22 spring 2017 PSG
that follows a drop-off. This week, we would turn a negative influence into a positive one: I would take Kid A out for a one-on-one time over a movie while my partner takes Kid B to her ball game. Not ideal, but we don’t get ideal. We get a chance to hit three birds with one stone: one, avoid mommy’s interference (when Kid A goes to Kid B’s games, she spends 99% of the time with the alienator); two, Kid A would get some time to herself, which is something she seems to need; and three, her and I get some quality time together.
We told Kid A of the plan on the morning of the game.
The reaction was nothing we had planned for.
“Why can’t I go to the game?!” Snapped the kid that usually resents her sister’s hobby taking over her life; the kid that usually revels in undivided attention from either of us.
Her sister chipped in her discontent, and alas, all were all going to the ballpark.
But Kid A was still irritable, discontent.
“Honey… “ I hear my partner start while the two of them sit alone in the dining room while I tidy up elsewhere. “Can you tell me what is really going on with you?”
My partner isn’t satisfied with platitudes no matter how painful the truth, a quality I greatly respect.
“DON’T YOU REMEMBER?!” Kid A screams out. “Don’t you remember what happened the LAST time? And it has never happened AGAIN!”
At the audible sobs of an earnest conversation, I take my cue to exit altogether. However, I am called in only a few minutes later.
“Tell her, honey,” my partner encourages our daughter.
“Well…” My kid’s tears floor me before she even opens her mouth.
“The last time you planned to spend time together,” my partner intercedes, “Mommy came and got her.”
That was true. It was Valentine’s Day weekend, nine months before. My partner and Kid B had to go out-of-state, so Kid A and I made all sorts of plans: brunch out, movies, rock climbing. But none would come to be.
Getting to the school a bit early for pick-up that day, I settled into my music, rocking gently at the front of the lawn.
Fifteen minutes. Twenty. Thirty. The school busses filled and cleared out, but I still wasn’t worried: she was probably chatting with her teachers, that girl. So I went inside.
“Are you…” The front desk called my name.
“This is for you.”
She cried and wanted to call me, but Mommy said I’d be ok.
I accepted a folded paper with my name on it. Stunned, I unfolded it as I walked back outside.
It was a copy of my partner’s ineffectual parenting agreement, with a highlight over a clause that stipulated that whenever my partner doesn’t provide physical care, it will be provided by the other parent.
Given that my partner’s ex has primary physical custody, this was surely a clumsy catch-all for any instance the mediator didn’t bother to think of. Hardly an implication that my partner isn’t allowed as much as to use a restroom with a door closed, let alone arrange for other trusted adults to be with the children.
I dialed and, luckily, caught my partner before their plane took off.
“Babe… she isn’t here, [ex] must have taken her.”
We had to hang up and I drove home, sobbing. The following day I learned that our other daughter read my partner’s troubled face and asked what was wrong. My partner didn’t feel this could be placated, and admitted that Mommy had taken sis.
“I am so sorry…” Our girl said, and asked whether I was ok.
“She is sad,” my partner answered honestly. Kid B responded by pulling out her headphones, cocooning herself in her music for as long as it took to draw us, me and the kids, holding hands.
While it was most likely that the ex was the one who had taken the kid, we did not know for sure: she would not answer any texts or calls from my partner to confirm as much. So after 10pm, crazed with worry, my partner called on the local police department. Since it was our parenting time, the officer offered to bring Kid A to me, but my partner, as per usual, advocated for the kid’s wellbeing.
“It is nearly 11 p.m., let her sleep – just tell me she is ok.” They said she was.
Whenever I couldn’t find something urgent to dust, I spent that long, lone weekend weeping. Weeping in loss over our shared weekend as I opened her