The enemy of my enemy is my co-parent
I’ve had some discussions lately with people who are just starting the Divorce Cycle and thinking they will hate this asshole/shrew of a soon-to-be-ex-spouse for as long as the sun burns. Man, have I been there. I really hated my wife, but I hated hating her even more. And the thought that this would from now on be the tenor of my relationship with the person I had kids with, mixed with the vortex of depression and guilt, made for a pretty toxic mental cocktail.
What I hadn’t appreciated yet, however, was that during those first horrible months, our kids were still cloistered babies. R was 4½ and traipsing off to his hippie private preschool three days a week, and T was just discovering how to pry things out of his nose. We had the luxury of focusing on ourselves because we controlled almost every aspect of their lives. And that luxury evaporates when your kids start growing into people and spending six hours a day being shaped and socialized and hassled and mentored and bullied by Other People.
Last week Moxie and I got a letter from our kids’ school mandating that our son take part in a morning remedial program because of some assessment we hadn’t seen or even known about. It turned out to be a misunderstanding, thankfully, but in the interim we felt assailed. Not only would this session hurl a grenade into our daily routine (and rob both boys of an hour of sleep in the morning), but the letter was worded as if we were being called on to right something we had done wrong.
Say, what now?
As you might imagine, there isn’t much that can get parents more riled up then telling them, or implying to them, or giving them the most tacitly minuscule hint that their child-rearing is the slightest bit fallible. (Especially Moxie and me, who are doing everything perfectly.) So we drafted a reply e-mail, and tried our best to coat our apoplexy with a veneer of reasonableness and a willingness to work closely and explore all options and etfreakincetera. And even though it didn’t take long for cooler heads to prevail, it also didn’t take long for our divided house to rise up and defend its shared interests.
All of which is meant to show that if you’re staring across the table at the incubus/succubus that ruined your life, any two factions can become allies if both their forts are fired upon. Imagine how much sooner FDR and Stalin would have made it to Yalta if Hitler had ripped on their children.