Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Taking Care of Business

The summer of Kim progresses nicely. Routines are establishing themselves. I wake up around 8 with enough time to take Roni to Fashion Design Camp and Jude to Theater Camp. I head back to the house to put off work on the tour and find ways to waste the day as Kim trudges through her mounds of homework. Some days we sneak out and eat lunch where we pretend to be adults without kids. Life is going quite well. Until someone decides to muck it up.

            Kim’s Ex has popped back into the picture and refuses to work and play well with others. For the majority of our relationship, her Ex has been waaaaay in the background. He has shown little interest in the kids’ lives by irregular calls missing birthdays, holidays, and even Roni’s surgeries last summer. He has popped up and dropped by in what feels like a courtesy call. It’s like a bad case of the crabs. You think he’s gone and then “Guess who’s back?”

For the most part I have been silent about my feeling. He is a part of Kim’s life that happened before us. I respect the fact her Ex (Let’s call him X for the blog’s sake) is the birth father and always tried to be cool about it.  He has always been cordial in our dealings. Frankly, I should be threatened by him. The guy is an ex-Ranger  with a college education. He made up to the rank of Major before retiring. X did several tours overseas in Iraq and apparently was in some serious stuff. He lost his leg after going back and working in the private sector in Iraq. On paper, he would give Captain America a run for the money.

Yet, I am not threatened by him in the least.  And I am fed up with his crap.

X never bothered to finish his court ordered program to receive the rights to full visitation with his children even though it was his second chance.  X never bothered to get them on medical insurance after the divorce even though he promised. (Remember, one of those kids is disabled) X never did a lot of things that I am learning should come naturally as a parent.

I tell a lot of funny stories on here about me and the Big Guy. Often we are odds and one of us usually trumps the other. I have not really talked much about what I learned about being a man from my father. (Though, I do assume there is a lot of subtext in that) Ol’ Bob taught me a lot and I find myself using it every day.
The Big Guy is Content. Jack's River Falls 1991

First and foremost, a man takes care of his family. I never got an Atari 2600 and not from a lack of asking. I also never was hungry, needed medical care, or wondered if my Dad loved me and Mary.  I do not see this in X. He has shown none of this in performance, attitude, or track record.

X moved back right around the time Kim and tied the knot. I knew it was a game changer but was curious about what would happen. Based on previous performance, I figured he’d run out of steam by now and fade back into the distance like X usually does. Keep in mind that X has never finished the three steps required to get full visitation. This was almost two years ago. Starting something is no problem. Finishing is another story.

At first, X has tried to maneuver Kim into ways to avoid dealing with this agreement. My favorite quote was along the lines of “Are you really going to follow that plan?” to Kim about six months ago. This pisses me off because the guy was given a second chance and still refuses to do what is required.

I often speak to my teacher buddy, Steve Freenor, because he is also remarried like I am with kids. During our Fourth of July Cookout, he summed it right up and his words have resonated within for over a week.

“If this was important to X, he’d take care of it immediately.”

 A man takes care of his family. Not makes constant excuses.

X wants to have the kids overnight as part of step 3 of the court process yet he was supposed to finish this 2 years ago. For the past month, he has badgered harassed and even threatened to take Kim back to court. It has been borderline harassment we have consulted two attorneys and even the court appointed psychologist who almost laughed because too much time had passed for her observations to be valid.  Kim has been as professional as possible, stayed firm and has put her foot down. She is finally not playing X’s game. I am proud of her.

A pattern has emerged that upsets me greatly. X will send an e-mail where he requests legitimate bits of information regarding the kids’ schedule. Hidden in those e-mails are little nuggets where he gets a dig in on Kim.  Kim has handled this like a pro but I am a Richardson. We take care of our family.

No, I am not going to do anything stupid. 20 year old Robby would have pulled something like that. You are reading about 43 year old Robby. I almost hate to admit that I have matured a bit over the years and finally have learned a bit about dealing with ilk like this.

The one thing I have learned in dealing with problems is to remove the factors that make the issue. X is making Kim’s day harder. No more. Starting today, X is more than welcome to communicate regarding the kids’ schedules, schools, camps, etc. through me.

Between 15 years of social work, Wal-Mart service desk, and teaching, I know a bit regarding dealing with difficult people. I am more than happy to let X know what he needs to know, where to be, when to pick up the kids. He is their father and it is his right to know these things. This is by no means an issue with me.

But Mr. X, I want to get something straight. I respect your rights that come with being a father of two of the most amazing children I have ever had the privilege to love. I also understand any frustrations that come with dealing with an ex-wife (been there, done that, had a bag of lime and a shovel)

You have a history with Kim. I respect that too. But as far as we are concerned from this point on, you interactions will be based upon the needs and wants of our kids. You will leave my wife alone and not play your childish games with her. I am more than happy to showing where to look for whatever necessary and pertinent info you will need. You know what you need to do. Do it. Take care of your business and be a Dad not a father.

As I say to my students, I share with you. Please do not mistake my courtesy for weakness. If High School, Depression, Back Surgery, Losing my Dad, Heart Murmurs, a cavalcade of crazy exes, and Kidney disease didn’t do me in, this is whole situation is a walk in the park. I will happily do what I must because as the greatest man I have ever known once showed me though his works and deeds:

Afterall, A man takes care of his family.
For the first time  in a while, the Bible and I agree


  1. Your father was an amazing man. I spent many hours in the library doing everything but studying. I loved looking at old Life Magazines and old books. Your father helped me learn how to use a college library. He was always very cool and the students loved him.
    It is clear you learned from him and became a man he would be proud of.

    1. THanks, Scott. Writing this blog has given me a lot of happiness. Re-establishing our friendship has been one of them