Irreverent Mama

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Penultimate installment.

Having driven her younger sister to my home in the middle of Saturday night, Zoe headed back to her dad's. She was to be back at university in three weeks; though she was not enjoying living there any more, it was, she decided, more trouble than it was worth to move out.

So on Sunday, back she goes, tells her dad where young sister is. He storms off again with the girlfriend. Monday, he returns, livid. Storms to Zoe, commences to screaming.

"I'm sick of you and your attitude! I'm sick of you turning the other two against me! You either change your attitude, young lady, or you can leave."

Zoe stood her ground. "I have nothing to apologize for, dad. I didn't do anything wrong." She moves past him, up the stairs to her room, to pack.

Grampa, who lives in a basement apartment, tries to intervene. "Come downstairs, and we'll talk," he coaxes, trying to calm his out-of-control son, who objects.

"If you're going to try to tell me I'm not doing right by my children, we have nothing to talk about!" Still, he does descend the stairs, and Zoe starts packing. Daniel is in his room, keeping his head down, hiding, no doubt, behind a computer game.

After packing for some time, Zoe decides to call me, let me know she'll be on her way, but her phone is downstairs and she doesn't want to enrage her father further by walking past him again. She goes to her brother's room, asks if she can borrow his phone.

She has barely returned to her room again, before dad is upstairs, still screaming - this time at Daniel! Daniel, who has had nothing to do with the furor. Daniel, who is a master at staying under the radar. Once again, it is grampa who steers screaming son away from his children. Daniel is now a little shakey, too. Zoe asks if he wants to come with her, but he says he'll just go to a friend's house until he returns to my home later that day. He doesn't want to do anything that will direct dad's rage at him.

The screaming continues, escalates. Zoe is now alarmed. She's seen her dad angry before, but not for this long, and when he came up to attack Daniel he had, in Zoe's mind, crossed from rational to irrational. What will happen when she's packed and ready to leave? She realizes she's too scared to leave her room.

She calls the police.

The dispatcher keeps her on the phone, dad screaming in the background the whole while, until Zoe is told, "The officers are at the door. Can you let them in?" Bolstered by the thought of big calm men waiting at the door, she braves the dining room in which her father still raves. There are THREE officers at the door. Two men, who go to the dining room to talk to raving father; the third, a woman, comes upstairs with Zoe as she finishes up her packing, gets the story from her.

A few minutes later, Zoe is finished and able to go downstairs. Grampa is now gone. Officers ask Zoe to step into the room. Zoe stands back against the farthest wall.

Officer: "Sir, do you know why your 20-year-old daughter is afraid of you?"


"Can you tell me why your daughter is crying, sir?"


A few more exchanges like this make it evident there is no calm and rational discussion to be had from this man. Zoe, who has no car, suddenly realizes she doesn't know how she's going to get her stuff to my house. She goes in search of grampa, not sure if loyalty to his son will allow him to help her, but what are her options? I can't come: my husband is out of town with our car. Can she use a police car as a moving van??

Grampa is not in his apartment, though. He's not in the main part of the house. He's not out front.

Grampa is out on the back porch, crying.

That was the most heart-breaking part of this whole affair. Grampa is such a nice man, a kindly, good-humoured, family-focussed, public service kind of man. The only mistake he ever made with his son is being too nice. He doesn't deserve this.

Grampa agrees to drive her. The screaming inside has finally stopped. The boxes and bags are shifted to the car. Ten minutes later, she's at my house.

Summary: two kids now live with me, the second achieved with much melodrama. What of the third? That can be the next, blessedly short, and final installment in this dreary tale.

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  • This post had me sitting on the edge of my seat, so tense! Your daughter had the courage to call the police..remarkable, strong and brave. How horrible for everyone. I am so sorry.

    By Blogger crazymumma, at 1:10 p.m.  

  • That's what her grampa told her. "You showed a lot of grit back there." She did. She impresses me so much.

    One of the reasons the marriage ended occurred when I realized, when she was about nine, that I was grooming her for an abusive relationship, just as I had been groomed by my mother. Not on purpose, of course, but every time I evaded a conflict by abasing myself, every time I allowed him to bully successfully, every time I asked the children to change their behaviour, when really it was daddy who needed to change -- all those things were teaching her that "this is how women interact with men".

    That brought me up short. Is that really what I wanted to be teaching my children?

    It took me a while to get myself financially able, but the marriage ended within two years of that moment of clarity.

    And now I see her able to do this, and I know that I made the right decision. It feels GOOD.

    By Blogger irreverentmama, at 1:30 p.m.  

  • I am so impressed with Zoe. Really, really impressed. And I feel so badly for Grampa. Will the kids be able to see him now?

    By Blogger Candace, at 7:20 p.m.  

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