Another weekend over far too soon, but we had a great time. Yet every weekend, every time I see the kids, every time there is a new crease in this mess, I can’t help but wonder: this is by far not the first divorce in history that involves children, and it certainly will not be the last, and you mean to tell me this is the best anyone has ever figured out to handle it? So many parties are involved besides the divorcing couple: a judge, a complete infrastructure of the legal system, lawyers, paralegals, counselors, clerks, legislators…and this is their collective best effort? Detonate as many spiteful bullshit bombs as you can to rack up an ugly point or two, and worry if the kids are still standing later, after you check the score?
I shouldn’t be surprised. I ended up with a Psychology degree because I wanted to make the world a better place for kids, a safer place, and once upon a time I was naive enough to believe one person could actually do it, or even (what was I thinking?) that no one would ever oppose this concept. I spent years counseling abused kids, listening to parents defend their right to beat a child senseless for whatever crime they deemed suited the punishment; simmering in exasperated anger at staff meetings, being told there’s nothing we can do; sitting next to a kid on the floor and fixing my facial expression, hiding my outrage, my horror, at what people will do to kids; and witnessing how our so-called child protective machine chews kids up and spits them out, going through the motions of saving kids but ultimately allowing itself to be blocked by money, power, politics, and greed. And the kids? Ah well, kids are resilient, aren’t they? And if they’re not, hell, there’s always juvenile detention or prison.
I don’t detect much difference here. We had a great weekend with the kids, playing, talking, reading, joking around, celebrating Bear’s birthday, hugging, laughing…and getting up late at night because one of them wakes up crying, missing their dad already, before they’ve even left him, confused what is really going on, and they can only take so much. They’re not robots, they’re not pawns, they’re not weapons. They are people, with hearts, feelings, minds, and when you step on them, twist them, and leave them broken, for god’s sake, they hurt.
I felt my own eyes burning as Gary held the crying child, and the comforting arms I offered felt so infinitesimal. I wanted to brandish that tear-stained face, that breathless crying, that heartbreaking sound, and demand: Are you proud of this? For these children and so many others whose lives and feelings are trampled in a stampede of vile selfishness, hateful immaturity, and gluttonous egos, and who so many people are supposed to be protecting and loving, I ask again: this is the best you can do?