Not that my dad was a deliquent father who encouraged me to miss school, quite the oposite. Which is what made it so... delicious... when it happened. I was being devious with my father!
Had my parents been divorced, this probably wouldn't have happened. He would have had to first ask my mother if it was okay, deal with the fact that depending on how the whole divorce was going, if this would work or not. And probably then decided not to do that. Too much trouble.
Other things too.... Dad coming up to my room and saying, "Let's go for a walk!" I could go on and on, but I think I'm lucky that I grew up with a father who was a full time resident of my house. For that matter, I think I'm lucky I grew up with a mother who was a full time resident.
But, I know that marrages don't always work and I know in most cases, both parents try to work things out to make things as smooth as possible for the child. Even if they can barely stand one another, they at least try to set down groundrules together, to make sure everyone knows what's expected of the child. So that when the child goes over to the non-custodial parent's house, the child knows what to expect.
I know in most cases, everything is being done to make the transition as smooth as possible for the kids. Trust me, I know that. So, if you are a divorced parent who does not have custody of your kids, if you read further, don't immedietly assume I am speaking of you. I do not know your situation. I know what I am seeing with my own two eyes.
And, should you read anything that does remind you of your situation, well... yeah, I'd say you have a problem. But it's not that I wrote it, it's that you recognized yourself in it.
Although I will be nice and refer to these people as "Sunday parent" I have to confess in most cases, it's really "Sunday Daddy" As I've said, not every divorced parent is a "Sunday parent." but enough are that my heart goes out to the custodial parent. You have a tough row to hoe, and God bless you and give you strength, because you need it. And, if you live in my area, and your ex goes to my restaurant with his kids, and you murder him, call me. I'll testify that you were probably driven to it.
Sunday Parent only sees the kids once a week. He/she probably likes it that way. I mean, now he/she has it all. His/her freedom six days a week, and only seeing the kids once a week, he can be the hero.
Sunday Parent likes to whine about what a bitch the ex is. Really. He's constantly looking for someone to bitch to, be it the bartender, the guy in the next cubical, or the waitress. And Sunday parent really could give a flying crap if the kids are right there, hearing it. Sunday Parent is a victim you know. Ex is evil and lives only to make his/her life a living hell. In fact, one has to wonder how Ex does it, what with taking care of the kids all the time, which I know can be a full time job in itself. Not to mention working too, because Sunday Parent is always behind on his child support payments. But if you listen to Sunday Parent, you'd think that all the Ex does is sit around and plot ways to make Sunday Parent's life a living hell. If Ex isn't calling his/her lawyer every five seconds, to bitch about those child support payments that he/she hasn't seen for a year, Ex is calling Sunday Parent's boss to say nasty things. Or calling the Jerry Springer show to try to be guests. Or, worshiping Satan and making voodo dolls of Sunday Parent and sticking pins in the groin. Ex is one busy person.
Sunday parent also tries in 8 hours to get the kids over to his/her side. So what if Daughter is 13 years old and weighs 200 lbs and the doctor has told the EX that she has to lose weight or she's a candidate for a heart attack. Chances are she won't have that heart attack when Sunday parent is around, so why not let daughter eat cheese sticks, nachos, and two deserts. After all, the whole goal here is to be the hero! The more you can indulge your children in what they want, the more they will like you. Who cares if it's for their own good, right? Even if daughter does drop dead of a heart attack at the ripe old age of 16, she'll die loving Sunday Parent for allowing her to eat whatever she wanted. And just as important, she'll die hating Ex, because Ex tried to get her to eat that healthy stuff.
Sunday parent will spend lots of money to look like a hero too. Who cares if the kid's arms are three inches past the cuff of their sleeve, or if toddler daughter's dress is a tad too short to be respectable and strains across her chest and waist. The kids won't think Sunday Parent is a hero if he buys them clothes... much better to buy them stuffed animals, video games, dolls, bikes, toy trains, and anything else that is bright and shinny. And, if someone does attempt to tastefully tell Sunday Parent that the kid's clothing situation is really getting sad, Sunday Daddy blames Ex. "I know, I keep telling him/her the kids need new clothes, but you know what a bitch/bastard he/she is! What's a guy/girl to do?"
Sunday parent will use his kids as leverage to hit on single members of their sexual prefrence. If the waitperson is cute, Sunday parent will flirt like crazy, trying to get waitperson to like them. And he/she'll try to appeal to waitperson's sympathy too. When cute waitperson is around, Sunday parent will seem to be paying careful attention to the children, trying to show cute waitperson what a loving, wonderful caring parent he/she is. The moment cute waitperson turns his/her back, Sunday parent is watching his/her ass doing the exit thing. Then Sunday parent goes back to his normal self, which is to mostly ignore the kids, or to indulge them. "And tell you what, when we leave here, we'll go to Baskin Robbins where you can have ALL the ice cream you want!" You just know Sunday Parent is thinking, then when you're all high on sugar, I'll drive you back home to the Ex and let him/her deal with trying to get you calmed down and in bed for school tomorrow! Hah hah hah!
There's only one time where you start to see Sunday Parent beginning to crack, and that's the one or two weeks in the summer when Sunday Parent has custody of the kids. That's when you start to see Sunday Parent beginning to wonder if maybe Ex does do a bit more than just make sure Sunday Parent's life is a living hell. But, sadly, it only lasts while the kids are with Sunday Parent. Once they're safely back with Ex, Sunday Parent goes back to his/her fantasy life of believing that the kids are no trouble at all!
Now, I would like to say something to all the divorced parents out there who have primary custody of their kids and have Sunday Parent for an Ex.
There must be times when you feel that no one sees or understand what you go through. You are wrong. I see you. I have the utmost sympathy for your situation. And, I think you're not getting the credit you deserve.
I understand that you're trying to do what is best for your kids, while Sunday parent is only trying to do what the kids think is best. And I know there is a difference. You have those kids six days a week, you're the one who cleans up after them when they're sick, you're the one that has to deal with the arguments. "But Mooooom/Daaaaaad, everyone is going to that party at Jimmy's house... all the other parents know Jimmy's folks are in Florida for a week! They all think it's fine!" You darned well know if Sunday Parent was around, he/she would say, "Well, if it were just up to me I'd let you go, but you know how your mother/father is!"
You're the one who has to get them down off the sugar high that Sunday Parent put them in when he/she finally drops them off. You're the one that has to remind them, "Did you do your homework?" You're the one that looks at all the toys and stuff the kids brought home and can't help but think that the college fund you've been trying so desperately to add money to, still only has $36.29 in it.
You're the one who has to go over the budget one more time to see if you can afford the fancy winter coat your child wants to have, or if you'll be forced to buy the cheap one, because at least it's warm. Then deal with Sunday Parent buying the child the fancy coat later, so Sunday Parent can look like a hero. Then you're the one trying desperately to get that stain off the less expensive coat, hoping maybe you can return it and buy the kid a new pair of pants.
You might think that no one outside your immediet circle of aquantences has any idea what you go through.
I am the waitress at the place Sunday Parent likes to bring the kids to on Sunday afternoon, so he/she can let them eat anything they want, despite any restrictions their doctors have put them on. And I see how Sunday Parent acts. I see that the kids darned well know they can do whatever they want and get away with it. I see the way they regress.
And before you die of embarassment, thinking that I'm assuming that's how your kids are all the time, I see when you come in too. I have a pretty good memory for faces, even if I don't for names, and I recognize on Tuesday, the same children I saw on Sunday. And I see the difference. I see how your kids say, "Please," and "Thank you." I see the way you carefully look over the menu and make the best choices. I see you struggling in your wallet for enough money to leave a good tip, because chances are you had your days working in the restaurant business too. In fact, you might still be doing it, just trying to make ends meet. I see the way your kids don't throw food around or spill things, or run around the restaurant. I see that you're doing your best to turn your kids into responsible, delightful children, who will grow up to be responsible, delightful adults. And I understand that job is hell, because once a week you have someone trying to do their best to undo everything you've done. And it's so easy, it seems, for a child to forget his/her maners, it's harder to reteach them.
And I even hear your kids going, "Well, I'll just ask Mom/Dad to get me that, since you won't!" After you've explained to them that you just can't afford that new Gameboy advanced game. And I see the look of pain in your eyes. And I wish I could go over and comfort you, but I don't know you well enough and I don't want you to feel uncomfortable.
You know and I know that someday, as your kids get older, they'll realize all you did for them and all Sunday Parent didn't do for them. But that's a long way off, and there must be days when you feel like this is never going to end. You'll always be the heavy and Sunday Parent will always be Santa Clause and no one sees it.
But we do.
And trust me, we're on your side.
Again, before you write to tell me that you are a divorced parent who only sees the kids once a week, but you'd never be like Sunday Parent, remember, I'm not saying all of you are. I said at the beginning, I'm sure most parents who are divorced try their best to work out what's best for the kids. And if you are one of those, more power to you. But you must have seen situations like I've described above before. And you have to realize that there are some Sunday Parents who don't even deserve to be called Parents at all.