This morning, a little after 4:30, our youngest son woke me to say he had vomited.
He felt warm. I made him a bed on the couch, stripped the bed sheets and cleaned up the mess.
This morning, a little after 6:45, our oldest son called you to say he would be picking up something at your office on the way to school. He told you Collie was sick.
He handed me his cell phone.
“Hi Lucy, did you call?”
“Oh. You are asleep.”
“No, the alarm went off a while ago.”
You hung up on me.
I called back.
“Lucy, you hung up on me.”
“I know, why are you calling?”
“Lucy, you shouldn’t hang up on me. Collie is sick and won’t be going to school today.”
“I know. What about tomorrow?”
“Well, we’ll see how it goes today and talk about tomorrow.”
You hung up on me.
I called back.
You did not answer.
I left a message, saying you should not hang up on me, and saying I found your behavior astonishing.
I made lunches, got the kids dressed, and took them to your office.
Our sick son stayed home.
We arrived at your office a half hour before school.
You were out. We waited.
When you returned, you told me I did not need to stay—you would see the kids to school.
“Do you have anything you want to talk about?” I asked.
“No.” You said, smirking. “I’m working.”
“Your behavior is astonishing, and illegal. Our son is sick . . .”
“I know. I hope he throws up on you.”
This is, to the best of my recollection, a verbatim transcript of our interaction on a morning our child woke up vomiting.
Prior to this, you and I had no altercation, or any interaction of note. True to your behavior since mid July, you have avoided conversation with me.
This was not your response to a fight. This was how you responded to the situation of co-parenting a sick child on a school day.
I find your behavior astonishing.
Since our eldest acquired his cell phone, you use him to gain information about the children while they are with me. You cut me out of the loop, and treat him as your co-parent.
A month after freaking out that my phone was broken, you cut off my phone service, apparently judging it a useless tool for communicating about our children.
Insofar as your behavior affects me, it becomes just another anecdote I can share with friends. Divorce sure makes people weird, I say. You are welcome to detest me all you wish. You don’t need much reason, just as you didn’t need much reason to end our fifteen-year relationship.
But if the thought of Collie sick at home can’t make you communicate better about the children—to at least inquire about him—then I am at a loss for what might.
When I said that your behavior was “illegal,” what I meant is this.
My lawyer—who is a very, very good lawyer—foresaw that you could be a difficult co-parent. Our divorce agreement stipulates that if either parent refuses to cooperate effectively, the other has recourse to legal action. The court can intervene to make both parents stop behaving like children, and behave in the best interests of the children.
I have tried to be a calm, rational person throughout this process. I let the water slide off my back. I do not respond to goading. I long ago learned that I can’t win a fight with you. I can only survive one fight and wait for the next one.
You and I have a long history. I miss our friendship. I would dearly like to be friends again.
You don’t have to be my friend. If we didn’t have children, you would be free to refuse to speak with me.
However, we do have children. You have a moral responsibility to speak with me. What’s more, you have a legal obligation to do so.
For the next eleven and a half years, you are obliged to be the best co-parent you can be. After that, we can be friends or we can just be civil at weddings and funerals. That’s entirely up to you and how you chose to live life in your mid-fifties.
But now, in your early forties, you have to get past whatever revulsion you have towards me, and do what is best for the children.
I have offered, many times, to go into therapy with you, or to do whatever it takes to get you to a place where you can deal with me as your continued parenting partner.
If your behavior leads us to seek a court’s help, we will certainly be forced to accept the guidance of a family counselor.
I am writing to you now to say: please do the right thing for the children, and communicate.
I have cc’d our parents, as you seem to feel that is a useful thing to do when we are at a stalemate.