• July 2005
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Phone calls

Last night, I got a phone call from the kids’ stepmom. She said that son wanted to talk to me b/c he was crying. When he got on the phone, he told me that EX had spanked him with a belt on his legs & butt for slamming the door & not doing what stepmom said. (My stomach turns still just thinking about it.) Son asked me to please not talk to EX about it when he was there b/c he thought he’d spank him again.

I was so angry. I wanted to call & yell at EX. To go there & beat EX with a belt & see how he likes it. To remind EX how he said he felt about his father when he’d come home from work in the middle of the night & wake EX & his brother by beating them with extension cords for disobeying their mom during the day. Needless to say, I didn’t. I cried from anger & not being able to fix it or know exactly what was going on. I stormed around here at home. Then I called my friend & vented.. and vented.. and vented.

Son called back a bit later & told me that he’d been disobedient & that he had yelled at stepmom & slammed the bathroom door. Then she’d called EX to come home from work (he had 24 hour duty from 9am yesterday until 9am today). Evidently, EX came in, spanked son with the belt (hit him 3 or 4 times, Son said) and then went back to work.

Son was really upset b/c I rarely spank them and when I do, I don’t use a belt. I have found that taking away privileges works much better with the kids and that spanking just makes them angry & that they don’t learn to correct the behavior. It teaches them to be sneaky if they want to misbehave & that the only objective is to avoid being caught.. not learning to control their impulses to misbehave & think about possible consequences.

I’m going to skip around here.. but it all has to do with phone calls.

Youngest daughter called me all day yesterday. She left 4 messages when I was out running a few errands & then called 3 or 4 times when I was home. She wanted to know what I was doing, what I had for lunch, where I’d been, if I was going anywhere, if I was OK. She told me everything that she had done, what everyone there was doing, what she’d eaten, how her hair looks, which movies they all picked out at the video store. I was kind of worried about her. She mentioned several times that she is homesick. She asked how many more days until she can come home. I don’t like when they call me a lot when they’re gone with their dad. I’d much rather them be having so much fun that they don’t need to call.

When I spoke with son last night, he told me that talking to me helped him feel better b/c he knows that I love him even when he’s mean sometimes. He said that even when I get upset & yell, he knows that I always love him. I told son that he has to do what stepmom says b/c she’s the adult in charge when EX is gone or at work (EX and stepmom are both off work all next week).. because she’s his stepmom & she cares about him.. and because she’s an adult & he is to be respectful even if he doesn’t want to be, just like he has to respect adult family members, teachers & adults at church. I told him to say OK and do whatever EX and her told him b/c they’d not tell him anything wrong or anything that would hurt him. I told him that even if he thinks it’s stupid, do go ahead & do it b/c he’ll only be there for a few days & then he’ll be home. Son said, “well, I won’t have to see Dad for a long time b/c he always waits a few months between visits anyway.” It’s sad that son feels this way, but it’s also true. EX has caused this lack of respect from son b/c of how he’s been with the kids.

So son was calm, happier, said he’d listen & not be disrespectful to EX or stepmom anymore.

Then this morning, EX calls. Right as I’m getting ready to walk out the door to go to church. He says that he thinks I’m being too soft on son & allowing him to be disrespectful all the time b/c daughters told him that son is disrespectful all the time at home. Ex says that he won’t be having anymore problems from son b/c he “lit up his world.” He says it like he is bragging.. like whipping a kid is a sign of being a good father & means that he’s teaching him to be a man somehow. I asked him if his objective was to create fear or respect. He said he really didn’t care as long as he had no problems out of son.

I said that I don’t have as much trouble with disrespect from son as I do with daughters. I told EX that I disagree with how he handled it with son & that I thought that spanking him with a belt was extreme. I told him that I know he thought he was doing the right thing & that’s what I was trying to look at. Ex said that he has no trouble with daughters.. that they’re always respectful & when he tells them anything, they say OK and do it.

I know that son was wrong to be disrespectful.. but I don’t think that the way it was handled is going to teach him anything. Ex, of course, disagreed with me & lectured me on how I should be parenting the kids. (Yes, lectured ME, the one who’s raising them day in/day out.. with him being the one who walked away to his pregnant girlfriend (now wife).. he who hardly spends any time with them b/c it’s not CONVENIENT for him & his new wife & their kids.. he who thinks that paying child support means he’s a good dad and that he’s doing so much more than lots of other dads that he doesn’t need to do more.. like exercise visitation & actually spend time with them consistently)

EX went on about how I should be tougher on them & call him if I have any problems out of them so he can handle it. I said.. what are you going to do, drive 7 hours to spank them? He said, “YES! If I need to.” Whatever. That’s a crock. I didn’t get a chance to say much, actually. I didn’t want to go into too much b/c the kids are there & I didn’t want anything to be taken out on them if he was upset with me. We ended the conversation with EX thinking he’s right, that I’m a softie raising hoodlums… that they’re going to the wayside b/c I’m not calling him each time one of them steps out of line for a second so he can berate them & “put the fear in them.” Yes, he really said that. I feel nauseated just typing it again.

Our views on parenting are so different. It’s no wonder we couldn’t live together. We’re like oil and water.

About an hour later, youngest daughter called. She told me which movie they were watching & that they’re going to see their uncle today… EX’s oldest brother. Uncle, Auntie & cousin live about 2 1/2 hours away from EX… close to where my youngest sister lives.

That reminds me… last night when I was talking to son, he asked me if I was going to be at my youngest sister’s house.. I said, “No, probably not, why?” He said that if I was there, I’d be closer to him in case he needed to come home with me. Hearing his little voice say that just broke my heart. He’s 10. He should not have to be thinking about stuff like that.

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