Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Getting through the loooong weekend

My ex's visit has come and gone. For the most part, it was a good one. Friday night and Saturday was rough on my son, but it was his own doing. Drama Queen now completely understands why I'm not married to the man anymore, although it's for a different reason than the actual one.

Ex arrived on time Thursday morning. His plane from Houston to Denver was early, allowing him and his luggage enough time to make the connection in Denver. "That airport is stupid," he said. Yes, I agreed. I'd warned him already.

He called me from the airport here, which is a little over a mile from my house. We watch the planes coming and going from our back porch. "Could you have picked a more remote place to live?" he exclaimed. Why yes, I could. I could have picked Alamosa, CO. I had an offer there, too. It's much more remote, cold, and barren. The airport is a double-wide, I swear. So, yes, Ex....it could be worse.

"This reminds me of Palo Duro Canyon," he said, looking at the Bookcliffs. Uhm, no, Ex. Here's Palo Duro Canyon (in West Texas):

"Well," I said to Ex. "Our canyons are a little bigger." Like this:

He'd learn a lot while he was here.

Son filled him in on the low crime rate here. Front page news is that you can't park backwards downtown. Back in Texas, our front page news was about drive-by shootings. What I was most happy to see, though, was that Ex made an effort to get to know Daughter. Without his wife here to interfere, Daughter was able to shine and sh0w him the spectacular young woman she has become. He saw her with open eyes, and he was really proud of her. And I think a little sad that the little girl in her has gone.

As soon as he got his rental car, he started driving around the city. The night before, he told me he'd been looking at maps of Grand Junction and "it didn't look hard to get around." He didn't even bring his GPS. Because of that, I became his personal GPS. "This is so stupid!" he kept saying. It kinda is, truth be told. Our north-south streets are numbered according to the number of miles they are from the Utah border. Like 25 Road or even 25 1/2 Road. Except for one portion of the city that is numbered 1st Street, 2nd Street, etc. The east-west streets are lettered a mile apart. So you have G Road and H Road, or even F Road and F 1/2 Road. Say that one out loud. It's funny!

So, Ex called about 50,000 times that morning, trying to find Daughter's school. I guided him there. She was really surprised to see him show up in the lunchroom. He met all of her friends and ate some lunch with her. Perfect. This is what she needed from this visit.

Both of the kids needed to know that he put out the effort to be here for them. The trip needed to be about them and his relationship with them. Without his wife here to keep him angry and stirred up about everything, he was peaceful and easy to get along with.

That night, we took him to the Farmer's Market with us. It's held downtown each Thursday during the warm weather. He and the kids browsed the merchant booths, while I did my shopping. Fresh roasted green chilis. Candied almonds for the kids. Eggplant. Palisade peaches. Enstrom's ice cream, fresh from the factory (about two blocks away).

The kids' friends came up to them in the crowd. One boy was particularly happy to see Daughter. He shook Ex's hand, and immediately got a lesson in how to have a "proper" handshake. Poor kid! But he tagged along with Daughter for awhile anyhow.

I got everyone something to drink. Ex stopped for ice cream and offered it to everyone -- except me. I actually didn't want any yet, but that chapped me anyhow. I'd just bought him something cool to drink, and he took this chance to be rude to me. Wow.

The next day, he had lunch with Son and Drama Queen. They went to this hole-in-the-wall Mexican food place that Son loves. Ex was rather condescending about it, until he tasted it. Great stuff, that place. He started to learn that just because something is small doesn't mean it's not good. Coming from Houston, this seemed to be a surprise to him.

We picked up bagel sandwiches for everyone that afternoon, picked up the kids, and went up to the Grand Mesa for a picnic dinner. My dad, Ex, and Daughter rode in one car on the way up. My mom, me, Son, and Drama Queen rode in another. We'd switch kids on the way back down.

I'm not sure what started it, but Son was in a horrible mood as we left. It might have been something as simple as his grandpa telling him to hurry up, when we were all outside waiting for him. I'm not sure. But he listened to what I call his "angry music" all the way up the mesa. About an hour's drive. It's a GORGEOUS drive! Ex was bowled over. Beautiful pine and aspen trees, and pristine lakes. I think he was beginning to see why we live here.

So, we got to a picnic site that overlooked a lake. We unloaded folding chairs, and I asked Son to carry some. Apparently, I sat them down with the handles facing the wrong way.

He snatched them from me and said, "Jesus...." Now, this is a big no-no in our household. And he knows it's particularly offensive to his grandmother, so he says it where she can hear it. I can't imagine wanting to upset my grandma, but he does it all the time.

She walked away.

I stopped him. "Hey, try to grown some niceness," I said.

Ex walked up just in time to hear Son say one more thing to me: "Bitch."

Oh, that did it. Ex came unglued at him. He didn't yell, but he was furious. So was I. Many things were said. Son's watched me with a look that said, "So what?" and he blew off anything said to him. I can understand being irritated with his grandpa, even though Grandpa was right, but this degree of anger I didn't understand. Where had it come from?

He grabbed his sandwiches and headed down to the lake with Drama Queen. Ex and I talked about Son's attitude and what had just happened. I told him about Son cursing at his grandmother all the time. About his temper fits. About the struggles. This time, Ex was listening. He'd seen it first-hand and was shocked.

The rest of the evening was fairly pleasant. Ex ate his sandwich, then headed down to the lake after Son. I couldn't see them. Apparently, in the course of their conversation, Son called his dad a dick. Son claims to have been kidding, but Ex smacked him in the back of the head for it. Yeah, that went over well.

We stayed until sunset. It was hard to leave. Sitting on the side of a hill of wildflowers, looking over the lake and the trees. The breeze was cool, but the sun warmed you still. A small moment of peace, to recharge our batteries before heading back to life in the valley.

Son came and apologized to me as we were leaving. I told him I was glad he was sorry, but we really needed to discuss how all this was going to stop. "It's over the top," I said. He nodded and got into my dad's car.

On the way down, we stopped at the Visitor's Center to use the restrooms. When I came out, Ex was waiting for me.

"I'm really disappointed in his behavior," he said. "You know, a year ago, I'd have blamed it on the move and probably on you. Now, I can't do that. I don't understand it. He's not been raised like that."

Wow. You could have knocked me over. Yet another thing he'd never have said with his wife around. We talked for a moment about what's wrong and what we might be able to do. He wanted the kids to read The Last Lecture. I told him to send the audiobook because they were more likely to listen to it than read it.

I was starting to notice something, though. Ex has been reading a lot of self-help books. He's full of kitchy catch-phrases and analogies. He used to regurgitate Rush Limbaugh. Now, he sounds like Dr. Phil.

When we all got back to the house, my dad was annoyed and Drama Queen was silent. Until we took her home. Apparently, all the way back down, Ex had interrogated Drama Queen about her life and her plans. Then, he was full of advice as to how she should conduct her life, even down to what career he thinks she should pursue.

Interior decorator, for those keeping score.

The next morning, I hit the shower before waking the kids for the day. My folks had gone to Monticello, Utah, to visit the LDS temple there. As I showered, I started getting cranky. Every voice on the radio was driving me nuts. I hated it all. I was sick to death of Casey Kasem's voice. The music was highly annoying. I was drying off and getting dressed, and turned off the radio, and I was still about to go ballistic. That's when the shakes set in. I stood there trembling, with my hair dripping, and it dawned on me what was happening.

My blood sugar was dropping. This only happened when it crossed a dangerously low threshold. One of the effects is that I don't think or articulate clearly. That's why it had taken so long for me to realize what was happening. Now, I could feel it plummeting, and no other adults were around to help.

I was in trouble, and getting worse.

My legs were too wobbly to go down the stairs. I went to my daughter's room, but she wasn't there. I headed back to my room and then saw her. I'd walked right past her. She stared at me, and I thought of how pale I must look.

"I need your help," I said. It was a desperate struggle to hold on to each word and get it out of my mouth. "Sodas are in the fridge. I need one. And a yogurt. Fast."

She took off to go get it for me. I sat in my big red chair, in the corner of my room. I felt like I was going to pass out, if my body stopped shaking long enough to let me. I held on to the sounds of my daughter getting what I needed from the kitchen. She ran to me and handed me the soda. It was in a bottle with a pop top.

"Opener," I said, and she took off to retrieve an opener for me. I started to dig into the yogurt, too. I hadn't eaten anything yet that morning. It tasted funny. Later, I'd notice it was expired. At that moment, I didn't care.

She came back and opened the soda. I started downing it, knowing it would take a few minutes to hit my system. Please hurry, I thought, willing it into my blood stream.

I pointed to my cell and told Daughter to call Ranger. I could see she was worried, and I needed another adult here. He said he'd be right there.

Poor guy. He was beside himself with worry as he got into his car and headed to help me. He got up the block and his car died. See, his gas gauge is broken. It said half a tank. It was really empty. There's a gas station on the next corner, though, so Ranger grabbed a container and got some gas to get him going.

When he got to my house, Daughter had already helped me get Son up and going for them to see their dad. I was still in the red chair, and my head was clearing, but I was very cold. I was wrapped in blankets and still pale. He sat down in front of me and held my face. He was so worried, he had tears in his eyes.

"What can I do?" he asked. He felt bad about not getting there sooner.

"Nothing," I said. I indicated the empty soda bottle. "That's bringing it back up. I'm just really chilled now." I told him what happened. I didn't know how low it got because my meter isn't working. I need a new one, and would get a prescription for one later that day.

He propped my feet in his lap, and we chatted while I got back to normal. He was so desperately worried. This hadn't happened to me in over a year. And I hadn't even had my diabetes medication the day before, so my numbers should have been high. However, it looks like the combination of losing weight recently and high stress made a dangerous cocktail.

Ex came to pick up the kids for the day. Before he left, Son came to me and asked, "Are you doing okay, Mom?" I almost cried. He actually cared. I told him I'd be fine, and he headed off with his dad.

Ranger and I ended up going to get some breakfast. A nice, hot bowl of oatmeal for me. With cream, brown sugar, and raisins. Heavenly comfort food, and just what I needed that day. The soda would actually make my blood sugar go too high, which makes me sleepy. So, Ranger tucked me into the couch at home with pillows and blankets. And there I stayed for most of the afternoon, dozing.

He eventually left me to nap. Then, my folks got home, and I told my mom what happened.

"Why did you call Ranger?" she asked.

"Because I needed an adult here," I said. "And you all were in Utah."

"Oh, that's right," she said, and her look told me she'd momentarily forgotten that I was home alone with the kids.

Then, Ex arrived with the kids. He'd apparently invited Drama Queen and Daughter's best friend along, too. They'd gone to the movies and to the mall.

Daughter and her friend giggled through the door and all the way to her room. Son stormed in and sat on the couch. Drama Queen went out the back door, to pout on the porch.

Ex came in. "What's the trouble?" I asked. He didn't know. He said he'd had some attitude problems with Son at the mall. Then, Son and DQ got into an argument. Now, they were texting each other, which is how their arguments go. They don't talk. They text. Weird!

Ex looked up Hurricane Gustav on the computer, to see if it was headed to his home in Texas. Apparently, his wife was calling many, many times, wanting him to come home early because of the storm. He didn't want to, but he was getting the facts.

Later, we decided to go to dinner. Son was still in a glowering mood. He popped off a few rude comments, and Ex had enough of it.

"Come here," he said. "We need to step out and have a talk."

Son lost it. "No! I'm not going anywhere with you!" he yelled. Yes, yelled. In the middle of the restaurant. "I've had enough of this today! I'm done with it!"

Son turned to me. "He's been on my case all day. I've had it!"

Ex leaned over his shoulder, whispering things to him. I couldn't hear it, but he looked furious. Son just stared at me as Ex talked. Then, Ex went to the restroom.

"Seriously, Mom," Son said. "He's been on me all day. I'm so sick of it."

In a low voice, I said, "You know, Son, he wasn't that way until the incident last night. He might still be pissed at you for that, so he'd coming down on you harder."

"Yeah, that could be," Son said, calming his voice a little.

"And no matter how you look at it, the way you just handled this was really out of line. Hollering like that isn't appropriate at all. Get ahold of yourself and think before you say anything else to your dad."

He was still unhappy, but calming down. He was thinking of refusing to eat, but his love of chicken-fried steak won out.

The rest of the evening went by fairly pleasantly. Ex was leaving the next day. Son needed to salvage the visit.

The kids had breakfast with Ex the next day. He had to get to the airport around noon. We talked before he left, and he told me how impressed he was with Daughter. She showed him more of her interests and talents, and he really paid attention.

"One thing disturbs me, though," he said.

"What's that?"

"My daughter has boobs." This was his way of saying she's not a little girl anymore, and he's shocked my it. Yep, since he last saw her, she's changed into a young woman in mind and body. She has curves. And he doesn't like it one bit.

He left. And the kids and I watched movies all day. Drama Queen came over that evening, and we watched more DVDs.

DQ runs cold all the time. There's no meat on her bones, so it figures. I watched with suspicion, though, as they carefully arranged the blanket over Son's lap, stretching it high and tight. Both of DQ's hands went under the blanket. Even though they tried to hide it, movement started around Son's crotch.

And I'm sitting right there! His mother is right beside her on the couch! His grandmother is dozing in the chair next to me. His grandfather can see them from the kitchen. What are they thinking?!?! WTF?!?!

I catch Son's eye. "Lose the blanket," I said, quietly, glaring at him. DQ couldn't hear me. I was talking low enough so as not to attract grandparent attention.

He tried to play dumb for a moment. "Why?"

"I know what's going on," I said, holding his gaze. "Lose. The. Blanket. NOW."

So, they did. At least, they put it down, sat straight up, and all hands were above the blanket.

Our DVD ended and we were going to start another. They started cozying up again.

"I need to see you in the other room," I said to Son.


"Don't mess with me," I warned. "Come with me NOW."

He followed. In the other room, I said. "Okay, I know what was going on under the blanket." He started to deny it, and I stopped him. "No. Don't lie to me. I'm not stupid and I'm not blind."

He gave up. "I tried to stop her," he said. "But she wouldn't stop."

"Oh really? Okay then." And I called DQ into the room, too.

She had that deer in headlights look she gets when she's caught at something. I repeated myself. "I know what was going on under the blanket."

She stared at me. "Son here says he tried to stop you and you refused."

Still wide-eyed and silent.

"This crap will stop," I said. "I've had it. For now, no more sharing blankets. You're lucky that I'm still allowing you on my couch together. And you should realize that you're REALLY lucky I'm allowing you in the same house together."

Still wide-eyed and silent.

"You are 16-year-old children and you're playing with fire. These are adult things, and you are not ready for an adult life. And you BOTH know this isn't appropriate behind my back, much less in front of my face." I stared back into her wide eyes. "If you can't stop it because it's the SMART thing to do, then I'll stop it for you. Don't be foolish enough to think I can't."

Wide-eyed stares.

Oh, just wait until I confront them about the pictures.... I'll have to be more calm when I do that, though. This situation pissed me off in the biggest way.

I was right there. RIGHT there. How stupid.


Walker said...

I don’t know where to start.
That was a lot to digest.

I guess, I hope you’re feeling better is the best place.
I have to watch my sugar before it becomes a problem.
Maybe you should keep some hard candy in your bedroom for a quick fix when you have an emergency.

Not knowing anything about your ex husband other than what I read here in this post I can fully understand why he got on son’s ass and maybe not enough.
I don’t agree with smacking kids but son is a 16 year old condom caring member of the male sex of the species who thinks he is a man so he earned that smack for not respecting those who A: brought him into this world B: love him C: make sure he has everything to keep him happy and healthy, like his TEETH.
The boy needs to learn and understand what the word RESPECT means.

It looks like your ex has been trying to understand life a little more.
I think as we get old we lighten up, like I have, kinda.
The fact that he acknowledges that you’re doing all the right things says a lot.

Your son’s mouth is growing up faster than his brain is and the Drama Queen….
If I start saying my piece about her it will be longer than your post.
She will be the one that makes or breaks your son.
She will either drive him to achieve more than he ever thought he could achieve or destroy himself in the process all because he wants to please her or shut her up.

I was at the local sex shop last Christmas and saw something that you could buy for the Drama Queen.
No not a vibrator, I’m trying to make you happy not her.
You know those slippers them make that look like puppies, kittens and other cute furry critters?
Well the sex store had a pair that looked like dicks complete with black curly fur.
Get her those to keep her feet warm and out from under the blanket.

Anonymous said...

I am with Walker - that was a lot!

I am glad that the visit from your ex went well, and even more happy to hear that he was genuinally interested in the kids and got to see them for who they really are (especially your daughter - she has been deserving of that for a very long time.) As much as a pain as he was, I almost hope for the kids' sake that he makes trips out here a regular thing - especially if they are without his wife!

Where to begin on your son and DQ . . . I was a VERY late bloomer, so I honestly can't speak to the ills of having sex at such a young age - though I know how complicated sex was at 22 (and how complicated it still is at 30!) Would you like me to send him some pictures of my children? Each one is the perfect picture of what can result from just ONE NIGHT. I am also with Walker on not knowing where to start with DQ - she seems to have some issues with boundries (in all their various shapes and forms.) I am very disappointed that she would be so disrespectful in your home - I hope she got the message loud and clear that her behavior was inappropriate!

Oh, and son's behavior . . . I hope that it is just a combination of DQ and being 16, and that he quickly realizes that life will be much kinder to him should he start to chose his words wisely and take notice of his actions. Well, maybe you can dream on that one.

Blogget Jones said...

I'm sorry to post so much at once, guys! It was an intense few days. I'm still recovering from it, I think.

Walker -- I've had one more small crash since then, but I reacted more quickly. And I'm stocking my room with that hard candy, just in case. And you're right about Ex and Son. And I LOVE the slippers idea! LOL!!

Fishie -- I'm with you in being glad Ex finally saw his kids with open eyes. Daughter really needed that. I'm also very disappointed in the disrespect shown to me and my home. DQ bugs me. She doesn't seem to know her place here. And I share your hope, even if it's a dream!


e jerry said...

I'm trying to remember which one of us has known your ex-husband longer…

You still like him better than I do. Seriously.

Blogget Jones said...

I don't know....he has more pity from me than anything else now. Sometimes, I genuinely hate him for what he does to the kids. Can't stand his idiot wife. But he's the one missing out and making a muddle of things. Again. Someday, it'll all hit him, and what a bad day that'll be for him! Karma, you know?

:o) BJ