Lindsey and I made the trip to Arkansas last weekend, without knowing exactly what to expect when we got there. She was interested only in seeing her beau, and I wanted to spend some time with Sarah. I had told her that I didn't feel right about allowing her to see the boyfriend behind the dad's back. While I don't agree with his tactics, I do not wish to undermine his authority. Nor do I wish to endanger the life of another human being. What's a mom to do?
We left Friday shortly after midnight and arrived at her dad's at 9:40 am Saturday. The first hour of the drive was spent passing the phone between us talking to Sarah and her dad. It wasn't pretty, although he didn't seem too upset that I was going to allow her to see the boyfriend. I guess he was too busy trying to convince Sarah that she should be afraid to get in the car with me. She went along with it, telling me that she would rather have her dad take her to Grandma's after he gets off work. Lindsey told her that she should be willing to spend 24 hours with her mom, especially since I had to drive 10 hours to get there.
I pointed out to Lindsey that she had told her dad she didn't want to see him, and she replied, "But, Mom, you aren't threatening to kill someone she cares about. She doesn't have a good reason not to spend time with you."
Sarah did change her mind about getting in the car with me, and we followed Lindsey and her beau to his mom's house. I wanted to visit with her to discuss allowing our kids to see each other only as long as there was adult supervision. She agreed, of course. I also let her know that if she felt it necessary to seek legal protection for her son, I would stand behind her decision. The dad may be bluffing, but there is no telling what he might actually do.
From there, we went to my mom's then out to dinner and back to my mom's. It was beginning to rain and the temperature had dropped below freezing, so I suggested that the boyfriend go on back home. Lindsey asked if he could stay the night, and I had to say no. She said she would sleep in the room with me, and he could sleep on the couch, but I didn't budge. So she called her dad and asked if she could stay the night with him. I took the phone and informed him that she wanted her boyfriend to bring her over. He said he didn't care how she got there. I told her to make sure it was okay with him if he came to get her for church in the morning. Again, he said he didn't care.
Sunday morning, Lindsey and her beau met me and Sarah at church. We decided to visit the little Baptist fellowship near my mom's house. The sermon was part of a series on the fruit of the Spirit. That morning, the focus was patience. The pastor talked about anger and the psychological damage that results from taking it out on your kids. I handed Lindsey a pen so that she could take notes on the outline provided, and Sarah surprised me when she took my pen so that she could fill in the blanks. I was pleased with both the timeliness of the message and my kids' behavior.
Sunday afternoon, we celebrated my sister's 40th birthday a day early, then we had to get going. Lindsey still had to get some stuff from her dad's house, and Sarah wasn't ready to come home with me, although she did promise to pray about it. Lindsey rode with her boyfriend to her dad's, and when we got there, Sarah and I went inside while the two of them said their goodbyes. The dad asked where Lindsey was, and I told him that she was in the car with her boyfriend. He said "he better not come in this house, or I'll pop a cap in him." I went back out to call Lindsey inside, and when I came back in, her dad had taken his pistol out and laid it on the bookshelf. A couple of things occurred to me. One, now this makes for an excellent illustration of today's sermon; and two, I wonder if this could be why Sarah is afraid to go with me.
Lindsey and I got back on the road, and we talked almost the entire trip, when she wasn't on the phone with her fella. They both said they liked church, and what Lindsey told me next sent my heart soaring. She said, "You know how you're always listening to the sermon and trying to see how it applies to you? Well, I did that today, Mom. That stuff the pastor said about anger made me realize that I need to work on my temper."
Sometimes they do pay attention.