Monday, January 07, 2008

Absent Kids

For the first ten years of my older sons life we were rarely apart for long; a month at the most. The two days of the week, plus the weekends, that he would spend with his mother seemed like an eternity at times. When he was with us I would just get to feeling like a normal family; normal as in the constant reminding him to "pick up your socks" or " no computer until you have finished your homework" normal. Then I would whisk him away to his moms.

I would drop him off, and drive away reminded that this was not what I considered "normal."

I was used to it, so was he.

This situation had its perks, my wife and I never had to find a babysitter if we wanted to go out; until the little ones were born.

When we moved to Eugene, I knew it was drastic, it would be a change that we all had to adjust to. I knew it would be hardest on him.

For the second year he spent winter break with us. Two weeks of 11 year-old boy. Light-saber fights, stinky socks, wet towels on the floor, one or two days of emotional turmoil.

Me, resenting that he wants to spend more time playing with his neighborhood friends than with his step-mom and two, drastically younger siblings. (he assured me that this was not the case, and I adjusted to his need.) We all had a great time with him, most of all his two younger siblings; who worship him.

His last day came. After I ordered him for the....millionth please get your stuff together and pack; his step-mom found him sitting against his bedroom door sobbing. He did not want to leave.

Later on that day, at a pizza place in Portland, we talked about how temporary his whole situation is. Only six years and he will be able to settle where he wants, visit who he wants. We talked about the difficulty of our situation and who has it harder, him or me?

We both have it hard and the reasons are numerous.


Mr. Sean said...

He might have only six years, but in terms of what that time means, it's not six years but one of the most important parts of a kid's life, the transition from childhood to adulthood. These are the years that will inform the choices he will make as an adult...

Sister Mary Lisa said...

I can relate well to the feelings and trials you describe that come with your child adjusting from one house to the other. My stepdaughter (who my husband had full custody over and whose mom got her every other weekend and two weeks (she got to specify) of each summer month) would come home from being at her mom's for a month and it was a difficult adjustment. Plus, we had to be the ones who told her to do homework, we set up rules and had to enforce them, while her mom got to have fun with her for her two days on weekends.

Very difficult.

I think you're doing well, if his sobbing is any indication. I feel for you both.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

OK, that came out wrong: "I think you're doing well, if his sobbing is any indication" sounds like something I'd say to some dominatrix.


Beat Dad said...

Hey Sean-

You are totally right that. I think that is what makes the situation difficult for me. For Kyle it helped in the moment because he could see it would not be forever.

Jess said...

Sigh. Such a tough situation for you all. If it's any consolation (not really, I suspect), he seems to be very well adjusted for a kid in his situation. I think that the going back and forth is the hardest part, as it is for any kid - it's always difficult to adjust to two different homes and two different ways of living. But he's a smart, beautiful, and resourceful kid, and ultimately, he will be okay. So will you. He's a great kid. You are a great dad. You guys will get through this with your relationship intact. Who knows - maybe he'll be able to come and be with you during the school year for his high school years. It might not be six years after all.

Know that we've got his back down here, and he can always come and be with us if he needs some Godparent energy and support.

Ramsey said...

All I can say is, keep talking to him. It does and will make a huge difference. For both of you.

Randy said...

I feel your pain. It's very painful when I part with my boys at their residential school. It does help to know that they are getting first-rate training there.

Those early teenage years are tough for most kids. It sounds as if you are emotionally there for your son, if not always in the same place at the same time. I'd rather have that than a dad who was physically present but didn't give a damn.