If anyone is curious about how my complicated conundrum about the chair at the baseball game turned out, here’s the follow-up….
Last Friday night, Boyfriend and I had a chance to discuss the incident with Josh. We recapped the events and opened the discussion with “…and then we never saw you again. What happened?”
Josh tried to band-aid the situation. “Well, I was going to say good-bye to you after the game but I didn’t see you.”
We nudged, “What about before then?”
“Wellllllll,” he began. He took a deep breath and looked down. “It’s just that, when I’m with my mom I feel like I can’t be with anyone else.”
“And by ‘anyone else’, you mean me?” Boyfriend asked.
Josh nodded, still looking down.
He told us that his mother did not issue specific instructions about not interacting with his father, it was just a feeling he had. (And we were pretty sure this was the case.)
We went on to discuss another issue: different rules with his mom. Boyfriend typically gives the boys a pretty long leash when they’re with him. Conversely, when he’s with his mother, Josh isn’t permitted to leave her side. It’s not like he could’ve stopped by to hang out, or even wave to us, on his way to/from the snack bar, the playground or the garbage can. He felt trapped.
Josh knew his father’s feelings were hurt. And Boyfriend was very understanding about the whole thing. He told Josh that he can “take it” and that someday soon (even though it doesn’t seem that way now), Josh will be older and have more freedom to move around and make decisions. We told him that he should never feel “stuck” when he’s with us and if he sees his mom and wants to say hello, he should do so.
Given Josh’s reaction, I’m glad I didn’t venture over there on that day. To do so would have put him on the spot, in an uncomfortable position: accept the chair and hurt Mom, or refuse the chair and hurt Dad. Of course, it shouldn’t be that way. Yet, unfortunately, that is Josh’s reality when he’s with his mom.