Woo hoo – the kids are back…
I was up with the larks yesterday morning, to collect the kids from the airport on their return from a week away with their Dad and my ex-in-laws.
As I greeted the kids with hugs and kisses I had a sense that something wasn’t quite right.
We piled into the car, ex-husband included, as I had offered to drop him off on the way home. And that’s when it all started to unravel.
“I think I ought to tell you” he started “we had a bit of an incident yesterday with my parents.”
Knowing, as I do, that my former in-laws behavior is more than a little erratic and bizarre, this didn’t come as too much of a surprise.
It transpired that the ex-mother-in-law (EMIL) had given money to one of the children and not the other. Like most kids, mine have a very strong sense of fair play. So the eldest told his Dad about the money. The ex confronted his mother about it, and it all kicked off.
Without going into the nitty gritty, the EMIL started to scream at the eldest for telling his father. She swore at him and was very verbally abusive. The ex leapt to his defense and an almighty screaming match broke out.
The whole incident was very shocking to the children. The EMIL’s behavior is, without a doubt, outside the parameters of ‘normal’ behavior. And her lack of rational thinking makes it hard for a child to understand and cope with.
The ex was so upset by the incident, that he packed the kids and their suitcases into the car and they left to spend their last night in a hotel near the airport.
Quite apart from the fact that this was a terrible ending to their holiday, it was a shocking way to see an adult behave.
I have been on the receiving end of the EMIL’s behavior on countless occasions over the years. I have personally found it very traumatic. The ex’s childhood was peppered with incidents of her erratic and abusive behavior and I have always done my best to be supportive of him.
The whole incident has left me in a terrible dilemma.
I do not want my kids to turn round to me in 20 years time and complain that I didn’t let them get to know their Grandparents. But I do not EVER want them to be subjected to this type of abuse again.
So, I dropped the ex off at home, and decided that it was not appropriate to have ‘the conversation’ with him in front of the kids.
As I drove home, I realized that the key to it all is the ex’s understanding of and attitude to his responsibilities. I do not want to demand that the ex does not take the kids to see his parents. He has to come to this conclusion himself. And from a legal standpoint, I’m not sure that I could force the issue even if I wanted to.
Finally, I got the kids home, to discover that they both had severe sunburn. The EMIL had told them not to use sunscreen and the ex had not over-ruled. I was horrified and on the verge of tears of frustration. Again, the ex had tried to brush it off as “not that bad”. Well, as it happens, it is bad. Really very bad.
And so we unpacked the suitcases. Half the clothes were missing and what was in the suitcases was either wet or dirty.
By this stage, I was about to spontaneously explode.
There I was, presented with two very serious issues (abusive behavior and failing to protect the children from sun damage) and one less serious issue of disrespectful behavior (failing to return the kids belongings in the condition that they were given).
I am glad that he took a stand against his mother, and removed the kids from their house on the last night of their holiday. But I have to question his decision to take them there in the first place, knowing that the final outcome could have been predicted.
As I am no longer his wife, I feel powerless to influence his decisions. I feel like I’m walking a tight rope. I want to make my feelings known without alienating him.
He needs to be “pulled up” about his disrespectful behavior towards me, but more importantly he needs to accept that his parents’ behavior towards the children could be irrevocably damaging.
I cannot begin to explain my frustration because I know there is not a great deal I can do. There are some things in life that people have to work out for themselves… and I fear that this is one of them.