William is playing fall baseball this year. I love fall baseball...it's like a little bonus summertime before fall and winter roll in.
The two younger boys were with Big Daddy this weekend. Well, technically they were with him, but physically they spent the nights at friend's houses. They frantically arrange sleepovers on Big Daddy's weekends, for some reason they are loathe to spend too much time at "that" house.
So, William was over at our neighbor boy's house this afternoon. He and his friend spent some time here, and when the time for baseball drew near, I told William to just let his father know I'd take him to the game, seeing as he was right here and all.
Fine. It went fine. I saw several hens at the ball field, caught up with them, saw lots of kids from school, etc. It was a beautiful day, a little warmer than my fat ass enjoys, bit still, very nice.
William's game started and I settled in with another friend who has a son on the team. We talked a little bit about how things are going with the legal situation, she expressed mild horror and not-so-mild disgust when I filled her in on the latest developments. And then she asked, "Is he here?".
I shrugged (divorced ladies? This is when you know you're healing...you no longer scan the perimeter looking for him). I looked around, and then I saw him.
He had Spawn with him, and was gently, sweetly helping Spawn walk around, holding his little hands in his, bent over and smiling.
My first thought? It was something like "Ha! My kids walked SO much earlier than that. Obviously they get their large motor skills from me."
Second thought? "You fucker."
I watched him lead his little progeny around and I thought about my kids. His "other" kids. I thought about Charlie, who is experiencing a kind of scary emotional backslide as of late, and who tearfully told me a couple days ago that he had sent his father a vicious, berating text telling him exactly how he felt. I thought about Molly, who was at work that day, making gyros and felafel for the suburban Minneapolis population. She hasn't seen her father since June, for Father's Day. And before that? Christmas 2011.
I thought of Henry, the sweet child who recently shared with me that I'm his hero.
And William. William was out on the field, the place he's so comfortable, the place he feels so at home. I thought about the fact that Big Daddy is refusing to help pay for hockey this year. For a while it looked like William wouldn't be able to play, but then She Who Has No Pride Left (me, doy) contacted the head of the hockey league, explained my situation in great detail, and got my boy a scholarship in exchange for promising to volunteer most of the season in the concession stand.
I wondered how much daycare costs...I honestly have no idea, but I have to guess it's in the $12-$15,000.00 a year range. And then I thought about how much Big Daddy has paid in child support since September of 2008 (I'll give you a hint: it's about $12-$15,000.00 less than that).
I watched that turd of a man walk his little boy around and thought about the text that Charlie sent his dad. He told him, for the first time ever, how abandoned he feels, and has felt, for the past several years. He told him how broken he felt, how he feels as though his own father has given up on him. He congratulated his dad on his fabulous taste in women, and expressed exactly how he feels about his stepmommy. He swore and said things that he probably shouldn't have, but at the same time, they were things that absolutely had to be said.
He closed it with this: "I hope Spawn gets on the varsity hockey team."
(I, personally, would have said I hope he sucks at hockey, but that's just me)
As my friend and I sat there, watching our boys play baseball and every so often glancing over at that son of a bitch with his own little son of a bitch (the former a figurative SOB, the latter, literally), we talked about how bizarre it was. How very surreal it was to see this man, this graying, aging man frolicking about with a one year old. How strange it was to see him express such tenderness towards a child, when there are four other kids who have, for all intents and purposes, been denied that very same tenderness. That closeness.
The game ended, and my friend and I watched as Big Daddy scooped up his yearling and all of the baby gear. We wondered, out loud, if he'd walk past us and by golly, he did...eyes straight ahead, child held firmly to his chest (just in case I tried to eat its soul as they passed, I guess). He collected William for the remaining 3 hours of his visitation and we watched them walk down the path ahead of us, William looking back at me with that heartbreaking expression on his face, the expression that says "I wish my parents didn't hate each other."
My friend gave me a supportive smile, and we both exchanged gee-this-couldn't-be-more awkward looks. And then she said:
"He looks so stupid with that diaper bag."
You know what? She was right.
He did look stupid. And not just because of the diaper bag.