My younger son J had his birthday this past weekend. We had a gathering of family only on the Saturday which went very well. It reminded me of the easy celebrations we'd had in the past. I missed my dad, though :(
Anyway, on J's birthday his dad came over to give him a card. J politely read it and discreetly looked in the card and envelope for a gift of cash or something. It was empty. I asked Ex why there was no gift and he said it was because he had to pay for J's school (legally, he has to pay something like 64% of any extra stuff not covered by child support). I decided not to yell at Ex in front of the boys, instead mentioned that they can go look at Ex's brand new 2007 Mustang Convertible. I was intending on giving them some time with their dad as they'd only seen him four times this year. I found out later that he complained of having no money and told J that if he gets suspended from the school he will have to pay Ex back the money. And that J behaved horribly during Ex's wedding. And that because J didn't call Ex on his birthday or Father's Day, J wouldn't get a birthday gift.
Oh yeah, I was pissed off. So I told the boys that I was so sorry they had to find out their dad is a shit on J's birthday. I don't like to bad-mouth Ex in front of my boys because the boys know they are half of him and half of me. But they are also 12 and almost 14, they can handle a bit of bitter truth. I explained that Ex just showed them who he is, that Ex would rather sell his truck (that he'd promised the boys they could learn to drive with) and buy an expensive car than acknowledge his own son's birthday in a positive manner. I told them that Ex thinks he is doing good by punishing the boys for not paying attention to him, he probably thinks everything he did was appropriate. I told the boys that Ex's mom drank a lot of alcohol during her pregnancies (oh yes, she actually did, no lie there) and he probably has Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Not that any of that helped. J was still battling tears.
I thought this would be a good time to leave J home alone while I took my older son T to work, and S and I ran errands. While we were out I thought I should email Ex and let him have it....but he'd only delete it. Then I thought I could go to his house and tear him a new one....but he wouldn't let me in. So I decided to phone him. I waited until we were home and asked J what Ex's number was (I don't bother programming it in the phone) and called him. He answered and I just let into him. I yelled all kinds of crap about what the hell was he thinking doing that to his son. Well, he hung up on me. No surprise, I'd expected that, so I called back. Amazingly he answered. And asked if I'd calmed down yet. Every bit of fury from sixteen years of being with him gathered up and took residence in my mind. He reminded me how controlling he is and how he thinks he's God's right-hand man. So my voice lowered (I wasn't done yet and knew he'd hang up again if I yelled) but I wasn't one bit kinder to him. The last thing I heard was him saying something about if the boys want to see him then....and I hung up.
How old is he? 12!!? Good lord Ex is an adult, in my mind he should know better than to treat his children like this. Of course I know he doesn't know better and doesn't seem to want to know better.
The good thing that came out of that phone call was the reaction from J. He listened to the whole thing and recounted it to T. Immediately after I could see the bounce back in his step. J was even saying later that the phone call was the best part of his birthday. And that would be the whole reason why I did it. I know it was childish to yell at Ex, I know that there was no way I'd get through to Ex. I also know that J needs to feel like I'm on his side and that I will support him no matter what. And the next time Ex comes by I won't leave the boys alone with him. Instead I'll supervise because I don't think he would have had what it takes to say what he did with me standing there. Ex is a bully, but a coward too.