Sunday, October 21, 2007

Wow, lots of things happen to you!

That's what my new co-worker said to me the other day when I complained about the note from my management company. The week before my babysitter was unable to pick the kids up & I had to scramble to find somebody at the last minute (called my old sitter) and it was horrible, horrible panic. Then got letter from collection agency - wanting money for plastic surgeon who two years ago billed me for 1) er visit, 2) after hours er visit and 3) after hours er consult! Can you believe it?!? The gall! I actually got the collection guy to get the bill halved for me - so that was good...

But I guess.. yeah... lots of stuff happens to me. Or maybe it's just a bad...err.... season!

So I called up the management company for my building & spoke to the guy in charge of my building. He was actually very reasonable. He said if it's one night every once in a while.. it's ok - but he couldn't allow anything that was "regular" (every other week...). So I was ok with that.. but then he said that it was the SUPER who ratted us out - because he found some urine in the building! I was like "Hey! That's not our dog! He doesn't do that, and if he did you can be sure we would clean it up!" So he was all "Oh man, that means there's ANOTHER dog in my building!" and I was all "But this isn't fair! I'm being penalized for something that wasn't even me!" I guess I could really deal with it if he had said that the neighbors had complained about the clicking toenails...but something we didn't even do! (And J said he's actually seen puddles outside the elevator on our floor - before he's walked his dog.... so I bet the other owner is on our floor!!!)

So - this is the action plan: We're going to (shhhhhh) bribe the super! Yes! I've never done anything like that in my life... but... I'm trying to think out a script - I have to. There is no way I can just walk up to him and be like "so, here's some money - keep your mouth shut if you know what's good for you!" Ha! I figure I'll say something like "I heard you had some trouble with a dog here, I want you to know it wasn't the dog that sometimes comes to visit my apt - but I want to give you this just in case having the dog here causes you any extra work - and hope that you'll let me know if there are any problems...." Does that sound too cheesy? I figure that since it wasn't a neighbor who complained (and he's such a quiet dog it was really hard to think of who would...) that if I do this we'll be safe.

And thus I enter the Dark Side.

I received a phone call from Max's teacher. In kindergarten he would receive weekly reports about his "behavior" and his teacher last year (same one as this year) had the same complaints. He likes to chatter. He likes to "laugh" and joke around.. he sometimes would rather (gasp!) do that than do work... and he's not "working up to his capacity."

I played the voicemail message for Max and showed him the note I wrote back to his teacher. I wrote that if I hear from her again he will lose a privilege (probably tv) and if I don't, I'll get him some Pokemon cards at the end of the month. We talked about it, and he understood (or seemed to) the cause and effect. Honestly? Yes, he's an active, rambunctious kid.. but I also think he's a wee bit bored. When I mentioned this to his teacher last year she got upset "But I make this class so challenging!" So I know better than to bring it up again. But his homework? Busy work. He finishes it in 10 minutes. If that is any indication of what his regular work at school is... Oy. So - we'll see what happens.

Wednesday the kids were over at X's. I call to say goodnight and X gets on the phone. "Nathan just at pork chop and mashed potato. I understand he never eats that with you." I kept my cool and said something like "well, then it's even better that you have him once a week now, isn't it?" but it upset me. Then Saturday he calls me: "Do you ever read to Nathan? He doesn't seem to be interested in anything." When I respond that he's interested in Star Wars and Pokemon he tells me that "Children should be exposed to all different things.... anybody can tell you that... you're not doing enough reading."

So here's the thing: In and of themselves these are just dicky X comments... but you know.. he has this WAY of always knowing the things I"m not so sure about... the parts of myself.... or my parenting... that I feel I can do a bit better. Like if he had said "I don't think you talk to the boys enough - you don't let them express themselves..." I would have told him he was an ass and hung up. I know that's patently untrue - and I KNOW that's what I'm good at. But these are two things that I'd like to do better.... I don't cook and feel deficient in that... and I feel like I NEVER have enough time to read to them as much as I'd like. Or, if/when I do.. well... I don't foist stuff on them that they don't feel like reading. I read what they want. Which is probably fine for 5 and 7 year olds... but... well.. he just plays on those insecurities. How does he know!?!?

Friday night I went to Shabbat services w/J and his daughter. It's at the synagogue he loves. I used to work there - before I went back to grad school - and now.. well.... I just can't connect. So I was sitting there.. and thinking - really thinking - about why I have these feelings about this place. I used to love it before I worked there... so what happened? What is it about the place? And I started remembering how it felt to work there... and I felt invisible there. I was an admin person and that was it. Was not really seen as a smart, articulate - PERSON. I felt invisible. And mostly from the two rabbis. Now, these rabbis are idolized. They are charismatic, dynamic, exciting, educated and insightful people. For the members. Me they said "hi" to and that was it...

But as I was really thinking about it more and more... I realized/remembered how it was for me there... it was right before X and I married. I was miserable. I went to a therapist and cried to her every time. I didn't know it was going to be like this. I thought love was different. Why is he like this? Why does he say these things? (And I don't want to get started about the therapist I was seeing then. She said nothing like .. ummm... if you're so miserable now maybe you want to think about things BEFORE you get married? I understand they're not supposed to "advise" but shit. She could have hinted....) I had just told X about a large amount of debt I had, and he was just horrible to me in ways that I just didn't even know how to counter... and I just wanted to talk to those rabbis. I just did. I wanted the sympathy that they were showing everybody else... I needed it. I was so needy. So miserable. And I remember even walking to where their offices were... hoping they'd come out.. ask what was wrong.. invite me in.. ask me to talk... They didn't.

And probably. Really. That was an unreal expectation. How could they have known? They were extraordinarily busy men.. with hectic schedules, members coming in all the time.. etc, etc... and I'm sure I wasn't the most outgoing of people.. especially about that! I mean, nobody - not even my closest closest friends knew about how horrible our relationship was... So there I was last Friday.. remembering this.. and tears started streaming down my face. You know, it's like I did therapy on myself. I forced myself to remember how it was... probably feelings I'd kept pent up for a long time - it was such an awful, awful awful time in my life... and realizing how now I just could NOT connect with the place because of that. It was a kinda surreal experience.

So I told J & well... he loves the place so we're gonna see. I figure that now that I realize what it's all about & talk it through... it'll be ok.. but we're gonna investigate other places, too.

So - now I'm up and ready to face another week! You?


Family Adventure said...

Wow, that was quite the moment in the Synagogue.

You must have felt so lonely back then, before your marriage. What a jerk your X was!

And seriously, what's with his need to constantly needle you? It's like he NEEDS to be in touch with you all the time. The things he calls about are insignificant. Why does he need to call you and say that Nathan ate well? That's a great thing, but move on.

I'm sure he knows that you are not confident in the cooking department, but if he is over you and the two of you, he should not need to be contacting you for every little thing like this.

It's like he hasn't moved on yet, and still needs to bicker with you.

You should just see it for what it is - an attempt by him to find out whether what he says still matters to you. And you need to stay firm that it DOES NOT matter.

As long as he doesn't have anything IMPORTANT to say that affects the boys' well-being, of course.

You are doing the best parenting job you know how, and that is more than you can say about him, from what I gather!

Thinking back in the Synagogue, you realized how much sadness he brought into your life. Don't let him continue to do that now. Keep your head up! Enjoy parenting your lovely boys your way!


niobe said...

I'm with Heidi. There are tons of bad things that happen to us that we can't control, but one thing that really seems to bother you and that you might be able to eliminate from your life is your inevitably unpleasant contacts with X. If you *have* to talk on the telephone to X and he says something obnoxious about reading or cooking, how about if you tried just not responding at all to his taunts, but saying "I need to go now. Goodbye" or "Thanks for telling me. Goodbye" or "That's very interesting. Goodbye" or "I'll certainly think about that. Goodby" or something to that effect? If he's getting no reaction from you, he might stop trying to needle you.

Anonymous said...

If you can just laugh and say, "Oh those two boys! They never cease to amaze me!", and then say, "I've got to go, thanks for making my day!" and be all cheerful about his call, I think he will stop! It may take a while. When he hangs up, just thank God you are not him! He is still attached to you and can't seem to live without you. So he feels like he must punish you for not being in his life.
Wow! I could have been a therapist! Anywho, I sent you a message over on the other site. I hope you will read it..... ~Waldo

G4 said...

You've gotten some good advice from the three above me, but you need to watch out that you don't slip into "what can I do that will change X's behavior?"

I'd bet serious money that X will interact with you in basically this way for at least a decade. You need to be thinking in terms of strategies that make it easier for you to "co-parent" with him the way he is now.

Julie Pippert said...

I have no advice about bribery...I am horrible at that sort of thing. I'd make a better mobster, full of bluster and threats I think LOL.

Umm no I think it's okay to feel like your therapist let you down. They can't tell you what to do but umm she needed to intervene, could even be in the form of a question.

I hope that moment of realization in Synagogue was a bubble popping, freeing you.

And hang in there. I TOTALLY understand the life in which Much Occurs. :)

Using My Words

Stepping Over the Junk said...

I cant stop laughing at "we're going to bribe the super!"

I have similar experiences with my exhusband. He calls and says "waht kind of music are you exposing the girls to? Do you play them Mozart?" and my answer is "Dire Straits and Reba McEntire BABY!" He always treats me as if I am doing everything unwisely...oh, I could go on...

Kate said...

Heya, gotta say, we all know very well that if you read a kid a book that they aren't interested in they won't listen and they won't get anything out of it. You need to read them things that they enjoy so they will be interested in talking about it later. Maybe just pick a couple of books from the library that are gonna widen their interest and then let them try them out.