So our story begins with me going over to Linda’s house to get K-, our 4yo, who I had agreed to have over at my place for the night. Originally all three kids were going to be with Linda, but she’s been telling me how overwhelmed she’s been lately so I thought taking the little one could be helpful. I’m also cognizant that I’m going to be totally unplugged for three nights at a conference and unable to help out at all this coming week.
When I got to Linda’s house, K- was home with A-, our 11yo, and Linda was off running errands. When I walked in, I could see that K- was engaged, and it wasn’t too much of a surprise when she told me that she didn’t want to come with me. She was happy to see me, as she always is, but after a little while I said we needed to start getting ready to go so we could have a nice dinner and play a game at my place, she burst into tears. Next thing I knew, she’d called Linda and was hysterically saying she wanted to stay there, not go with me.
And therein was the dilemma that I imagine faces all separated parents with children: do we insist that K- comes with me because that’s “the plan” or do we listen to her desires and change our plans so that she can stay where she wants?
I am torn on which is the better approach, because I can see good and bad for both: the good of absolutely insisting that The Schedule is the most important thing is that it reduces chaos in the family. At any given day any of the kids can see where they’re supposed to be that night and everything is neat and orderly. As long as everything is smooth sailing.
On the other hand, it’s rather disempowering to tell them that they don’t have a voice, though I think we address that by having them involved in making the schedule and letting them sometimes have a “wild card” night where they go where they want rather than where we’ve scheduled.
Tonight was even more complicated by the fact that my taking K- was a favor for Linda in the first place, because originally we’d scheduled that all three children would be with her tonight and I was just trying to be a supportive co-parent and help out.
Jeez, did I mention that being separated / divorced really sucks? And that kids having to be involved in this sort of situation doubly sucks?
Anyway, we’ve left it that K- is going to stay with Linda tonight and that she’ll spend tomorrow with me, so we’ll see how that all shakes out.
Meanwhile, I feel like, somehow, this has all gotten away from us and letting the kids decide where they want to be is somehow akin to letting the inmates run the asylum. But then again, maybe that’s just my skewed perspective after a pretty depressing day…