Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Custody & Visitation: Games People Play

Friday was Day One of the "altered" visitation schedule. Where Prince Charming invoked his parental authority and requested that Malifcent follow her visitation schedule to.the.letter from now on.
Maleficent escaped this reality by avoiding his attempts at communication during the week. Hiding behind Cinderella, voice mail and others to avoid speaking with Prince Charming thereby forcing him to leave messages. Messages that were never returned. Messages she pretended not to hear.
Maleficent Escapes reality by Avoiding Communication.
It helps her play the Role of the Victim.
Enables her to show up all our house 1/2 hour early and make angry phone calls, pacing back and forth between our front door and the curb, knocking, ringing, calling P.C. and me on our cell phones. Pretending not to know what's going on.
(My neighbor, alarmed to see her hanging around in front of our house, called to warn me.)
Hi, it's Maleficent. It's 4:15 and I'm outside your house looking for Cinderella.
Umm... I'm waiting!

I was at the dry cleaners when I heard the message on my cell phone.
My Game? I Avoid confontation by Escaping.
"I'm going to run some errands when Cinderella gets home. I'd rather spare myself, and the kids, the unpleasantness of a confrontation should Maleficent decide to show up on our doorstep early."
Ok. That's fine. Prince Charming understood my dilemma and my discomfort with having to face an irrational Maleficent. He also knew as well as I did the likelihood that my fears would be confirmed.
Reluctantly, I called her back leaving Cinderella, Hansel & Gretel in the car with the radio on so they could not hear my conversation. I wanted to be able to talk to her without the children overhearing. At home, I would have a harder time protecting them.
Oh, so that's the game. Ok. I see now. I knew there was some game going on but I wasn't sure what it was, but now I understand.
She challenges me and my knowledge of the visitation agreement. Plays dumb as to P.C.'s phone calls and messages. Pretends she is being wronged. The Victim.
I speak as politely and as friendly as I can and reassure her that I will have Cinderella home in time for her actual visitation pickup as per the agreement. Assured her that I read the papers myself to make sure I had the time correct.
Ok. Well, I'm just gonna wait HERE then.
Her tone meant to threaten. Warn me that she would be sitting outside my house like a stalker waiting for me to pull up.
(This would not be the first time.)

I pull into the driveway. Maleficent is sitting in her car. Waiting. Eyes focused downward at her dashboard.
She does not get out of her car. Makes no efforts to speak with me. I do the same.
Cinderella is anxious and demands for the keys to the house before I have the chance to put the car into Park.
She knows her mother is Angry. Doesn't want to keep her waiting.
"Babe. It's ok. You have done nothing wrong."
I try to reassure her as much as I can. Prepare her for the inevitable onslaught of verbal diarrhea she will have to bear. Disparaging remarks that Maleficent will make about her Father and me. Remarks meant to convince Cinderella that she is being Victimized and we are E.V.I.L.
"I know it makes you uncomfortable. I'm sorry for whatever will happen over the weekend. And I'm sorry if you are going to be dragged back into the middle of something."
"Just remember you did nothing wrong. There is nothing for you to apologize for. Try to ignore whatever you may hear and not let it bother you and if you need to talk to Daddy or me when you come home on Sunday we are here for you."
Cinderella barely heard me. She was preoccupied with thoughts of her Mother.
Waiting.
At the curb.
Stewing.
Seething.
I let her go. Worried over what would happen to her over the weekend. What vile hateful words she would have to hear because she lacks the courage to speak up to her Mother.
Wondering if my decision to not be home was worth it. Blaming myself for what Cinderella would have to put up with over her weekend with her Mother.
Whether I was home or not, Maleficent would still be pissed with having to face reality.
The only way to avoid pissing her off is to give in. Let her do what she wants.
***
How does one handle these types of lose/lose situations?

4 comments:

canape said...

I am so sorry for Cinderella. I'm sure she did not have an easy weekend.

For what it's worth, I think you did the right thing. She is irrational. You can't battle irrational. The dry cleaners sounds brilliant really.

Anonymous said...

I'm new here, but I can tell you one thing I've learned in the past 1 1/2 years of being a new SM. That is......When those kids grow up...they will know how wonderful the actual NORMAL parents were and just who they can actually count on. Trust me.....I struggle with the same issues.

Sandra said...

What ya do is continue to set clear uncrossable boundaries. It is for people like BM that there ARE court orders. DH is doing a huge disservice to you and to your family IMO for letting her get away with this nonsense. Just like a toddler clear limits have to be set. Once she sees over time and with tons of consistency that nothing is going to bend or budge in her favor...then the BS will stop.

Just my 2 cents..from a biomama..and a stepmama who's been there. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I feel sorry for Cinderella, the same as I feel sorry for my own stepdaughter. The difference is that her mom stopped wanting visits with her when her father and I began living together last fall. We dated for 3 years first. Her mom stopped the weekend visits to punish us, so we never get time alone... It's been hard adjusting to life where I never get the weekend off from being a stepmom anymore. I would say, if Cinderella's got a biomom who actually wants those visits then you are lucky. Use her want of having her daughter for visits to your advantage. Trust me it's better than a dissapointed stepkid who doesn't know why her mommy suddenly stopped taking her on weekends. Even with all the horrible things that Cinderella might have to listen to, she doesn't have to question if her mom actually loves her.