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Uphill. Both ways.

January 20, 2011

Last Wednesday, the New York area woke up to 9+ inches of snow. The boys were with Moxie, and when I checked my phone at 7:30 I saw that she had texted two hours earlier, right after Mayor Bloomberg had announced that schools would be open. She asked for my opinion, but when I didn’t respond (due to an unfortunate bout of predawn unconsciousness), she decided to keep the kids home.

Four facts supported her decision. One, she was able to work from home and keep the kids with her all day. Two, she was still limping around in an air cast because of the tendonitis in her ankle. Three, the sidewalk hadn’t been shoveled, and footing would be treacherous. And four, we live far from the kids’ school and rely on a subway line that ain’t all that reliable in good weather, much less after a blizzard. She was trapped with the kids for over an hour once, and she still hasn’t shaken the facial tics.

Taking all that into account, I didn’t agree with her.

I have always believed that if school is open, you go to school. You might have to trudge through a Hoth-like Hellscape while visualizing the school superintendent’s head on a pike, but as long as no one has to shove you into a tauntaun’s carcass, you gotta bundle up and go learn something. Or at least pretend to.

Moxie saw things differently, and I guess the kids benefited from the luck of the draw and got a day off. But if I’m in that same situation (like, say, tomorrow), I will very likely jam my kids into their parkas and drag them into the slush. Which makes me feel like the Villain, the Hardass, the Parent Whose House You Want To Avoid When The Snowplows Are On High Alert.

This isn’t meant as a value judgment, and whether you agree with me or with her on this is your own business. I’m just saying that despite any divorced couple’s best efforts to present a united front, separate households mean separate rules. And in immediate situations, some days you’re the lord, and some days you’re the serf. On those latter days, you can respect the decision without liking it. At which point you have to suck it up, move on, and take your kids sledding.

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21 Comments leave one →
  1. January 20, 2011 4:05 pm

    The air cast is the tipper for me on this one. So I agree with both of you. If Moxie were not in a cast, I’d be firmly on the side of “Get ’em to school!”

    • askmoxie permalink*
      January 20, 2011 4:18 pm

      Liz, for me it was a combo of the cast and the fact that the same train we had to get on was the train that was stuck for 8 hours in the post-Christmas storm. No, thank you.

  2. January 20, 2011 4:13 pm

    Ha, my mom was a public school teacher (and we were with her all weekdays), so there was NEVER any reason for her to allow you to skip school unless you were ill. And if you were ill, it better be straight to the doctor ill, not just nap it off ill. Senior Skip Day, bahahaha, riiiiiiiiiiiight. Not if you also wanted to live to see another day.

    Seriously though, I know for a fact it bugged the ever loving daylights out of her that my dad, whose entire family has diabetes, gave us soda when we were with him. My mom worried constantly we would devlop it. But as you say, different house, different rules and nothing you can do about it!

  3. Nancy permalink
    January 20, 2011 4:56 pm

    Geez, it’s only school! And only one day at that. The kids probably learned more in a day of sledding (especially city kids who don’t get the opportunity that often) than they would have at school. Is a single day of school worth missing a day of experiencing nice fresh snow for? Especially if the day would be spent in mostly in snow travel logistics? Nope!! Glad to hear they went sledding! Good call.

  4. MoxieMom in NY permalink
    January 20, 2011 6:44 pm

    I have to say that I agree that different house, different rules. Therefore if she had the kids, she makes the rules. Especially if she wasn’t calling you all “Come get the kids!”
    If you guys tended to agree on things, perhaps you wouldn’t be divorced?? Just sayin’

    At least LOD, you have the foresight to agree to disagree. And then let it go. Bravo on both of you.

  5. January 20, 2011 9:54 pm

    Maybe I’d feel differently if I were in your shoes instead of an observer–but to me it seems like this is a place where it’s OK that you don’t have a united front. Neither one of you is letting anybody skip a LOT, and you both have good reasons for feeling like you do. In a way maybe it’s an opportunity for the kids to see that two good people can disagree about something and it’s not the end of the world–that they can have different opinions or moralities without one person being definitively right or wrong. Sure, you might end up feeling like the hardass here, but I’m guessing the positions are reversed in other situations so that it evens out, generally. (Somewhere, I think, Moxie mentioned at one point a difference about playing video games–so many that’s one.)

    About some things there shouldn’t be moral relativism, but about this one I think it’s OK.

  6. Celeste permalink
    January 21, 2011 12:28 am

    It would have been a no-brainer on definitely going to school if it was in a more typical community. Having the extreme travel situation that you deal with in your part of NYC changes everything. It creates almost a certain hostility to family life when you can get stuck in the subway for hours. I admit to being spoiled by suburban life…so it’s infinitely easier to never call my own day off in our situation. I think if you’re willing to endure being stuck with your kids for several hours due to weatehr and maybe no access to a bathroom or something to drink, more power to you. But if you’re not willing, you have my blessing to call the whole thing off.

  7. Andrea permalink
    January 21, 2011 11:06 am

    This situation could easily happen in our house and we’re together! We stagger our schedules to minimize time away from the kiddo, so DH is home with her in the morning and I in the early evening. He gets to make morning decisions and I evening decisions. I think it’s hard to have a “united front” on everything and that’s okay. Kids can learn that parents have different opinions and that’s okay. But I’m glad to see people agreeing to disagree and moving on.

  8. Kari Weber permalink
    January 21, 2011 11:25 pm

    In the face of the aircast… I think that I would have done the same thing. But I am a teacher and FULLY believe kids need to be at school each day.
    However, I do like that she texted you to get your opinion! Even if you don’t always HAVE a united front, you are at least TRYING to have a united front…

  9. Tarin permalink
    January 22, 2011 12:59 am

    I have a question for you LOD. You say you’re dragging the kids into the slush when it’s your day, but what would you do — honestly — if it was your day, AND there was 9+ inches of snow, AND the train you’d been on last under these circumstances was stuck for hours and hours, AND you were in an air cast, AND you could work from home?

    I get your general policy — school’s open, go to school — but are you implying that given ALL the same circumstances Mox faced you’d have done differently than she did? Because when you draw comparisons, it’s only fair to compare apple to apples.

    • LOD permalink*
      January 22, 2011 8:05 pm

      I would have brought the kids to school. But this post isn’t meant to seek validation of either side. I wrote it to illustrate a fundamental challenge of two households, and how I didn’t like the idea of coming off as the bad guy.

      Funny thing, though: When Moxie and I were discussing this post, we confessed that each of us feels like the bigger overall hardass. I guess that speaks to an inherent phobia among co-parents.

      • Tarin permalink
        January 23, 2011 11:22 am

        I appreciate you replying LOD. I think the two of you are doing an amazing job co-parenting and I often refer divorced or divorcing people to this site for its measured insight. While it has got to be hard to offer yourself up for judgement, ultimately you’re doing a rare service (for lack of a better word).

        I think it’s the fact that you both think you’re the harderass is the reason this is working. Where most co-parenting falls apart is when only one is really parenting.

  10. LOD permalink*
    January 24, 2011 2:27 pm

    Harderass! I have to remember that one.

  11. Chive permalink
    January 25, 2011 8:15 am

    I’m with Andrea on the idea that you don’t have to be in different houses to have to make independent (and sometimes different) judgement calls. You just have to be the one who was there at the time, and willing to take the consequences.
    I like that you can both respect each others decisions, even when it isn’t the one you’d make. Obviously this is helped by c0-parenting with a thoughful person who knows the kids well, but it’s still not always easy to do. There are days when I struggle with this, and we’re together.

  12. January 26, 2011 12:25 pm

    Uphill both ways and gosh darn it, peopled LIKED it! Slams fist on table.

    Sorry, the title reminded me of Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man character from SNL.

  13. anne permalink
    January 28, 2011 7:24 pm

    Off topic, or is it – I need advice on what to say to a 4 year old boy who spends have his week with me and the other half with his dad – “I don’t want to have two homes, I just want one home”. This has been ongoing for a few weeks.when asked why he feels this way, not much detail emerges. Both of us have talked about why he has two homes, the benefits of two homes, acknowledging his feelings, that we are one family who happens to live in two houses, that there are many different kinds of families, etc. Etc. Any words of wisdom? Is he exhibiting co-parented weariness?

    • mom2boy permalink
      January 31, 2011 2:25 pm

      No words of wisdom but it sounds like you are doing everything you can to help him understand the situation. My three year old son tells me daily all the things he does and doesn’t want in his life, including another parent. I am a single mom, no ex in the picture. Life doesn’t always work out the way we want. Tough concept for adults, probably not going to go away over night with a four year old. Keep talking to him, keep reassuring him he is loved and don’t take his desire for one home as a parenting failure. Hope that helps.

      • anne permalink
        January 31, 2011 4:29 pm

        thanks @ mom2boy. sounds like this not uncommon conversation. and you’re right, it probably will continue as he goes through every developmental stage. I have to stop my natural tendency to want to “fix it” by thinking up new scheduling/parenting arrangements, etc. I’m even wondering if he needs some play therapy. Otherwise, I agree, both his dad and I have to keep talking, keep reassuring him and also allowing him to feel the way he does. Gets you “right there” though.

  14. Ericka permalink
    January 30, 2011 1:35 pm

    I don’t have an opinion one way or the other, but I think it’s interesting that you supported her decision with so many points, and didn’t do the same for your own. The post appears to have been written by someone who does think it was a good idea to keep the kids home.

    • LOD permalink*
      January 31, 2011 1:17 am

      Moxie and I haven’t used this blog to call each other out all that much. So I figured that, if I was going to cause a ruckus, I at least wanted to present the situation as evenhandedly as possible and make sure her motivations were well represented.

  15. March 3, 2011 4:31 pm

    As the “new kid on the blog” (I literally clicked through several other blog links to get here), this, your comment about wanting to make sure that you balanced your viewpoint with Moxie’s, is quite the testimony to your relationship as “co-parents.” Bless you both!

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