Saturday, October 23, 2010

Father and son

D has been fortunate enough to be the only dad that C has ever had. They met five years ago when C was in kindergarten and they instantly hit it off. D was introduced to C as Mommy's old childhood friend named "D". I can't remember exactly when he started calling him dad, but he did all on his own. Even before D and I started dating seriously the three of us were on the couch watching a movie together. D was leaned up against me and C was reclined on D's lap. C giggled and said, "this is fun. It's like Mom, Dad, and son." D and I laughed it off and didn't talk about it until long after we were living together. The look on C's face as he giggled that to us is forever burned into my mind. He was so completely and utterly happy. For once it wasn't just Mommy and C.

Their first year together was good. C worshiped the ground his daddy walked on. He wanted to do everything dad did. They shoveled snow off the driveway, barbecued in the backyard, hung out in the garage, went shooting, and even took short rides on the motorcycle all as father and son. Then slowly it started to fall apart. D would get easily angered by C. He wasn't sitting straight at the table, he clanked his fork to his bowl to loudly, he left his clothes on the floor, there were a few school papers left on his desk and not brought to us, it always seemed to be the tiniest of things. As D yelled C cried. It broke my heart to watch.

Over the last four years their relationship has gotten worse and worse. C still loves his daddy with everything that he is. He still wants to walk like his dad and talk like his dad. He wants to be a part of everything that his dad does...stay up late to watch movies with him, wants a ride to school on his motorcycle. But for whatever reason D just seems so down right angry and bitter at C. Not a day goes by that D doesn't hurt his son's feelings in some way. He either yells at him or breaks a promise to something they were supposed to do together.

I've tried to help their relationship the best I can. D claims he doesn't realize he is being so hard on C at the moment it's coming out of his mouth. He says he figures it out after C's reaction and from the "death glare" he gets from me. We tried implementing a "censor" where D would go through me when he wanted to correct C, but that wasn't successful for one reason or another. We've sat down all together to talk about how certain things have made everyone involved feel and brainstormed ways to avoid it in the future. I've also talked about it with them both separately and sadly nothing has been able to help.

I guess what really eats away at me is that D is so different with J. Is it because she's the "baby"? Because she's a girl? Because she's biologically his? I've point blank asked D why he's so sweet to J and not C and he doesn't have an answer for me. He admits that he treats them very differently but doesn't know why and doesn't know how to change it.

I was raised in a home where my mom and dad always had each other's back. There was no asking mom and getting a "no" and then asking dad because he would always inquire, "what did your mother say?" like he somehow already knew she told us no. I very much wanted that for my own kids. I wanted them to trust that mom and dad were on the same page so in one parents absence the other parent's opinion would be sufficient and respected. I've tried and tried to be supportive of D and his parenting of C. I've sportively sided with D even when I felt he was being unrealistic with his expectations of C. I've talked to D about it privately and have explained how sad I am for C. Still, nothing has changed for the better.

Last night we were at my parent's house for dinner to celebrate C's 10th birthday. My younger brother put C in a choke hold playing around and C tried to punch him in the jewels. I asked C to take a minute in the other room to calm himself down and he just started bawling. Fridays in general are tough for C...he is burnt out by the end of the week and my little brother doesn't ever help by picking on C relentlessly. Most of the time C laughs it off, but not when he is tired. To make a long story short D ended up making a sad situation even sadder and I was not having it. I told C to only worry about what Mommy was telling him. I cheered him up, we sang happy birthday and he ate cake and ice cream before he ate his dinner. I knew D was pissed. Pissed at C for crying and "getting his way" and pissed at me for not backing him up.

I'm over it. I'm not playing this game any more. They are going to get along if it kills me in the process. This morning I had a very good chat with C about everyone in the family helping each other out. We all needed to help J learn to play nice and share. We all needed to help Mommy with chores around the house. We all needed to help C be a good listener. And we all needed to help Daddy with a lot of things. We both laughed at the "a lot" comment but it is very true. We have to help him remember appointments, we have to help wake him up in the morning, we have to help him to be patient and kind, we have to help him with essentially every aspect of being a part of a family.

I told D about the chat C and I had. He gave me that blank "I'm having a hard time processing exactly what you are saying" look. The one that says to me, "just stop, you are wasting your breathe. We can try again later" so I left it alone. D's new work schedule is Tuesday to Saturday. Perfect, one less day the boys are together. C likes to spend the night with my parents a lot. I figure we can set up a regular Nana and Grandad date night every Saturday night. They usually keep him until after dinner on the next night so that pretty much covers Sunday. This way I'll only be putting out fires between 6pm (when D gets home from work) and 8:30pm (when C goes to bed). I think I can handle 2.5 hours a day. Less than 18 hours a week. I can do that. Can't be too hard right?

I cannot believe that the relationship between this father and son that started even before that of the mother and father has come to me budgeting a mere 18 hours of time that they are in each others presence. This is truly heartbreaking for me. I know that C was in love with D even before I was. I am now crying and this post has come to its end.