The past while, I’ve been posting a lot on various issues, but this is actually a personal blog, and today I’m going to dash off in that direction – partly because I want to get this down while it’s still fresh in my memory, just in case I need to refer back to it in the future! Plus, I have my friend’s permission to regale people with it. LOL
I’ve posted before about a friend of mine who is in long term care. Thankfully, she has been able to move to a new care centre that is a whole lot less stressful than where she was before. On the down side, it’s brought up some issues in regards to seeing her children. Not the location – that’s another improvement. The problem lies with her X. He now has to *gasp* take TWO busses to bring the kids to her, so it’s a longer trip. Not that he has anything else to do with his time, what with not making any serious effort to get a job or anything.
Now, my friend had primary custody of the kids before she ended up in long term care. Since then, the kids have been living with their dad, but she had not given up custody of them. Without going into detail, there is a court order that says he has to bring the kids to see her three times a week. He’s also supposed to bring the kids TO her, but if she’s not in the lobby waiting for them, he refuses to go upstairs. Nor will he allow them to go with any of the staff (whom they’ve gotten to know pretty well by now). Keep in mind that my friend is a quad, and sometimes she is simply physically unable to get to the lobby for one reason or another. Even so, if she’s not there, he will simply take the kids back home again.
Just to be clear. He will take transit for something like an hour in total to deliver the children to their mother, then turn around and drag the kids back home again without seeing their mother, because he won’t take an elevator and go to her unit if she’s not in the lobby, despite a court order that says he had to deliver the girls TO their mother at a specific time.
Yes, this is relevant to my story.
Here’s where it gets complicated.
This guy’s from Egypt and he recently found out that his father is on his deathbed. He wants to go back to Egypt to be with his father, which is understandable. My friend asked me if we’d be willing to take the girls for a few weeks while he was gone, which we are more than happy to do. Their dad, in all the years he’s been in Canada, has developed no friendships or any sort of social circle, so he’s got no one to ask. His response to her arrangements was to come up with a “legal” contract that he wanted me to sign before he’d allow me to take in his kids while he was gone. “Legal” is a rather loose term since, the moment he leaves the country, my friend becomes sole guardian until he comes back, which means all parental decisions would be hers and hers alone. Anyhow, his initial contract was so ridiculous she refused to even pass it on to me without major changes. Among the things he wanted was that I was not to take the children outside the “borders” of our city. He also added that I was authorised to take care, and make any decisions required, of any medical emergency needs UNLESS I was responsible for the medical emergency. So, if one of them fell down the stairs and got hurt, I’d have his permission to take them to the emergency, but if I pushed one of them down the stairs, I wouldn’t have permission to take them to the emergency.
Oh, and if I cancelled at the last minute, I would have to pay him $3,500 cash immediately to compensate him for it. Apparently, this is a common thing in the Middle East.
Also, I would not be allowed to sign any legal documents or make any other decisions in his name. WTF? Why would I even want to do that? I already don’t have any legal right to do anything in his name. It’s not like I have some sort of Power of Attorney or something.
Anyhow, I did see the original “contract”, but only because my friend showed it to me for a laugh. It was really quite insulting, but too ridiculous for me to actually be insulted. When my friend made changes to the document, he had a fit and said he wouldn’t go to Egypt to see his dying father after all.
Well, things have gone back and forth and there is now a version of the document that my friend is okay with passing on to me, which hasn’t actually happened yet. This is where I come to what happened today.
After texting some details with my friend, she asked me to call her ex to make arrangements. She was supposed to get the kids today. There was a puppet show at the library, which is just a few blocks from us AND basically right at the bus stop he would have to transfer busses at, so she asked him to meet her downtown with the girls so they could see the puppet show. She asked me to call him to bring the paperwork, and we would all meet and we could get this done and he could get his ticket, etc. (We’ll not get into how a guy with no job and on social assistance can afford to buy a ticket to Egypt at the last minute.)
I tried calling him a total of five times. Four times, there was no answer. The second time I tried calling, I got a busy signal. He simply wasn’t answering his phone. She had been trying to call him, too, but he wasn’t picking up (yes, he has caller ID, but no voice mail).
We were going to meet up at the library anyhow. Meanwhile, Eldest had gone out in the morning to stand in line and sign up for a spot in a local art festival (this will be her fourth year as a vendor in this festival). When she got home, she took me out to lunch so she could regale me with the happenings of the morning, so we left together early. When it got close to the time to meet at the library, we headed over and waited.
Knowing my friend and her situation, when she wasn’t there within a certain time, I went to look around to see if I could see her. Unfortunately, we were around enough noise that I didn’t hear my phone ringing, so when I got back to Eldest, there was a missed call and a message for me. She was at a particular bus stop and could I please meet her there?
Not a problem. Eldest and I walk over to the intersection and, as we draw near, we can see her in her chair at the bus stop up the street. I’m thinking, Great! Huh. That looks like a cop beside her.
As we get closer to the intersection, I can see that no, it’s not a cop beside her. That’s a security uniform. Wait. That other person… that’s a cop’s uniform. Gee. I hope this doesn’t have anything to do with my friend, ha ha!
We cross the street.
We see the girls (8 and 7) are already with her. And the police. And the security guard.
Oh, look. There’s the Ex, too.
What the heck?
As we come closer, I can see my friend talking to one officer, her Ex talking to another, there’s a security guard standing past her Ex, and the girls are looking rather upset. We rather tentatively say hello to my friend and the girls, then stand with them, wondering what the heck is going on. As I made eye contact with the security guard, he made a hand gesture at me. I got the hint. There’s a bus shelter sort of built into the building we’re standing beside, so Eldest and I suggest to the girls that they come and sit with us. Their mom tells them to go ahead with us. Her older daughter goes in with Eldest and I follow, but her younger daughter goes first to her father to double check if it’s okay with him.
This is something I’ve noticed before. Their behaviour is very different when he’s around, and not in a good way. We’re not the only ones who’ve noticed it, either.
So Eldest and I go into the shelter and sit down. Her younger daughter eventually joins us, but she’s crying. Turns out she was afraid the police where going to take them away.
We were able to cheer them up a little bit and distract them with conversation. Meanwhile, my friend is talking in French to one of the officers while her Ex is talking at another, while a third officer was taking notes. The security guys had to just hang around. In total, there were 4 officers and 2 security guards involved, though not all at once. After a while, the officer that was speaking in French came over to talk to me and the kids.
I have to say here that this guy was pretty awesome. He was great with the kids. He asked me a few questions about my being able to help my friend out and, if necessary, being able to get the kids back to their dad as required by the court order if necessary. As things dragged on, we were able to interrupt things enough to let Eldest take the girls to the library so they could take in the puppet show. Her older daughter eagerly left with Eldest, but the younger daughter turned back to her father, just as she did before. Her dad was busily making accusations about my friend (I couldn’t hear much, but apparently it involved a fair bit of swearing and him accusing her of lies), so when his daughter tried to get his attention, he pretty much ignored her. It wasn’t until her mom said for her to get her water bottle, which was among his things on the ground, that attention was broken, she got her water bottle, and then went to join Eldest and her sister to go to the library, and they were able to get to the puppet show on time.
Meanwhile, the police were able to convince the Ex to go along with things (I was still in the dark about a fair bit of this) and agree to meeting at this same bus stop at 4pm, when visitation with their mom would be done, and he could take them home. The paperwork he wanted me to sign had come up in discussion, too, and I mentioned that I had tried to call him several times this morning. He kinda sorta apologised for not answering the phone, in a “not my fault” way. My name didn’t come up on the caller ID, you see. It said “unknown name”, he didn’t recognise the number, and it was a Saturday, so he wasn’t going to answer an unfamiliar number. Also, it wasn’t prearranged for me to call him, so he wasn’t expecting me to call (how we were to prearrange a phone call on short notice – especially when he was refusing to answer calls from my friend, too – I have no idea), so he didn’t know to print out the “contract” and bring it along.
In other words, it wasn’t his fault he didn’t answer the phone, which means it wasn’t his fault he didn’t know to bring the paperwork for me to sign.
Over the next while, my friend was able to fill me in on what happened. She had talked to her Ex the night before, mentioning that she wanted to take the girls to the puppet show, which they were looking forward to. That conversation ended up with him yelling at her and hanging up on her. Together with other things I won’t go into here, she knew there would be issues. So, based on what time he arrives to drop the kids off normally, she reverse-scheduled the bus routes to figure out when he’d have to arrive downtown to transfer buses, then made sure she was ON the bus he had to transfer to. She even chatted with the driver to explain why she wasn’t getting off the bus as it went past the several bus stops he could possibly be using and letting him know what she was looking out for. She spotted him on the sidewalk with the girls, so she let the drive know she had to get off. Unfortunately, some woman with a stroller tried to get on the bus before the drive could lower the ramp so my friend could get off.
Then things got interesting.
As they were walking to the bus, her Ex saw the ramp going down and saw that she was on the bus. He immediately started to back up with the kids, who hadn’t seen her yet. Yup, he actually tried to get the kids away from the bus and her. My friend called out her older daughter’s name a few times. When she finally heard her mom, she yelled out “mom!”, and her younger sister then noticed her mother. However, their father was slowly backing them down the sidewalk towards the back of the bus.
Her Ex, however, was not a happy camper. He refused to release the kids to her. He even physically restrained them, holding them back from their mother. (Later, he accused her of telling the bus driver to not allow him on the bus.) The security guards happened to be walking by, so she asked them for help. They said they couldn’t get involved so, with things devolving quickly, she called 911. She mentioned her concerns for their safety, and that he had an abusive past (one of the reasons he’s an Ex to begin with). Since she called 911, the security had to hang around anyhow, which probably prevented things from escalating even further.
So that’s how the police became involved.
Her Ex continued to refuse to release the girls to their mother, claiming that the court order was for him to deliver them to her residence. That’s right. He wanted to take the kids all the way to the care centre, where they would have immediately had to turn around to take a bus back downtown. Plus, since my friend was *already* downtown, she would have had to take the bus back to her place with them, so that they could turn around and all 4 of them take the bus back to that exact same bus stop (at which point, they would probably have been too late for the puppet show). Meanwhile, the court order is for him to deliver the children to HER, which he refuses to do if it means he has to take an elevator and walk them to her unit anyhow.
This whole thing ended up taking about an hour at the bus stop, with myself and Eldest joining in about half an hour in.
We did have a great visit, though. Eldest got them to the puppet show, and their demeanor completely changed as soon as they were away from their dad. We were able to stay near the entrance and see the girls inside the room the show was held in, and they were having a blast. Even the younger one, who is normally less demonstrative, was laughing and taking part. After the puppet show, the older one went to look at books with Eldest while her sister waited her turn to use the washroom. That was enough time for her to find several books she wanted to take out. They didn’t have their cards, but my friend had their card numbers, so she tried to take them out. That’s when she found out that her Ex had a note put on their file saying that no books could be taken out without his signature.
Yup. The kids can’t even take out library books without him.
Because he was supposed to meet them in the area anyhow, my friend asked them to set the books aside for possible pick up later, and if they didn’t get picked up by the end of the day, to put them on hold.
After that, we made our way back to the nearby mall where she bought her kids some lunch, then we went to a bookstore and generally just had a great time hanging out. The kids are great fun to be with.
Eventually, it was getting close to the time to meet their dad, so we started heading out. As we got closer to the bus stop, we could see he was already there. My friend encouraged them to run on ahead to their dad, which they did. As soon as they reached him he, without making contact with any of us, turned his back to us and started walking away! No chance for the girls to say proper goodbyes or anything. My friend called one of them back because she’d forgotten her water bottle, but her Ex kept on walking, completely ignoring us. Her daughter heard and ran back, got her water bottle, then had to run to catch up with her dad. She was half way back before he noticed she was no longer with him and turned to see where she was. He was still very deliberate about not making eye contact.
What a petulant child.
Their dad, I mean. The girls are much more mature than their father.
What a ridiculous situation. It just blows my mind when a parent is so obsessed with getting their own way, to get back at their ex, that they don’t care how much it hurts their children. At one point, as we watched the police talking to their parents, the older daughter told Eldest that her parents didn’t argue before their mom ended up in the hospital the first time. Then they started arguing, and haven’t stopped since, and she didn’t know why. They are getting to an age, however, they they’re both seeing that there is something wrong with their dad. Seeing how different their behaviour is when he is around is concerning, too. There is clearly come psychological manipulation happening, there.
Well, whatever happens, I hope we do get to have them stay with us. During our conversation, my friend mentioned the possibility of it being for longer than 3 weeks, which is fine with us. Three weeks, three months, three years, we don’t care. Our home is open to them at any time.
I just wish their dad would grow a pair and be a man who takes responsibility for himself and his family, rather than scamming the welfare system while acting like a spoiled brat.