Today was the kiddo's "Holiday Concert". It was interesting to see how he interacted with his mom, and how he acted when both parents were together.
This is probably only the second time all four of the "parents" (natural or chosen) were in the same room. The first time was his last birthday, in a restaurant, all five of us.
When the kiddo is with us at a restaurant, particularly when there is other adults, we are completely fine with him finding ways to entertain himself. I realize that when I was a kid, entertainment meant the back of a paper place mat and a pen out of my moms purse. For this kiddo, it means his 3DS until the battery is dead, and then either his dad's phone or my kindle fire. He kills plants and zombies, or giggles at Mario's anger at Luigi, he's even started trying to play the solitaire I always have on the front screen of any Android device. I think it's unreasonable to expect a 9 year old boy to be interested in whatever the adults at the table want to talk about. If he's asked a direct question, he answers. He puts away the game when the food comes, and he eats politely (something I've been working on is table manners). When the food is cleared and the adults keep chatting, he gets his game back out and continues collecting Mario Coins. Everyone wins. My parents would never have allowed anything like that back then, but my parents had THREE kids. Not one. Us kids would entertain ourselves together. We always had someone to talk to. This kiddo is an only child.
Having said that, and pointing out that some of my step-parenting rules are pretty relaxed, it was very strange being at a table with kiddo's mom and step-dad, who parent him in a completely different way. His step-father is a multiple felon who has spent time in prison. He goes male-ego, then corporal punishment. He's very much a "woman, go make me a sammich, and fetch me a cold beer" dude. For the kiddo, that means that being a man is the most important thing in the world. Don't cry, only pussies cry. You fell off that scary loud motor bike I bought you to show you how men play? RUB SOME DIRT IN IT. Dogs are for protecting my property, not for cuddles. Any other protection I need comes in the form of closed circuit tv cameras all over my property. I can't have a gun because I'm a felon, but I probably do anyway. And thanks to the those prison tattoos, I have hepatitis, so I scored a card so I can grow my own. Don't worry, my pit bulls will guard my grow room.
While he step father is easy to sum up in a paragraph, his mother is a bit harder for me. Don't get me wrong, I could say plenty about her. I have a lot of details that I could spew, but I have a hard time with that. I guess it's because I love the kiddo so much, and I had a less than stellar relationship with my own mother, and I don't want to think that the kiddo is going to have to deal with that as well. I can sum it up by saying that she seems happy to be "the little woman". He calls her that, in fact. I say she "seems", because I have enough experience with abuse that I recognize that sometimes, the "seeming" is what allows you to get through the day with your abuser. If she were less pushy and snotty in general, I would think that she was being submissive to avoid violence. But she is SO pushy. She pushes everyone. Kiddo, Rob, her own stepfather. She hasn't tried to push me yet, and god help her if she ever does.
So all this word salad to explain the dynamic at the table at the kiddos birthday.
Rob and I got there first. On time. They sauntered in 20 minutes late. They live five minutes from the restaurant, Rob and I live about 25. Kid sat between his dad and his step-dad. Mom sat across from him, I sat at the other end of the table, next to Rob. Step-dad ordered his mothers and his food. Rob and I each ordered our own. Rob and step-dad proceed to "shop talk", as they are in the same industry. His mom paid attention to that conversation, I looked around the restaurant. Kid is dying of boredom, and asks me for the kindle he knows I have in my purse. His mother grunts "No, we are here to visit." I did not see the kid smile again the entire night. Instead he was fidgeting and getting yelled at by his step father.
There are more details, of course. I'm having particular trouble tonight keeping my writing tight. Well, as tight as I can normally keep it, which is not very tight at all. I'm tired, and I'm stressed out, and ok, I'm going to admit it, I took an advil PM just a little while ago.
Anyway, the holiday concert was just as interesting. It was pretty much the same thing. Rob and step-dad started shop talking. His mom started talking to another mom. This time, I just went straight for the kid. We had a nice conversation, talked about what we will do tomorrow when he is here with us. He then went and started helping his teacher break down the chairs from the audience, stacking them on the carts. He didn't even have to be asked, he's a good kid.
I joined the adult conversation for a few moments, was informed by step-dad that I shouldn't worry next time if he's going to be a few minutes late getting home (we had "an episode" a few weeks ago, but I'm pretty sure that the kiddo told the story wrong. I'm pretty sure that I allegedly was upset at Rob and kiddo because I was taking kiddo home and he wasn't ready to go when it was time, but REALLY I was angry because I too was very tired and my "stomach hurt", was taking kiddo home because Rob had had less sleep than I, and I wanted to take him home so I could go to bed. All the men failed to understand that one. hmmmmm). I smiled politely and changed the subject.
On the way home, Rob taught me how to sing like the lead singer of Metallica which was the most hilarious thing ever. He adds syllables to words. "remainssssssssssUH". We should start our own band. I can be the lead singer. We'd make SO. MUCH. MONEY.