A little respect

There's this guy I know. 47 years old. Divorced, three kids by his first marriage, all girls. The kids cover a big age range – 6, 15, and 17. He feels hugely wronged; by the world in general, but specifically by his ex wife, who he feels has to be honestly out of her mind to have divorced a gem like him. Sure, he used to like to smoke a little dope now and then. Maybe he occasionally lost his temper with her when he was under stress, but for the love of God, don't we all get a little pissy every once in a while? He was always a good provider. He loves his kids… sure, he slept through every single Christmas morning he could have shared with them, but that's no big deal, and anyway, he was always a night owl, because he never wanted to smoke dope in front of the kids, so he always did it after they went to bed. That's the kind of respect a good father shows his children, and he never begrudged it, but certainly people should be able to understand that he needed his sleep, dammit.

And he put up with a lot of guff in his marriage and never said a word about it. Always had a smile, was always there when anyone needed him. Yeah, maybe he screwed the ex out of some of the equity on their house when they split up, but hey, he didn't ask for the divorce in the first place, she gets what she gets.

Bottom line, he loves his kids, he didn't ask for the divorce, everything was fine until his bitch of an ex wife decided that what she wanted was more important than her family's happiness. Why is this so hard for people to understand? Why doesn't he get any respect?

And he doesn't. Take, for example, this latest idiocy his ex has drummed up just to aggravate him. He took his kids on a vacation to Washington D.C… well, two of them. His oldest daughter didn't want to go; she stayed home with the ex and her current boyfriend…and for God's sake, don't get this guy started on his ex wife's current boyfriend, that asshole is a real piece of work… and that's a whole different thing; all the problems he's having with his oldest daughter are all because of his ex and the goddam boyfriend. They've turned his kids against him. Always bad mouthing him, always twisting things, always giving them a skirt to run under when he tries to exert a little much needed discipline or establish some firm limits on behavior.

But never mind that. So he took two of his kids, and his girlfriend, and her four kids, on a trip to Washington , D.C. And everybody had a great time. A GREAT time. Okay, the friend of his girlfriend whose house they were all staying at came home early, and turned out to be kind of hostile and unpleasant, and the kids wound up sleeping on the floor in the basement, with one small bathroom for 8 people because nobody was allowed on the second floor of the house, and that was a bummer, but hey, he couldn't have foreseen that. What was he supposed to do, put them all in a hotel? He's not made of money. And anyway, they all had a great time.

So he gets back, and everyone's safe and sound… yeah, yeah, he said he'd have everyone back by 8:30 and it actually took until 10:45, but that's no big deal, the kids were with their dad, it's not like they weren't safe… and a couple days later, what does he get? A frickin' email from his ex wife, alleging that his girlfriend's 12 year old son was talking about sex and boobies with his six year old daughter, and staring intently at his 15 year old daughter's breasts, so much so he was making her uncomfortable.

Even worse, she sent the email to both him AND his current girlfriend, starting a total shit storm there, and suddenly HE'S in the middle of all this. Christ!

So now he's got to deal with this crap. His girlfriend, of course, claims she's talked to her 12 year old son and he's a perfect angel of virtue and he says he never ever ever talked about sex and boobies with the six year old or anyone else, and he never ever looks at the 15 year old's boobs, never, no way. And that's logical, right? I mean, no 12 year old boy in the history of the world has ever talked about sex and tits to anyone else, and certainly no 12 year old boy would ever look at a 15 year old girl's chest. You can take that to the bank, and it's so obvious, hell, he doesn't even have to talk to the kid. He can just take his girlfriend's word for it. And if his girlfriend alleges that his six year old daughter is a goddam liar and her word is worthless, and his 15 year old daughter is a little hoyden who flaunts her bosom everywhere and is constantly talking about sex anyway, well, that settles it. And it's all the ex wife's fault, anyway; if she didn't encourage the kids to find fault, or discipline them properly, or let him do it, none of this would have happened. And don't even get him started on the ex wife's boyfriend.

So he answers his ex wife's email, in a very reasonable fashion, advising her of all of the above. He'll look into it, he'll talk to the six year old when she shows up for her next weekend visitation, but he doesn't think there's much to worry about and he's not sure there's any kind of real resolution to the problem and nobody should really expect much. And that should be the end of it, right? After all, his girlfriend talked to her kid and he denied it. She insists the kid would never ever lie to her, and he's not like other 12 year old boys anyway. And he knows his six year old has a tendency to make stuff up – yeah, something like 'when you're 12 you can get pregnant and have boobies' seems a little strange for a six year old to make up out of whole cloth, but she watches Disney Channel a lot and lord knows what that slutty Raven talks about on there. And yeah, sure, he recollects how he himself lost his virginity at the ripe old age of 13, but that doesn't mean a 12 year old boy would be staring at his daughter's chest. And so what if his girlfriend says his 15 year old daughter is basically a tramp? Why should he get involved in that? She's just a fiercely protective mother going to bat for her kids. His ex wife should understand that.

So he tells his ex all this, advising her that he thinks she is overreacting a little bit. And she goes completely ballistic. Which is insane; after all, what does she expect from him, anyway? It's not like she treats him with any respect. If she did, she wouldn't let her boyfriend say mean things about him on the Internet! That's the bottom line, as far as this guy is concerned… if his ex wife had any respect for him, she'd make her boyfriend stop saying nasty shit about him on his weblog. Because that's what's really important here. And until she gets her boyfriend to stop calling him names on the Internet, well, clearly, she has no respect for him and she gets what she gets.

Yeah. I know this guy.

After a barrage of email exchanges, a great deal of the content of which I've left out, and several very painful discussions with our two kids, SuperFiance and I, all things considered, believe our two kids. I know. Tough one, right? But honestly, while Super Adorable Kid does have a big imagination, this really doesn't strike me as the sort of thing she'd make up. And you can call me crazy, but it doesn't seem to me to be at all unlikely that a 12 year old boy would be talking about sex and boobs to a six year old, or that he'd be staring at a 15 year old girl's rack intently while cooped up in close quarters with her for a week.

And at this point, I also want to make something clear – we weren't up in arms about this. We didn't want the kid's head on a silver platter, we weren't calling the cops, we weren't threatening to take this to our lawyers. Super Dependable Teen is a very lovely girl with a frankly spectacular set of secondary sex characteristics; any 12 year old boy in the world with a set of working eyes is going to stare at her. And I hardly find it unlikely that a 12 year old boy would be talking to a 6 year old about having babies and getting boobies. I find it kinda inappropriate… but how is he going to know it if nobody tells him? He's a kid. He needs guidance. When I was that age, I needed a lot of guidance too. All we were doing was advising his mother, and the father of the girls involved, that the situation existed, and somebody should talk to the kid. We weren't blaming anyone, we just wanted our kids to be able to hang with her kids without feeling uncomfortable.

In response, what we got was a lot of hysterical shrieking about how this particular 12 year old was the apex of his age and he said he didn't do it and he would never lie and he would never do anything like that, and it was all our kids' fault because the six year old lies about everything and the 15 year old is constantly calling attention to her rack, not that the 12 year old would look at it anyway, because he's a gift of the Magii and just wouldn't do that. And from the father of the two girls involved in all this we got… well… he'd look into it, but he doubted there was much there or any good resolution possible, and he didn't think it was necessary to even talk to the boy involved.

Now, I am aware that there are parents out there who absolutely believe their children are perfect, and can do no wrong, and would never, ever lie to them. These parents believe like they believe in gravity or the immaculate conception of Sweet Baby Jesus that their kids are never to blame for anything, and if a problem comes up with their kids, well, it's always somebody else's fault… the other kid involved is a liar or a bully or a slut, the teacher has a personal vendetta against the child, the undercover security guard just saw the kid scratching under his shirt and jumped to a conclusion, the arresting officer is a drunk, the judge is a Hatfield and everybody knows what that trash is capable of. Whatever may emerge, it's never the child in question's fault, it's always somebody else's, or due to circumstances beyond anyone's control and surely you can see that, you'd have to be a fool to believe otherwise.

I know these parents exist, and while I consider this to be spectacularly bad parenting, and it is my experience that kids who are parented this way grow up to be miserable shiftless reprobates who always blame someone else for their problems and who have no capacity for taking personal responsibility for the consequences of their own acts, still, I don't find it surprising. It's sad, but people do want to believe the best of their kids, and some take that to insane extremes, and that's just how that is.

But this guy I'm talking about… the one who has just been told that a 12 year old boy is staring at his fifteen year old daughter's boobs until she becomes uncomfortable with it, and the same 12 year old boy is discussing the birds and the bees with his 6 year old girl… I do not understand him. He gets told this, and he doesn't want to talk to his daughters RIGHT NOW and get their story straight from them? He doesn't want to talk to the boy involved? He's content to let his girlfriend dismiss all this because, you know, she thinks his 6 year old daughter is a liar, and his 15 year old daughter is a brazen little hoyden? What the hell is wrong with this guy? What kind of father acts this way?

Apparently, though, he has a good reason. It's all his ex wife's fault. Because she doesn't respect him. And he knows she doesn't respect him, because her fiancé says mean things about him on the Internet, and if she respected him, she'd make her fiancé stop doing that.

I'm not sure where to start with this. Okay, let's try here:

I do ego searches on my own name, and my most common web-handles, reasonably often over at Google and Yahoo. Every time I do, I see the usual suspects – which is to say, the dozen or so sites where people have posted really nasty, mean, utterly vile things about me in the past, and where some continue to do so regularly, for all I can tell – and I often see one or two new additions to the pile. Why? Not because of anything I've actually done to these people; they've never met me. It's because they read one of the many, many things I've posted on the Internet over the past 15 years, usually about superhero comic books or movies or TV shows or something else like that, and they didn't like my opinion, so, you know, they call me really nasty names and speculate insultingly on my sex life and fantasize about enacting horrible gruesome deaths on me and my entire family and stuff like that.

I ignore this nonsense, because these people are obviously sad dumbass retards whose mamas did not raise them right and who don't know how to act. Frankly, anyone who gets this obsessed over something a geek nobody like me has to say about frickin' pop culture is awfully goddam pathetic. They are not my peers, and I honestly have absolutely no concern for their opinions on anything, much less my worth as a human being. In fact, I personally find the fact that people like this hate me to be enormously validating. If people like this loved my work and thought I was a swell fella, I'd have to wonder what I was doing wrong.

Now, this other guy I know – well, yes, I have occasionally written disparaging things about him on my various weblogs. I frankly admit it. I write these disparaging things because this fellow does things I consider to be worthy of disparagement. And please believe me when I say, these actions of his have nothing to do with opinions he has voiced anywhere about pop culture. Nor do I disparage this guy because he thinks I'm an idiot or treats me with disrespect. I honestly couldn't care less what he thinks of me; I have no respect for him, and like those tragic, emotionally retarded children over at Portal of Evil, he is not my peer and his opinion of me is, to me, worthless.

When I write disparaging things about this guy, it is because he is treating the mother of his children with unwarranted disrespect. It is because he is displaying, as he does at every opportunity, that he is a miserable human being and a spectacularly poor parent. It is because he is making the love of my life miserable, and putting so much stress on their children that two of them are in therapy because of it. It is because he is an emotional infant who cannot and will not accept any responsibility for the consequences of his own actions.

And, in this post, it is for two specific reasons –

(a) His girlfriend's 12 year old son is behaving inappropriately towards two of his underage daughters, and he isn't doing anything about it, and furthermore, he resents being asked to do anything about it, and on beyond that, when his girlfriend advises that his six year old daughter is a lying little bitch and his 15 year old daughter is a skank, he nods his head like he's fucking Mortimer Snerd sitting on Edgar Bergen's lap.

(b) After exchanging several emails about this with his former wife and the mother of his children, he finally got around to mentioning what he considers to be the crucial issue and vital central conflict that keeps him from being able to have any trust or respect for her, and it is this – some guy he doesn't like very much, and whom he frequently describes as being a mere nothing and a total loser, keeps saying mean things about him on the Internet, and she refuses to make the bad man stop.

To this man that I know, this 47 year old father of three, this homeowner, this role model, this extremely successful telephone repairman who is more concerned with his goddam Hot Wheels collection than he is with the welfare of his children, I have five words of advice –

Grow The Fuck Up, Bitch.

And I'll throw in a few more, for no extra charge – if you don't like what I write on this web page, don't fucking read it.

I'd advise this man I know to try and modify for the better the behavior that I disparage here, or, alternatively, to try not to care overly about the opinion of someone he frequently claims to have no respect for. But I recognize his limits, and won't expect him to do anything so far beyond his personal capacities.

Although I wish to God I could.

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