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.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

A Conundrum To Be Sure...

Something is...I don't The clues are pretty random, though.

* My refrigerator is backed up with leftovers. (And not some lame leftovers, either. We're talking ham & cheese bowtie pasta!)

* The kids are milling around aimlessly. No bubble-blowing. No trips to the comic shop. They don't know what to do with themselves.

* The sound of raucous, uproarious laughter has not filled my home for days and days. The eerie quiet is starting to get to me.

* Self-injuries are at an all-time low. In fact, we're thinking about offering awards for the extended period of safety.

* But the Number One Reason I know something is seriously amiss is...

We miss you, Nate!!

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Hell...Why Not...

While I'm on a roll, let me note that talking ill of someone (no matter your opinion), in front of their children that love them, is a pretty classless, shitty thing to do. And, honestly, it only makes you look small and mean-natured (and extremely disrespectful TO THEM) in their eyes. Believe it or not, just because I do not want my children to be instructed to drink untested and untreated creek water (which they are then offered and encouraged to do) DOESN'T make ME the one that's "crazy". (And some kids...all of mine included...are smart enough to figure that out. Even if some grown-ups aren't.)

See this...and this...and this...and this...and this...and this...and this...

Anyone with any amount of education should know better than to drink creek water. (Or, you know, we'd all be drinking it, wouldn't we? Plus the filtration facilities and products would just vanish from our culture.) Also, if you'll check with any reputable pediatrician, they'll straighten you right out, too. (Mine sure did.) Or, you know, maybe all those scientists and teachers and doctors are crazy, too. At least I've got good company...

Frankly, I happen to think that a parent who doesn't bring potable water on a hike in warm weather and then relies on what mother nature provided (via industrial facilities and pesticide run-off and bacterial by-products), is the one that's crazy...but what do I know? I will say that even if I DO think so, it's not like I'd be telling his kids he is. I've got alot more class than that. It helps that my kids have pretty good bullshit detectors, though...

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Just Pissing and Moaning and Bitching and Whining...

This post is long. (My apologies in advance.) I can safely say that it's long (as I barely begin typing), because there is a lot that’s been going on and I’ve been reluctant to post it until now.

But the time has come, my friends...

As always, our characters are anonymous (including me). We only wish they were fictitious...

Over the past several months, there's been just a schload of stuff going on with my kids, and, unfortunately, my ex. So much, in fact, that a trip to court (to put some of these things on record) was a necessity.

We all live in hope that this will be all that is necessary. We all realize we hoped we wouldn't have to have gone as far as we already have and that it regards some similar to pipedreaming (heh, there's a little double entendre' there, but I'm lettin' it pass).

This story begins last fall. September to be precise. My two younger daughters were on a weekend overnight visit with their dad and it happened to coincide with a family reunion on my ex-mil's side of the family. I didn't know ahead of time that the event coincided. I found out afterwards, as did our eldest daughter, when he brought the other two home burbling about how much fun they'd had and who all they'd seen.

My eldest daughter, who already has a pretty strained relationship with her father was so visibly hurt that even he saw the look in her eyes. You see, he'd "forgotten" to invite her. To a family reunion. How do you do that? In any event, in addition to losing track...momentarily...of how many children he had, my middle daughter reported that my ex had had a rather shocking conversation (in her presence) with my youngest daughter.

During the drive home from the reunion, my ex advised our (then) 7 year old child that it was okay to keep secrets from Mommy. That if Mommy didn't specifically ask something, not telling her wasn't the same as lying.

My middle daughter and her (then) boyfriend were in the backseat of the car and were extremely upset, themselves, at this display of bad parenting. In fact, [Kid 2] reported that her boyfriend's jaw dropped and he became concerned for [Kid 3].

I was advised of this conversation before my ex even had the opportunity to leave the premises, and so I met him in the front yard and advised him that I didn't appreciate that, and that I thought it was dangerously bad parenting. I would NEVER instruct my kids to keep secrets from either parent, I wanted him to correct the error.

His response was that I was making more of it than it had been. That he didn't feel anything further was needed and he got in his vehicle and left.

I tried talking to our youngest and advising her that it was not good to keep secrets from Mommy OR Daddy and that she should not do so. Her reply? "That's not what Daddy says." and she brushed me off. At this point, I'm sure you realize how upsetting the situation was.

Their next visit with their father, I advised him that I wanted to have a conversation TOGETHER, with our youngest daughter, and resolve the issue. He was less than enthusiastic. I had no intention of painting him as a buffoon, or a villain, in front of our child, the damage simply needed to be corrected.

As he had absolutely nothing to say, I began by stating that I was certain there had been a misunderstanding, which did not mean that she did anything wrong, nor did it mean that her father did anything wrong, but that I was sure he did not mean for her to believe that it was okay to keep secrets from a parent. I then looked at him, expecting he'd confirm that statement and he did nothing. I said, "Isn't that right?" to him. To which he grunted. I mean it. He grunted. And that was his entire contribution to the conversation.

So, as you can suspect, [Kid 3] doesn't remotely believe that her father has an issue with the previous conversation. Which grates my cheese, I gotta tell you. Playing these kind of head games with kids is nothing short of vile.

Now, this was bad and I certainly added it to the list of infractions, but it took on an added level of upset a few weeks later when I was putting [Kid 3] to bed one night. She asked if I'd sleep with her.

Unusual, as she has slept in her own bed without incident since before my ex and I split up (nearly 4 years ago). I explained to her that I'd be sleeping right down the hall and that she was a big girl and didn't need anyone to sleep with her. She elaborated that her father slept with her. Every night.

"He does?," I inquired. Why does he do that? She told me she didn't know. Just that after she fell asleep in her own bed, at some point he'd pick up her sleeping body and carry her to his bed...where she'd wake each morning.

And then my brain recalled the conversation about secrets...

And the way she is always kissing her father on the mouth...

And the way she'd recently begun obsessively washing her hands and mouth nearly constantly...

And lots of other little things and nuances that I'd not paid much attention to before...

And then my brain imploded.

There was silence...briefly. But soon there began an internal endless scream.

Now, the next part was difficult for me. Because I had to suss information out of children, without planting any ideas in their heads. No good to make a problem where there is not one.

I began by asking my 17 year old if she knew whether her younger sister was sleeping in her own room or not. She confirmed that [Kid 3] went to sleep in her own bed each night, but awoke each morning in her father's bed.

I knew she had been sleeping in her own bed while my ex was dating his former girlfriend, and so this had only apparently begun several months prior to my discovery of the situation.

A conversation (and physical exam) with our pediatrician sent me to a child psychologist's office for two visits in one day. While it appeared to the professionals that his behavior had been HIGHLY inappropriate towards his 7 year old daughter, and that there were definitely unhealthy issues there, they convinced me that nothing criminal had occurred between least not at that point. I was instructed to continue to monitor the situation and to act upon anything further.

Again, it became one more thing to add to the list of infractions.

Over the summer months prior to all of that, my husband and I had begun to smell the unmistakable aroma of marijuana in my ex's house when we'd drop the kids off. Sometimes masked by air fresheners and candles...sometimes not. Given my history with this man, it's surprising that he'd think I wouldn't identify the odor. We'd actually had some evidence of it previously, too...but nothing concrete at that time.

We tried not to make an issue out of it. Realizing it was a demon he'd been fighting most of his lifetime, and that despite him telling me that "once I'd finally left he was surprised how easy it had been to quit...apparently, he'd only needed to smoke dope because he was married to me", and despite him having smoked for over ten years before I'd ever met him, I had seen him try and fail many times before. Wait and see became the policy there, too.

Until in December, I received a rather frantic call from [Kid 2]. She was upset because she'd been visiting her cousin (who is now residing in my ex's finished basement), and when she'd come back upstairs had been struck by the smell of marijuana. A high school junior, while she doesn't use the product herself, she's familiar enough with the smell.

She wasn't certain until shortly afterwards, her father came into her room to watch tv with her. Apparently his breath and his clothing reeked so badly of it that it made her sick, and she bade her father goodnight, indicating she was turning in.

She called me because she was concerned about her father. Concerned, too, about his ability to make good judgments for her and her younger sister. She was angry that there was little food at his house for them (and that he'd made no effort to pay arrearages to them), but apparently had money for marijuana. Clearly, she was scared and upset by this.

I advised her to speak with him about her very valid feelings. But she refused. She could not discuss such a difficult topic with him without fear of a heated conversation.


Such is the case far too often with him. None of my daughters wants to talk to him about the difficult things because of the all too real possibility of him losing his temper. Though he denies, nearly constantly, that there's a problem there.

In any event, she sought support from a friend with a drug-addicted father, and she and I attended an al-anon meeting that featured a speaker who had been married to a marijuana addict and spoke, at length, about what his addiction had done to their marriage, their family, and her children. While I found it quite informational, [Kid 2] found it entirely too religious for her tastes and indicated that, while she found some benefits in the meeting, she did not want to attend any further meetings there.

Mostly, I wanted to empower her and to show her that her father's drug addiction was not her fault or her problem to fix. It was his. Entirely.

By February, things had, once again, calmed down a little. And then, I received this email from my daughter. I'm recreating it as I received it because it packed a wallop.

it is 10:02 p.m. and i just walked from the basement to my room. dad is breathing heavily, and him and his room smell again. it's that same smell as last time. it's that same smell i remember smelling during my childhood. i'm glad he waited until [Kid 3] fell asleep, but it still pisses me off that he's doing this.

i just thought i'd tell you now though. so that i dont forget what time it is or forget about it all together.

i love you

And so, that became the final straw. I couldn't let her take all of this on her much as she's already carrying at that we filed a legal motion.

The motion indicated that my ex would not do any of the following:

* He would not sleep with any of his daughters.

* He would not encourage any of his daughters to keep secrets from me.

* He would not smoke marijuana during his parenting time with the children. (Now this one is odd to me, but as I understand it, family court cannot address the criminal activity of his use of illegal drugs, only as to how that use affects the children. That does not mean, however, that he could not be criminally prosecuted for the behavior. Just not in this same proceeding.)

* He would not post personally identifiable information about me, my husband or our children on the internet. (This in response to his attempts to get my husband fired from his job...a move which, if successful, would have hurt these posting various information, including his full name and address on the internet. The address, of course, where his own children reside 3 weeks out of each month. The address, of course, that we instruct our children NEVER to post on the internet, due to predators, etc.)

My middle daughter had intended to testify. I wasn't terribly sure about that, but she insisted that she wanted to do it. Maybe even needed to do it. So we waited it out until time.

When my ex received notification of the upcoming hearing, he was shocked. Of course he had no idea that any of his behaviors could be, in any way, harmful to his children. He admitted he still had a chip on his shoulder (alert CNN, somebody), but hoping we could...once things out (which actually means, "can't you just continue to overlook my shortcomings and allow me to continue to damage our children while I do everything I can to be as nasty as possible to you?"). I cannot tell you how many times I have let him do this. Promise he'll be better and then, as he has no difficulty lying to me, do what he wants afterwards.

Not this time.

This time I needed it on the record. If further incidents occurred, I needed the judge to be able to see how erratic his behavior was, how poor his parenting, how bad his judgment. And see that it was not an isolated incident, but was, instead, the way it was. Every day of our lives.

My lawyer had made an error in notifying me of the date and, unfortunately...or maybe fortunately...[Kid 2] was away at camp when we went to court.

The advantage, clearly, to my ex, as his lawyer notified mine and advised that their defense was to deny that any of those things had happened. Of course, this was a new lawyer and he wasn't aware that my ex was a notorious liar and that I'd, OF COURSE, have evidence to the contrary. (Heh...including an email from his current girlfriend asking why I took issue with him sleeping with his 7 year old daughter - fishing for information, I suppose - and then concurring with my explanation as to why it is a problem.)

Upon arrival at the courthouse, my ex's lawyer came over to where my lawyer and I were sitting and advised that his client was ready to sign the motion agreeing to all our terms if we could avoid the hearing. I think my lawyer would have been rather delighted to have the afternoon off, but I wasn't having it. This stuff needed to be on the record.

Without going into the details, court went exceptionally well. Most of my testimony was un-rebutted. And that where rebuttal was attempted, did no good.

On June 20th, the judge signed off on the order as we'd presented it. He did not add any clause instructing me to follow the same guidelines (as had been suggested at one point by my if I were doing any of the things in the order anyway).

I'm aware that (in the less than two weeks subsequently) he has already broken at least one of the orders. If only because of his humiliation and terroristic threatening tactics that are NEVER appropriate parenting, I deeply wish he'd take some parenting skill classes, as well as drug rehab. I fear, however, that until they are court-ordered, he will never do so.

Sadly, my girls are the ones who suffer while he fights to prove that he's not doing anything wrong. In fact, a rather nasty episode in the last couple days really has me troubled.

Now, this is not provided as a "woe is me" kinda post. (Nor, is it provided as "a post so long you will gouge your own eyes out before you finish it" kinda post.) It's basically an explanation as to what's been going on (and continues to go on) in my world...and why I haven't been blogging much. So, if you don't see me around, it's likely because all I have to blog about is this shit. And it just clings to you and suffocates you and you need a "Silkwood" shower to get it off you...and nobody wants that.

So, go enjoy the holiday and be about your business. Seriously! And thanks, once again, for letting me pound my fists on this keyboard and scream into the void.

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