This is my life. Amidst the wealth of bird song, hill views and blossom-lined playgrounds, I have the frequent reminder that I chose an absolute plank to father my child. I try hard, really hard, to see the good, to wish him well, to be empathetic to his ignorance and his ego-driven behaviour, but sometimes there’s no denying that the guy has the common sense of a mop.
This week saw me reach for the Gin on the back of two parenting choices that were as unsavoury as seeing Boris Johnson in a rubber thong. The first one is a coat-related incident; this feels a little risky, attempting to appeal to a varied mass market with an array of subject matters, but then writing two consecutive posts on children’s coats. But there is an autobiographical element to my blogs, and a therapeutic itch to be scratched through writing, that leads me to rant about a coat-related issue – so that I can refrain from being anything other than polite to the father of my child. I’m angry and I just want to find a funny side and attempt to clutch at some empathy by getting it down on paper.
Our child likes: old fashioned and multi-coloured knitted cardigans and Andy-Pandy-style hats.
Our child comes back from his dad’s: dressed like a sixty-year-old millionaire, fresh from his yacht.
Conclusion: they have been to the Trampoline Instructor’s parents, who must be made to believe my ex is far removed from the man who had a car with ‘I DON’T DO SPEED BUMPS!’ and ‘PIMP MY RIDE’ stickers on it, at the age of 32.
Whilst my ex may chose to portray himself deceptively, by sporting a royal blue velour jacket, and come over all Shaun-Ryder-meets-Willy-Wonka, I don’t sit comfortably with our son being dragged along in this image obsession, and used as an accessory.
I’m shocking at hiding how I feel and on this occasion, as my five year old walked in, in Chinos and a cream blazer, I blurted out: “What are you wearing? You look like you’re in fancy dress!” I explained afterwards that he is just as special in his Hungry Caterpillar jumper and Bermuda shorts, and should be welcome in ‘posh restaurants’ (where they had been), and by all people, in any of his clothes.
Then comes the inevitable… the text message! This is restraint its best, as I refrain from replying to the attack on my parenting skills for apparently upsetting our child – which did not happen. It is rich coming from a man who had a social care investigation less than a year ago, but the irony hits record levels after the subsequent conversation with my son, about his time with his dad:
Child: “Mummy, you know those balloons that float up to the sky? Well at Daddy’s he squeezed one into my mouth and it made my voice go really funny.”
There are no words.
- Send this: ‘Hiya, please can you not squeeze balloons into our son’s mouth? Sorry to be a pain it’s just that I’m not sure he’s quite ready for his first Pneumothorax. Does it sound reasonable to wait until he’s six?’
- Ring him and ask what the absolute fuck he was thinking.
- Make no contact with him and plan a ‘how to handle Daddy’ guide for our son.
The truth is that, as very tempting as the first two options are, I will get nowhere. I always try and think ‘what am I trying to achieve? What is the outcome I want?’ And making him angry is not what I want. I want my son to be safe – mentally and physically. Attempting to reason with a Sociopath (I say this objectively, not as an insult), is like investing my time in trying to drive a slipper. It’s pointless.
We go for option 3. I explain to my son the dangers and my views that I am sure that Daddy was just trying to have fun and to make them both laugh. We agree the plan that my little boy will ask himself ‘would my teacher do this?’ and if the answer is ‘no’, then he is going to politely say no to his Dad.
As it happens, I’m writing an autobiographical book about how to survive being left for another woman, and the current chapter that I’m on is called ‘Putting down the blow torch: How to act with dignity from day one’. This week’s drama fits in perfectly, because it’s been one of the hardest times to bite my tongue. Praise the good, ignore the bad, attempt to write something that makes people laugh on the back of it – I refuse to fight, or try waste my time criticising things I can’t change. He doesn’t mean to put our child at risk, he’s just so lost in his ego that he doesn’t think about any consequences – he just wants to be liked. And having written this, I feel less angry and just sad that he is the way he is.
Right. Empathy found, humour questionable, I’m off to set fire to a blazer…