No, I’m not talking about the movie. This post is actually about a chair. Well, more than a chair… it’s complicated…
Background: For as long as I’ve been attending public events with Boyfriend, I’ve noticed this trend: Drake and Josh will not acknowledge their “other” parent in public. If Mom takes them to the event, Dad doesn’t exist. And vice versa. 99% of the time they are with their mother and Boyfriend is ignored. The kids know their parents had a stormy divorce and they don’t want to do anything that might stir up more conflict (because in that event, they suffer immensely). Boyfriend and I have always remained silent about this. Until yesterday.
Birthmom got married a couple weeks ago and returned from her honeymoon yesterday. Yesterday, “our” weekend with the boys was scheduled to end at the approximate conclusion of Drake’s 3pm baseball game. Birthmom and Boyfriend had made arrangements for Drake and Josh to leave the game with her.
Drake had to be at the game early to practice with his team. We dropped him off on time and then ran home to gather some chairs and the boys’ belongings. On the way to the game, Boyfriend gave Josh a few dollars to spend as he wished at the snack bar. This offering met with a smile and a “thank you”. When we arrived at the game, the boys’ mother was already there.
“Do you see your mom?” I asked Josh. He nodded.
“Don’t you want to say hi?”
He shook his head and kept walking.
“But you haven’t seen her in over a week,” I said.
Boyfriend encouraged him, “Go ahead. Say hello. You can take your overnight bag to her.”
So away he ambled and that was the last we saw of him. He was greeted enthusiastically by his mother, who wrapped her arms around him, pulling him onto her lap. And there he stayed without so much as a glance in our direction. After they took a trip to the snack bar, he migrated from her lap to the grass at her feet. Next to me was the chair we’d brought for him- the kind of chair he requested. I wondered if I should take it to him so he didn’t have to sit on the ground. I wondered a lot of things:
- She’s claimed him as “hers” now. Is it wrong for me to venture over there?
- Who am I to offer the chair? I’m just the dad’s girlfriend. Is it my place? Now that she’s officially married to her partner, does that make me even less significant?
- Would she think I’m trying to get too close to her?
- Would she think I’m trying to make a point that we brought a chair for him and she didn’t?
- Would she think I’m trying to piss her off?
- Would she view it as an act of aggression?
- Would she see it as an opportunity to reach across party lines?
- The divorce is over now. She’s remarried. It’s time we put an end to the kids’ loyalty conflict.
- Maybe we should start sitting closer to Birthmom at these events. It would make it easier for the kids to make eye contact and sneak a wave to their father.
Boyfriend was rather hurt by the incident and didn’t want to talk about it. He busied himself with his photographic equipment and took magnificent pictures of the game. I proceeded to get all cerebral about the chair and the issues it represented for hours. Truly, it is time to tear down the wall and give the kids the freedom to interact with their family regardless of who is present. Countless times over the past few years I’ve wanted to, in some fashion, extend my hand in a peace offering. And yet every time I am stopped short by the knowledge that “they” don’t like “us”. And I don’t want my gesture of goodwill to cause additional drama/trauma for Drake and Josh (or myself, admittedly as I carry several emotional scars from previous interactions).
Readers, as always, I welcome your thoughts on this topic.