Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Divorce Thus Far, From S-Boogie's Perspective

They say that kids perceive things that adults might not notice, and these things tend to affect them. For the past month or so, things have been a little tense here in the Fob household, and I think S-Boogie has noticed.

There is no screaming at each other, no throwing of household objects (except once, long after the kids were in bed, and it was done very courteously, out the patio door so as not to make noise or hurt anyone), and really very little arguing. Jokes are made, games are played, and family trips to the store or library are as frequent as ever. Mealtime has been unusually quiet, as Daddy wonders how upset Mommy is with him at the moment but doesn't ask because he doesn't want to have that conversation in front of the children. Both Mommy and Daddy are a bit on edge, and Daddy in particular completely abandons his Lenten vow to not yell at his children, a fact he is not particularly proud of.

Four weeks ago today, the Fob family loads up the car and heads out on a trip. As they are leaving, Daddy tells S-Boogie to say goodbye to their apartment, as she might not see it again. She cheerily says bye-bye and talks about how they'll find a new home in Utah and a moving truck will come and bring all their stuff. Several days of travel ensue, spending long hours in the car, one night in a hotel, four nights at the Thteeds, and another night in a hotel.

First sign of distress: S-Boogie is excited to arrive in Utah and stay at Auntie Lika's house. That night, though, the Fob family is headed to a party at editorgirl's house. Daddy reminds her that editorgirl's house is where S-Boogie spent the night when Little Dude was born. "No," S-Boogie breaks down and cries, "I don't want to sleep at editorgirl's house. I want to sleep at Lika's!" Daddy explains that they are just going to editorgirl's for a party, and they will return to Lika's to sleep. S-Boogie has fun at the party, but at 8:30 declares that she is "very very tired" and wants to go home, which is highly unusual for her.

Things settle down a bit now that the Fob family is at Lika's house for a while. That weekend Mommy leaves with Little Dude and Grandma and Grandpa to attend a funeral in Wyoming while S-Boogie stays at Lika's with Daddy. The next day Daddy leaves on an airplane while S-Boogie goes to Auntie Marshmallow's house to spend the night with Cousin Baninga. This doesn't seem to bother S-Boogie, as she loves her cousin and has spent many nights there before. The next day Mommy picks S-Boogie up and they return to Auntie Lika's.

Second sign of distress: After several days, S-Boogie starts talking about how she misses Daddy. Occasionally, she cries. She talks with him on the phone, but that's not quite the same. For the first time in a couple months, S-Boogie has an accident. And then another. And another. And another, all within a couple days. Mommy buys Pull-Ups for nighttime and spends a day of one-on-one time with S-Boogie while Little Dude hangs out with Lika. This seems to help.

Daddy returns and everything appears to be okay. Mommy explains that we will be returning to our Seattle home, after all. We load up the car and hit the road again. Another two days of traveling and another night in a hotel. Finally, we are back home.

Back home, though, the tension seems higher than before. After two weeks of separation, the divorce is more of a reality and the jokes and casual conversation are sparser. Daddy is more keenly aware of the pain he's causing everyone and what he is giving up, and Mommy is stressed about finding a job. Mommy is still a little on edge and Daddy gets angry at S-Boogie about the stupidest things. Daddy is sleeping in the living room.

Third sign of distress: Yesterday while playing on the slide, S-Boogie has another accident. Daddy's assurances that it's okay, that even grown-ups have accidents sometimes, don't alleviate her trauma at having wet her pants again. Then again, at 4 this morning, S-Boogie wakes up with wet jammies and a wet bed.

Sigh. If regression in potty training is the extent of S-Boogie's problems we'll consider ourselves blessed, but the problem is that wetting her pants is most likely an outward sign of much worse things going on inside.


Chris said...

My younger daughter, who is 4, experienced significant toilet regression as we went through our own separation. She still has accidents periodically.

This is armchair analysis, but I suspect that some of what is going with S-Boogie is a loss of control. Control is a big thing for young children, and wetting is one way to exert it when they are lossing it in other areas.

But, hey, what do I know? What I can tell you is I understand very well how troubling it is to see you children in a state of distress. And it's doubly hard when you are stressed yourself and find it harder to cope with the daily grind of parenting.

Hang in there. Love those kids.

Kristeee said...

You might want to look into getting her some kind of outlet for her feelings - be it a counselor or a dog (not a puppy). With little kids, there are play therapists who are really good at helping them talk about their feelings . . . but my little brother (who was 7-8 when my parents separated) maintained that he didn't understand why people need counselors, because "that's what a good dog is for".

I continue to pray for you and your family.

Chris said...

Both my kids are in counseling, and they have a dog. So good advice above.

Lisa said...

Sometimes in divorce situations, the parents are more focused on by others and by themselves and children are not. I am glad that you both are noticing that "it" affects everyone. Kids need a lot of attention, love and reassurances. They don't really understand what is happening, they just feel it. As a young person (teen) I thought that my parent's divorce meant that I wasn't valued or worth anything. I just assumed that. It took me many, many years to realize that is not true. I like myself now regardless of other people's choices. Everyone has their own experience as a child of divorce...that was mine. I love S-Boogie and T-Dog very much and pray for them always. I pray for their parents as well! Te amo hermano.

Rebecca said...

S'up yo? *sigh* I just CANNOT get away with saying things like that. But really, I just wanted to say that you are great. I mean, I don't know you, but I clicked over from a link on -L-'s blog and I'm enjoying your blog so much (as much as it is appropriate to enjoy someone's public pain - which may not actually be appropriate at all, come to think of it). You and your family seem to have your heads screwed on well, and although I wish you the best I kind of feel that, coming from a TOTAL stranger, saying it is a little hollow. But I do.

I clicked on your link and read the article you wrote for Dialogue - well written. Very. I left the church about a year ago, but with my whole family in it I still have a vested interest in the goings-on (yes, I do realize you're no longer in, but the article is an insider's thing - as you know, since, um, yeah, you wrote it...), and anyway it's always nice to read something interesting. This is far too long, isn't it?

ecogrrl said...

Just to echo what everyone else has already said, the fact that you're both so attuned to your kids means that they're going to do as well as they can under the circumstances. It's really admirable that you can be so focused on them -- and don't be too hard on yourselves if that attention wavers sometimes. There's so much going on, and dealing with it at all is more than most of us could handle.

pinetree said...

Hey, Master Fob. I don't really know you, but I remember seeing you at the Smith Fieldhouse at BYU a couple times when you used to go with Tolkien Boy (I think that was you...). I just spent some time catching up on your blog. I'm so sorry about the divorce. I really feel for you and for your wife and kids. I'm also just saddened for gay Mormons in general. I definitely respect your decision. I think you should do what brings peace into your life. You can't live any other way. You seem like a really good guy. I understand it must be really painful.

I wonder about getting married myself lately. I don't think I can do the celibate thing. In fact, I'm pretty sure people aren't meant to be celibate, but who knows? I also don't know if I could make the marriage thing work like marriages are supposed to, and your situation and others like it definitely weigh down on my mind. It seems like every week or two I know of less and less healthy mixed orientation relationships. Do you think they ever work well? I mean, do you think that a mixed orientation relationship can be just as good as the best of same-orientation relationships? I wonder if that can be the case even between the most faithful of gay spouses.

I'm sort of going off here. I'm not very good at being articulate or concise. I really just intended to show some concern. I hope all this works out for you. Stay committed to things you know are good.

TK said...

As Lisa has already pointed out, your ability to be conscientious of the feelings and welfare of others - and even of the effect that the situation is having on you - at a time like this is commendable. Know that I continue to pray for the happiness of all of you.

Distinguishing Preoccupation said...


Just wanted to say, I'll keep you in my prayers. I can't imagine how difficult this all must be for everyone in your family and I am amazed at what people can endure. This must be intensely painful. Best of luck.


Sir Jupiter said...

I agree with Chris that control is very important to young children. When I was 9, I went through a period of *severe* constipation and had to get an enema at Children's Hospital.

Though my problem was the exact opposite (trying in my juvenile way to assert *some* control instead of outwardly manifesting my fear of losing it), I can at least assure you that it was a small stage of youth and that I grew up to be a reasonably well-functioning adult. I'm fairly optimistic that her trauma will pass as well.