So now my daughter is in fifth grade, and her birthday is almost upon us, but she has been worrying for at least a month about what we are going to do.
This is tough. No dad wants to disappoint his children, even if when disappointment is inevitable, and even when the disappointment is good for them to boot. (No dear, we are not renting 2 stretch limos for you and your friends, and taking all of you on a whirlwind trip to Disney). Life lessons, you know. (Not that my daughter asked for that, but ya know, expectations higher than reality. Thank goodness we don’t live in Westchester County.)
Moreover, even though I’m divorced and have been living apart from my ex for over 2.5 years, this is yet another occasion where my ex’s and I embarrassingly pitiful ineptitude at co-parenting will become obvious in exquisite detail to not only my children, but (alas) to anyone who ventures within shouting distance (the normal range of her communication) of my ex. Regrettably, she does not have a whispering distance,or even a discreet distance (example: my great embarrassment, with her screaming at me from across the lobby at the Middlesex County Courthouse, not to chastise me for one of my many defects, but just to relay her latest counteroffer; me, walking over, trying to explain how the other hapless souls there were probably not all that interested in our divorce–except for the parts about Scarlett Johannson being an excellent step-mom–and that even if the others present were somehow so bored with their own lives as to be interested in our very mundane fights, I did not feel like updating the small percentage of MA who had, impossibly, not heard my ex’s opinion of me, our marriage, our divorce, and my afore-alluded-to shortcomings as a parent, human being, etc. Meanwhile, the lawyers charge while we wait for the judge who is downstairs at, of all things, a party, welcoming some other very average human being to the bench. So while they eat sheet cake–wait, do judges eat sheet cake, or do they get something nicer, the least he could have done was brought us up a slice, seeing as while he stuffs his cake-hole, we pay the lawyers, his little rush party costing us collectively over $1o a minute, all the more annoying because nobody really seems to give a shit, the whole idea of containing cost is foreign to these right honourable gentlefolk. . .)
And like most things, this party discussion will in all likelihood come down to a manner of money. My ex does not let a conversation go by without finding a way to dun me for some expense, from the ridiculous to the even more ridiculous, from the petty to the vengeful (Yes, I did get the house in the divorce, but you should pay for the diseased tree removal because the tree was here while you lived here and if I amortize the benefit you received from its shade, and besides that I would really like to not have to spend all the money if I can get you to shell out something).
Anyway, we weren’t going to spend a (relative) ton of money on the birthday party this year, most of our disposable income having gone to supporting our legal system (like our health system, the best in the world!). In the end, the ex caves to the kid, and I am left with a few bad choices, the least evil of which is contributing to a birthday party I cannot afford and which even has my daughter a bit nervous due to the social complications.
Indoor water park, here we come. Or rather, there they go. After last year’s birthday fiasco, I will send my money, but not myself. I will celebrate my daughter’s birthday with her in a less populated venue, with fewer guests and fewer complications, the week before.
Stay tuned for Part 3!