As they drove away without a new putter, Will’s stomach started to act up.
Once they arrived home from that day’s dad visit, both kids unleashed.
“He doesn’t know anything about golf. Why is he telling me how to spend my own money?”
“Why do we have to go to his office for visits when he only sees us two times a week?”
“I’m never going on another one of these visits.”
Something happens when a boy straddles those years between the teens and being a young man. If you get out of his way, he’ll become strong, independent and forthright. He will test boundaries. He will assert himself. He will stand tall and speak his mind.
It’s a beautiful thing to see.
I saw Will texting back and forth with his father. He put the phone down, looked at Jenny and said, “I told him that we aren’t doing any more visits until they start getting more comfortable for us.”
Jenny said, “What’d he say?”
Will said, “He sent a text that said, ‘ok‘. That’s it.”
Jenny stared at her big brother with wide eyes. In an uncharacteristic move, she jumped up and ran over to give Will a hug and a kiss on the cheek.
Will said, “What’s that for?”
Jenny said, “For saving my life. Geez. I couldn’t have done that.”
A week later, the kids received a text from their dad inviting Will to go on an all-day fishing trip. Will declined because Jen wasn’t invited.
Almost two stress-free weeks later, I found the kids in a conversation about what to do for Father’s Day. They asked me for suggestions. I offered up a few. (You may be thinking that I suggested that they totally ignore their father on that day. Those accommodator grooves run deep. I suggested taking him to lunch or ice cream or making some cards.)
They agreed on a plan and Will texted his dad and told him they’d like to take him for ice cream – their treat.
The narcissist called back and said, “I have plans with your older brother.”
I heard Will say, “Ok, dad. Bye.”
Jenny said, “What’s the plan?”
Will said, “He’s doing something with Andrew.”
Jenny said, “Were we invited?”
Will said, “No.” He paused to put down the phone and said, “That hurts my feelings.”
Jenny said, “I know. It’s like you want to be with him only you can’t stand to be with him. And when he doesn’t want to be with you it hurts. I guess he wants to spend Father’s Day with his favorite kid.”
Will said, “Yeah, kinda like last year.”
Will stood up for himself. He found the courage to make a request for more comfortable visits. The narcissist heard that as a criticism. He will not be criticized by his son, therefore, he will dismiss both Will and Jen and align himself with the child that sources him in the manner he prefers.
For the time being, the kids won’t have visits.
You may be thinking that we are cheering and high-fiving. We have done a few fist bumps, but the kids are hurting.
As Jenny says, “It’s good to be done with visits, even if it isn’t forever; but it still hurts that he doesn’t want to try.”