Thursday, June 17, 2010

6/17 - A Temporary Diversion

Before coping with this Thursday's lot, I shall address one of the Monday situations. Perhaps one or two of those who follow this page have already guessed that they might read here a remark or two concerning the horribly-behaving Mother of the Groom, but no! There is little original to say about that situation. I shall instead take up the Married Woman With Unintended Feelings For Another.

The Prudecutor and a number of posters made it tacitly or openly clear that they were blaming the Other Man at least as much as the Married Woman. While this is not necessarily wrong, I have observed a rather nasty tendency among committed couples - some married, some about as good as married. One half of the couple inadvertently begins to become attached to someone else, and there is a frequent tendency to Punish the Friend. This suggests the couplecentric notion that of course a single person never becomes friends with half of a couple without trying to break the couple up, and that really glazes my Krispy Kremes [NB: When the KK franchise invaded the Northeast, one such establishment did open quite near me, but, often as I passed it, I never stopped there, and now it's been closed for some years, so that I've no firsthand experience of the brand.], especially because, not only is the outcome usually bad, the friend ends up walking away feeling, if not ashamed, at least blamed.

My advice to that particular questioner is to flush out the friend's true feelings and intentions. Whatever she may intend to do about her husband, the thing to do with the friend for whom she has developed illicit feelings which are, so far as we know, entirely her own fault, is to declare to him that she has suddenly realized that it's become necessary to her that they should have a physical liaison. I can envision several possible outcomes:

* He refuses on the grounds of disinterest or respect for the marriage bond: Realize after his refusal that of course he is entirely right, and that the whole desire was a mere temporary madness. Unless he was offended by the approach, the friendship might be preserved.

* He refuses with the proviso to repeat the request after a divorce: Fielder's choice then.

* He accepts with enthusiasm, that having been his design all along: Arrange the liaison, then back out at the last second. The friendship will die, but at least he will hate you instead of blaming himself.

* He hadn't considered it before, but is willing once you mention it: Have second thoughts beforehand, talk it out, and give him the opportunity to help you crawl back off the ledge through the window, as it were.

Now, for this week, finding myself thinking of Ms Messy's recent post, I've decided that, although some parallels did occur to me, I'd break from my usual pattern and, to note the day DP is purporting to honour, address each situation as if the LW were a lesbian.

L1: We have already seen a good many comments in the Submariner's thread on the main board about how the cross-examination might go into certainty of parentage. It does seem potentially a bit on the odd side, but there could well be reasonable certainty. I am slightly more interested in how the decision-making process played out for all the adults concerned. It sounds as if LW1 and her husband reconciled and she just decided to freeze out Mr Fancypants - was he relieved? did he object? did it all come out so long after the affair was over that he didn't feel he had much right to any say in the decision? Presumably Mr Fancypants didn't have any particular rights, but both he and Hubby seem to be behaving suspiciously perfectly. He'd really be equally fine with a revelation at any time or no revelation ever? Puh-lease! Still, the Prudecutor was a bit nasty towards him without showing sufficient cause. There is a quotation I cannot entirely recall about it not being the attentions of other men but his wife's reception of them that will torment a man. But I do not really pretend to fathom the hetero heart.

As I said on the other thread, this is reading like the plot of a Jane Seymour made-for-Lifetime movie. My guess for the probable plot line is that LW1 and her husband will decide, quite likely with the blessing or at least agreement of the DNA-Donor, NEVER to tell the boy, and that LW1 will promise her husband solemnly that she will never do so barring some bizarre sort of medical emergency. Hubby will die a week later. Eventually LW1 and D(N)AD will decide to co-parent, and/or fall in love again. If the latter, Sonny will resent this, thinking it horrid of her to dishonour his father's memory so soon. If the former, D(N)AD will have a new significant other in his life who is actually far better for him than LW1, but who will yield gracefully when it's time for the treacly Seymour Ending. Except for the fun there might be surrounding the Awkward Revelation - Bleah.

If LW1 and Pappa decide not to tell, it does make sense to have an account of the situation prepared and ready for any necessity to reveal the truth that may arise. My suspicions about the validity of the letter make it hard for to care much, but I could probably go either way anyway, at least as far as the boy is concerned. Will D(N)AD really be content to sit on the sidelines forever? And if Pappa really does die with the truth untold, will LW1 be able to resist the temptation to bring in the Backup?

I suspect that telling at the right time allows for more parenting latitude as well as the opportunity for Teaching Moments. LW1 does not strike me as the type who could carry off a convincing anti-adultery line while keeping her own Deep Dark Secret.

But really the elephant in the room is that LW1 gets to skate if she so chooses and the men involved both support her unwaveringly. Should she just because she can? This leads me into my premise for the week:

Dear LW1, if you were a lesbian, or in this particular case bisexual-in-practice-if-not-identity (on at least one occasion) you would not be having this problem, or, at least, not this particular problem of whether or not to make a Disclosure. You'd have to say something at some time, of course. I have insufficient expertise to pronounce on whether the disclosure should already have been made or not. I wonder about the legalities that would have surrounded your natural pregnancy had you a legal marriage to a female partner, and what the difference would be if you two were in a Civil Union, or established domestic partners if that were the full extent of how legally bound you could be. It would also be interesting to see whether your Temporary Object of Romantic Affection would be so willing to let you call all the shots.

Moral: Would an Anne Heche film be preferable to a Jane Seymour film? Can I opt for Portia de Rossi instead? (I never took to Anne Heche.)

L2: Oh, dear. I am close to having to agree with the Prudecutor, although at least from somewhat different grounds. Where on earth and when did the idea originate that both parents were obligated to attend every game of every child? It would not strike me as much of a stretch to declare LW2's wife's conduct as very nearly at the threshhold of abuse. It is certainly smothering. Additionally, there is the consideration that the children might burn out, given that most evenings when not playing, both will perforce be stuck at the games of the other. If the entire family gets through the whole summer without being sick of baseball and softball, I shall be surprised. If it were not for my familiarity with the Little League system in a nearby suburb which makes no provision for children who get cut during tryouts and even bars use of the fields for non-LL play when the fields are empty, I'd suggest finding a co-coach and cutting participation, but I acknowledge that the days when players and families ran the leagues instead of the leagues running the players and families are long gone. Pity.

My cross-examination of LW2 would concentrate on how he got into this situation. Did he really just assume he would not have to go to more than an occasional game of his daughter's? Did his wife not object to his coaching one child and not the other? Does his wife even have any life of her own, or is this a way of escape for her? It just seems a little odd that it would reach this point before the conflicting expectations became entirely clear, let alone that the couple had been so completely in agreement about every parenting decision up to now. Did LW2 perhaps devote particular time to his daughter's sports before his son was old enough to join a team?

As to what is reasonable, I am tempted to defer to actual current parents, as the sad state of affairs now makes me feel quite an alien. There is far too much organized and officiated play in which children get far less time actively involved than they would just left to their own devices. I rather disapprove of parents coaching their own children's teams, but would not attempt to take on that situation. As for the extent of parental attendance, it's a little dispiriting that so few people seem to take any account of parental interest in the activity in question. For a parent to attend every game of a child might be all right if that's the parent's particular passion, though of course one has to assume that the parent isn't pushing the child in such a case, and the family would have to be of a sufficiently small size that the parent could still devote a fair amount of time to others as well. Just at a guess, maybe one parent at every game could be acceptable as a maximum, but even that feels like pushing it. I dislike and fear the exercise in groupthink this represents, showing the worst of family values besides missing a golden opportunity to let children experience something that might be of use to them in forming a sense of privacy - or is the concept to be discarded now? No wonder so many lives seem to be lived entirely on YouTube or Facebook, and some people never seem to have an unexpressed thought. [NB: I actually said that directly to a particular person on another board about a year ago, and he took it as a compliment!]

Dear LW2, if you were a lesbian, that might explain your remarkable to-the-present parental accord with your wife. It might also solve your problem in that you might just possibly be sufficiently passionate about baseball/softball that 4.5 nights a week would be just about the right quantity for you. You might fight it somewhat more difficult being made coach, although that could vary depending on locale. If you were like the more athletic lesbians of my own acquaintance, your daughter would probably be in the boys' league. And I suspect that the question of parental preference might arise from each partner having been the biological mother of one of the children.

Moral: And since when did parents have to give each child equal time all the time? Such overegalitarianism seems to indicate the sort of thinking that leads to things like outcome-based education. I really wish I were still in Brodie mode for this one.

L3: It does seem reasonable to assume that, if a happily married couple raising children together needs occasional time to keep the marriage properly maintained and that the halves of the couple benefit from occasional doses of Me Time, a single parent might equally require the occasional opportunity to eat ice cream for breakfast and lounge naked. The manner in which LW3 harps on her "sacrifice" does rather rankle, although it can be acknowledged that many single custodial parents do tend to act as if they weren't parents. But to what does she think she's entitled? And why is she both so thrilled that her kids hate her ex but at the same time so much more concerned about her image that criticism from her sister is so hard for her to take?

On the other hand, her little angels seem to have been fully brought up in the entitlement culture as well, besides being rather lacking in initiative. They can't think of anything to do and complain about being left to their own devices for the occasional weekend in a strange setting? What whiny little pills. My guess is that their real complaint is that they are separated for the weekend from their romantic interests.

They're all very unpleasant people. The Prudecutor's recommendation to bond over board games is ridiculous, though one might recommend a nice evening playing Monopoly for the reason that Monopoly is the straw that has broken the backs of many family camels. That might bring things to such a head that the young ones absolutely refuse to go back any more. If LW3 should ever establish that her children genuinely do want nothing to do with Pappa, there are a couple of ways she could go. She might invent an affair, though that might be better for convincing her sister to take the brood for the occasional weekend. Or she could be straightforward with her crew about needing the occasional weekend off and asking them to help adjust the family budget if they will no longer be leaving her the house to herself but will have to part with cash that might otherwise be spent on them.

Dear LW3, if you were a lesbian, this would have played out nconsiderably differently. In the first place, you might not have had access to divorce. In the second, assuming you were the biological mother of the children, you probably would have convinced the court that your partner was never a co-parent in any sense of the word and made sure that she would never have any partial custody or even visitation. Given the unfriendly attitude of many courts towards same-sex couples, you probably would have been able to pull it off, and might even now still be enjoying the delight of your ex never being allowed to see the children to care that you have no time of your own.

Moral: It takes the oppressed to be the best oppressor.

L4: LW4 is being incredibly short-sighted. Her father is quite a piece of work, though there are many worse. But she is letting a golden opportunity slip through her hands.

It will not be many years before the likelihood arises that her father will be unable to care for himself properly. By then, few private citizens may be able to afford a decent quality of life at that stage without assistance. At the very least, LW4 can anticipate that the time will come ere long when he will not be able to get by on his own. In such a case, what is the best outcome for her? Obviously, she should get him married off to someone else as quickly as possible.

All it will take is a little testimonial from her? It's not as if he's a complete monster. It is entirely possible to write a testimonial for someone with remarkably few positive qualities that will make him highly attractive without a single falsehood. In fact, the fewer redeeming qualities that might be present in the questionable specimen, the greater the testimoniary's achievement in being able to pull it off. LW4 has a golden opportunity to demonstrate her artistic prowess and get her pappa safely remarried and made over into somebody else's problem.

Dear LW4, if you were a lesbian, the two of you could bond over bar-hopping, or double-date, or help each other pick up women. It seems as if that sort of activity would be right up his alley.

Moral: The family that plays together stays together - or should it be preys?

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