Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Holidays 10/8-10/15

8-Drive in the Country Day, a perfect opportunity for some local leaf-peeping and maybe the perfect day to find a farm stand with pumpkins & Indian corn!

9-Hero Day, a time to dash off a quick note to one of your heroes to let them know what a difference they make in your life

10-Gay Pride Day, just before National Coming Out Day, a good day to read some gay history-Martin Duberman's Stonewall is a decent starting place.

11-Puddle-Splashing Day, so get out your wellies and go stomping, then come home to some nice, hot mulled cider and a cozy pair of slippers!

12-Childhood Candy Day, and for folks in the Cleveland area, that means a trip to B.A. Sweetie's for a cruise down memory lane and in Dayton, Foy's in Fairborn will serve as an effective time travel vehicle. What's the best place for your favorite childhood candies in your neck of the woods?

13-Writing Day-whether it's a novel or a letter, spend some time at the page today.

14-Flaming Foliage Day, a fun time to go out and gather brightly hued leaves to scatter on your dining table

15-Pumpkins & Gourds Day, upon which it is a delight to create an arrangement of your favorite squashes & maybe some mums on a bale of hay in the yard or as a centerpiece for a fall dinner party!

Monday, October 06, 2008

A Visit to Halloweentown & My Boys' Life in Hell

It was an interesting weekend. We picked the boys up Friday night (and got to see the 2009 Jeep Patriot that was bought for Boot, who turns 16 in December-at least we know some of the child support is actually going toward things for them, but it sucks that their father gets all the credit for it while it is probably J's money that is paying for it) & drove down to my aunt's in Dayton, which is about a 6-hour drive. They bickered much of the way there, as they seem to do much of the time we have them now. Boot is frequently furious with Pie and Pie doesn't seem too thrilled with Boot, either. I think kids that close in age often bicker anyway, but there is underlying stuff that we've been picking up on for awhile.

We arrived at my aunt's late but stayed up & visited some anyway. The boys really like her and are thrilled to get to use her t.v. and computer during visits. In the morning, we hung out around the house. Then, we made a trip to a nearby town where the downtown becomes Halloween central in October. My aunt had never been and the boys loved to go every year when we lived in the area. There is an old 5 & 10 that also has a ton of Halloween stuff, a haunted house, a haunted house supply store, a kids' costume store, an adult costume store and an old school greasy spoon with pool tables, a long counter with spinny stools and awesome malts. Outside, there are all kinds of wild Halloween decorations, all along Main Street. It's a trip. www.foyshalloweenstore.com is their website. Each boy got $25 to spend as he pleased that day. Pie chose a mask and some black lightbulbs while Boot got a couple black lightbulbs, some incense and a couple of old horror movies. We had lunch at the grill, too. Then, we dropped the boys off at my aunt's for a rest while the grown folks went to a potato festival that the boys thought would be boring. When we returned, my aunt took us to dinner at a local Mexican place.

Sunday, we had to get up early and drive down to Cincinnati to visit J's folks. The boys are both so good with them. J's mom was actually responsive, much more so than usual. She even spoke a few sentences and just seemed much more "there" than usual. J's dad was beyond thrilled to see the boys and they did a good job of keeping him entertained. The drive home was pretty stressful. For one thing, we knew that if we got the kids home late, we'd get hassled about it by their father, who is completely inflexible. We got into a huge traffic jam before we even got to Columbus and that was worrisome. But the worst part of it was when the boys started fighting. I think I mentioned that Pie cried all the way home the last time we picked them up. He has been telling us how very much he misses us & how much he wants to live with us again. Boot says he doesn't know where he wants to live. Anyway, in the middle of the traffic jam, Pie just broke wide open and started sobbing and yelling at his brother with such fury that it was startling. He said that he had "fucked Mom over. I take responsibility for that, but YOU did it, too!!!" They started yelling ferociously, Boot saying, "Yeah, I screwed Mom over, but at least I did the right thing in court. You lied to the judge."

Back and forth it went, with Pie trying to make Boot admit his part in the lies. He yelled at Boot, "YOU are the one who put alcohol bottles all over the place and took pictures when you KNOW Mom and Daria don't drink like that!!! YOU are the one!!! YOU are the one who said we got taken to a gay pride parade!!! All my life, I have just tried to do what YOU wanted!!! I just went along with you and dad's LIES to make YOU happy!!! When YOU wanted to live with Dad because you hated Daria, I didn't! I don't hate Daria! Yeah, I lied and it's partly my fault we have to live with that jackass but YOU are to blame, too!!! I'm scared of Dad and YOU are partly to blame that we have to live with that jackass. You fucked Mom over, too." Boot kept brushing off Pie's accusations by saying that he may have screwed Mom over before court but at least he did the right thing in court.

Pie kept it up, talking about how he can't even talk to his mom on the phone without someone listening in to make sure he only says what he is supposed to say-and never that he loves her, about how he is in hell. He was crying and crying as he talked about how he is taking responsibility for his actions and his brother needs to, as well. He kept saying, "Who's the strong one now, Brother, who's the strong one now? You act all tough, but you can't even be honest about the part YOU played in this. Who's the strong one now?" Boot gave him a really hard elbow right in the face and he kept it up anyway, telling him that he can hurt him but he can't keep him from telling the truth. Boot said, "It's not Daria I have the problem with now, it's Pie." (he has never been able to take responsibility for his own culpability in any situation, it's always someone else's fault if things are messed up) It was just awful. We kept telling them that neither of them should carry that guilt, that we know they were manipulated, that this all started before they were even born, that we know their dad has been angling for revenge all this time, that we know how much pressure they've been under their whole lives to show a preference for their father, that they made some bad choices because they were lied to & didn't have all the information and that they needed just to learn from the experience & move on, that we will see if there's anything we can do to help Pie get back to us. We feel like our hands are tied. Pie kept telling Boot, "Yeah, I'm the bad guy here, but YOU are the bad guy, too. You try to make yourself look so perfect, but YOU are the bad guy, too." J said, "Guys, neither of you is the bad guy. The only bad guy is your father."

Both of them are a mess. Pie can't even talk to his court-mandated counselor (who we don't know if he is even seeing anymore & whose name we never got) because (as Pie tells it) their father & grandmother picked a guy his dad knows, who was willing to write an opinion that there is now nothing at all psychologically wrong with Pie and that the whole problem must have been having to live with us in the first place, so Pie doesn't trust him & doesn't think it's safe to tell him anything negative about his father because his father will find out. Pie told Boot he trusted him to get them out of their dad's house & then when they did tell him they wanted to come back to live with us and their dad swung a baseball bat at Boot & hit Pie (with his hand, we think), Boot CRIED. Pie was just furious with Boot for crying. It sounded like Pie had assumed his brother could stand up to their father & be strong enough to talk him into letting them come back. "You CRIED, Brother, you CRIED! Try telling Dad we don't want to live with him sometime when he isn't DRUNK!!!"

The whole thing was terrible, an awful reflection of a truly tragic situation. That guy has throughly screwed his kids up and utterly screwed J over and he's going to get away with it, as far as I can tell. It seems like the kids should be able to contact the judge, tell him that they lied and set J and me up and then the ruling should be overturned. We can't afford to open a new case right now and I don't know if we're even allowed to this soon after the ruling, but I hate knowing Pie has to live there another 2 years before he can go to a Pennsylvania judge on his own. Boot could go in December, but I doubt he will. And we don't have proof of anything. We only have what the boys have told us and we weren't allowed to say anything at all that the boys told us in court, even though their father's case was based almost entirely on what the boys said, interspersed with a few lies of his own that we refuted with solid evidence like receipts proving J took the boys to Great Wolf Lodge the weekend we supposedly took them to a gay pride event. I can't believe the torture we are all going through because of an evil man out for revenge being willing to manipulate his children and lie in court (and have his 80-something year old mother lie in court, too!) and because of a biased judge who couldn't see past J's sexual orientation.

Pie fell asleep crying & soon Boot drifted off, too. We ended up having time to stop at Burger King to feed them before they went home. We got hugs from both of them with no seat in the way (usually they deliver goodbye hugs from the back seat several streets before we reach their driveway so their father won't see them being affectionate towards us. The whole thing is completely nuts. I feel terrible for J, but even worse for the boys because they have to live with him and to live with their own lies and betrayal. And I'm not too happy to be stuck in the middle of it all, either. I wish we could get at least Pie back, and Boot if he wants to come, and get them both in to see a good counselor to help them heal from all this.