Dropping the kids off at the police station is never a terribly pleasant, warm-and-fuzzy experience. Being forced to do so because of the highly selfish and horrifying behavior of so-called caregivers in the children’s lives is disturbing enough. But this past weekend was even more difficult because Bear and Sunflower had a rough time saying good-bye.
When Bear got out of our car, he hugged me tight. I hugged him back and at first thought he was laughing. When he lifted his head to face me, though, he looked absolutely crushed, and tears burned paths down his cheeks. He looked so hurt. I felt tears in my own eyes just watching the pain in his.
The kids never asked for any of this. Their lives have been turned upside down, shaken, mangled, and spit out, and through it all, the only explanations they have received from the guilty parties are more lies and manipulation.
“I don’t want to go.”
Gary and I have heard these words countless times, and it never gets easier. It is not about a popularity contest, a competition, or scoring points. It is about children who desperately want both parents in their lives, but are told to choose one and not the other. It tears them apart.
It would be so much easier for them to make the transition from home to home if they had never heard shouted threats of never seeing Daddy again. It would be so much easier for them if they had never watched adults they are supposed to be able to trust screaming like hysterical brats at me, at their father. It would be so much easier for them if everyone prioritized them.
As Gary and I drove home after dropping off the kids, I tried to imagine either of us using the kids as weapons, as pawns, shoving them about to suit ourselves, deaf to their cries. I tried to imagine refusing to let Gary know about the kids’ events, just so I could have the shallow thrill of knowing he wasn’t there, even though the kids wanted him to be. I tried to imagine being so immature that I had to remove Dove’s or Sunflower’s nail polish the instant they hit the door if it was applied by the other parent, no matter how much they wanted to keep it on. I tried to imagine being driven by insane pettiness to destroy clothing, shoes, and toys the children cherished, simply because the items were given to them by the other parent.
I couldn’t imagine it. Neither Gary nor I would ever do any of those things to the kids. Because ultimately, that is what it comes down to: the kids pay the price for all of it.
I could not look into the kids’ faces and say, “I know what I am about to do is going to hurt you, but I’m going to do it anyway because I only care about me.”
But this is exactly what they live with on an ongoing basis from someone who claims to love them. Sorry, I don’t buy it. Love is not abuse, manipulation, lying, and using.
It is filth for the word “love” to come from the mouth of someone who truly only loves herself.