Poor J. He is dealing with a great deal of c.r.a.p. right now with his ex over the kids. What I found as they spent the weekend with me (or rather, they spent the weekend at my house with J), is that the kids are generally sweet and just looking for attention and affection. J gives it to them, then they c.r.a.p. all over him. It's not that they are ungrateful, just misguided by their other parent. J's daughter seems to have really taken a shine to me - even tells me that I remind her of her dear aunt (whom I can tell she holds in the highest esteem). What really gets my goat, though, is how they treat their dad.
From the time I met J, I could tell that he really wants what is best for his kids. He is not a "hands off" dad by any means. I know that the past was hard on him, and he gave his ex tons of leeway when it came to raising the kids. I know that he came to the realization that they are NOT better off with her. He is fighting a constant uphill battle for their success in life.
I won't go into details, as that is his private business. What I will say is that it rankles me to NO END that he is treated so disrespectfully by the kids. They don't call him "dad", they call him by his first name. This would be sorta ok if they did the same with their mother, but they don't. This to me shows that they don't have any respect for his status as their father. They totally take advantage and it pisses me off. They also get really rough and violent with him, especially his daughter. When he says something she doesn't like, she immediately reacts by punching him or saying he is a loser. This really freaks me out. I have been able to bite my tongue, since it is his place to deal with them. But I know that I will not be able to sit on that forever. I expressed my opinions only to J so far. I did say on Sunday that there is no hitting around me. What I think I need to stress is that my house has some rules - like, we don't hit. We don't call each other names. We don't leave popsicle sticks shoved into the couch cushions (srsly, that freaked me out too).
T, the youngest boy, is much like Dino. In fact, he and Dino get along really well. Dino even calls T his "buddy". Lately, T has been acting JUST like a kid does when they are comfortable with the people they are around - they test their limits and act out a bit. Up until now, he has been on his best behavior. That changed this weekend. Don't get me wrong, he isn't being a hellion or anything. He is just pushing the little buttons that all kids push to see where it leads them. I am more than aware of this :) Thank goodness for my teaching experience! I can draw on that now to set the boundaries that he needs in a way that he can accept from a person that is not his parent.
I genuinely like his kids. I really DON'T like the situation they are in. I can't really blame them. They are a product of the struggles between a deranged mother and a dad that his trying his very best to be what they need. The problem is, they don't realize that they NEED him and the structure he wants to provide. They are fighting him every step of the way. Kids don't understand the grown up problems that J and his ex are dealing with - they make assumptions based on what they see and hear. And they hear a lot. They haven't yet said to me anything that I would find really alarming. But they have to be confused by all of this. And I can definitely see that they are torn. From the way they talk, their mom can do no wrong and their dad can do no right. That has to be really wearing on J. And yet, they are hanging all over him whenever I am around (staking their claim on him, no doubt) or when I call. They have affection for him, they just can't always express it.
On top of that, the ex is causing all kinds of havoc. I have never said this before about a mom who wasn't a drug addict or abusive in some way - but they would be MUCH better off without her. She is dragging them down into her chaos and there is no real way to stop it. At least, not without a court order. What I fear is that by the time the mediation date arrives (Jan. 7th or 9th, I can never remember which), she will have put wheels in motion that will only allow the mediator to make a decision that may not be in the children's best interest.
I know what you are saying - "But GC, you are defending your boyfriend, of course you are on his side." I say to you naysayers, "Duh." Yes, he is my boyfriend and I love him. But I am not blind in this relationship. I see him for what he is - a man trying to do the best he can with what he was dealt. I have seen him interact with his kids and find him to be an attentive parent. I have talked to him at length about options, course of action, decisions. This is really hard on him, and I want to be there to support him while he fights the fight of his life. I hate to see him suffer like this. And I hope he feels the love I give and that it lifts him up some.
The HONEST question I have to ask myself - how much drama can I take? I guess only time will tell. This is it, folks. The drama is here now. And so far, I can be the objective supporter that J needs.
****Update: there are powers in this universe that prevented me from finishing this post the way I WANTED to. I was rushed for time and left out a very important piece - and that is that I truly support and love J and want him to get his kids away from the psycho wench. The drama will come and go, as it does in all of our lives. I am just trying to say that I hope I can continue to be strong for him, and not fall into a wallowing puddle of self pity as I sometimes do when life gets REALLY hard. 'S all.