Last night, while I walked down the 14th street corridor searching for happy hours, I stumbled across a blast from the past. As I walked into a restaurant that I knew well, I passed empty patio seating leading to an equally empty venue with one waiter in the back. The server’s back was turned to the door as I approached him asking for the Happy Hour menu. He turned around only to reveal himself as my ex’s son!
We hugged, briefly caught up as I told him that I was waiting on a friend and scouting out where we should go. He gave me every reason why I should stay there. I understood! It was empty, and he wanted to make SOMETHING during his shift. So, I obliged. Told my girl to meet me there to look over the menu herself. She liked it well enough to stay, and there you have it; the son became our server.
Let me start by saying that kids are a blessing. Although I don’t have any yet myself, I think that they are truly a gift from God. I can honestly say that I look forward to the day that my world changes because of the new life I birthed. Through all the joy that they bring, parenting comes with a set of challenges. In dating, if you are a parent or you are dating someone with kids you will be confronted with a series of tests.
My challenges have rarely been with the kids themselves. The kids himself was the easy part. My challenges, in this case, was the father’s interaction with me when his son was involved.
When You Get Excluded
A couple of weeks after the son landed on American soil (he is Brazilian), I invited him and his father to a service event that my church throws every year. There we packed food for the less fortunate and deliver them around the city of Alexandria, VA. His father also loves taking pictures, so of course, he took pictures throughout the event. Pics with all of us, of him and his son, of me, of him, of the son, of his son and me, etc.
Once the event was over, and he posted the moment to Facebook for all the world to see, there was not one picture of me. Well damn! I thought to myself.
I immediately showed my girl and her BF who concluded: “Oh, you aren’t special.”
Well, he hit the nail right on the head! That was exactly how I felt.
When I brought it to the father’s attention, and I explained to him how I felt, he responded by telling me that it was a father-son moment and he hoped that I could understand that.
Um… no, I don’t understand!
What I didn’t understand was why would you exclude me when there wouldn’t have been a so-called “father-son” moment if there was no me! I am the reason you guys are even at the event, feel the need to share my presence with the world as well?!?
What was MINE is Now OURS (and not in the way you are thinking)
I am a giving person. True. But my giving has its limitations. If we are out and I get myself… let’s say soda; I will ask if you want anything too. Standard, right?
That’s not how things worked in this relationship. No, instead of asking his son what he wanted or if he wanted anything, he would give my food or drink away.
What the…? You ask?
This is just the first instance. We were at Friday’s, and I ordered myself a strawberry lemonade to be exact. The father picked it up and drank it. Again, that was normal as we ate and drank off each other all the time. What wasn’t normal was when his son reached for my drink, and he handed it to him… to drink… FROM THE STRAW!
When I said, “That was mine”
He a matter of factly responded with, “Well now it’s all of ours.”
Then There Are My Thoughts:
There are many ways that this could’ve been avoided- the son could’ve asked for his drink once he saw me with one (he was 19), or the father could’ve offered to buy him one when I ordered one. The father could’ve ordered one once the son asked for a sip. At the very least the father could’ve asked me if I minded (in which I would’ve explained that I don’t typically drink from everyone). None of that was taken into consideration. A clear lack of concern for me on the father’s part. Once again I felt it. Even after I brought it to his attention that night, do you think he did it again? If you said yes, you already see where I’m going with this.
Most parents set boundaries. You know, the parameters that their children know that they must live within if they desire to continue living (well at least when I was growing up).
Therefore, if I invite you to my friend’s boyfriend’s surprise 30th party, I’m sorry, but I find it inappropriate that when your “under drinking age” child invites himself, that you don’t correct him. When it did, instead of correcting the son my self, I explained to his father that I didn’t think that he should be coming along. He claimed that he would tell him that he couldn’t go. However, the morning of, he asked me what time should the two of them meet me to head to the party.
When this happened, instead of correcting the son myself, I explained to his father that I didn’t think that he should be coming along. He claimed that he would tell him that he couldn’t go. However, the morning of, he asked me what time should the two of them meet me to head to the party.
“Excuse me? The two of you.” I bewilderedly asked for clarification.
“Yeah, you told him he could go.” Wait, what game are we playing here? I asked internally.
“Noooo, the last time we spoke on it, we walked away with the understanding that you were going to tell him since it was not my party or yours and he’s isn’t the drinking age, that he could not tag along. Or that he shouldn’t just invite himself to my friend’s parties.”
“Fine, I’ll just tell him that he can’t go.”
In the end…
Did he go? No. Was it an issue? YES!
OK, I get it. He felt guilty that he wasn’t in his son’s life. But you are trying to make up for that missed time on my time. I would’ve preferred for the father not to come rather than him trying to have bonding time at a party for a 30-year-old.
This situation pertains to a lack of parenting and having the gumption to tell your child NO. He feared or felt bad telling the boy no rather than explaining to him the reason it was unfitting. And of course, I was made out to be the villain. The father became offended and defensive by my telling him that his son couldn’t attend.
When kids are involved in the dating process, there should be a balance. If you are dating someone with kids, it’s ok if you don’t spend every waking moment with that person if they are a mother or father. That should actually be a preference of yours if they have kids- BE PRESENT IN THE CHILD’S LIFE. If not that tells a lot about the person and it’s the direct opposite of admirable.
If you have a child, again- know how to balance that time between your boo and your kid. Still, make sure it’s done tactfully so that you aren’t making the boo nor the child feel left out or not as important. No one wants to feel that way. Take it from me, it sucks!
When dating a man with kids, I realized that the way things were in the current state, they would be the way that they remained. So, I started to question, would he be making up for his lack of parenting always and would it always affect me? Did I see my life going as such? No!
The relationship between the son and I was great. I tried my best to make him comfortable in the states by celebrating his birthday, by bringing him to my family’s home for Christmas, blah blah blag. I think that his father tried his best too (and still trying I’m sure), but the mere fact that the boy made it to 19 without the father’s influence and then the father trying to juggle his relationship took a toll on the relationship ultimately. He just didn’t know how to balance both properly.
When I was ready to leave the restaurant last night, the son gave me another with a huge bear hug as he rocked back and forth. I wanted him to know that he still he holds a special place in my heart. So, I returned the huge hug, and told him it was a pleasure seeing him, wished him the very best moving forward, a happy early birthday, and waved bye! All after I generously tipped him of course!