I took my children to Seattle this weekend. I also took three of their friends. The 18 year old brought two friends, the 13 year old brought one. My car only seats five, semi-comfortably. A three hour drive with five boys required an additional seat and more than semi-comfort. To accomplish this task I rented a minivan. As a side note, I hadn’t driven a mini-van in about 20 years. They’ve come a long way. It was brand new, 12 miles on it when I picked it up. Plush, cozy, very comfortable, good gas mileage and the fact that I could make the side doors and the trunk open before we even got to the car made me feel like a kid with a new toy. Seriously. I don’t want to buy one, but I was impressed.
We drove up to Seattle on Saturday morning. It was cloudy and rain was predicted in Portland. When I checked the weather forecast the same was predicted for Seattle, however, when we arrived the sun was shining and it was a pretty spectacular day. A beauty day in Seattle.
We stayed in the middle of downtown on 5th Avenue in a high rise hotel with all of the amenities to make everyone happy. Knowing that if they were forced to stay in the same room together the 18 year olds would terrorize the 13 year olds, I got two rooms that connected. The 18 year olds shared a room with a king size and rollaway bed and it connected to a suite with a king size bed, a couch that turned into a queen and a rollaway bed because, as the 13 year olds explained to me, while they could share a room, they could not share a bed. Not cool.
We walked the streets of downtown Seattle, watched them throw fish at Pike Street Market, got kind of grossed out (at least I did) at the gum wall, went to the EMP, got coffee at the very first Starbucks location, and went to the Space Needle. That was what we did together. Then the 18 year olds went their own way and I allowed the 13 year olds to cruise around downtown on their own before it got dark and while they did that I met a girlfriend for a drink.
It was a great weekend and both of the boys had a very good time and so did their friends. I had a nice time too, as it turned out.
When we got back to Portland I just barely got my oldest son back to his fathers at the appointed time. Whenever I take him home its normal course that the youngest goes in with him to say hi to his dad for a bit. It works that way on the opposite weekends. When my youngest is brought home the oldest comes in to say hey and give me a hug. This Sunday the youngest was in his dad’s for about 15 minutes. When he got back in the car he told me how they were talking about his dad’s recent job offer (the man quit his job, in this economy, two weeks ago).
I asked if the boys told their father about their weekend in Seattle and he stumbled a bit as he said no. I said, “No?” That’s when he told me that the oldest told his father that he had gone to Seattle with his two friends and when Dad asked what the youngest had done for the weekend he told him he just hung out with his friend. Neglecting to add “in Seattle, too.”
I’m sorry, but this bothered me. I didn’t react right away. He went on to tell me they didn’t tell him because he couldn’t afford to do those types of things with them and they didn’t want to hurt his feelings. Then he asked me if I was mad. My response was “no, I’m just fascinated.” Which was true, but I was also a little mad.
Ultimately me and the youngest got into a bit of an argument because he told me if I was mad I was being selfish. “Dad can’t afford to go to Hawaii, Puerto Rico, take us to Seattle, take us to California, take us to anywhere, he can’t and you can, you’re just being selfish Mom!” He’s 13. Not 23.
I said “are you telling me because your father can’t do these things I shouldn’t?” “Are you saying that I should help him be able to do these things?” “Are you telling me I should feel guilty because I work, make money, save money and choose to spend my money the way I do because your father can’t!” Yea, I realize I’m 45 but was acting 15. I get it, but I couldn’t help it.
He told me that my selfishness came from the fact that I was disappointed they weren’t telling their dad these things so he would feel bad. Alright, he is really just 13. And maybe it took him a while to get there, and maybe he got there in a roundabout way, but he hit it pretty dead on. That is what was going on with me and it was selfish.
Selfish because I want the asshole to know that although he pays me nothing, and hasn’t for the last 18 months, I am doing quite well without him. I want him to know that his children are actually doing and experiencing things that they are excited about and it’s with my help, not his. I want him to know while he chooses to spend his money on cigarettes, weed, guitars and beer, I’m choosing to spend mine on traveling and unique experiences both with and without the children. Since the asshole and I have zero communication the only way I can get these messages to him is through the children and they aren’t having any part of it. Damn them.
That’s how I was feeling as I went to sleep last night.
When I woke up this morning it was a little different. Why is it important that the asshole knows anything about my life? It’s not, really. The fact that I haven’t tried to take him back to court for money, I have a roof over my head, I can feed the boys, and live day to day, is enough of a message for him. He really doesn’t need to know anything more than that. As much as I’d sometimes like him too.
When it comes down to it, while I hate that the boys make excuses for him. I’m pleased we (the asshole and I) have raised two boys who are sensitive to other people’s feelings.
I have great kids.
I live a good life.
I’m healthy, I’m happy and I leave for San Juan in 18 days.