As I mention in the “My Alternate Weekend” post, for now I’m required to bring the children to my parents when I have them for the Jewish weekly holiday. When we go to my parents, we usually stay in my youngest brother’s room. Because he’s twelve and because at one point his room was the storage location for unneeded clothing, his room is a mess.
(When we go over, I spend at least 30 minutes cleaning it up, but it really requires a complete overhaul and about 4-6 hours of focused cleaning.)
My son has a tendency to remove his clothing at odd intervals. Since, all the children are frantic and seemingly in perpetual motion, it can be difficult to keep track of where he took off what and, therefore, where it is.
Early on I feared that there could be negative consequences to returning the children in dirty clothes and to losing the clothes they arrived in. To prevent either of those possibilities, I implemented a complete wardrobe change the moment they walked into my parent’s home. They would arrive in the clothes their mother dressed them in. Immediately, upon entering my parent’s home, they would be stripped and re-dressed in clothing I got for them. I would store all the outfits they arrived with in a shopping bag. Anything dirty, I would wash.
When it was time for them to return to their mother, I’d remove their weekend clothing and reacquaint their bodies with the clothing with which they arrived. This, at least, was the theory. In actuality, something always got lost.
It got even more complicated when they started bringing clothes from their mother to wear over the weekly holiday. The amount of clothing to keep track of not only doubled, but the interval of them being “exposed” to loss increased exponentially.
Each weekend that I’d have them I’d worry about losing clothing. When I’d return them, something would always be missing. My soon to be ex-wife would complain about the missing item. I’d call my siblings, ask them to search for the item and put it aside for me. Most of the time, the item was found and returned. Sometimes, the item could not be retrieved.
I would spend so much time worrying about the clothing situation that it affected my ability to enjoy the time with my children.
The last time I had the children, I was successful at returning every article of clothing. However, I hadn’t even gotten home when she called to complain that top to a medicine crusher was missing.
This weekend, she requested that I mind them an extra 2.5 hours, because she wouldn’t be home until later. I agreed. About 3 hours before I was supposed to return them to their mother, I saw that my son’s pants were missing. I asked my siblings to do a quick search through my parent’s home, but it yielded no results.
When I returned the children, she was understandably upset. I tried to explain the situation, but she insisted that when she has him at her place, he’s a total angel. She threatened to write up a list of items that have gone missing and press for me to pay restitution for each of them.
I walked away without responding. I understand her frustration with clothing being lost. I share it. I know if i had them at my apartment, no clothing would go missing. However, even without excuses, shouldn’t I get some credit for taking care of them for longer than initially planned? Oh well, people generally don’t change.