As most of you know I am divorced and don’t see my daughter for half of her life. The same goes for her mom. That can’t be changed. But expectations between her mom and I can be changed.
I bet you’d be surprised to learn that her mom reads these posts. I was. I think she hopes she’ll be able to use them against me someday in some melodramatic legal battle. It’s a great feeling, hammering in your own nails.
Most recently, we were in a mediation which had a moment where the mediator gave a look that was accompanied by a primal utterance that betrayed that he thought that paying her boyfriend’s mom $30 per day to watch H- was a deal in today’s “not my responsibility” childcare market. Here’s why it isn’t a deal.
I took H- camping last week and while we were in the bathroom she volunteered, “I saw a man lick a woman’s face on TV.” H- is four. I think at least a few of you can imagine the expression I nearly successfully held back upon hearing this.
I asked if this was at her mom’s house or “Grammy’s” house (not her grandparent on any level, to be clear). Another parenthetical–(now I know you’re not supposed to play detective as a co-parent, but I’m human.) She answered, “Grammy’s.”
“So you watch TV at Grammy’s house, eh?” I continued.
“Was it while she was flipping channels?”
Even at her tender age H- has a way of seeing through any attempt of mine to pretend that I’m really not interested in the answer, so she simply resorted to, “Nevermind!”
What the fuck? Television is a poison beyond measure. Does anyone doubt this? And yet a wonderful feature of my choice in ex-wives is that now my child is being raised by it when I’m not around. And I’m supposed to be happy about the financial savings. Whatever happened to the phrase, “There is more to life than money”?
What am I supposed to do? The other option is to track down some fantastical daycare which allows her to attend only half of every month. My experience in this realm is that this is not likely. And daycares that don’t cost a fortune usually are religiously affiliated. Keep in mind that as the father, I’m paying for childcare not for when I’m at work, but for when her mother’s at work. I’m paying other people than her mother to raise her. So my options are face licking or bible stories. At this point I think I’d take bible stories, but I have a difficult time understanding why a television is ever on. I know I’m not alone on this. I spoke with a stay-at-home dad (still married) a while ago, and he said he was at some function where they were discussing how many hours of television they let their kids watch a week. He said, “An hour.”
The others said, “Wow. An hour a day. That’s great.”
And he said, “No, an hour a week. Maybe.”
They said, “How do you fill the time?”
He said, “How do you have the time?”
How do you have the time to watch television with a kid? Why would you put a kid in front of the “boob tube?” Or the “brain drain?” I know why. You do it because you’re lazy. You do it because you rush to help people that behave in a way that seems like they need help when they are really just lazy. I’ve said it so many times I’m sick of hearing myself say it, but I’ll say it again. I grew up thinking the opposite of love was hate. Then I heard the notion that the opposite of love is not hate, but selfishness–and I preached that. These days, however, I’m with M. Scott Peck who wrote that the opposite of love is laziness.
Do you love your child? What’s it like finding out that she’ll admit these things to me?
It should be Miss P-, by the way. P- is not her grandmother. Words have meanings. Why your mom doesn’t care is beyond me.