I got a letter from Hannah and Eli’s dad last night makingarrangements for their Christmas vacation. Only, his idea of taking them for Christmas vacation in a weekend in Boise. He hasn’t seen Hannah for over a year now, maybe as long as 18 months (not counting the ten-minute visit in the airport when we picked Eli up after his summer visit with him, the ten minute visit where he and his wife brought two shirts that were too big and felt proud that they had contributed to her school wardrobe, told her “hey, good luck with school,” and walked out. In the meantime, Eli had two big bags full of things they had bought him, clothes and some football memorabilia stuff and blah fuckety blah. He (their dad) keeps saying that he is goingto do this or that or the other thing, but none of them ever bear fruit, and it is really, really bothering me.
He chose not to take them for Thanksgiving last year or Christmas the year before that, and even though he can have them every spring break, he hasn’t taken that opportunity for three or so years. Summer break, he used to take them both for at least a month at a time, and the last two years it has been two weeks, tops. Last summer, Eli was there for three weeks, and Hannah chose not to go-and her dad just said, “ok.”
I am at a loss as to how to handle this. When Hannah moved back home, the agreement was that he still would not pay child support (while she lived there, we just both paid for what the child living with us needed, and it worked out) but that he would pay for all transportation costs for visits, as well as contribute for school fees and clothes. So what has happened is that he simply doesn’t see them. Like, when he sees them over New Years, he wants us to drive the 165 miles to drop them off, then turn around and pick them up in two days, and he won’t pay for that. As long as I was paying for half the costs, he saw them a lot more. Anyway, now he just chooses not to see them, or in the case of New Years, wants me to shoulder the cost of getting them there and back, and will be pissed if I don’t also send money for them to contribute to meals. I understand that he and his wife are flying in, or are planning to. But I also know how much round trip plane tickets cost from where they are coming, and they are going to be spending about the same as we are for gas. Anyway, that isn’t really the whole point.
The part I don’t know how to handle is this: I am pissed. I am pissed at the way he has treated Hannah since she made the decision three years ago to move back home. I am pissed about his complete lack of support of her during the ordeal with CF. I am pissed that he isn’t fulfilling his obligations, either emotionally or financially. And I am pissed that they HAD this from him-they had love and support (he has never been consistent about child support, but it wasn’t such an issue because he was helping with school clothes and paying for their visits and all that) from him pretty much consistently for many, many years, 13 or 14, and suddenly he took that away.
Hannah doesn’t want to go; she said, “Why would I want to spend almost three hours in the car to go spend two nights with him and his wife, stuck in a hotel room? Besides, if he can’t be bothered to pay for a plane ticket so we can have an actual vacation with him and see the rest of the family, then screw him.” Eli was much more, “Meh, whatever, I don’t care.”
They are of an age where I don’t have to make them go, and to be truthful, I don’t WANT to. I think it absolutely unfair for him to expect me to take them to Boise to see him; if he wants to see them that badly, he should come to Twin Falls and stay there for the weekend. Really. It isn’t as if he is going to have a buttload of presents for them (he hasn’t actually bought them a Christmas present beyond a $10 Wal-Mart card for several years), so he could just as easily fly into Twin. But even if he does that, what about the kids? They don’t want to go. Especially Hanna; she is tired of being hurt by him. Yet at the same time, I think it is really, really important for the kids to have (or at least try to have) a relationship with him. The part of me that sees exactly where Hannah is coming from is all like, “Nope, not going to make you go, yep, I understand why you don’t want to see him.” However, the part of me that still has compassion for him and wishes that he had the ability see what his choices are doing to the kids wants to give him the chance to at least see him for a few days; maybe the connection isn’t so important to them now, and maybe HE isn’t feelingall that close or loving toward the kids now, but won’t that change over time?
I don’t have any answers; and I have very little time to make a decision. The cold part of my mind is leaning toward writing him a letter and cc:ing his attorney, saying, “No, I am sorry, but the deal is all of Christmas Vacation or none of it. You have chosen NOT to follow through with any of your other weekend visits (he was also going to come down in April and again in July, and then September….), and I am not going to pander to your whim this time.” But-shit, I don’t know.
And I hate this stuff; I hate it for my kids, and I hate it for him. I mean, sure, his choices have consequences, and them not really caring whether they see him or not is definitely a consequence, but I still hate it (do you know that he and Hannah used to talk to each other every week for at least an hour? Every.stinking.week. and now he doesn’t answer when she calls, nor does he call her back) for all of it. I hate that he is not the kind of person who can sit down and discuss the issues, real or perceived, and try to figure out the best solution. I hate that his wife saw Hannah deciding to move back home meant she lost some competition, and has treated Hannah like shit and hasn’t spoken to me since. I just-I hate it.