After the movie on Saturday night, we were driving home and I was pointing out sights, one of which was a pool hall that I took my son to a month ago. Luke asked if I wanted to go, so we did. We lucked into seats at the bar directly in front of the TENNIS TV!
We'd both really enjoyed the movie and things were good, despite the military gate stuff from earlier. After regaling about too much tennis, I began talking about my son, something about his grades. During the parent-teacher conference, I learned that he's doing well this year, above grade in math, science and social studies. He's on grade in reading, as expected. I said to Luke that his reading, although it has improved, really frustrates me, because he'd probably be in the gifted program if he did better, that it's kind of a waste that he's not allowed to do the other subjects in the gifted program.
Luke replied bitterly, "Do you know how painful it is for me to hear about your normal son in light of my own? Do you understand how much I wish my son was getting good grades and able to do well in school?"
At birth, Luke's eldest had flat-lined and needed a c-section. Luke was told the boy would not make it, but he did. With years of therapy for his developmental delays, he has thrived, but he is apparently still a little slow, although I can't define that any more completely. He is reading on first grade level, right where he should be. Of course, I have not met the boy, but I know how hard Luke fought for his care (mom wouldn't even take him to the dr or therapist) and how successful Luke has felt with the progress. (Further, Luke's younger son has tested positive for a grave disease, but has not exhibited signs of it. From what I've read, it can come out of dormancy at puberty. It's not a picnic with either of his kids and it weighs heavily on him.)
But he had another thing coming if he thought I would roll over on that nasty comment to me about me talking about my son. I told him he needs to get a grip that I am not comparing kids. My son had a bad placenta and, if my water had not broken early, my son might well have the same or worse. Of course, Luke's take is that it didn't happen, so I didn't really earn that martyr's feather in my cap, my words.
Further, I told him he does not need to resent my son for being an agreeable, easy kid. Luke had lamented how my son is good in art, makes friends, plays sports, whatever and does things his son is not so good at, apparently. I honestly don't know how to read the filtered data I get about his boy - I'd thought that reading on first grade level in first grade is pretty good - my son read on K level for the first half of first grade.
Anyway, I told him that I've been through the resentful before. I had the good kid, ex-f had the bad one, as much as I hate such statements. My kid was easier to love even by ex-f and he was easier to be around and plan things around than a teenaged girl. So, for being easy and easy to love, my son was ultimately resented by ex-f. And if my son ever misbehaved, all hell broke loose in kind of an open season on the otherwise good kid.
I also told Luke proactively that he needs to wipe out resentment that he could potentially feel just because my kid is local and he could possibly be around my son more than his own. Will his loyalties be divided when he falls for my kid? How will this play for the holidays/summers when his kids are around? How step-childy could this become?
I told him that I will not stop talking about my son, positive or negative. I told him that his comments were out of line. Exasperated, he asked what could have been done better with his words, because he didn't see any other words to express his feelings. I said that he could just listen to me get out what I needed to get out and he could bring up his own line of discussion the next day so that it didn't feel like a comparison. I had the floor, I was talking about my son - he was the one bringing up his own. His agenda was not the issue at hand from my perspective. Apples and oranges.
So he asked if there was any better way to phrase his comment if he did not want to wait. I said there would have been a means of eliciting some empathy instead of hackles just by saying, "You are so lucky that your son is x,x,x,x and x. I wish the same for my son(s)." While this is not perfect (ie, I had the floor, so it would be preferable to redirect another line of comments to later), it would have gotten a little different response out of me. I do not want to feel deflated for bringing up my son.
Man, we sure have condensed some hot issues into this mini relationship of ours. And we still don't hate each other. In fact, Friday night after going to four bars/dance clubs and while we were still at the last one, he was gazing into my eyes (all total we had two drinks each, so it wasn't hazy gazing), he said, as he is prone to do, "I want to say things that I should not yet say."
We've both criticized the 'L word' and how it comes up too quickly. Guys will say it to me within a month or two. Luke said he recently got the "you would be so easy to love" comment on a second date. (Jeez, was she wrong! He's a PIA!) He feels strongly that anyone using the word too early doesn't really understand the emotion. So, we are both very conscious of not going there, not rushing further what has already been rushed.
He'll be gone 10 days in mid-December and then I'll meet his kids over Xmas. Absence and then combining kids, those will be the real tests.
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