Thank God it’s nearly over. Nearly two weeks of spring break for my children. It seems like everyone else is out of town: Europe, the Florida Keys, Disney World, Mexico, Vail, Breckenridge, Aspen, Steamboat, and all sorts of islands like Kiawah, Hilton Head, and Bermuda. The list goes on and on. I know this because it’s all over Facebook.
The voyeur in me usually enjoys Facebook vacation photos, in limited doses, but this week they just make me irritable. They make me wonder mean things like, “Why do you insist on calling it Breck instead of Breckenridge?” and “Why did you bring your nanny to Disney – does she have to stand on line for you?”
And then there are the skiing brags: My son has mastered the back scratch and is working on the 360! My child has “won the gold” at Aspen! Hard to believe my four-year-old is already skiing the blue trails! (At Breck, of course.)
I had no idea that my southern city was home to so many young Olympic hopefuls.
Or that this would make me so bitter.
My children, who won’t make the U.S. ski team thanks to our divorce, custody battle, and financial armagedden, did get to visit my parents’ home for a few days – in between my job interviews. It was a relaxing visit, and my children got to spend time with their grandparents, and their aunt and uncle. They were happy.
And then soon-to-be-ex called. “But what did you do today?” he asked, over and over again. The children would list their activities: the cool playground, basketball, dinner with their aunt and uncle, dinner at their favorite restaurant, waking up early to go to the diner for belgium waffles with their grandparents, a rock climb along the water.
But none of this impressed their father, who kept demanding to know why they hadn’t gone into the city in the rain to see all the sights. “But what else did you do today?” My children grew silent.
I won’t go into what I really think of this man who doesn’t support his children financially because he thinks he’s too good to get an ordinary job. Or what he did to them emotionally when he moved out and moved in with another woman and her child for the first 18 months of our Separation. Or why he won’t get the help he very obviously needs. (To say nothing of what he’s done to me.) I will just let it go and write that I hate when he calls his children and makes them feel bad about things that should make them feel good.
Tonight we drove back home in the rain. The children were great, and we had a two-hour spelling bee in the car. Unlike me, they never got bored of it. When we got hungry, we stopped at a Cracker Barrel restaurant. My children didn’t want to go there. And I started feeling sorry for myself and wondering what I have done so wrong in my life that I will probably never get to Nobu or Per Se after all. Ever.
But when we walked in, a sweet elderly woman gave my children some jelly beans. We were able to get a table right away. My daughter was thrilled with her food. My son, future restaurant critic, conceded that the friend chicken was “good.” And the biscuits thrilled me.
On the way out, we stopped at the restroom in the store. This is always a problem for me, since my son is nine, and I’m terrified of sending him into public restrooms alone.
My son does not share my fears. He barged in immediately before I could protest. A man was walking out, and impulsively I asked him if it was okay for my son to go in there alone. The man looked surprised, and then he told me that he would go back in and make sure.
“Oh no!” I said several times, embarrassed.
He smiled at me, and that’s when I realized that he was carrying his oxygen under one arm in a neoprene pouch. I have never seen anything like this before – it was so much smaller than my aunt’s huge oxygen tank.
He tapped my arm, firmly, and said, “If you have any problems, you just yell for me.” He looked around and looked at all the other locals waiting for their tables, “Or you just yell for anyone here.” And smiled again.
The tap was the strangest thing. I’m sure the guy taps everyone all the time, but for me it seemed to say, “Hey crazy lady, you can do this. It’s not that big a deal. It will be okay. And if you need help, you just yell out.”
Thank you, good man, wherever you are.