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2018-08-22 - 10:21 a.m.

I should have updated last Saturday night. I had things to say about what a nice evening I spent with my family plus my ex husband and his second wife and their gaggle of adopted children. We had a really nice time, the kids were adorable and well behaved, and we had a nice dinner at a steak house, which I had previously figured would be impossible due to my ex husband being an insufferable cheapskate. Ha. Look at that! I made it through a paragraph with only one salty comment about my ex. I should have updated while I was in the warm afterglow of that lovely evening. For now, I have been out to their house and I have many salty things to say.

For one thing, they bought a house way the heck out in the boonies with treacherous gravel roads through mountains leading to their driveway. I was scared we were going to careen off the side of that mountain after hitting a patch of especially loose gravel. I didn't like the trip in there. I thought I heard dueling banjos faintly in the distance. Then, on their property, there are 2 rickety looking bridges that have to be driven over in order to get to the house. This remote location thing is hog heaven to that nut I once married, but I'm not a fan. I should preface this story with the info that my sister and I had volunteered to come out to see their place and we were going to bring BBQ from a local restaurant for dinner by 7 pm. This is not how it went down.

We got a late start. I had made a cole slaw and my sister had gone to the store and gotten some potato salad, bread, and a watermelon. We loaded up and headed over to the BBQ place only to find the line was out the door and the people in it said we would have to wait for all those people to be served before placing our to-go order. We left. We thought we could just stop at another BBQ place. They are everywhere here... except in the path between my town and the ex husbands house. There's not a single rib to be had between there. So we passed a Popeye's chicken and drove past it, discussing for about 10 minutes how maybe we should have gotten chicken. Eventually we realized there was not a glimmer of civilization for the remainder of our long ass drive, so we turned around and went back for chicken. We bought way too much chicken because my ex is a glutton. (Zing!) After that, we beat a trail through the rugged territory of treacherous roadways and arrived when it was dusky. Since the ex was keen for us to see his new property, we did a tour before dinner. The chicken was still warm at this point. I was ok with seeing the outdoors before the sun went down, but I thought a room by room tour of the inside could be left for after dinner. Hell to the naw, we had to do the whole tour with my ex (who is THE most talkative person on the planet) giving a lengthy speech about each room and each piece of furniture, how much he paid for it (super cheap of course). Blah-dee blah, talk talk talk, chicken getting colder by the minute... Finally, he announced he was starved and we were going to eat. At that point, they began to look for some plates. They've been living there for days and they haven't located the dishes? It was uncomfortably warm in their house. It was cool and fabulous outside, but the inside temperature was in the low 80s and my sister and I who pay for frivolous things like air conditioning were starting to get uncomfortable. We were fanning ourselves and the lady of the house said that they were worried about the utility bill, since the house has 3500 square feet. Translation: we can see that you are uncomfortable, but AC costs money, sooooooo....

It took so long to get the dinner served, it was ridiculous. While the wife was rounding up dishes and talking about washing them before dinner(!!!!) the ex was dragging each item to the table. We could have just fixed our plates and gone to sit down but NOOOOO... every item had to be on the table. AFTER it was all set up, they decided to add a leaf in the table so it would be more roomy. So we had to wait for them to dither over that for another 10 minutes or so. Here's some more back story: The kids are all 4 adopted and all 4 were addicted to drugs at birth so they are rumored to have severe behavioral problems though we have never seen evidence of this. They are sweet little well-behaved children from all appearances. During dinner, my ex announced that normally the children eat in silence and then he made an ugly face at them and said "They are not allowed to talk at the dinner table because 3 of them can't control themselves." I immediately felt sorry for these kids that have to sit there in silence at the dinner table where families are supposed to talk about their day. That is how they learn about conversation skills. My sister and I were both appalled at this and we both got hotter and more uncomfortable. At some point, my sister said "There will be NO JOY... No talking... definitely no fun at this table!!" I looked at my ex with a look that he recognized as "You are doing it wrong" and he had a look on his face like he was busted doing it wrong. These "parents" are both hyper-religious and they are super regimented about everything. There are brand new toys in the packaging sitting around their house in plain sight where the kids can look, but can't touch. The ex said the kids can't play with these new toys, because they have to "earn it". The toys are being used for an incentive tool. The kids have to do their school work for who knows how long before they can have the new toys. This is not abuse or anything, it's just another example of withholding the joy. This is their idea of good parenting. Those kids are told that they are screw ups at every turn. I know I'm going to butt in sooner rather than later, because I feel sorry for these children who are being told repeatedly that they can't control themselves, that they have oppositional defiant disorder, that they are slobs, that they are too hyper. They seemed more like normal kids with nit picking captors. It was a bummer. On the upside, my ex and his wife are trying to raise the kids right, but they are just over-doing the strictness. They are not physically abusing them, and the kids have toys and clothes and happy times. They love the property and this is how life is for them. They don't think their situation is tragic. But my ex is an asshole and he was a lousy father to my daughter. I didn't let him bring down the hammer of God on my child. I was her parent and he observed. He nit picked her every chance he got, and he is the reason she second guesses herself today, but I worked double hard to make sure she realized she was good and talented and a delight to be with. I tried hard to make up for his nothing-can-ever-be-right attitude. I told him straight up that life is hard enough without your parent telling you that you can't do anything right. You MUST let a child have the support to explore who they want to be. Don't nip all their buds. Don't stop their joy. Let them run and laugh and play. His mom was a daffy little lady who was hyper-religious and who didn't allow music or anything too joyful in their house when he was growing up. She thought anything fun was sinful and wrong. He hated his childhood, yet he repeats this wrong-headed philosophy.

Kids live up to what you say about them. If you keep telling them they are hopeless screw ups, they will fulfill your prophecy.

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