Posts Tagged ‘kids’

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Today is my “ahhh” day

September 21, 2011

This is THE day this week that I do not have school-related things on either side of my work day, and it’s bliss.

Last night, I had 20 people in my house.  TWENTY!  We all sat in my dining room.  This dining room:

My dining room, taken 2 years ago when we first moved in. Only slight variations since.

How?  I’m not sure.  We have 8 dining room chairs, 4 kitchen island chairs, my office chair, Mouse’s desk chair, 2 desk chairs in Lemon’s room, plus 6 deck chairs.  So we made a BIG circle around the table, and it worked.

The meeting was of fellow parents in Mouse’s grade.  I’m a huge proponent of what we’ve deemed our “Parenting Exchange.”  The entire grade is invited to each meeting, which we have every 6 weeks.  The meetings are relatively formal – we have topics chosen ahead of time, and we have a facilitator (just a parent – rotates around the group) who keeps things on track, both topic- and time-wise.  We really only use the meeting to check in on what other kids are doing, what other parents are wrestling with, how honest are kids are being when they pull out the inevitable “but all my friends are allowed to!”

We started when they were in 6th grade, and the town started having dances, the kids started asking if they could walk further and alone (our town is conducive to that), the homework started to get harder, etc.

There are some parents who never miss, but others come only occasionally, and others still have been only once.  It doesn’t matter – we still invite everyone every time.

I find it invaluable not only because of the actual conversation or things learned, and not only because of the connections that we truly do make with other parents that we might otherwise not — but because our kids watch us. They know they do this.  They know we talk.  I don’t only talk to my friends – I talk to my entire community.  So if they want to skip a class and wander around our village with their friends – they can’t think “pfft, mom’s at work, she’ll never find out.”  They have to worry about EVERY mom.  EVERY dad (we often have as many dads as moms, by the way).  That is my favorite part.

And my kids aren’t even sneaky.

But having 20 people over made for an insane day.  I left work early to come home and prep the house.  WD pitched in x10 (as usual), so I didn’t need as much time as I took.  We also had to find Mouse a place to go, because that is one of our “rules” – the kids should not be home when we meet (so they don’t learn things they have no business knowing).

After everyone left – by 9:15, I had to fight with one of my children.  Because life’s not complete without at least one argument per day when living with 2 teens.

I asked Mouse to find a place to go from 7:00 – 8:30.  We have friends who live steps away in 4 different directions.  Literally steps.  Literally across our small street in 2 directions, plus around a very short block corner.

But what does she do?  Knowing she has (a) homework, and (b) the messiest room in the universe that MUST be clean by Thursday a.m.?  She makes plans with a friend who lives the furthest away, starting right after school.  WD negotiated with her for some time after school – reminding her that if she hangs out all day long, using “Mom said I have to go somewhere” as the excuse, she’d have to come home straight after school tomorrow to clean her room and do homework, and she’d have to clean her room that evening, even though it means she cannot watch Glee.  She said, “Awww.  But okay.”

Guess what the fight was about?

Not so much that she could not watch Glee, but more that Lemon and I were daring to watch it anyway!!

What??!!  That’s not fair!  You never watched it with ME last year when SHE couldn’t!

But that was because she was doing her homework, not hanging out with friends.  You made your  choice.

It’s not because I was hanging out with friends!  It’s because YOU are making me CLEAN MY ROOM!! 

See how I made her letters red?  To convey her anger?

We also had a lot of bickering about the meaning of the word “grounded.”  Saying that she has to clean her room by Thursday (housecleaning day), and that she has to be in the house in order to clean her room, does not mean she is grounded.

Yes it does! because I can’t go anywhere!  That’s being GROUNDED!  

No, that’s telling you that you need to clean your room.  Which is in your house.  If you finish at 3:30, you can do something else.

What am I going to do at 3:30?  There’s nothing to DO at 3:30!!!

Whaaaa?

Fortunately, she finished off her hissy fit with lots of energy that she put toward cleaning her room!

If only she skipped the hissy fit.  It would have been nice.

Although I did feel bad for her, because (a) Glee featured a song from her play this year – the song she auditioned with (Anything Goes), and (b) her sister, out of habit, hit the “delete” button on the DVR when we finished watching.  Oops.  Thank god for Hulu.

 

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Canada will certainly be the death of me …

August 2, 2011

The child has been there for considerably less than 24 hours.  And my recent check of our AT&T account on line shows that we’ve pretty much burned through the text messages that the extra $10/mo have afforded us.

Now we’re working on the $0.40/each texts.  I haven’t even told her yet.

I could tell her.  I could say “okay, enough with the texting.”

But I’m not going to.  I will, instead, work to put several sentences into each text, instead of my usual phrase-per-text.

I did tell the Ex not to text her, though.  I told him he has to call her. That’s only $0.19/minute.

Today, according to my golden texts, she bought measuring cups, pancake mix, syrup, rice krispies, and cheese.  She came in 5th in her heat for the first race, meaning that boat will not advance. The loss was not so upsetting, because there are 5 other boats that she’s coxing, and she’s having a great time.  She races again tomorrow.  She went shopping alone, because the rest of her roomies went while she was on the water. She was pretty stressed that using the ATM in Canada would cause the bank to freeze it, so she begged that I call the bank and let them know where she is.

Knowing all of that is well worth $3.20.

Right?

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So Hard

June 18, 2011

I am sitting in my bedroom, in my cozy, comfy chair. There’s a book in my lap, tasty snacks & a glass of wine at my side.

And i find myself in tears.

When my girls were small, I had power over their friendships. If there was a toddler prone to biting, or hitting, I could decide not to plan play dates with that child. A kid at the park who hoarded all the shovels, or lorded over a certain slide – find another park.

Even in elementary school, Mom’s opinion (and scheduling power) held considerable sway.

But no more. We’re in middle school now.

Now I am forced to sit and watch as my child is treated like a goddamned hockey puck. Once sacred friendships are discarded for the hope & promise of “popularity”. Plans are blown off because something more “cool” has come along.

That it happens on the eve of a several hundred dollar birthday outing only compounds my anger. My sense of protectiveness cannot endure. (First my daughter, then my wallet?)

I so want to march up and say “this is not the behavior of a good friend. Or of a good person!”

But at the threat of my wrath, my daughter’s tears form.

“Mommy, please. I can handle this. This is mine.”

And I think back to my own 7th grade self. In June! Almost 8th. What if my mom marched up to my friends and gave them what-for.

Well, wow. Um, I’d have died.

So I bite my tongue.

I bitch to my husband.

I make veiled references in emails to my friends (the nasty girls’ moms).

And I wonder –

Do they scoff? do they look back to times when they sat, looking across the street at giggling girls while their own was sitting in her room, with a brave smile and forced forgiveness, and think “karma, baby!”

I am struggling, with this independence business. I want to trust. But I fear that my girls allow for too much. They take too much on the chin. They don’t stand up & say ‘enough’.

Tonight, I told her: You need higher standards for your friendships.

Her friend (a fellow blown-off girl) scoffed at me. “if we had higher standards, we’d have no friends.”

My indignation only causes bitterness from the person I want to protect.

This is so hard.

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Birthday Parties Suck.

June 14, 2011

Last month, Mouse turned 13.  I had a frustrating experience planning her birthday party with friends.

We wanted to go to a cabin in Vermont – one that my family has been going to for years upon years – just like we did for Lemon’s 13th birthday.  Mouse had been quite excited for the trip.

But Mouse and her friends, they have sports to play.  Bat Mitzvahs to attend.  And scheduling became, shall we say, difficult.

It became apparent that an entire weekend was not going to happen.  Not with the crucial attendees.

So we had to revise the plan.  Flexibility is key, when parenting teenagers.  Nothing is more important than being flexible.  Head still attached to the neck?  NOT IMPORTANT.

Which is good, because the whole birthday-party planning thing did, in fact, cause my head to pop off in frustration.  Frustration with kids, with kids’ parents, with myself, with my parents, with my kids, with my spouse, with the state of Massachusetts – with everything.

The revised plan is taking place this weekend.  On Sunday.  We are going to an amusement park.  A big, famous amusement park with roller coasters and a water park, and lots of sticky pavement and nausea-inducing rides.

Yee ha.

But hey – wait!  Let’s not get all the way to the Big Day without throwing in a little more frustration? — to wit:

When we made the plan, we had 4 girls on the invite list.  This weekend/trip/birthday folly was always going to be enough of an outing that it was small numbers.  I would have preferred to have 3 girls on the list, but the dynamics of the group are such that it cannot be done.  So when one of them had a big sports tournament or other thing that couldn’t be avoided, it seemed perfect to me.  4 girls.  A nice, even number.

Oops, Mom!  Wait!

“I was walking to school with Friend 5, and I kind of forgot that we weren’t inviting her this year, and started talking about my plans and stuff, and since Friend 4 can’t come, can Friend 5 become Friend 4?  Please?  I really want her to come, and now if I don’t invite her, it will be awkward.”

I run through the issues in my head.  I think about group dynamics.  I think about seats in the car.  I think group dynamics will be improved by the addition of friend 5-now-4, and I realize that regardless of whether or not she is added to the list, our car isn’t going to fit the crew – so I’ll have to work out transportation in some fashion.

So I approved the switcheroo.

About 2 weeks ago, Mouse says, “Um, Mom?  Didn’t you say Original Friend 4 can’t come because of sports?”  “Yep, sure did.”  “Well, today she said she can’t wait to go – and I was confused, so I just played along.”

Original Friend 4’s mom is a friend of mine.  [And no, I can’t just use first initials.  They all have very similar names.]  So I called her.  “No, I really think that sports are devouring our entire life and she has about 15,000 games that weekend.”

I talk to another of the moms from the List.  “Hey, want a hybrid for the day?  So I can shove 7 bodies into your mini van and not pay a rental car company or zipcar to take the kids to the $50/head amusement park?”  She happily agrees.  Perfect!  5 girls, WD and me, fitting into a 7 passenger van.

A week later.  “Mom, Friend 4 keeps talking about my party.  I am confused.”

I again call mom of Friend 4.  “Now it looks like there are 20,000 games that weekend.  I really don’t know why she thinks she’s going.”

This past weekend, “MOM!!  She said something AGAIN!!”

Last night, I sent the reminder email with a list of things that the kids need to bring: “They need bathing suits, but can’t wear JUST bathing suits, because if we’re not in the water park, shirts are required.  They should have flip flops for the water park, but need other shoes for roller coasters, or else they’ll lose their flip flops and drop them on someone’s head.  Please don’t forget sunscreen.  Or towels.”

I sent it to all 5 girls. Meaning the girl who couldn’t come and the girl who was invited to replace the girl who couldn’t come.

Guess how many moms wrote back to say their kids cannot wait and are soveryexcitedohmygodthisisthebest!?  5.  Plus Mouse makes 6.  Plus me makes 7.  Plus WD makes 8.

Goddammit.

So I’m in talks with another friend, because her van holds 8.  She thinks it will be fine to swap cars.  Probably.  She just has to talk to her husband.  Who is out of town.  He may be gone for a few days.  And maybe they’re going away for the weekend.  Not really sure.  But it should be fine.

I think I’ll go reserve a zipcar now …

 

 

Wait!

First, I’d like to just say:

I’ve come a long way from the days of throwing phones into walls because of a lack of grocery money.  But I’ve rounded the corner from that into the days of saving for college tuition.  My financial planner has us saving quite aggressively for this.  At the same time, my kids keep coming up with new camps & stuff that they want to attend this summer.  Result?  I’m freaking broke – all summer long.

So the extra ticket to the amusement park – groan.  But knowing that the kids are so very excited about the FAIR part of the park?  You know, the part where you shell out crazy amounts of cash so they can throw balls into holes and then make ME lug giant stuffed animals all over the place?  I’m not thrilled.  Not at all.

The finances of the whole day are actually freaking me out.

But I know it will be fine.

(I think.)

 

 

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Flashbacks – vol. 1

May 25, 2011

Mouse’s birthday yesterday combined with a lull in work brought me to some huge photo-organizing and cataloging efforts. I scanned hundreds of photos, and uploaded thousands onto flickr. Today, I am going through Flickr and purging/consolidating, in the way I imagine most people do as they go. For now, though, I’m just grateful that we have as much photographic evidence as we do. Of the girls’ entire childhoods, of trips taken, of homes lived in.

I do not have a good memory. I really don’t know why, but either do my siblings. I remember snapshots here and there of every phase of my life, but not an entire narrative. So looking at these old, old photos is very rewarding. It brings it all back, in a way my brain doesn’t do on its own.

Some of the photos jut make me smile – oh, remember when Lemon used to make that face? Oh, there is Mouse’s favorite pillow – the one she loved so much, so intently, so constantly, that it literally disintegrated as the years went on. We* had to cut it down twice, and eventually removed all the stuffing, and she slept with a scrap of material from the pillow cover. She fell in love with the pillow when she was an infant, and it was finally retired when she was 6. So it had a good run.

Here she is, sitting on it when it was still full size. She was about 3 here. It was with her (in the house) at all times. (also pictured, my nephew.)

It’s fun to have a picture bring so much rushing back.

Here’s another:

That’s me. Years & years ago (we think summer of 2004, but 2003 is possible). A couple (ha ha ha) pounds thinner, and with henna in my long, hippie hair.

WD and I had been camping a good bit at this point. Some with the girls, but mostly without, while they were with the Ex. California was good for that – camping was always an option, and in such fantastic settings.

Once we got all set with car camping gear, we decided to try backpacking. We purchased a 2 man tent, a couple of backpacking sleeping bags, and set out to find a destination.

We didn’t want to go too far, because I’d never done it before. So we looked around the bay area, and settled on Angel Island. A very small island in the middle of the bay.

But, see, I remembered that. What this picture reminds me of is a whole phase of WD and my relationship.

I am sitting on that wall, sipping a Starbucks cup. That Starbucks coffee was a very hard-fought battle.

WD does not drink coffee. When we first started dating, he used to give me a very hard time about drinking coffee. At the time, I think I was drinking 2 cups a day. Morning and afternoon.

And he thought it was unhealthy and inconvenient. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I think he mostly thought it was unhealthy. But that day, he was pretty pissy that I was insisting on stopping before we got on the ferry (no, Angel Island does not have a Starbucks).

Seeing this photo, and me with my coffee, I do not dwell on the pissyness. I think about how it’s changed. How that was a “thing” for us (and truly a minor thing, of course).

Probably soon after that, he got over it. Instead of being frustrated that I had to stop for coffee (or suffer the headache later), he just accounts for the time. He no longer offers caffeine as the reason for every ailment I may come across (weight gain? Give up caffeine. Insomnia? Caffeine. Trouble waking up in the morning? Caffeine. Menstrual cramps? It’s the caffeine!!). He found drinks he enjoys while I sip my coffee. He’s bought me coffee pots (2; most recently my adored Keurig).

Of course, I am sure to point out to him every. single. study. that comes out touting the benefits of coffee/caffeine.

That trip to Angel Island was awesome. Take a peek:

*At this stage of my life, “we” always refers to my sister and I.  We had both recently become single mothers, me of 2, and she of 1, and we essentially combined our households for a year or two.  I went to work, she stayed home and took care of the kids.  If Mouse got sick at school, my sister would go and pick her up.  When we needed to mend clothes or make some curtains – her job.  When we had to cut pillows down so the torn covering would actually enclose the foam stuffing – her job. Over and over again.  I think it was late 2003 or early 2004 when she moved into her own apartment (across the street), and then soon after, I returned to the East Coast.  But that partnership is definitely one of my favorite pieces of my past.

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Teens & Sex

May 5, 2011

Last night, our town sponsored a talk for parents of middle school aged children.  The talk was given by Planned Parenthood, and it was about sex.  Actually, I first thought it was about sex.  Turns out it was about talking to your kids about sex, and the importance of talking to your kids about sex.

I played Lazy, and didn’t go.  WD took Lemon to an appointment in the car, and if I went, I would have had to walk in the pouring rain, and it would have meant leaving Mouse home alone.  Of course, at 19 days shy of 13, she could hand that.  But if I went, I wouldn’t have been able to introduce her to the joy and pain (simultaneous) that is Grease 2.  Boy howdy, that was a blast from the past.

I didn’t go, though, in addition to the laziness, because I talk to my kids about sex already.  All the freaking time.  I may even drive them crazy.  I talk about birth control, I talk about readiness, I talk about safe sex (not just birth control, but “no sexually transmitted diseases” control).  I also talk about my own history.

My kids know that I was too young when I had sex for the first time.   They know that I took my own self to Planned Parenthood when I was 16 years old and got myself on the pill.  They know that I had to do it myself, because my parents were so religious and would be so upset to know that I was having sex that going to them wasn’t an option.  They know that, in fact, when my parents did find my birth control pills in my room where I’d hidden them, I was grounded for 2 consecutive years as a result.

They know that this is not what I want for them.  That I will help them, whether I agree with their decisions or not, to be safe.  They also have been told that IF, despite my completely willingness to help while holding my tongue (as much as possible), they still don’t want to come to me, that they should go to Planned Parenthood, or someplace similar.  Not wanting to talk to me (their mom) does not mean that they should take on the risks of unprotected sex.

There are still some things I feel like I need to figure out how to talk about, and what to say, though.  What if my girls don’t want to have sex with boys, but rather with girls?  I need to figure out how to talk about that with them, too.  What precautions need to be taken, etc.

Somehow, despite the fact that I live in a liberal and accepting community, I doubt that they addressed this at last night’s talk.  Can you imagine if I asked the question?  The gossip I’d create!  “Does she mean Mouse?  Or Lemon?  Are her girls lesbians?”

Yet, that is information I’m on a hunt for.  (I bet I have it, under my roof, in the awesome book Changing Bodies, Changing Lives, made by the same people who did Our Bodies, Ourselves.)  (And, just in grabbing the links for those books, I ended up finding a new book, that I ordered.)

Any way – Mouse knew last night that I blew off the parents’ sex-talk meeting, and I was kind of making light of the fact that we had to find our own opportunities to talk about sex.  Watching Grease 2 helped, that’s for certain.

And we talked a little bit before she went to bed.  About readiness, and about mutual respect, and about relationships.

So maybe even with my laziness, things are okay in our house.  Kinda scary, though, to think about how my girls are so close to the age I was when I became sexually active.  I have friends with slightly older kids, and they are sexually active.

Actually, now I’m scared.  I probably do need to kick it up a notch …

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Paralyzed

May 4, 2011

I hate that I have been divorced.  I hate when something happens in a conversation with someone I’ve recently met that requires me to divulge this information about myself.  For example:  “What do your kids do in the summer?”  Or, “Oh, did your husband help change diapers when the girls were little?”  Or even, “oh, you lived in California, what were you doing there?”  Well, I was there while my husband went to grad school.  No, not this husband.  The other one.

It’s not a huge issue in my life, and I don’t try to hide it.  It’s pretty much on par with the way I try to avoid the question of “and where did you go to undergrad?”  Because I’m embarrassed of that, too.

I’ve considered myself fortunate that the Ex and I do not bicker too much.  Whether it’s because we’re adults or (more likely) because he lives so damned far away, I’m pleased that we don’t invest too much time or energy in spatting with one another.

When something does come up, I prefer not to broadcast it far and wide.  I will share with my closest friends, and I will share with WD.  But I don’t bring it up with everyone I bump into on the street, or in the course of typical conversations with co-workers.

I don’t even tend to discuss everything on my blog.  Because the divorce and the disputes therein are not who I am.  They are not a part of what I consider my life to be.

But the most recent thing that came up is weighing heavily on me, and I’m going to use this cloak of anonymity to vent, and to try and think through the situation that I find myself in.  Maybe some of my very few readers will even have some advice for me.  To help me as I wrestle with my options.

_________________________

Last week, WD and I went to talk to a financial planner.  I think I’ve mentioned before that it’s time that we get a bit more organized in our finances.

My life has taken such a non-traditional path.  My trajectory is so different from that of most of my peers:

  • Work hard at building a career while single;
  • get married in the late 20s/early 30s;
  • continue to build your career as well as your financial portfolio;
  • buy a house,
  • have a baby or two,
  • maybe buy a bigger house;
  • tweak your career to accommodate your family, but not so much that you aren’t still adding to that portfolio,
  • raise your kids with confidence that you can pay for their college and enjoy your own self once they get the hell out.

No.  That was not me.  I did this instead:

  • put choice career on hold for the sake of getting married at the ripe old age of 21;
  • continue to put choice career on hold for the sake of having babies at the ripe old age of 23;
  • work at non-choice career to support baby-faced husband as he pursues his choice career;
  • continue to work at non-choice career while said husband decides his choice-career is actually something different, and requires 7 more years of schooling;
  • divorce said husband;
  • continue to work at non-choice career for another 2 or 3 years while figuring out how to be a single mother and to pay off divorce-granted 1/2 of ridiculous debt accumulated during ex-husband’s non-working student days and while paying for full time child care for 2 preschool aged children and for a decent apartment in one of the most expensive cities in the country;
  • decide to pursue choice career;
  • get remarried to a great guy who also did not follow typical life-path;
  • finally graduate from law school;
  • realize your pre-teen and teen children are getting really fucking old, and you have very little savings to speak of because you’ve spent so long hoping that there will be enough money for food.
  • freak out.

And that’s what brings me to a financial planner.  At long last.

I’ve long-ago come to terms with the fact that I’m not going to ever buy a house.  Not in this town I chose.  This town that I’m now pretty committed to, both because of my kids’ community, and also because of my own.  We’re also committed because of the great schools and other opportunities, the location, the culture, the politics.  We love where we live.  So we rent.  For half the monthly cost than we’d be paying if we chose to buy a place with half the square footage of what we’re renting. (I’ve kind of come to terms with it.  I still lust over houses.  I sometimes have searing pangs of jealousy when someone buys a house.  But it’s fine.)

But I’m not coming to terms with the fact that I may not be able to fund 100% of my kids’ college expenses.

When I went to college, my parents were able to pay for 100% of my college.  True, through the power of the purse, they insisted upon that school (or one like it), and they refused to pay for the schools that were academically sound and that I was very eager to attend, based on both finances and on what they perceived as “moral depravity.” (i.e., there were signs up on campus about a pro-choice rally.)   Back then, college cost $10,000/year.   It was not a drop in the bucket to them, but it was not 1/4th of their salary.  It was a single digit percentage.

Today, a year’s college tuition is 1/4th of my salary.  Which I know puts me in better shape than most, but the reality is that I do not know how long my salary will stay at the level it is currently at.  I may have a different job by the time Lemon heads to college in 3 years.

3 years.

God.  When I think about how quickly the last 3 years went by …

So – financial planner.

She tells me I need to seriously consider paying for half of their college instead of all.  If I pay for all of it, I can retire when I’m 95.

She asks about grandparents, the Ex – can they help?

Nope.  I say.  My parents are way too stressed about their own retirement, in light of the fact that they didn’t start saving until relatively recently (because of their own kids’ college, etc.), and there is no way they are going to have money to contribute.  The Ex’s parents might have a little money, but not much.

But what about the Ex?

Oh.  He can’t.  He makes very little money.

We move on.

Later, I’m chatting with a friend about college expenses.  She is currently married to a college professor, and is wondering aloud why we both made choices to marry people who make so little money. Why did we not marry investment managers or even fellow lawyers.

While I was chatting with her, I found myself – FOR THE FIRST TIME – questioning the Ex’s salary.  I mean, he’s been a professor for a very long time.  He has tenure.  While still chatting, I employed my sweet friend Google.  After all, the Ex teaches at a public university – his salary is likely public record.

Why is this the first time I thought about this?

I guess because I really did think we were adults.

Google tells me, no.

The Ex makes 2x the amount he has told me that he makes.

2x.

Meaning, the amount he had been letting me believe he makes, and then that amount again.

The amount he had been letting me believe was low enough that I said, “oh, never mind the child support guidelines, I understand things are tough for you, you can pay $300/mo less than that.”

And when he made tenure, and I said, “did you get a raise with that?”  Did he say “yes, approximately $40K!” (And that it was on top of an already-much-higher number than he’d been leading me to believe.)

Nope.

He said, “Only about $3K.”

Huh.  Because according to the website, the first # was the right number.  Not the $3K number.  The $40K number.

And last year, when I kind of put his back to the wall about who gets to claim Lemon for tax-purposes, he surprisingly caved on the issue.  Now I know why.  Because if he fought me on that, and we went to court, he would have to submit financial records, and then I would know that he’s been lying to me.

I was pretty upset.  Not tears upset (I’m not a cryer, after all), but angry.  Because he and I were in the midst of a very cordial email thread (wherein he told me that no, his parents won’t be contributing to college, and either will he), I just told him what I saw.  He basically said, “yeah, well, fuck you” in response.  First, he tried to say that he didn’t tell me because “it didn’t come up.”  Which is, of course, bullshit.  He didn’t just “not tell me” – he lied on multiple occasions.  He let me fill in erroneous numbers for our little child support calculator without correcting me.  He outright lied about whether he’d received raises more than once.  Of course, I obsessively checked my email history to gather proof of these transgressions.

He left it as, “So, have your lawyer contact me.”

And then I slipped into a funk.  For at least a couple of days.  Mostly feeling disillusioned over the fact that I’ve prided myself in being fair, and in being, even, kind.  And in response, I’ve been lied to.

I am no longer in a funk, but I still haven’t done anything about this.  I know now that when taking into account my salary and his salary, he should be paying more than twice the child support he currently pays.  But you know what?  I don’t want to be that person.  I don’t want to open up a court file here in Massachusetts.  I don’t want to take him to court, from 1/2 way across the country, to get more money out of him.  Is it my fault he has two new babies?  No.  But I still feel like if I drag him to court to insist on some higher amount of child support (any such increase would, of course, go entirely to the girls’ fledgling college accounts), I’m a jerk.  A real jerk.

I know that when it comes down to it, the court cannot (will not) make him contribute toward tuition.  And even with his true salary being 2x what he had told me he was making, it’s not a huge salary.  He likely cannot pay for half of their college.  So increasing child support to the appropriate level and using that increase to supplement the savings is the most I can expect.  I can probably also extend child support past the girls’ 18th birthdays, until they graduate from college.

But even if I do get this increase … it won’t help tons in the overall picture.  In the three years between now and when Lemon heads out the door, the increase maybe will have accumulated to equal 1/2 year of college.  One semester.  But there’s two kids.  So …. ?

Is it worth it?  I just don’t know.  I really do not want the fight.  I don’t want to be that person.  I don’t want the fact that I have been divorced to take up that much of my time and thoughts.

Not one person I have spoken to thinks that it is appropriate for me to let this go.  Every single person thinks I should take him to court and get the higher number.  Of course, if I were to talk to his mother, or perhaps another divorced non-custodial parent, I would get a different perspective.

Also to note, if I were to get the increase to the levels that the MA guidelines state as the true level, he would be paying considerably less than 10% of his gross salary to child support.  Which means, yeah, he’s currently paying about 4% of his gross annual salary toward child support.

Another thing – I do not know that his salary is all he makes.  He also has several speaking engagements per year, and participates in many other professional endeavors.  Those could be supplementing his salary in a significant way.  And since I know that he does not feel like it is his responsibility to ensure that he’s providing Lemon and Mouse with support appropriate to his income, I know he would not volunteer this information.

For now, I have asked him for his last 2 years’ tax returns.  I don’t know if he’ll provide them.  I’m guessing if his salary is it, he’ll send them.  If there’s more, more to hide, then he will not.