs and elsewhere), to afford us the privacy of not reading our blogs. If we weren't clear, please let me be so now. We prefer that you not read our blogs. Period.

well...we'll see, I guess...

7/01/2007 12:06 PM  
Blogger AaA said...

Mr T pities da foo who thinks AaA is disturb- wait, no. Mr. T thinks thinking AaA's disturbed makes perfect sense!

7/02/2007 9:37 AM  
Blogger Your Girl Friday said...

Oh, I seem to have missed a juicy little disaster here my friend. Sorry. Things have been very very "blah".

Easy fix my sweet petal: Make your blog private so that we all have to log in to view it. Stalkers will be shut out in the cold - to continue with their miserable little lives.

7/04/2007 7:37 PM  

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