Saturday, March 23, 2013

Overfilled oil in Indiana, Missouri Band Competition, and the Best Interest of the Child Standard

It's Sunday evening when Therin arrives from Kansas City for Spring Break. That's a complete three days after his release from school for said educational hiatus, although only from the structured type of education. I could have been incensed by this, especially if I perceived it to be flouting the schedule towards me. Both Therin and I learned of this change of schedule on Thursday. Such action is not consistent with the child custody order nor the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines schedule when distance is a major factor.

The social plans for the weekend were scrapped. Monday we made a trip to the Marion County Court House for the possible need of my testimony in a child custody case. While there Therin was able to visit with one of the judges he knows who has taken an interest in Therin's entertainment contract attorney ambitions. Monday evening was spent with a friend and then Tuesday was a day for the two of us. That evening presented an opportunity for bowling with a friend so we partook of that always fun activity at the Lebanon Bowling Center.

Wednesday morning was studying followed by our participation in a seminar about college success where we earned 2.5 hours of Continuing Legal Education Credits as an ancillary benefit I suppose. Thursday started early with an eight session seminar on various aspects of personal and business development as well as marketing. Each day also included at least a half hour of Therin practicing trumpet playing.

Friday morning arrives and I try to wake him early but to no avail. With only two hours before his mother has said she will pick him up to go back to Kansas City, he awakens. As my parenting time of four days plus a few hours either side of sleeping is about to end his mother has yet to arrive. But after an hour she does. The reason for leaving on Friday is not to appropriate an additional two days from Therin's time with me but is instead to return him to Missouri for his district solo and ensemble competition. The reason for her late arrival that morning was the fodder for a lesson that I regularly attempt to instill – all circumstances are positive when viewed that way. So here's the anecdote.

Therin, being recently accepted into the class of licensed drivers, offers to be the initial driver on the westward trek. His mother thanks him because she has a headache over worrying about the car. Upon my query I am informed that every time she has started it since being back home again in Indiana she smells smoke. Her sister had just topped off all the fluids [and then some] that morning in hopes of mitigating any potential problems -- thus the late arrival. Through a series of questions I diagnose the problem and also learned that her sister had added four quarts of oil to which I reply – No, No, No! The dipstick measures at least 1.5 inches over maximum. This is not surprising being that the vehicle is intended to operate on five quarts and would have seized had it only been operating on one up to that morning.

Without a low rise catch pan handy I just grab a pail and loosen the oil filter. After dripping most of about one and a half quarts of oil across my hands and arms towards an eventual settling in the catch pail the level reads just a touch above maximum on the dip-stick. The hot oil was actually soothing on the frigid Spring morning. I give the great Therin Alrik Showalter some instructions on what to do and then they are on their way.

I have no legal obligation to acquiesce the usurpation of my parenting time. A week ago she apparently worked Friday and her subsequent child had a church activity on Saturday. Long ago we had a high conflict divorce in which the child custody portion of the litigation was drug out nearly two years and continued after the final decree. There was parental alienation from both sides and, as anyone who has followed my past knows, judge Steve David tendered a travesty of justice to both Therin and me. Clearly, it can be said that I have no ethical or moral obligation to facilitate her indifference in scheduling. But today brings the instrumental competition for which Therin has practiced studiously, making it to the state level competition in each of the prior years. It also brings forth an obligation – a moral obligation.

That is an obligation that we share. To frame it as an obligation though is to miss what it is in the greater sense – an opportunity to gain fulfillment and joy from doing what is in the best interest of our child.

Had we still been the embittered, combative, resentful, vengeful . . . parents in title who were locked into a high conflict parenting battle then it is unlikely that she would have discussed the automotive issue with me or let me touch “her” car. Moreover, I could have laughed off her anxiety and let her deal with the problems. The problems would have become manifest before exiting the Hoosier state. Blown seals would have disabled the vehicle and stranded them. That would have produced a tangible result that is illustrative of high conflict or hostile aggressive parenting cases. Therin would have missed the district band competition. Yet, this is too often the consequence of child custody battles. Parents can focus solely on their “rights” or limit activities to proscribed “responsibilities” while missing the intangible harm – high conflict parenting and HAP harms children.

We don't do that though. We are not friends. We are not socially acquainted. We are far from being neighbors but at best are “neighborly”. We are parents. We are parents for life! The life of our son. We live to serve him. It is with this lens that we can be parents who are not engaged in conflict and ongoing litigation. The appropriation of my parenting time is a contemptuous act for which I could file a Motion for Rule to Show Cause and drag her back into the Boone County Court.

But this matter will be handled in a better way. Later I will broach the subject of complying with the court's parenting time order or in the alternative communicating deviations and making alternate arrangements.

It is fortunate that she got an anxiety induced headache. For had she not they would have been stranded in what is not “her” car but is the vehicle that is used to transport Therin to the band competition. It is being able to see the car in that new perspective that can give a high conflict parent the ability to serve his or her own interest. I like to see my son be successful in his pursuits.

By communicating and cooperating, by being neighborly, a circumstance was revealed that not disclosed would have resulted in Therin not being in competition today. His parents made it happen though because WE are his parents and WE enjoy the fulfillment of our lives through his satisfaction of his desires.

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