Submitted by: Delaine Moore
Her ex was at her house doing pick up of their kids the past weekend when it happened.
She and her three kids were over at the school yard finishing a quick game of soccer in the snow. Suddenly, her eldest son, now eight, tripped her daughter by accident.
“Kyle,” she said to him, “You have to avoid all body contact with your sister. She’s only four and you’re twice her weight so even a slight elbow will send her flying.”
“Sorry mom, sorry Janet,” he replied.
Meanwhile, her ex stood by watching and listening in.
Soccer match over, they all headed towards his truck; it was time to go. The boys were running ahead, laughing and battling over the soccer ball, when Kyle accidentally tripped his brother.
Her ex came in for the kill.
“Jesus Christ Kyle!” He yelled. “You were told not to do that two minutes ago and instead of listening, you do it again!”
Kyle looked at him and bowed his head.
“What the hell is wrong with you? You can’t listen or what? You shouldn’t have to be told twice not to do something. You LISTEN the first time, got it?”
She watched Kyle from behind as he recommenced walking towards the truck. His shoulders were hunched over, his chin bowed; she knew he was crying.
Her ex continued. “Get in the truck – where are you going? Get over here. And stop your damn crying!”
Kyle walked up to him, chin down. “Dad,“ he began softly, “I didn’t do it on purpose. I was just trying to stop the ball-”
“I DON’T CARE. Get in the truck and Jesus, would you stop your damn crying.”
As her ex walked around the truck,she leaned into the backseat to where Kyle was now seated. He ducked his head into her chest, “I really didn’t do it on purpose Mom.”
“It’s OK,” she whispered. “I know that.” She looked him in the eyes and repeated, “I know it was an accident Kyle.”
Her ex stuck his head in the truck. “You still crying?” he bellowed. “Stop being a baby and do up your sister’s seat belt.”
Kyle jumped to do his bidding, while she strapped her other son, Evan, into his car seat. “See mom?” Whispered Evan. “Dad always tells us to shut up when we cry. I told you that, remember?”
“I know honey,” she whispered. “And it’s NOT OK. “ She kissed him on the cheek and looked him in the eyes. “You take care of your brother. You be there for him this weekend, OK?”
Her daughter was now in tears on the other side of the truck. “Mommy,” she said softly, tears trickling down her cheeks. “Please can I have a hug?”
She walked around to the other side of the truck and reached in to hug her. She simultaneously hugged Kyle in the middle seat and whispered: “I love you guys. I’ll call you tomorrow, I promise.”
She then walked to her front porch and turned around to see her ex with his head turned to the backseat; he was saying something to Kyle. She couldn’t hear what he was saying, but she could see Kyle’s chin going deeper and deeper into his chest…
Her ex is a bully. He’s verbally abusive. It’s taken her a long time to actually be able to say that – it seemed such a horrible label…
But it’s true. And when they were married, he treated her like that. She let him put her down, chew her up, use that awful tone. But being an adult, she at least had a fighting chance to stand up to him. And whenever he’d treated her children that way, she was there to buffer it. In those situations he’d turn on her and sneer: “Stop being an overprotective hen for F*** sake.” And she’d back away and focus on dealing with her children’s wounds.
But now she’s free…but she’s not there to protect her kids. She’s not there to take the brunt of his name-calling, his sarcasm, his yelling. Her kids are on their own. And her sons, particularly her eldest, is getting it the worst.
Her ex has no idea what constitutes age-appropriate behaviour – he never has. And if situations requiring discipline arise, he uses bad language and is belittling instead of speaking firmly yet kindly. And for their kids, who spend 95% of their time with her, it is a HUGE shock.
She has been to see a child psychologist. She tried to get her ex to go too, but he said, “Oh, the kids are FINE.” So she went to see her alone and bawled like a baby as she brought up incident after incident. “How do I stop him?” She begged. “How can I make him see that what he’s doing is damaging our kids?”
“Unfortunately, unless he’s drawing blood or is an alcoholic or drug addict, there’s no legal recourse. But I can give you some techniques to teach your kids that will help buffer the damage he’s doing…”
And so she has sat with her kids, talking, explaining, teaching them how to handle their father’s bully’ish behaviour. Her ex continues on as he was, self-unaware, convinced parenting is the easiest job in the world, kicking his kids into shape, while she does damage control…
She feels so helpless…