I have a very strict rule against saying anything bad about my ex in front of The Kid. My son loves his dad, and I don't ever want him to look at me and wonder if maybe he shouldn't.
But, damn, The Ex makes it hard for me to follow my own rules sometimes. He does some things sometimes that I feel I must comment on.
Like taking my 7-year-old to a college-style kegger and teaching him to play beer pong. Granted, he gave The Kid orange juice to play with. But I watched my father die at 47 as a result of alcoholism. I don't really want to spoon feed drinking games to my kid. But, while I wanted to tell The Kid that his dad was maybe making some pretty shitty judgement calls, I turned the event into an opportunity to talk about drinking responsibly and the dangers of letting a ping pong ball determine one's booze consumption.
Or, as another example, how's about a little bit of animal neglect? This has been a tricky one, because I was ready to kill The Ex when I saw the condition of the dog. And I wanted to make absolutely certain The Kid knew that this is NOT an acceptable way to treat an animal. But how do I have that conversation without essentially saying "Duuuuuude. Your dad is an ass."?
I settled on a single conversation with The Kid wherein I confessed to being upset with his dad. I told The Kid that the dog should have been taken to the vet long ago, and should have been allowed into the house and properly cared for so that she could heal. I think that was enough. The Kid understood. I didn't need to beat him about the head with it. The rest - how to properly care for a pet - can be taught by example.
Still, I'm questioning my judgement on having said even that much.
But that doesn't compare to what happened Sunday night.
The Ex had to stop by to drop off some things for The Kid. When he left, he tore out of the neighborhood and barely even slowed down for the stop sign at the end of the street. (This happens with enough regularity that my neighbors have politely requested that I ask him to be more careful.) And in a fit of frustration and exhaustion and contempt, my internal editor chose that moment to go on strike.
"Ugh. Your dad's such an idiot."
It fell out of my mouth and landed with a splat on the table between us. We stared at it, silent, with equal amounts of shock hanging from our faces.
I honestly don't know what happened. All these years of biting my tongue, of choosing my words so carefully, and a minor traffic violation is what breaks me?
Immediately I apologized, explained that it scares me when his dad drives so fast in the neighborhood with so many young kids running around; that in a moment of anger I said something that I didn't really mean. And then I apologized again.
Once The Kid got over his initial shock, I'm pretty sure he promptly forgot the incident. But I'm still kicking myself for it.
Ugh. Mommy is such an idiot.
Glass Insects by Yuki Tsunoda
6 hours ago