Sunday Night Open Thread

ABC’s kids are coming down for their spring break, so we (that’s a royal we) set up a room for them:

Just need to hang the curtains but ABC was a bit worn out after dealing with me all day.

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158 replies
  1. 1
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    Damn.

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  2. 2
    Suzanne says:

    It’s beautiful. Great job.

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  3. 3
    bystander says:

    Summertime. Restoration Hardware’s aubergine linen sheets. Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine. A bedroom remembered forever.

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  4. 4

    Lol, the fucking stuffed rabbits are killing me.

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  5. 5
    Yarrow says:

    That’s gorgeous. How old are her kids?

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  6. 6
    Westyny says:

    That’s a good looking room.

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  7. 7
    James Powell says:

    That room needs some Duran Duran Justin Bieber posters.

    ReplyReply
  8. 8
    Sab says:

    No wonder you guys needed to spend five hours shopping. Looks very good. Kids being kids won’t agree.

    ReplyReply
  9. 9
    Pogonip says:

    When is the wedding? Is the snarling pack of jackals invited?

    ReplyReply
  10. 10
    Oatler. says:

    I wish “This Fucking Old House” was still on PBS instead of those shitty pledge drives.

    ReplyReply
  11. 11
    Yarrow says:

    Where’s the middle drawer on the chest of drawers?

    ReplyReply
  12. 12
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @James Powell: Has your brain been taken over by the lizard people?

    ReplyReply
  13. 13
    Sab says:

    @Yarrow: You are an evil troublemaker.

    ReplyReply
  14. 14
    Suzanne says:

    I could use some advice. Sorry to derail/be a bummer. I have posted in the past about Spawn the Elder having mental health troubles. She’s doing much better, thanks to treatment by a psychiatrist, medication, changing schools and getting more involved in activities she likes. Grades have gone up, attitude at home has been much improved, she is spontaneously affectionate. She’s still very much thirteen, and she is exploring her sexuality (currently identifying as pansexual) with our full support.

    Anyway, ex-Mr. Suzanne hasn’t paid child support in a year. I have brought it up repeatedly that it was a problem, and he has called me “greedy and grasping”, “irresponsible”, “fucking c—“. And more. So today Mr. Suzanne and I met with ex-Mr. Suzanne and his current GF, and they said that Spawn tells them that I make her crazy and anxious and that she is scared to come home when she spends alternating weekends at their house.

    I am heartbroken. I have done nothing but work my ass off to be a good parent and I have had no support from them. They haven’t paid child support, they don’t take all of the parenting time they are already entitled to, they do none of the heavy lifting of parenting, and they provided no help during her worst time of needing mental health care. The counselor even volunteered to meet with my ex and he never did it. And it sounds like my kid hates me.

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  15. 15
    satby says:

    That’s beautiful! Hope you all have a great time!

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  16. 16
    Sab says:

    @Sab: Sounds harsh. Sorry but I am a stepmother who walks on eggshells. Commenter should also because these are real people.Of course so are commenters.

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  17. 17
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Suzanne: You have all my good thoughts, but your situation is so far out of my wheelhouse that I can offer nothing else.

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  18. 18
    satby says:

    @Suzanne: why would you believe him at all? Kids play their estranged parents off against each other anyway, but he’s already shown his unreliable ass, and you’re taking his word for what your daughter says? Take a breath and realize it’s not true.

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  19. 19
    philpm says:

    @Suzanne: Sounds like the ex and ex’s GF are telling you a bunch of BS, especially if they aren’t holding up their end. I think they are just trying to mess with you out of spite.

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  20. 20
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Suzanne: I am not a parent but it sounds likely that Crazy Ex is lying to be hurtful.

    ReplyReply
  21. 21

    @Suzanne: Tending to agree with the folks saying your ex is full of shit, or perhaps the situation there is such that your kid thinks it’s the sort of thing she has to say.

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  22. 22

    Yes! The attic classic!

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  23. 23
    Ruckus says:

    @Suzanne:
    It sounds like things are going much better at home with the spawn. Take that as good news, this kind of progress is slow and halting at best.
    Without intervention Mr Ex is not going to change, nothing has gotten him to do so before. It sounds like he’s using the kid as a pawn to fuck with you. My recommendation would be legal help but that might no do anything positive and might just make the situation a lot worse. But I’d still discuss this with a family law lawyer. My 2 cents and remember this is just a long distance opinion.

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  24. 24
    satby says:

    @Suzanne: by the way, if I had a nickel for every time one of my multitude of bio-and foster children said they hated me when they didn’t get their way I’d be loaded. It comes with the territory when you parent teens. As will attempts to manipulate parents. It’s not even personal, it’s them handling their conflicting urges for staying a child vs growing up by fighting with you and your rules.
    You’re going to get past this.

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  25. 25
    Another Scott says:

    @Suzanne: Being a teenager is tough under the best of circumstances. They’re rash and impulsive and often don’t say what they mean, or what they say can be misinterpreted. It’s not easy for teenaged kids with divorced parents either (raises hand).

    You seeing improvements at home with her is what really matters. Spontaneous affection matters.

    You know they’re not holding up their end of the parenting duties, so don’t let them make you doubt yourself.

    Hang in there. Best of luck!

    Cheers,
    Scott.

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  26. 26
    Betsy says:

    @Suzanne: Anyone who tells you that you’re a greedy, grasping, f-ing c—- and skips out on child support, is not to be taken seriously in the subject of childrearing or in their reportage on the state of mind and statements of said child.

    MOREOVER

    It’s clear that you don’t believe him when he calls you an effing c—-, greedy and grasping. You don’t care at all what he says about you, and in that regard you are able to accurately assess his horseshit and it rolls right off .I daresay the only reff. But when it comes to your child of course you care intensely but it but it’s only your fear and the intensity of your love for your child that makes it remotely credible what they say about your child. is because your child is so important to you he has no power over you when he calls you names or lies about you. What he knows that you love that kid and no doubt on some level he is deploying that power against you.

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  27. 27
    Another Scott says:

    Great room, ABC and JC. I’m sure the kids will feel right at home. As M^4 said, the dual rabbits are a nice touch. The kids aren’t twins by chance, are they?

    Have fun!

    Cheers,
    Scott.

    ReplyReply
  28. 28
    amk says:

    who knew coal country is the new hawt spring break destination.

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  29. 29
    satby says:

    @Yarrow: guessing from ABC’s blog young school aged kids. Both boys IIRC.

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  30. 30
    Suzanne says:

    @satby: I don’t know if I believe him, but it’s such a fucking low blow. I know that Spawn has sometimes had some irritation toward me because I am a stricter parent than he is. I have more expectations about homework and grades, and instrument practice, and chores, and being places on time and meeting obligations. And I know that sometimes she perceives me as overbearing, and I am trying to be more chill. I also know that she is very eager to please and hates disappointing anyone or inconveniencing anyone. But how can she be scared of me? I was the first adult to know she has a girlfriend. God. I feel horrible. I can’t eat.

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  31. 31
    smintheus says:

    I could only get a few sentences into this latest piece about Trump’s loser voters before I started praying for a meteor to hit Georgia.

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  32. 32
    Mnemosyne says:

    Meeting the kids is a big step.

    Don’t fuck it up.

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  33. 33
    geg6 says:

    Great job, ABC! You really are taming the wild beast.

    And good on you, Cole, for being so tameable.

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  34. 34
    SWMBO says:

    @Suzanne: Spawn is 13. A LOT of her problem is the changing from girl child to woman. Overlaid with hormone blasts that could kill a rhino in mid charge. Plus she’s getting through other issues (school, estranged parents, etc.) that could derail any progress. But she’s getting better at home. In her day to day interactions, she’s getting better. If the ex and his gf aren’t doing any heavy lifting, let them carry the burden. They say she is anxious and doesn’t want to come home after being at their house. I call bullshit. She would be surly and non responsive if she really felt that way. I think a lot of that is projection because of their lack of support. Don’t let what they say ruin the progress she has made. That’s her accomplishment not theirs. And they shouldn’t have a shot at her. As I recall, Mr. Ex-Suzanne wasn’t the best judge of character. Let him find his own way out of his mess without using your daughter as a sacrificial lamb to his issues.

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  35. 35
    Suzanne says:

    @Ruckus: My next-door-neighbor is a longtime paralegal/assistant at a family law practice. She is currently helping me/advising.

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  36. 36
    opiejeanne says:

    @Mnemosyne: How was Disneyworld?

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  37. 37
    Betsy says:

    @Betsy: yearghh. I tried to edit my comment and it got really mucked up. what I’m trying to say is that you are able to assess his statements accurately when it comes to a topic where he can’t affect your child’s well-being. So you don’t believe anything else he says about you for example. But it’s only your fear and the intensity of your love for the kid that even makes you hesitate and believe him for a moment when he says those things about your child. So keep that rationality about him that you have on other topics and let yourself dismiss his remarks about your kids state of mind, just as you are able to accurately dismiss his remarks about your state of mind.

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  38. 38
    smintheus says:

    Nice shade of blue on those walls; one of the few blues that works well with dark brown woodwork.

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  39. 39
    Keith P. says:

    I was trying to get some doors painted this weekend, but didn’t make it. Just too many layers. I just finished my 2nd-to-last coat, but I doubt I’ll do the last coat tonight, since there are 6 doors. And I still have to let the paint cure so I can start sanding the brushstrokes out (it looks fine as-is, but I’ve been putting this project off for about 8 years so I might as well do as good a job as I can)

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  40. 40
    amk says:

    @smintheus:

    Worse, they resent Obamacare’s mandate that people buy health insurance, seeing it as a directive at home in a repressive regime, not a democracy. Even some with Obamacare insurance have complained their premiums have grown by double-digits in recent years and deductibles are so high that their coverage is basically worthless.

    Right now, Peek is paying $281 a month for his health policy through Obamacare. That’s $3,372 a year. He’s receiving $11,172 in government tax credits. (His wife, Debra, is on disability.)

    freedumb from a repressive regime. fuck’em.

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  41. 41
    reality-based (the original, not the troll) says:

    John, the only thing missing is a reading lamp mounted on the wall over each bed.

    Better go shopping tomorrow!

    Suzanne: i second the comments that the ex is a known liar and schmuck. Consider the source.

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  42. 42
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Suzanne:

    I think two things are going on:

    (A) They’re encouraging her to badmouth you behind your back. Given what you’ve said about them letting one of her half or step siblings bully her, she may be feeling pressured to badmouth you, or she may be feeling that doing it is the only thing that makes them stop being assholes to her.

    (B) They’re telling you this to make you feel bad. On purpose. Do. Not. Let. Them.

    If you don’t have a therapist of your own, it’s not a bad idea to get one so you can vent about this stuff. But, really, any parent who encourages their kid to badmouth the other parent and then tells the other parent what the kid said is an asshole.

    ReplyReply
  43. 43
    dmsilev says:

    @Suzanne:

    And it sounds like my kid hates me.

    Or your ex is completely and totally lying to you. It happens.

    ReplyReply
  44. 44
    Roger Moore says:

    @Suzanne:
    Have you considered that the Ex might be lying to you?

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  45. 45
    Suzanne says:

    @SWMBO: Ex-Mr. Suzanne is currently shacking up in his third long-term monogamous relationship since we broke up 12 years ago. The first post-me ex tried to get Spawn to call her “Mommy”. The second ex, who he married, was absolutely wonderful with Spawn……and then when they broke up, she gave Spawn a letter saying that she would never see her again. That resulted in months of crying herself to sleep and hiding in the closet (literally hiding in her closet under a pile of clothes). I have no doubt that this lady will also leave, in time.

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  46. 46
    wenchacha says:

    @Suzanne: Is it worth a chat with her counselor to get some feedback? Thirteen is just hard, and extra particulars for your daughter make it harder. As majorX4 said, she may have felt some pressure to say something, may also have said something throwaway in the presence of your ex.

    She doesn’t hate you. No way, when you have been caring for her. She may hate you for an afternoon! At that age, I can remember a couple times when my daughter just cut me to the quick, with very little explanation. Sharper than a serpent’s tooth, absolutely. It was like she didn’t realize I would always have her back, which really hurt.

    As everybody else said, consider the source. Ex may have been feeling defensive, or guilty, or nasty or who knows?

    My daughter, now far away, is 28. She sent me a handmade note for my birthday, thanking me for always having her back, supporting her. It was beautiful, and moving, and I sure as hell could have used it back in the day!

    She loves you. She does.

    p.s. That room looks great. Nice going, Cole!

    ReplyReply
  47. 47
    satby says:

    @Suzanne: STOP ✋. It’s mind games. Let it roll off your back, and I know that’s nearly impossible to do. Even if Spawn said anything remotely similar to what the ex says, it was an attempt to manipulate him into showing more interest in her by overdramatizing her sad situation at home (where mean old mom makes her do homework). I think she complained, as teens do, and ex seized the chance to twist a knife a little because he knows he’s been a shit parent and wants you to feel the same. But you shouldn’t, because you’re doing a great job helping your kid.
    Don’t let him play mind games with you for her sake as well as your own.

    ReplyReply
  48. 48
    Mnemosyne says:

    @opiejeanne:

    My knee hurt and I caught my niece’s cold but it was AWESOME. We met a ridiculous number of princesses and characters, went on most of the cool rides, and took many photos. I’m spending the day recovering on the couch before I go back to work tomorrow.

    ReplyReply
  49. 49
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Suzanne:

    And it sounds like my kid hates me.

    She’s thirteen, she hates herself. And she hates you for being responsible for her existence, but only incidentally. Or at least that’s how I remember being thirteen.

    Also, if she actually says the stuff Daddy Dearest claims (he doesn’t seem to be a reliable narrator), she’s getting instant rewards for doing so from DD.

    Document the progress she’s making at home (with you), and make sure the authorities know you know (he knows you know) it’s all bullshit and self-justification.

    Will keep you & Spawn in my thoughts!

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  50. 50
    Betsy says:

    @Suzanne: the ex is projecting his fear of you onto the kid. This is classic. the exact same thing just happened to me. It freaked me out too until I realized — the test isn’t what the parent says– the test is how the kids act

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  51. 51
    chopper says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    yeh i’m in the same boat. i mean, i’m sure the kiddo has said some stuff and all but he’s definitely amping it up. because he wants you to feel like shit. because he’s an asshole and he wants to try to rationalize not paying child support.

    ReplyReply
  52. 52
    Batten Down the Hatches says:

    @Suzanne: I was 13 when my parents split for good and I did the joint custody thing too. I had my own fun mental health issues, too, in addition to generic teenage issues. I say all this to tell you: I’ve been there, from Spawn’s perspective.

    My mom was strict and mostly together, my dad and his wife were mean and weird and spent much of their time gaslighting me. I would say whatever needed to be said to them to get them off my back. And I was no fool: however much I complained, I knew exactly how much my mom loved me and I knew she was the one who would stand up for me no matter what.

    I can’t say for certain but in reading your post I am almost 100% positive that Spawn does not hate you. She’s smart and she knows who is truly on her side. The ex and gf are almost assuredly lying or misrepresenting. You are doing so well by Spawn. She does appreciate the love and the stability and the support.

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  53. 53
    SWMBO says:

    @Suzanne: Would you believe a stranger on the street who told you this? Or would you question how well they could know this child that they spend so little time with? Don’t let outsiders (and that’s what they are) tarnish your relationship with Spawn. It’s none of their business. If they want to try to wreck things to make themselves look better (in their eyes), they can go to hell.

    ReplyReply
  54. 54
    Suzanne says:

    @Roger Moore: Yeah, I have. It just SUCKS. I am really, really sensitive about my kid. I have a lot of emotional defenses about a lot of things. But not about my children.

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  55. 55
    Yarrow says:

    @Suzanne: She doesn’t hate you or fear you. She may have spouted off because that’s what teenagers do from time to time. I agree with everyone else who said they’re using her to get to you. If he really cared about her he’d pay child support, contribute to her mental health care, and have her for all of his time with her. He doesn’t. He’s petty and mean and this is a perfect example.

    Your greatest fear is failing her as a mom because her bio dad is crap and she’s dealing with a lot. You’re doing everything right for her but the fears are still there. And look, he knew exactly where to stick the knife to get to you–aim right for your fears about being a good parent and helping your daughter.

    The only thing I’d add is that with all of the stuff you have on your plate you might also benefit from some mental health support. If you’re not already doing it, a few sessions with a counselor might help you feel a bit better and sort out truth from fiction and be clearer on what’s going on.

    ReplyReply
  56. 56
    cmorenc says:

    Suzanne:

    Also, too keep in mind that your daughter is THIRTEEN, which is the age when most kids often think their parents are too stupid, awful, embarrassing, and overbearing to gladly tolerate being around them – even kids without any overlay of divorced-parent drama going on around them. She’ll grow out of it. I recall being a mortal embarrassment to my younger daughter from about thirteen to around twenty, and now she’s a 28yo adult who considers me her bud whom she now thinks smart and wise, and frequently asks for advice on various things, and is glad to hang out with me now and then invites me to lunch or dinner. But you have to get through the next few years – somehow.

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  57. 57
    Gustopher says:

    I’m hoping the kids are in college, and now have to share a room with matching stuffed footballs and bunnies.

    Room looks great.

    ReplyReply
  58. 58
    Gvg says:

    @Suzanne: others have covered the most important points, but for some reason I wish you could check his finances. I wonder if he is trying to set up a situation where you have to pay him child support? He just sounds to me like someone who is catastrophic at financial judgement. I suspect he can’t pay and might be in some kind of crisis soon.
    I don’t think he shows he would care about the child’s best interests. See if he has been telling stories to others?
    Does spawn have other adults neutral parties she is comfortable talking too? Maybe some one can reassure you.

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  59. 59
    Nunca El Jefe says:

    @Suzanne: it’s really difficult to have confidence in your choices as a parent, given the day to day struggles that it inherently entails, but ask yourself this: separate from the mental health struggles that you’ve helped deal with are you happy with your kid as a person? Do you feel like you see the tools taking root that will help them to deal with the trials and tribulations in life? Because if so, that ain’t luck, that’s your work, and like all work, it can mostly suck while you’re ass deep in the middle of it. It sounds to me like you’re pretty engaged about your kid’s life, don’t let dickweeds make you doubt yourself.

    ReplyReply
  60. 60
    smintheus says:

    @amk: He’s hoping to make it another year until he’s eligible for Medicare, so he doesn’t have to pay any price for supporting Trump.

    ReplyReply
  61. 61
    Betsy says:

    @chopper: EXACTLY

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  62. 62
    Suzanne says:

    @Gvg: I would not be surprised if he was going to attempt that. But considering that he is living at his GF’s house, he has no bedroom for Spawn, and he already hasn’t been taking the parenting time to which he is entitled, then good luck convincing a judge.

    ReplyReply
  63. 63
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Suzanne: Also, if this is a new GF, it’s quite possible your ex is using your supposed Horrible Awful Parenting Issues as a way to bamboozle her as well. (“I’m not a fvcked-up manchild, I’ve just been crooly used by previous partners!!!”) So he gets a triple — garners sympathy from GF, excuses his own parenting failures, and (hopes to) hurt you one more time.

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  64. 64
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Betsy:

    the test isn’t what the parent says– the test is how the kids act

    QFT.

    ReplyReply
  65. 65
    chopper says:

    @Gvg:

    from what it sounds like there’s really no chance in hell that he’d get more custody than he already has even if he wanted. skipping out on child support tends not to look good.

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  66. 66
    MomSense says:

    @Suzanne:

    Let’s say that it is the worst case scenario and elder spawn is really telling them you make her anxious, etc. it’s ok. You will go through different phases with your children. Right now she needs the stability, consistency, boundaries, and conscientious work that you are doing to make sure she has the right support to successfully manage her mental well being. You are doing those things. You are getting verifiable reports from school and the professionals that she is responding well.
    Now all that being said, I know you have a playful side and I’m sure that with all the adulting you have been doing you would enjoy a couple of hours of just play. Make a date with your daughter and do something that is just pure fun and silly. Not an opportunity for talking or any kind of check in. Try something new, or do something you know she enjoys. Climbing gym, art class, archery, hike, manicure, swimming, play with kittens at the local shelter, whatever you two might enjoy.
    I don’t even think I’d ask her about what dad said. Why feed the drama?

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  67. 67
    Ruckus says:

    @Suzanne:
    Good. Should you be talking to her boss?
    As others have said she’s 13. Now I’ve never been a 13 yr old girl but I lived with a couple of them. And I was 13 once. Do you remember what 13 was like for you? Bet it wasn’t all peachy. She’s attracted to girls and while things may have changed a bunch for kids from my era, that would have gotten her crap from a lot of other 13 yr old kids. She’s got a lot of stuff going on, both internal and external right now and she is doing better. Never forget that she is doing better and that she is getting closer to being an adult. That’s scary for some parents, watching what seems like a lifetime (which of course it is) and time also sailing by at a thousand miles an hour.
    Do the best you can, be there for her both as a parent and as much of a friend as she will let you.
    BTW I have some very limited child rearing experience involving a young girl not my own and a real father that mom told me was a fucking asshole. Had horrible expectations based upon mom. Then I met him. Mom lied. Turns out she was good at it. No one escapes childhood, some of us outgrow it, others never do. Do the best you can to teach your daughter about being a good, responsible, loving person and be there for her, because that’s the best anyone can do.

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  68. 68
    mai naem mobile says:

    @Suzanne: I am with Satby. They’re playing mind games.I have a SIL who did this with my niece – brainwashing and mind games. At worst I bet she said something minor and they’re twisting her words to turn into something huge. Your relationship with your daughter will be fine.

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  69. 69
    PhoenixRising says:

    @Suzanne:

    Spawn the Elder having mental health troubles. She’s doing much better, thanks to treatment by a psychiatrist, medication, changing schools and getting more involved in activities she likes. Grades have gone up, attitude at home has been much improved, she is spontaneously affectionate. She’s still very much thirteen, and she is exploring her sexuality (currently identifying as pansexual) with our full support.

    I’ve helpfully put the facts in bold for you. ‘Things my bitter ex says to try to manipulate my child’ isn’t in that category. All 13yo girls are mentally unbalanced due to the condition of being 13 + female. Add to that diagnosed mental health differences that required both therapy and medication, and your only hope for your own mental health is to focus on the facts. What is measurable? You made changes for her, she made changes in her attitude, and the results show that those changes were worthwhile. Virtuous cycle. If it’s true that she feels pressured, no big deal, what you’re doing is working in that she’s rising to the occasion.

    Your ex is pissy–he was like this before you had this kid, I bet you $1000–and wants your attention to be focused on anything other than his repeated terrible choices as a parent and human. IF she really did say that, she may feel that way–or she may not (he isn’t LESS manipulative with his kids than he is with you, sadly). IF she does feel that way, it’s good that she has the option of spending time with him and his current partner (in dysfunction), so he should definitely think about how he can spend more time with her, maybe one evening they have dinner in his off week so she gets his support…you see where I’m going. On the off chance he isn’t just lying his face off, there’s a crack in the wall for you to swing a crowbar into.

    Shitty parents can usually be outwitted by parents who actually put the kids first, but the hard part is not caring what the shitty parent thinks.

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  70. 70
    Pogonip says:

    @Suzanne: I am told children of divorced parents often play off one against the other (and I’m surprised your kid’s headshrinker didn’t warn you).

    I don’t know what “pansexual” is (a fixation on Tinker Bell?) but few 13-year-olds are ready for anything sexual. I think I’d consider nipping that in the bud. She may be crying out for someone to care enough to set age-appropriate boundaries. Good luck!

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  71. 71
    Yarrow says:

    @Suzanne: Your ex is a jerk who has hurt you in many ways. Don’t let him hurt you again with this issue. It’s simply not true. By all measures and accounts your daughter is happier and doing much better because of your intervention. Requiring her to do things like homework and chores is just good parenting to prepare her for adulthood. Kids will complain about things like that because of course they’d rather not do that stuff.

    You’re a fantastic mom handling a full time job, kids, a husband, a mom who lives with you, all while going the extra mile for a daughter who is struggling with some issues and has a jerky dad. You are doing an amazing job. If anything you should pat yourself on the back and treat yourself to a spa day for being so awesome.

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  72. 72
    Anne Laurie says:

    Also, Mr. Cole, ABC: That is a very good-lucking guest room, which will be fine for adults when the kids aren’t around to use it.

    Although if it’s Cole’s frat bros using it… remember, ABC, to have him do a sweep for dildos and pr0n before your kids get near it again!

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  73. 73
    amk says:

    Hey, you Meals on Wheels users who voted for Trump! How's that working' out for ya?— Stephen King (@StephenKing) March 19, 2017

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  74. 74
    smintheus says:

    @Suzanne: Not that hard seemingly to figure out: You want your ex to pay child support, so he wants you to be obsessing instead about something you care more about (your child) and to be less (i.e. not at all) eager to get into any further confrontations with him. I suspect he fears you’ll take him to court, so he’s planting the fear in your mind that a court hearing could go badly wrong for you if you do, that he might end up with custody instead.

    Talk to your child, ask if the ex- is pumping for negative info he could use against you to avoid having to resume paying his child support. That will clue your child into any mind-games the ex- is trying to play. At thirteen years old you can figure that game out.

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  75. 75
    Pogonip says:

    @cmorenc: “When I was 18, my parents didn’t know anything. It’s amazing how smart they’ve gotten over the last 20 years!”–joke attributed to many a comedian

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  76. 76
    MomSense says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I’m really happy you had an awesome time! Hope the knee feels better.

    JC and ABC the bedroom looks fantastic. It’s like a cozy bedroom out of a storybook. Hope you and the kids have a fear time together.

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  77. 77
    Lizzy L says:

    @Suzanne: Good advice above. I’ve got nothing but best wishes, and the strong, strong belief that your ex and his GF are fucking with your head, manipulating you for their own purposes. Sending strength.

    JC, the bedroom is great. I’m guessing the kids are both boys and under 10 y.o. Have fun!

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  78. 78
    chopper says:

    @smintheus:

    I suspect he fears you’ll take him to court, so he’s planting the fear in your mind that a court hearing could go badly wrong for you if you do, that he might end up with custody instead.

    yeah this right here.

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  79. 79
    Pogonip says:

    As long as kids came up, I’d like to sing the praises of mine: he has only 2 annoying habits (several thousand less than I have) and is an all-around great guy if I do say so myself.

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  80. 80
    Betsy says:

    @mai naem mobile: What did your SIL do, in the situation with your niece? was DB playing any part? How old was your niece, and how did it affect her? … Asking for a friend.

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  81. 81
    opiejeanne says:

    @Suzanne: Good. My youngest told me she hated me when she was about that age, and immediately took it back. I think the oldest did too and he was pretty difficult at 13. This is not to minimize the issue because I know it hurts, just that kids try out stuff like this because being a teenager is hard work and there’s no instruction manual for them.
    My middle kid never acted out despite the same amount of turmoil and drama, she just kept it to herself and we didn’t know how hard it was for her until later. I felt like a terrible parent.

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  82. 82
    Mary G says:

    @Suzanne: You ex is an unmitigated asshole who probably still supports Trump and the only good thing he’s ever done is father Spawn the Elder. I didn’t have any kids, but I currently have a 13-year-old housemate who hates everyone in the world. The shit he has done is awful and yet he can also be a helpful, loving person just when you’re ready to throttle him. If StheE didn’t hate you some of the time, you’d be doing it wrong. Relax. We are rooting for you.

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  83. 83
    Mary G says:

    @Lizzy L: According to her blog, they are boys 8 and 10. John will be exhausted, but I am so happy for him.

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  84. 84
    Mary G says:

    @Yarrow: This is such a great comment.

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  85. 85
    jacy says:

    @Suzanne:

    Take this seriously, and I am speaking from too much experience — do not take at face value what your ex tells you about your child. Adolescence is difficult — and kids say things they a) don’t mean, b) mean, but not in the way you think, and c) use to get what they want. Add to that, your ex has an axe to grind, and gets something out of making you feel like a shitty parent, and will justify embellishing, twisting, or making up out of whole cloth anything he wants to.

    Every problem my children have ( from asthma to an ear infection to not turning in homework to depression to talking back to their grandparents to deciding to be agnositc….well, you get the drift) is supposedly directly attributable to me. Don’t buy it. Don’t buy anything your ex is selling. You are not responsible for anything he says, nor beholden to him in any fashion. Focus on your kid and ignore your ex as completely as you can.

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  86. 86
    Ruckus says:

    @opiejeanne:

    because being a teenager is hard work and there’s no instruction manual for them.

    Well, there are the parent(s), and they have instructions. But your point is very true, there is not really one for either parents or kids, even though parents have been through it. But who’s to say their parents did a bang up job or know how to deal with issues they and their parents may never have had? Parenting is hard, being a kid is hard, both of you are learning and even with more than one kid, they are all different, have different issues and would like to be treated as something other than an object or one of the gang. My parents treated me a lot different and had a lot different expectations for me than my sisters and I know that pissed off my sisters.

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  87. 87
    Suzanne says:

    @Pogonip: Pansexual means attracted to people of same sex, or different sex. I am watchful that she only sees her girlfriend with other adults around, so there’s nothing actually sexual going on.

    Thanks, everyone. I just managed to eat a granola bar thing so I don’t pass out. Funnily enough, about half an hour ago, Spawn the Elder asked if she and I could go for a car ride, just her and me. So we did, listening to My Chemical Romance and being silly the whole time. I would think that if she is scared of me that she wouldn’t want to hang out.

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  88. 88
    Viva BrisVegas says:

    That’s a mighty small door on the right.

    I get that the rabbits are northern spring fertility symbols, but what’s with the footballs?

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  89. 89
    Wag says:

    @Suzanne:

    My youngest daughter from my first marriage went through a several year period where she thought my new wife and I were evil. Isolated herself from me, wife two, and our twins. Disinvited me from her college graduation after paying through the nose for a private liberal arts education. All in all a pretty crappy several year episode. We’re finally working through it, reconnecting.

    Be patient

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  90. 90
    efgoldman says:

    @Suzanne:

    So today Mr. Suzanne and I met with ex-Mr. Suzanne and his current GF, and they said that Spawn tells them that I make her crazy and anxious

    Way past time to go to court and swear out a warrant. Bastard isn’t going to pay mandated support, let his ass rot in jail.
    To believe anything the non-custodial parent says is to believe in the tooth fairy and magical sky buddies (plural).

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  91. 91
    jacy says:

    To add — give up on co-parenting and parallel parent. Tell you ex that you only want to hear concrete facts (Spawn had a doctor’s appointment on the 13th, etcetera, with no editorializing.) Give up on ever getting anything from him. Do not engage when he says anything off topic. If he says something you don’t like, hang up the phone or don’t answer the text. Train yourself not to respond to anything other than facts with a stone wall. It takes a while, but it’s worth it. The minute he makes a comment directed at you, end the conversation, whether verbal or written. Only facts regarding your child and nothing — NOTHING — more.

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  92. 92
    Ruckus says:

    @Suzanne:
    She’s not scarred of you. She’s 13.
    I’d like to add, give yourself a bit of a break.
    As @Yarrow: so well said: You’re a fantastic mom handling a full time job, kids, a husband, a mom who lives with you, all while going the extra mile for a daughter who is struggling with some issues and has a jerky dad. You are doing an amazing job. If anything you should pat yourself on the back and treat yourself to a spa day for being so awesome.

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  93. 93
    Lizzy L says:

    Open thread news: I mentioned some days ago that my dog Theo was not doing well. HE IS BETTER. Eating, peppier, not in pain. All the good news means that the meds he’s taking are working — primarily the antibiotic, which seems to imply that he does indeed have an infection which the antibiotic is fighting, and he doesn’t have liver cancer.

    He’s going to be 14 in 4 months, I know he’s not going to be around for much longer. But I am so happy that he’s better. Drinking a Lagunitas IPA to celebrate. I hope all your fur babies are doing well.

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  94. 94
    opiejeanne says:

    @Mnemosyne: Ouch, and achoo! Sounds like a great time. We didn’t have any kids in tow when we went (our youngest was performing on the Wonder and gave us passes) but we met a ridiculous number of princesses. They didn’t care that we didn’t have kids with us, they just came to our table in restaurants and talked to us in the park.
    I’m not all that interested in the park princesses since they were rude to Alice Darling and went out of their way to tell her she wasn’t a princess so she couldn’t hang out with them. (Call me Mrs Darling, so as not to spoil the magic).

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  95. 95
    eclare says:

    @Lizzy L: Great news!

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  96. 96
    rikyrah says:

    Nice​ room Cole.
    Good luck with the kids. Big step 😄

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  97. 97
    efgoldman says:

    @Suzanne:

    I know that Spawn has sometimes had some irritation toward me

    As noted above, EVERY Spawn has “irritation” and out and out “I hate you” and “wish I’d never been born” and “wish you weren’t my parents” moments. It goes with puberty.
    Our kid was wonderful and fun and what anyone would call “a good” kid, and she’s become a wonderful adult and a terrific mother. But we had some… moments… when she was 13 and 14….

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  98. 98
    rikyrah says:

    @Lizzy L:
    Glad to hear the positive news 😁

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  99. 99
    Ruckus says:

    @efgoldman:
    I was trying to suggest this gently but maybe your way is better.
    I know an ex meth addict who has 2 kids that he didn’t know about when they were born. He works and pays his child support because that’s what he’s supposed to do. He’s 50 and lives with his mom so that he can afford to pay support. He’s a dumpf supporter and a racist asshole, but he pays his child support.

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  100. 100
    efgoldman says:

    @amk:

    freedumb from a repressive regime.

    I didn’t read the story (I have enough rage) but I saw it elsewhere earlier today.
    Did the reporter even asked about their farm subsidies? No, of course not. Anyway, they’re ENTITLED to those.
    Somebody let me know when the first profile/analysis of alienated HRC voters appears.

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  101. 101
    Gretchen says:

    @Suzanne: No, no, no! Awful ex who says terrible things to and about you says spawn says terrible things about you too. Why believe him? He’s not even reliable enough to send money to make sure his kid has what she needs. Why is what he reports about her feelings reliable? Because they’re no.
    13 is an awful age for kids in the best circumstances. Their job is to rebel and question. And they rebel against and question the people they feel safe with, and act unobtrusive with the people they feel less safe with. You’re the one she feels safe with, so you get the brunt. They also know who is dependable, who is supporting and who is doing as little as possible. It may not show up in her behavior now, but she knows, and that will factor into her feelings about you 10 years from now.
    It’s interesting that, while ex has a new gf, he’s still focused on attacking you. He hasn’t moved on. On some level he knows he’s a fuckup, that the mess is his fault, and he wants it to somehow go away.
    Please don’t be heartbroken. Spawn knows who is on her side and who is ditching their responsibility, even if she can’t admit it now. Just keep on doing your best, and it will pay off in the end.
    My best friend asked me tonight how my son Matt is doing. I said fine, and didn’t have much to add. He’s enjoying his art, doing well at work, seems happy. Not much to say. This is the kid that I went in to feel his hand to make sure it hadn’t gone cold because I was so sure he’d die of a drug overdose. He’s fine, and that was my dream for him. He’s fine, and he’ll get up in the morning and go to work and amuse his clients and please his bosses, and that’s an outcome I had a really hard time imagining 15 years ago. He’s fine. I’m so happy to be able to write that. It sounds like you’re able to write that about spawn now, if you edit out the spiteful things ex says, and I can’t imagine that anything he says is reliable. Good luck and keep us informed.

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  102. 102
    danielx says:

    @Suzanne:

    Five words: They(He) Are(Is) Fucking With You.

    You need to have a discussion with Spawn, most urgently, while meeting with a counselor together, because your description of an improving and better relationship sounds about 180 degrees from what this asshole is describing. In all seriousness, who would you believe, Spawn or ex-Mr Suzanne, if you were a counselor totally outside the situation?
    He has already proved he is untrustworthy by virtue of the fact that he is not paying support under (I presume) terms of your divorce, which means he’s wide open to having wages garnished, etc. Having been through the mill myself once and having friends male and female alike who have been through it at least once….

    It’s one thing for a guy literally to not be able to pay, or pay all of it. It’s another to treat the whole deal with contempt, which is what he is doing. Sick the court on him, but spend some time with Spawn first.

    And another thing….ne’er mind, I beg your pardon for running on for far too long. But I paid thousands in child support because I was supporting my child, which is kind of what you’re supposed to do if you are a decent human being. Plus which it really pisses me off when someone uses a child as a pawn in mind games against someone. Hang in there, difficult though it may be, because eventually it does get better. Really.

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  103. 103
    Mnemosyne says:

    @opiejeanne:

    I’m not all that interested in the park princesses since they were rude to Alice Darling and went out of their way to tell her she wasn’t a princess so she couldn’t hang out with them.

    Whaaa? Technically, you could have complained and gotten them in trouble. They’re not supposed to say stuff like that. In fact, while we were there, the cast members called all of the girls “princess” if they didn’t know their names.

    My younger niece (11) is at the age where she knows logically that they’re all actresses and actors in costumes, but she still gets really excited to see them. And, luckily, the older one (16) was really excited, too, so that helped.

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  104. 104
    Suzanne says:

    Weirdly, I just went in to kiss Spawn goodnight, and she said, “Mom, I’d like to go back to therapy, I want to talk about some things”. I said sure, absolutely, and asked if there was anything she felt like she wanted to say but couldn’t to me. She said no, but I wonder what’s going on.

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  105. 105
    Ruckus says:

    @Mnemosyne:
    My dad had a buddy who lived in Anaheim even before they built Disneyland. His oldest daughter went to work there as a character when she was old enough, right after the park opened. That was the way they had to treat the guests and act then, back in the 50s.

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  106. 106
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Suzanne:

    I wouldn’t try to pry it out of her — the fact that she actually wants to talk to the counselor first is a good sign, IMO. Sometimes there is venting and/or processing you need to do with a neutral person before you try to discuss something with someone who’s close to you.

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  107. 107
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Ruckus:

    I’m slightly confused — back in the 1950s, they encouraged the princesses to be mean to people?

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  108. 108
    Ruckus says:

    @Suzanne:
    You’ve gotten a lot of advice tonight but please read what you just wrote.
    You went in to kiss her goodnight.
    She opened up to you about something that she feels is very important and isn’t bad about you.
    This is not a hateful child. She feels as safe with you as may be possible for any 13 yr old.
    Ya done good, just keep going.

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  109. 109
    Suzanne says:

    @Mnemosyne: Concur. I backed off.

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  110. 110
    Gretchen says:

    @Suzanne: She’s not scared of you. Horrible ex says she’s scared of you to be hateful. You’re the first person to know she had a girlfriend because she trusts you and knows you’re trustworthy. She wants to please you, and is afraid of disappointing you or not pleasing you, because she values your opinion. Which couldn’t be farther from being afraid of you.

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  111. 111
    efgoldman says:

    @Suzanne:

    “Mom, I’d like to go back to therapy, I want to talk about some things”.

    This is actually a great thing. Most kids have to be dragged, even if they really need it, even if they’ve been before and like the therapist. It goes with early adolescence. She’s way more self-aware than most kids her age. This is a Good Thing.

    ETA: And what Ruckus said, too.

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  112. 112
    Yarrow says:

    @Lizzy L: So glad to hear that! I’d been wondering how he was doing. Glad to hear the antibiotics are working and he’s improving.

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  113. 113
    Ruckus says:

    @Mnemosyne:
    Ha, No they required them to act as you said. Respectful and happy. I can’t remember the slogan but wasn’t it something about being a happy place?
    Also know a welder who works on rides and he likes working there. Sometimes there are long days and others he has nothing to do but he seems to sure enjoy it.

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  114. 114
    Suzanne says:

    @efgoldman: Yeah, I am encouraged by that. Concerned, but encouraged. The last time she was in counseling, she wasn’t really able to open up emotionally, and I think it caused more stress for her. But this is a sign of maturity.

    God, I am just exhausted emotionally.

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  115. 115
    Lizzy L says:

    @Yarrow: Thanks. There are no guarantees, of course, but Thursday I was afraid he was taking his last ride to the vet, and now — he’s still here.

    @Suzanne: She trusts you to get her what she needs, is what this says to me. Those people are fucking with you. Ignore the bullshit; take care of your kid and take care of yourself.

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  116. 116
    efgoldman says:

    @Suzanne:

    I am just exhausted emotionally.

    As mrs efg’s therapist said to her one time: I’d be really worried about you if you weren’t

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  117. 117
    Yarrow says:

    @Suzanne: The asking to go for the car ride and telling you she wants to go back to the therapist are great signs. She feels safe and comfortable with you, she trusts you and knows you have her best interests at heart and will be there for there. Focus on that and to hell with your ex.

    And go treat yourself to a spa day or something else fun and indulgent for yourself. You deserve it.

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  118. 118
    Gretchen says:

    @Mnemosyne: I talked to a friend tonight who took her autistic son to Disneyworld and had a great time. Every time she was afraid that her son was being difficult, a Disney employee swept in and told her to relax, everything is fine and we’re enjoying our time with him. Later, she talked to a Disney employee who said that every day, some of them are deployed to “make magic”. They certainly did for her visit. One employee was a little person, and she was thinking that her son would say something awful. That employee saw her distress, and told her not to worry, he’d heard it all before and it would be fine. They actually go out of their way to make it ok for non-typical people to be able to have a good time, and for their parents to relax and have a good time too.

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  119. 119
    Ruckus says:

    @Lizzy L:
    This is a piece of advice that I don’t think any of us has really stressed enough.

    and take care of yourself.

    @Suzanne:
    You have to be there to help her. So you also have to take care of yourself. There is an awful lot of stress just being (or in my case, just trying to be) a parent. Take care of yourself so you can take care of her.

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  120. 120
    CaseyL says:

    ABC and her kids are spending Spring Break at your house ?

    And this is after you spent a weekend at her place?

    Sounds like a lot of fun, and a big escalation of the relationship!

    It would probably be a good idea to not be wearing overalls when they arrive. And also not be running around in your skivvies.

    Hope the visit goes well, everyone has a good time, and only a few legendary Cole Tales come out of it!

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  121. 121
    Yarrow says:

    @Mnemosyne: I read that as her daughter was working at the park in some capacity but not as a princess. The other people who were working as princesses wouldn’t let her hang out with them because she wasn’t working as a princess. And mom was protective of daughter and didn’t like the actors portraying princesses because they were rude to her daughter.

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  122. 122
    sigaba says:

    @efgoldman:

    I didn’t read the story (I have enough rage) but I saw it elsewhere earlier today.

    You know EF, as we get closer to the 27% support, the kinds of responses we’re going to get from Trump supporters in these stories are only going to get stupider and even more irrational and nuts. By definition the reporters doing these stories are saying, from the outset, “I’m not going to interview normal people, I’m not going to interview mere Trekkies, I’m going to interview all the people who think Voyager was the best show on TV.”

    You can take these stories for what they’re worth but they really don’t reflect any sort of consensus or meaning, we’re down to the mere fan phenomenon at this point. Fan’s don’t have reasons.

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  123. 123
    efgoldman says:

    @CaseyL:

    It would probably be a good idea to not be wearing overalls when they arrive.

    i dunno’; eight and ten-year old boys might find that a sign of a fun new mom’s guy.

    I hope you’re going to put a/c in that room before the end of spring. Or does the house have central a/c?

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  124. 124
    opiejeanne says:

    @Ruckus: My parents were good at some parts of parenting and bad at others. I had to unlearn a lot of stuff, like hitting. They hit me a lot, hit my sister much less because they thought of her as delicate, plus everything bad she did was my fault because I should have stopped her. Dad was a bit of a bully and very impatient, and when I realized I was imitating his parenting style, I worked on changing.
    Our kids turned out to be good people so we may have been good parents, but it also may be that they are just good people and we are lucky parents. We never got a call from the cops about them, they never wrecked a car, they didn’t drink and drive or get banished from local restaurants like some of their contemporaries did.

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  125. 125
    joel hanes says:

    @Suzanne:

    So today Mr. Suzanne and I met with ex-Mr. Suzanne and his current GF, and they said that Spawn tells them that I make her crazy and anxious and that she is scared to come home when she spends alternating weekends at their house.

    1. Remember that the people who are telling you this are the same people who called you names. Perhaps not _completely_ reliable witnesses, ne? Perhaps they don’t have your best interest at heart ?

    2. Adolescents. Girls and their mothers. When you were thirteen, didn’t your mother make you crazy just by breathing ? Thirteen can be very difficult for all involved. This passes with time.

    3. In a two-house divorced family, playing one set of parents against the other is the easiest way for the kid to get some power and control. The power and control are the goals; the heartache of the parents is not in the foreground of the kid’s thought. Refuse to play this game — do not listen to what the other parents say the kid says to them about you. Avoid opportunities for them to tell you.
    Listen to the kid instead. Pay respectful attention to what your daughter says to you and does while with you.

    4. Her psychiatrist probably won’t have advice for you. If you’re not seeing someone yourself, perhaps you should. You need someone neutral to tell the entire thing to, someone who has your best interest and only your best interest in view, and has no emotional involvement themselves.

    5. Respect and control. In eight years she will be legally in complete control of her life; she needs some space now in which to practice on a small scale. Inventory the areas in which your daughter has talents, abilities, traits that are worthy of respect, and the areas in which you can safely give her control. Then find opportunities to ask her for help or opinion in those areas, and let her make mistakes that aren’t illegal, dangerous, or hurtful to others. Most kids need to be allowed to burn their fingers some; that’s a better teacher than any lecture. You’ll have important things to say; say them once, or twice, then stop. The kid will hear you, never fear.

    6. Ultimately, kids learn only a little from what we say to them — most values and standards are conveyed by how we behave ourselves. If you model the behaviors you hope to see in your daughter when she’s adult, the day will come when she decides she needs to be an adult, and she’ll fill in the blanks by consulting that model — not the things you said to her, but the things you did.

    I raised two generations of adolescents, among them a very troubled stepdaughter. If you refuse to hold grudges, consistently forgive, and consistently demonstrate love and respect for the kid, chances are that she’ll eventually come around. With my stepdaughter it took almost fifteen years.

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  126. 126
    seaboogie says:

    @Suzanne: Suzanne – with all the 13-y-o hormones, and trying to deal with her dad being an unreliable douche, Spawn is venting in the only safe place she knows – and that is with you. 13 fucking bites, and she is also on the beginning edge of sorting her sexuality.

    What earlier commenters said – keep communication with the ex to the bare minimum of practicality, and be glad that you are shut of him on your own front, even if your daughter is not.

    You might want to tell your daughter that you are human, love her, and that you are just doing your best. Don’t talk her dad down though – no matter how shitty he acts. My dad remembers this from when his parents divorced – before it was fashionable. And when our mom didn’t want us anymore, he gladly took us on – and never spoke ill of her – though he would have had cause to do so. He had a certain and learned wisdom about keeping the kids as unconflicted as possible.

    You can’t control your ex, but you can control you. Ten or twenty years from now, your daughter will thank you.

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  127. 127
    SWMBO says:

    @Lizzy L: Copying my post from an earlier thread:
    We had 3 dachshunds over the years with Cushings. They had inflamed livers, nausea, cramps, etc. All 3 lasted over 2 years with it. Watch the diet and keep an eye out for pancreatitis. I had to administer sub q fluids a few times and they would bounce back. If Theo is only eating boiled chicken, you might add chicken jello (maybe with boiled chicken in it like fruit in jello). Unflavored Knox gelatin made with chicken broth. 1 cup broth per packet. Our dogs thought it was chicken candy. It doesn’t hurt their stomach as much as other foods. Boiled chicken with overcooked white rice is good too. Over cook the rice until it is almost paste because it’s easier to digest. (Brown rice is harder for them to digest when they are sick according to my vet.) Feed small amounts multiple times a day. Steady digestion is easier than twice a day large meals.

    You have no idea how happy it makes me to read this. I was getting depressed with all the other dogs not making it lately and any good news is wonderful.

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  128. 128
    opiejeanne says:

    @Mnemosyne: Oh, wait, It’s Wendy whose last name is Darling. Duh!
    My youngest was Wendy when they hired a Peter Pan, but she was mostly Alice in Wonderland when she worked at Disneyland and on the cruise ship.

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  129. 129
    Ruckus says:

    @opiejeanne:
    You just described almost all parents. I think it’s only the ratio that changes. My parents didn’t hit ever and and I got spanked once. Oh well, water/bridge and all that. I did 5 yrs of therapy and learned a lot more about myself and what kind of person I can be than my parents knew how to teach me. But I was also an adult at the time and it was much easier to understand. But none of us turned out bad or have records or such, so overall, good job parents.
    ETA I know of kids who had it a lot worse, 2 kids I went to HS with, lived up the street, came home to find both parents dead, murder/suicide. Other kids were raised by a single mom and they turned out pretty damn good. One girl I went to church and school with is still in jail for murder, 40 yrs now.

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  130. 130
    SWMBO says:

    @Suzanne: She’s trying to work it out and she wants your help and support. After the car ride, you really are in the driver’s seat. You got this.

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  131. 131
    joel hanes says:

    @Suzanne:

    One last thing: it sounds as if child support has become a bitter bone of contention.

    If you can possibly afford to, drop it. Never mention it again, certainly never to your daughter. Let your ex skate if he’s that kind of jerk. The anger and frustration of fighting to get support that’s given grudgingly is toxic to all involved. Probably you can handle that amount of poison, but this is a sensitive time for your daughter. Kids are a huge responsibility — it’s all too easy to give them the impression that they’re a nearly-unbearable financial burden, and the resulting guilt and resentment can make everything else more difficult.
    If you can simply abandon that issue, it’s worth considerable sacrifice.

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  132. 132
    opiejeanne says:

    @Ruckus: My kid was playing Alice at the Anaheim park. The group of princesses at the time behaved like they were in a club and told Alice that she wasn’t a princess so she couldn’t be in the club. I’ve just been a bit off of the princesses since then which is totally unfair of me.

    Alice

    Funny story: she was Alice and a guy was hitting on her. The Mad Hatter leaned over and said, “You do realize that Alice is only 8…” The guy said “oh,” looked confused and backed off.

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  133. 133
    opiejeanne says:

    @Yarrow: Bingo.

    I said I was Mrs Darling because she also played Wendy, but forgot that Wendy is the character whose last name is Darling so I caused some confusion.

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  134. 134
    Ruckus says:

    @SWMBO:
    As I told Lizzy the other day my cocker went through the same thing, not eating, vomiting, and the broiled chicken and white rice routine lasted 2 days after he came back from the vet, because he wanted his regular food. The vet said he ate something that almost took out his liver but 48 hrs (and a $400 vet bill) later he was almost back to normal.

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  135. 135
    The Lodger says:

    @Suzanne: My earlier comment was eated, basically repeating that after the car ride and admitting she’d like to see the therapist again, I’m pretty sure she trusts you as much as is possible right now. Also, Dear Old Dad is being a grade-A douchecanoe and shouldn’t be trusted. Hugs to you all.

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  136. 136
    PIGL says:

    @Betsy: dear Suzanne…listen to Betsy. I am very sorry for your troubles.

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  137. 137
    Ruckus says:

    @opiejeanne:
    I don’t remember what character this girl played. I was 6 or 7 and she was 10-11 yrs older. We also didn’t spend a lot of time with this family, he was a friend of my dad’s, I think from the navy during the war. Dad would never tell me how he knew this friend nor would he talk about the navy or the war at all, even when I enlisted.

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  138. 138
    Ruckus says:

    @opiejeanne:
    I just reread that.
    I remember Alice from the park and that was a great line from the Mad Hatter and while she may have been 8 in the story, she sure looked closer to 18 in real life.

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  139. 139
    opiejeanne says:

    @Ruckus: I can’t imagine how a child could begin to cope with finding both parents dead. Horrifying as an adult, it would be so much worse for a child.

    I don’t know of any of my HS peers who ended up in prison but I moved to that town between 8th and 9th grade, so my earlier friends very well may have; it was a rough town. One friend I adored had an alcoholic mother and no dad. The older sister was pregnant at 14 and trying to figure out who to pin it on; I was 11 when Linda told me that and it really shocked me. Another showed up at my college Freshman year. I really didn’t keep track of anyone from that earlier life because it felt like an escape when we moved to a much nicer place.

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  140. 140
    SWMBO says:

    Back to John Cole. Is this the room Lily was shitting in? Did she somehow realize that she wasn’t going to be the favorite child?

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  141. 141
    opiejeanne says:

    @Ruckus: I think she was 19 when she started playing Alice. She’s 4’10” and played Alice more as a 12 yo.

    And that’s a wig she’s wearing.

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  142. 142
    Ruckus says:

    @opiejeanne:
    I didn’t grow up in a rough town, I lived in the San Gabriel Valley. A nice place, quiet and middle class bedroom community. But people are people, everywhere. There are good ones, bad ones and every other conceivable stripe inbetween.

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  143. 143
    Ruckus says:

    @opiejeanne:
    The Alice I remember sure didn’t look 12, wig or not. How funny would it be if the Alice I remember as a kid was your daughter? Because we used to go regularly from when it opened till I was about 12 or 13. From then till about 15-18 yrs ago I’d been I think once. Long story but I found myself in socal for work somewhere around 99-01 and every relation was out of town so I had nothing to do. It was late fall and on a Sunday so I went to Disneyland. No crowds, longest wait for a ride was less than a min, so I’d ride say Space Mountain, walk to the Matterhorn, ride and back and forth for hours, with something else thrown in every once in a while. Can’t remember when the park closed but I only left when it did. Not a bad day at the old park.

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  144. 144
    Anne Laurie says:

    @opiejeanne:

    I had to unlearn a lot of stuff, like hitting.

    One (of many) reasons I never had kids is because my parents were honest enough to admit they weren’t very good at that job, so I knew I hadn’t had the right training.

    The first time my first puppy did something really horrible (chewed up a beloved, expensive book it was going to be hard to replace), I literally saw red… and next I knew, puppy was backed into a corner, I had my hand raised, and the words JUST LIKE HER MOTHER flashed across my field of vision. (So I told puppy to go to his crate, which he did, crab-scrabbling like a cartoon character. And I went to another room to calm myself down.)

    Had a wise friend who started one of the first dog-training prison programs. The non-negotiable rules, for the lucky inmates: No screaming at the dogs, no hitting the dogs. She said it was kind of astonishing how many adult men only knew about screaming & hitting, because that’s what their parents / teachers / authority figures had always relied upon.

    But what broke her heart, a little, was when a student or former student came back and told her this secret, which they found amazing: Not screaming and not hitting works on people, too! The guards, the spouses & parents on visiting days, the parole board — this ‘postive reinforcement’ magic worked on humans as well as pets! They were so proud of themselves, having worked out this mysterious force…

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  145. 145
    laura says:

    @Suzanne: 13 is such a terrible, awful no good age to be. Just keep on doing your best. Trust your instincts and get some good legal advice on getting your child the financial support that the ex is obliged to contribute.
    A cup of tea and toast with butter and jam couldn’t hurt.

    If I had the power to go back and unsay the hurtful bs I unleashed on my mother at 13, I’d do it in a heartbeat. I still feel the shame of it 40 years on.

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  146. 146
    Anne Laurie says:

    @SWMBO:

    Our dogs thought it was chicken candy.

    Our go-to for those situations are the little jars of pureed baby-food chicken (works for cats, too). You can gently smear it around their lips and they’ll lick it off, which is often enough to get them interested enough to keep licking it from your finger or a plate.

    Expensive & time-consuming if one’s trying to keep a big dog alive, but if it’s a matter of restarting the appetite of an animal that’s been having digestive problems…

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  147. 147
    Anne Laurie says:

    @opiejeanne:

    My youngest was Wendy when they hired a Peter Pan, but she was mostly Alice in Wonderland when she worked at Disneyland and on the cruise ship.

    Alice Liddell is the anti-princess. She (& Wendy, who is also too stubbornly proletarian to be co-opted) were my favorite Disney characters, back in those ancient days when the competition was Sleeping Beauty/Cinderella.

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  148. 148
    ThresherK says:

    @Anne Laurie: Hey, that’s not ancient days. Osawld, now that’s ancient.

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  149. 149
    snarkyspice says:

    @Suzanne:

    I hope you can develop those emotional defences because this asshole is going to keep hitting you with this – it’s his only power over you. I recommend looking Byron Katie on Youtube. Watch her help people understand how to manage their own thoughts. Her videos have really helped me build emotional strength in an area I didn’t think was possible.

    Your kid didn’t say those words. She is not scared of you. She may sometimes lash out at you verbally (although I’d doubt anything that guy said) but all teenage girls do that. I still have a diary I wrote at 13 in which I wrote about my mum – in giant blue letters – “I HATE HER!” Needless to say, I didn’t.

    Like everyone else has said, the proof is in the improvements you are seeing. Believe those not some spiteful words from a dickhead.

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  150. 150
    NotMax says:

    No gift wrapped packages sitting on the beds containing brand new overalls for them?

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  151. 151
    Aimai says:

    @Suzanne: kids are not reliable reporters or narrators especially when they are hurting–and exes who owe money and attention aren’t either. Your daughter did not say anything more than grumpy teens say all the time. Your ex is simply using another convenient tool to defend his ego from knowing he is a deadbeat and a lousy father. If he were actually worried he would meet with her therapist, pay the money, or sue for custody. He knows nothing snd cares less. You are doing what you have to do. Be comforted.

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  152. 152
    Nancy says:

    @Suzanne:
    I work with families in your situation and sadly this kind of ex-abuse happens all too often–you are vulnerable perhaps because it hadn’t occurred to you that someone would use your child to channel his anger to you. It was a distraction from the topic of child support and it worked. You were devastated by the attack, unable to rationally evaluate the words, and no longer talking about the money he legally and morally owes his child. He, or the new partner, achieved his apparent goal of changing the subject.
    This tactic probably has worked for him in the past, but now you have changed. Instead of internalizing the nasty message and wholeheartedly believing it, you asked for help with your pain. Now you can get reality checks.
    Fortunately you have this forum and your friends here have good advice. I can’t agree enough that you need your own support system. I strongly recommend having your own therapist because friends and the people who love you can’t perform that role. They love you and they can’t counsel you. This group is not enough, the internet is not enough. Your child’s therapist has to be focused on her and can only help you to parent her, not to heal yourself. I’m so saddened to read your story and my heart goes out to you.

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  153. 153
    Nancy says:

    And the room looks great. Nice way to welcome the children.

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  154. 154
    La Caterina (Mrs. Johannes) says:

    @smintheus: I agree that at least part of his behavior is about the child support.

    I am a lawyer (but not in family law). Suzanne, you might want to talk to a practitioner licensed in your state about enforcing the child support order. If the ex is having money problems he’ll have to reveal them to the court which will put the kibosh on any designs he may have on wresting primary custody away from you.

    I can’t imagine how hard this situation is for you. Keep your chin up and trust yourself. You’re the best thing for her right now. After the hormones level off she’ll remember how much she loves you.

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  155. 155
    opiejeanne says:

    @Ruckus: She worked at Disneyland from 2002 -2004, then she was Bluebird in Snow White for about a year. One of my notes says she was about 21 when she was Alice. She played other characters before that, Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Lelo, Stitch, Pinocchio.

    After September 11, 2001, the park was fairly empty for about two years. We had annual passes and the crowds were very light, and we lived nearby so we would go pretty often, have lunch or supper there, just wander around looking at the details of the park and the landscaping. The place is an amazing garden and there are Secret Mickeys all over the place.

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  156. 156
    Aleta says:

    John,
    Wonderful news that your relationship comes with a couple of kids. I bet some multidimensional bonding with your animals will go on, in lots of funny ways. Your assortment of animals would be highly interesting for kids. And what luck for Thurston — best spring break ever for him! And what luck for you. The things you like (seems from your writing) go great with kid fun, and their involvement just make that stuff even better. Really, congratulations.

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  157. 157
    TerryC says:

    @satby: Suzanne, so sorry … my oldest daughter was such a shit to me through high school and her first semester of college … but there is light at the end of the tunnel. They grow up and they eventually appreciate!

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  158. 158
    Jamey says:

    @reality-based (the original, not the troll): And none of those bullshit wall-sconces that you plug into a wall receptacle; only hard-wired ones will do!

    /ocd

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