Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank

Dang, I miss Erma Bombeck. She had such a way with words.

The title of this post has been our theme for the last year when dealing with The Kid Who is Not Related to Us. He's back from his almost 6 weeks in California, and a lot of people have been asking how he is.

Bless you. :-)

For those who are coming in late, click on the tag at the bottom of the post if you dare. It's been a bumpy ride.

Last year, when the guys went to visit their Original Dad, I had one specific request.

"Don't tell Big Kid that he can come live with you."

There were several reasons for this.

1). Original Dad has a habit of making promises he doesn't follow through with (much less remember), and the obvious subsequent conclusion is that I either turn out to be "the bad guy" when those promises don't pan out, or the recipient of the explosive fallout from disappointment.

2). Thinking things through isn't one of Original Dad's strong points. He rarely has a plan past the initial idea.

So last summer, when the guys were visiting him, after I made the request, what happened?

Original Dad and his current wife sat the Big Kid down and offered to let him come live with them in a year (which would be NOW), if he "did well in school".

All of you who remember last year at this time, Big Kid had not yet gotten an official diagnosis of Bi-Polar disorder, wasn't stable on his meds, and I was bipping out over his health insurance, not to mention all the diseases he thought he was riddled with.
Oh, and my adventure with butt-spelunking. Mustn't forget that.

I called Original Dad and yelled at him: Are you insane? Are YOU going to pay for college (Big Kid didn't qualify for resident status)? Who's going to set him up with disability services? Are you going to facilitate? Are you going to make sure he gets to and from the campus (Big Kid doesn't drive and gets lost a block from the house, any house---in fact, during that visit, he got lost and some people called the cops on him for loitering)? If he doesn't go to college full time, are you going to pay $500+ a month in meds when he loses his insurance? Do you have a doctor set up? A neuropsych? A therapist?

Doh. Dad didn't think about any of that. And of course, the answer was no to all. So in his mind he retracted the offer, but forgot to inform Big Kid.

Anybody having a problem with the term Original Dad----all I can say is---Bite Me.

After we separated, my ex left the state for a job opportunity, which is completely understandable. Since then, although he's had several offers to return to our state, he's refused, due to other family issues that have nothing to do with his relationship with me or our children.

Without going into nitty gritties, let's just say that at best he's been an indifferent parent. He's gone 2 years at a time without seeing them, even though he has practically unlimited visitation.

Ex calls an average of once every 3 months unless we call him first. He hasn't sent the guys so much as a card for holidays or birthdays in about 7 years (but sometimes he remembers to call within a day or three).

Hubby has been to every football game, every IEP meeting, every school play, choir recital or awards ceremony in the last 13 years. He's financed the freight for specialists, camp, and private prep school for the Big Kid (we took out a second mortgage for that one). He's taken the guys camping, swimming, fishing, and ATVing. He's taken the Big Kid out at least 3 times a month for "Sushi and a Movie"----just a guys' night out for the two of them----for years. He's paid every dime of Big Kid's college education so far.

Original aka "Disney" Dad vs. the "actual" person doing the Dad Job? You do the math.
I know, I'm a little ticked off.

That said, for the last year, all we've heard from the Big Kid is: "I hate this town. I hate this house. I hate my life. This town sucks. This house sucks. School sucks. My life sucks. You suck. I can't wait for the summer so I can go to California and live with my REAL Dad."

And during our most desperate times during the past year, when Big Kid was flipping out and we called his dad as a last resort before calling emergency services, hoping he could talk some sense into the kid, all we got was, "I wouldn't allow him to behave that way in MY house"!

So we gave them their wish.

Big Kid thought life would be butterflies and ice cream cones in California.

His Original Dad thought he could do a better job of parenting.


They didn't last a week together before both were calling and begging us to let Big Kid come home early.

More in another post.

Here's some weirdness:

The Big Kid has always had my hair, which is silky and straight as a board.

Until now.

After 5-6 weeks in the humidity, his hair is now curly. He's been home a week, washed it a few times, and it's STILL curly.

It looks like that squirrel William Shatner wore on his head in T.J. Hooker.

How bizarre is that?


Mamma said...

Oh bless you my friend. What a tough, tough situation.

Irresponsible parents really frickin' suck! Dealing with the repercussions of their actions seem to be the story of my life too.

Sending good thoughts your way.

Beth said...

God bless the true father of your sons.

(My hair is fine and straight, too - wanna take a trip to California with me? Sounds like a miracle. I believe!)

Anna said...

Guess I don't need to tell you this, but "father" and "sperm provider" aren't synonymous.

I have to hate you a little for the silky straight hair. It's my prerogative as someone with coarse,frizzy, wavy/curly hair! It takes an hour and a whole lot of serum to even do the straight thing. :/

Scully's Moulder said...

It's spooky how similar our situations are. Our "Big Kid" isn't diagnosed with medical conditions, but bio-dad's promises are all the same.

Scully had been deployed for only 6 weeks this time when our oldest called (from bio-dad's house) to say he wanted to move out there. Ugh! After some back and forth and round and round and Scully calling from IRAQ, (and the eventual involvement of lawyers) our oldest is coming home (supposedly) on the 12th. I'll let you know how it turns out. Good luck!

Miss Litzi said...

Hi Attila,
It never fails to amaze me how you’re able to tackle a serious topic and put your magical comic “spin” on it; this must be one of the ways you manage to constantly step up to the plate, no matter how difficult the job.

Hopefully sooner or later Big Kid will become aware of who’s been nurturing, loving and supportive of him throughout his travails and troubles over the years and realize it hasn’t been his bio-Dad. Some of his lashing out may be rebellious adolescent kicking in and will cease once his meds are adjusted properly. Maybe then he’ll be able to put the “living in California” issue into perspective.

One thing you didn’t mention was how your husband feels when Big Kid’s starts throwing out “my REAL Dad”…it’s got to be a low blow to him.

Do you ever feel like a juggler with a few too many balls in the air? I’m sending some California “air kisses” your way….

amy said...

You can use any terms you darn-well want. I have a feeling there's a solid reason for them, and well-deserved.

I don't have any experience in this area, but I do want to extend a heartfelt pat on the back for the way that you're dealing with it all. Good for you.

Hang in there, the scales will balance.

Brenda said...

You've got your hands full and then some. I don't know how you hold on like you do, you're a mighty strong lady.

Does an ADHD diagnosis ever change? Do children grow out of it? We've done the rounds with the head doctors available here and I was beyond frustrated over the assembly line nature of the visits so now Zach sees his primary care Doctor once a month (more often if the need arises). The meds scare me shitless but the difference with and without are like night and day so he takes them for now.

Zach has the late afternoon problem with anger/pouting/etc,,doesn't sleep enough without another med at night, and isn't eating as I think he should be. He's got another appt on Monday to discuss these things with the doc before school starts again.

Will he ever be able to discontinue the meds?

Anonymous said...

I think letting him go to California this summer was the best thing you could have done. I am so glad you did not give in and let him come home early. I hope he saw that life in CA is not the perfect world with Daddy (and I use that word loosely). You and your husband have done so much for him and I know what a tough, tough road living with a bi-polar teen can be. Thank God he has you and your hubby, all the appointments, IEP meetings, getting meds. stable, etc. can take such a toll on a family. You help me so much just by knowing I am not alone, and neither are you. XOXOX

KL said...

Woman, I don't need Erma Bombeck....I got you!!!!

You have just as wonderful a way of expressing things as she ever did!!!

Angela said...

That is tough
Thinking of you

Grim Reality Girl said...

Praying for you. Sorry about original dad, glad there is Real Dad. Your hubby is a great catch -- sometimes 2nd time is the charm. Hang in there!

Me said...

i loved loved and still do v. love Erma Bombeck! and I miss her too!!!
You know what? That's weird that you say that because everytime I read you, I think you are soooo a very kind of Erma Bombeck writer/

DutchBitch said...

Could it be that Big Kid and my kid have the same dad? Does Original Dad speak Dutch by any chance?

sleeplesswonder said...

What a tough sitch, oh my.
P.S. I added you to my blog roll hope it's ok.

Anonymous said...

as a teen who often though my mom was harsh and unfair, and that my "real dad" would be so much better, i can assure you that soon, Big Kid will realize all that you and his stepdad (who, in my opinion is his real father) have done for him, and he will be thankful. my dad was a "dad of convenience" too, and while i see him on a regular basis, it took a long time for me to just throw in the towel and realize that he just didn't care all that much about me, unlike my mother who was always going to bat for me, always being my #1 fan. my dad and i have a good relationship now, but it was only after i accepted that he was just never going to be that "dad in shining armour" that we were able to have a decent relationship, and i was able to thank my mom for all her hard work.

hang in there hon!
it will all be worth it some day!

Anonymous said...

I think it's normal for kids (even adults) to want to get away and start over in a new town. Those who have this urge have to do it or they can't settle down anywhere.

Going to California was a good move for Big Kid. Now he's back and can get on with his life.

Bi-Polar? Sorry to hear that. Kids have enough to deal with. You're a good Mom and you have a good Husband and step Dad to your son.

Stinkypaw said...

Oh no! On top of everything else Big Kid's hair is turning Canadian!?!

Joke aside I think you & your husband are doing a great job and showing a LOT of patience as parents. It must not be easy, but you're doing great. My thoughts are with you. *hugs*

MoonNStarMommy said...

So his hair looks like my sons!?!!? LOL

Jacqui said...

Oh Attila, what a nightmare. My ex-dodo (bio father to the eldest) lives an hour away. Sometimes its a bit too close. He makes promises he can't possibly keep either.

But the thing I've always told the kids is that in our family, we don't do halves and there are no steps (ha ha - not just because Moo can't walk up them). Hubby is Ad's Dad - he just has two of them. Ad doesn't have half-brothers/step-brothers but he does have three brothers ;-)

And the hair thing - really weird.

abfh said...

LOL, when I was a teenager, I also did the wanting to move to California and live with my real dad thing. I agree with Babzy that some teens just want to get out and explore more of the world.

When Big Kid is older, I'm sure he'll be more appreciative.

Samantha said...

What a horrible situation but sending him for the summer was a great idea. I've got a friend who didn't see her dad for years until she bumped into him on the street. He told her to leave him alone. Some parents just suck.

carmachu said...

Sometimes, giving people a does of what they want cures that problem real quick.

Nice job of not giving in.

And yeah, fly by night parents(my friends call them sperm donors) vs the ones that put in the effort is no contest.

phlegmfatale said...

Wow, that's so rough. Bless Hubby for being such a great guy and for being a real Dad to the kid, even if he's not capable of appreciating it at the time. You and Hubby will be blessed.