it's the bad old days all over again

well, a couple posts ago things took a rather downward trend, and though my resilient nature reasserted itself in the next post, if depressing news is unwelcome, stop reading now. otherwise, come commiserate with me.

Loren was supposed to come for the weekend last weekend, so i headed out from work to pick him up. as usual i was unable to raise anyone on the phone on my way over, so i took my chances. i've been seeing him all too seldom lately, and i wasn't about to take any chance of missing this opportunity. when i got there Loren didn't have his things ready, which is not too unusual. i took a seat on a bench in their living room and talked with his mom about her job search and my work for a while. smalltalk. i talked to Loren's brother Phoenix about whether he'd gained some weight, or grown, because he's sure looking big. they all grow up. Phoenix and i get along pretty well, and he tried to climb up on my back. i asked him please not to, as i was sore from work. then i realized that Loren's younger brother was climbing on me and Loren was kinda wandering around, so i asked Loren, "What, no hugs for the old man?" he's certainly getting older. when he was younger he'd run across the room to see me the moment i showed up, and i'm seeing the independent teenager starting to come out. i'll miss the little guy, but welcome the young man. in any case, the comment was all it took for him to promptly drop himself on me and give me a nice one.

that one's going to have to tide me over for a while.

but back to my story: so Loren sort of puttered around gathering things for a while, kinda dragging his feet, which is also not exactly unusual, and gathered up the things he wanted to bring to my house. it was more than he could carry, so eventually i took some of it out to my truck. i asked him to get it in gear a couple times, and tried to remain patient even though we've discussed many times that he should be ready to leave when it's time to come, so i don't have to wait around for 30-60 minutes for him to get ready, after driving an hour and a half to pick him up, and then drive another half hour home. this time i'd had my fill of waiting when an hour had passed. i finally told him it was time to go, and at this point in his Calvin-and-Hobbes-esque up-and-down-the-stairs-and-all-over-the-house (or is that more like Dennis The Menace?) he kind of just sat there on his bed. i told him i was going to go outside and that i wanted to leave, and if he wanted to come he needed to have his shoes on by the time i turned the truck around in the driveway. this is usually sufficient motivation for him to get it done, but wasn't this time. he was still in the house when i finished, so i went back in, walked to his room and asked him what was wrong. he said he didn't know. i asked him if he just didn't want to come and he said he didn't know. hmmm. thanks for the help. finally i made the decision for both of us. i told him i'd made up my mind, he was coming with me this time.

sometimes i let him choose to break our plans, and, much more rarely, he chooses to stay at (or come to) my house when it's not scheduled, so he countered my decision with, "You always say it's up to me." i told him that was true, but that was a privelege, not a right, and that he only has that privelege when his mother and i give it to him- and this time, i was making the decision myself. he kind of argued for a couple minutes with me, and i suppose at this point it was obvious that he'd made up his mind to stay, but once i'd been forced to make the decision myself i wasn't going to change my mind. he laid back on his bed while he was talking to me, and i told him to get on his feet, and he didn't obey. i told him if i had to pick him up and put him in my truck i had the ability, and the right, and told him to get on his feet. he didn't move. so i told him this is where i enforced my authority, and hauled him up by his shirt onto his feet- and that's when his mother walked in.

she crossed the room quickly and put herself between me and Loren and threatened to call the police, telling me i needed to calm down. that's classic behavior for her- to act as if i'm upset when i'm not. up to this point i really hadn't been upset, but that was enough to do the trick. she hadn't seen what was happening but inserted herself in the situation and countermanded my authority without knowing what was happening. she said i was scaring Loren, which wasn't true. he was a bit surprised i was making him come this time. and i told her she needed to stay out of it. she answered, "You're scaring me." i told her that if that was true, she got scared too easily, because i wasn't doing anything scary. she was getting angrier by the second, likely because i wouldn't back down from her; she may have been trying to intimidate me, but it wasn't working. she threatened to call the police. i told her to go ahead, i hadn't done anything wrong, and again that i thought she should stay out of it, and that i had the right to take Loren with me, and to enforce my authority over him. she told me to stop yelling, though i still hadn't raised my voice. actually, i was making a conscious effort not to inflame the situation. it's really quite impossible to talk to someone, consciously matching their tone and volume with your own, when they keep just telling you to stop yelling. so frustrating! but also nothing new.

and then the really bad part: Loren heard the word police and went from rather upset to downright distressed. Loren's mom sat him back down on his bed and both his mother and i took the opportunity to ratchet down the tension a notch. i welcomed that- and so did Loren. i repeated to Loren everything i'd already told him, with his mother present, and she basically interjected comments along the way agreeing with me concerning my right to take him with me, but she placed herself beside him and "comforted" him, even though he was in trouble for not doing as he was told, and that effectively negated my authority. she also never quite dropped the accusatory tone, occasionally telling me to stop yelling, though i'd still never raised my voice. i took this as proof that she felt tension in the situation, and tried to keep things as calm as possible. i don't know if she thought she was the only one aware of the tension in the room? regardless, she never disagreed with what i had to say to Loren, but she did offer to exchange weekends so that he stayed there this time and came the next one- but by this point i'd had enough. the last time he was to spend the weekend here it was a flameout too, for other reasons, and i told her i'd already made the decision not to give him the opportunity to decide this time, and that he was coming. the conversation continued for a few minutes, and Loren's mom eventually left the room and stood outside the door, possibly thinking that Loren might be better served if she did step out of it for a bit. but i realized that nothing positive was going to come from this at this point, and i ended it.

i told Loren, if you're not going to come with me when i come for you, then "i'm not going to come here anymore." i think he misunderstood me, because he immediately got really upset again. i tried to clarify what i meant by that, and told him there was nothing stating i had to pick him up from his mom's, and that i did that because he preferred it, but why should i bother when i call and no one answers, or no one's there when i show up, or Loren plain old doesn't come when i arrive? i told him honestly that everything in my life is planned around the time spent with him, and that when he doesn't come when he's supposed to it screws everything up. like i said, i knew there was no positive for anyone involved at this point, and when i'd said my peace it was time for me to go. i told him to come get his stuff out of my truck, and that the next time we talked it would be because he called me, and that i hoped it was soon.

i passed Loren's little brother on the way out, and tousled his hair and told him, "See ya, dude. Be good." i suppose it's at this point that i'd have had to have told him i was going to get drunk, if what Loren's mom wrote in the restraining order statement wasn't truly unbelievable.

Loren dragged his feet some more getting his things out of my truck, i think he was trying to drag the situation out so it might end differently, but there wasn't any way to make things better in that time and place, so i helped the process along by handing some of the things to his mother myself. i told her she'd done nothing to help the situation and i was fed up with things. Loren tried to give me a couple books of his, which he'd originally included in his stuff to bring, that he thought i should read. i told him just to take them, i didn't want them right now. it was obvious this whole incident had left him pretty sad, and i knew if he'd come with me we'd have been able to talk it out and we'd both feel better, but that simply wasn't going to happen now- the conversation would have to take place later. when everything was back in his mother's house i gave him a quick hug. we were both upset and needed it. and told him to call me soon, and he told me he would. i also told his mother in no uncertain terms that the next time she threatened to call the police on me in front of Loren she better do it, or else i would. i hate being threatened, and especially when i'm not doing anything wrong.

since then, my calls over the week went ignored by Loren's mom. i called approximately 12 times over the next 5 days, and never had them answered, with one exception that didn't end with my being able to talk to Loren. one night Loren managed to call immediately before bedtime, the call lasting all of a couple minutes, and he apologized for his behavior Friday night. i told him we'd have to have this conversation in person, it wasn't something to talk about over the phone when he was short on time. i asked him if he'd remembered to turn in his math homework on Monday (we'd planned to do it together over the weekend, and i suspected he hadn't finished it with his mom) and he confirmed that he hadn't. i told him firmly, but gently, to take care of business in school, and even though i was careful about how i handled it, i kind of regret that now, as this was the last opportunity i had to talk to him. it was the right thing to do, but it bothers me that i had to talk to him about school work in light of later developments. the school talk lasted only a few seconds, and i asked him something else (i don't remember what) and he told me his mom wanted him to get off the phone, and said, "Hold on-" then after a moment abruptly said, "My mom says I gotta go, bye" and hung up.

since then my calls haven't been answered or returned. yesterday i was served with a restraining order, which prevents me from talking to him. welcome back to court, folks. like the title says, it's back to the bad old days all over again. for the uninitiated (and you may count yourselves lucky, because it evidently takes only a baseless allegation against you in order for the court to grant them) the temporary order requires a hearing to determine whether or not the order is made 'permanent', which means effective for one year. since Loren's mother named him in the paperwork as one of the protected parties, now i don't get to talk to him at all- which is obviously unacceptable. the allegations in this restraining order are (typically, for Loren's mother) overwhelmingly false, and to a smaller degree blatant exagerrations, but that's enough for the court, especially with our history.

well i was understandably upset about all that, and today i called in to work to let them know i'd be spending the day doing something about it. the first thing i could think of was getting the court date moved up. since the hearing wasn't scheduled for another couple weeks, and therefore two weeks in which Loren and i don't see each other, that seemed a good place to start. there may be more things i can do, and i'm seriously considering hiring a lawyer- though paying for one would certainly require some rather intricate financial maneuvers.

part of the restraining order was illegible, so i called to get a clarification on what it said. i asked if there was anything i could do to expedite the whole process, and it turns out i could go in and file what's called a motion to modify. getting the court date moved required making three phone calls to determine the correct people to talk to, and filling out some minor paperwork, including a reason the date should be moved up. i did that, then it was time to wait for court to be in session, to speak with the court commisioner (judge). she read everything over briefly, and ultimately directed the court clerk to telephone Loren's mother and set up an earlier date. it was obvious, from the one side of the conversation i couldn't help but overhear in the lobby of the court clerks' office, that this surprised Loren's mom and that she was argumentative and displeased. i gathered that Loren's mom said something along the lines of "that won't give me time to prepare" (something, likely a custody modification concerning Loren, to more permanently prevent him from seeing me) but i was pleased the court clerk was more concerned with the judge's decision to allow the court date to be moved up, and told her that since the temporary order prevented the respondent (me) from seeing his child the court had granted me this motion, and it was only a question of finding a time that would work for both parties. score one (a small one) for the respondent, and i suppose that means a miniscule one for father's rights on the whole. let's get this show on the road, i say. i want my day in court, and i want to see my son. after the new date was set up with the clerk it was back to court a second time, to finalize the motion, and then it was back to the court clerks' office for paperwork.

then home to take a nap in the late afternoon, to do something about this throbbing headache that the painkillers didn't touch this morning. it didn't work, i was awakened by a particular dumb sounding heavily-asian-accented telemarketer that hung up on me last night when i asked her to remove me from her calling list. tonight i asked to speak to her manager, and she hung up again. idiots.

actually, sleep is looking pretty good right now.

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