I spent a lot of time with my kids this weekend. Their mom, Annette, and I had a big go-'round in front of them, despite my attempts at sheltering them from this sort of bullshit. I try to always be civil and right-headed when issues arise with their mother, and I work very hard at shielding my kids form the crap, but even I, the smart, level-headed one, got a little out-of-hand with her.
Annette got some free tickets from her church to take my daughters to a Christian Girls' Concert/Conference for Friday night and all-day Saturday. She asked if she could stay here at the house, and I was more than gracious with my hospitality, as I have been on several occasions. She stayed down in the girls' room. On saturday morning, I made everyone breakfast, and ran to the grocers early to get them some snack stuff they could take along. Over coffee, Annette asked me if I had any "extra cash" I could give the girls so they could buy t-shirts, CDs and whatever while at the concert/conference that day. I thought SHE had them covered, since it was her thing for them, but she said she had no cash. So I forked over a $50 bill to the girls and told them to get some fun stuff from the concert. They were pretty wide-eyed and thankful, and started enumerating the CDs and t-shirts they wanted to purchase.
What I found out late that afternoon, AFTER they returned home, was that their mom confiscated the $50 before even leaving the house to drop them at the conference that morning, ordering them to NOT tell me. She spent the money on a toy for Sam and stuff for herself, shopping while the girls were at their concert with not a single dime to get any souvenieres or CDs of their favorite singing groups.
I was pissed.
I confronted Annette and said, "I really do NOT appreciate your taking the girls' concert money. I need my change." Without saying a word, she locked her jaw, looked away from me and dug the remaining $20 out of her pocket and said that the girls "owed her $30" anyway. I got pretty angry - but as i always do, remained fairly calm and reasoned, and told her that she had been dishonest with me and disingenuous with her daughters for requesting money from me under the guise of it being for them, then promptly taking it from them in secret and pocketing it for herself. She responded that what happened between her and "her daughters" was none of my business.
I told her that it most certainly WAS my business. She then tried to launch into old issues from before the divorce five years ago. I derailed that immediately, saying that we could talk about anything she wanted to talk about at a different time, and that we needed to remain on the topic at hand. I reminded her that she was under the hospitality of my home. She scoffed at that and did the belittling chuckle thing. I told her that if she couldn't discuss the issue like adult parents, then she needed to leave.
Which she did.
Annette was using THEIR money to please herself. Then trying to pass it off as "none of my business" because the girls "owed her" $30 anyway. I asked her, "When should they owe you ANYTHING?? Further, why should you play the banker and confiscate their money that they "owed you" a half hour before they left for their concert?" I further pointed out that she has contributed NOT ONE penny to their upbringing. She scoffed at me and laughed again.
I repeated that she needed to leave.
She then wanted to take the kids to her home in Wisconsin overnight. I told her that she could, but she would have to drive them home the next day. She refused, saying that "in accordance with the divorce decree" it was MY responsibility to drive the kids on return trips. I then reminded her that I had done her several favors by drving the kids both ways several times over the last few months. I also reminded her that I had given her gas money so she could make the trips when she was short of gas. She replied that she thought I was doing her a favor, not demanding repayment and that she refused to drive them back home the next day.
I stared for a second, blinked once or twice and told her that if she didn't "get it," she needed to get the hell out of my driveway.
The girls begged her to stay and settle things with me, but it was more important for her to leave than it was for her to see her kids and work the situation out with me. She drove off with a flourish and a hearty "fuck off!" to me - in front of my kids - leaving the girls crying in the driveway, and Sam bawling. I hurt for my kids. I sat for quite awhile with all three of them huddled on my lap, crying after she left. Abby said she fears that after every time Annette does this, she will never see her mom again.
I cancelled all other plans for the day, and after they calmed down a bit, I took them all to a movie instead. Sam revitalized pretty quick at the prospect of "Zorro." After the movie, we spent the rest of the night at home, watching movies and eating pizza. That's when Sam did his little dance routine on the fireplace hearth. heh.
Done venting... for the moment.
Taking a deep breath... very frustrated, wishing Annette would fall off the planet and relieve everyone of all the strife she puts us through. I could handle her by myself, but she is so infectious to my kids.
Enough for now.