Added to the mess is that for the last couple weeks, I have been hearing Agent M tell me how he hates his dad and how "stupid" (his word, not mine) his dad is. What makes it more annoying to me is that the causes are all little, correctable things. They are things that, to me, seem like basic parenting. It is hard enough to not get frustrated when The Ex treats me in a way that I would never treat him, and to let go of how I would "expect" him to act. But when he does things (or not does things) that cause Agent M to yell for 10 mins "I hate my dad!" over and over...well, it sucks.
Yesterday's event was caused by something that meant a lot to Agent M, that I had specifically asked his dad about, and yet, Agent M has possibly missed out on something because his dad did not take the time to check the date of something. Any guesses?
We missed a book order.
Minor right? Not the end of the world by any means. But, this is not the first time that I have asked his dad to make sure I get the book order form so that I can order something for Agent M. Actually, his dad had the book order form since last Friday, did not tell me, and when Agent M told me about it early in the week, I specifically asked his dad when the due date was since I wanted to order a book or two for Agent M. His reply was just that he did not know off the top of his head. So I asked if he would at least send the order form with Agent M when he came to my house on Friday. Which he did. Even though it says across the top in bold, black lettering: "DUE 3/9/12"
Skipping Agent M for a moment, here is where my expectations come in:
- When I have gotten the book order forms, I have let his dad know. I have told him the due date, asked if he wants to look over the form, etc. He never has. I expect him to do the same for me, so that I can be as involved as possible and have the chance to get something for Agent M, who loves getting book orders.
- I expected him to check the due date when I asked, not just say "I don't know" and then blow it off as not important enough to check.
- I expected him to give a rip that I would want to do something for Agent M and meet me halfway on it by getting the info to me when asked, or just by letting me know ASAP.
- I expect that he would have noticed the due date when putting the order form into Agent M's backpack (The Ex was the one to take it out and put it back in, Agent M said), and even if it was Friday morning when he noticed, I would have expected him to send me a quick text or phone call to say, "Hey, my bad. It is due today, then if you want to go drop off a check and fill it out before you go to work, you can."
Basically, I expect him to do for me what I would do for him. And that is my big mistake in all of this divorce/ co-parenting attempts. I simply can not expect anything from him - good nor bad. (I also have been told that I can not do all of those things for him that I would expect in return - but I always do what I can to encourage him to be a better parent for Agent M, so that's a harder habit to break.) When I have these expectations, I know that chances are, I will be let down. I will get frustrated. I will wonder why he does things in such a way. And I work hard to just let it all go.
And this is where Agent M comes right back into focus.
"I hate my dad! He always is messing things up for me! He never turns stuff in on time!"
What the hell do you do when your heart and joy is so upset by something completely out of your control, so minor to have prevented, and it has pissed you off also?
I breathed. I let him rant and wail a little while I mentally did the same. And then, I calmed myself down as much as I could, and chose my words carefully. I told Agent M that I was really sad also. I told him I felt it was unfair also. I told him it was not worth hating someone for it though, and he was better than to waste his energy on hatred. We talked about possible ways to keep it from happening again. We talked about Agent M being the one to make sure the book order is given to me, a position I do not like to put him in but he said he doesn't want to give it to his dad from now on. I told him I was talk to his dad and see if there was a better system that we could work out to keep this from happening over and over. And when asked why does his dad do this type of stuff, I was honest and told him I just don't know. And I told him that I would talk to his teacher on Monday and see if there is any way that I can still get an order in. Because I might not be able to control or prevent what happens on his dad's end of things, but I can control what I do. I can do what I can for Agent M, especially if it will show him that I pay attention to what matters to him. And even though a book order is minor in the big picture, it mattered to him.