Co-parenting with my ex.

Probably not. But arguing the fact with her doesn’t seem like a solid tactic right now. If anything she will just insist that I be the one to wear the mask during the 32 hours she’s with me.
 
I mean, doing that would definitely demonstrate your commitment to her safety, sooo...

--Patrick
A commitment but to what end? The effectiveness of my mask would fade the longer I am in close contact with her anyway. Plus it seems like it would be just giving in to my ex’s need for control.
 
Things have not progressed well. Currently my ex is refusing to allow the week vacation I had planned with Hailey on the grounds that we never made a formal agreement to it.
I have been asking for this vacation for quite some time. During COVID it would be completely just for the time with Hailey as we will not be going anywhere or seeing anyone, but a week with Hailey under any circumstances is exactly what we need. I have been asking Sarah about it for quite some time now who has basically told me it is a possibility. In late October we finally received Sarah's proposal for the divorce judgment (which took her 7 months to do), which did include the week vacations during Hailey's winter and summer breaks as I have requested. After meeting with me my lawyer sent our proposed changes to the order on November 5th. It has been over a month later and Sarah has yet to provide any response to those changes. She is now claiming that because there has not been a formal agreement to the winter break vacation that it doesn't have to occur. As "correct" as she is, it still is heartbreaking that she is procrastinating past the deadline to basically ensure I do not get my vacation week with Hailey this year.
 
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The Drama Train has pulled up to the station.

Sarah just informed me that Hailey has another fever this morning. I last saw Hailey on Sunday, but Sarah made it very clear in her message today that Hailey also coincidently complained of a headache on Tuesday night.
Myself and my roommates are completely fine.
 
Hailey's test supposedly came back negative. I say "supposedly" because I asked my ex for a copy of the test results. She sent me the results from last month's scare instead. I've informed her of the "error" and asked her to send the new one, but she has yet to reply. I have confirmation that she read the email however. Not sure what to think here, but I would not put it past her to fake a covid scare with Hailey to try and get her point across about postponing visits.
 
Hailey will be over for a week starting Sunday. We're going to learn some recipes together, making gingerbread cookies, and basically having a second Christmas.

Meanwhile my ex and my divorce negotiations have hit a snag. She is disputing on some terms of hers that I agreed to. Basically my lawyer made it clear that we are not happy with the terms, but we are agreeing with them for the sake of cooperation and keeping things moving. Despite those words not being something that would ever go in the final judgement she is going to fight them being said at all. Honestly I don't get it.
 
Hailey and I had a good week. Didn't venture out much due to Covid but we made the most of being stuck at home. We baked Gingerbread cookies together, prepared meals, binged Gravity Falls, and watched a few films. On the last night with me we drove up to Six Flags where they had a drive-thru light show.

Her mother, of course, emailed me after her drop off with a few "concerns". At least this time they were politely worded (last time she openly accused me of taking credit for gifts that Hailey had received from her for Christmas). One of which was that I did not allow Hailey to call her when she asked. I'm not like Sarah in this regard. I don't let my resentments of Sarah affect Hailey in any way. If Hailey wanted to call her mother I would absolutely allow it. The problem was that Hailey never asked. So now it's either Hailey is telling both her mother and I different things (possibly to make sure neither of us feel bad), or Sarah is either mishearing/exaggerating things that Hailey is saying. Both are very possible. During my marriage Sarah was a master of "mishearing" people. I can remember plenty of instances where I was told of some terrible thing that some person we knew had said about her or about me, but I was forbidden from following up on it. Especially in situations where following up was necessary (such as when she claimed my decade-long friend had touched her inappropriately).

I'll gently ask Hailey about the comments when I see her again. I'll just ask if she did indeed ask me about calling her mother and somehow I missed or misunderstood it. Regardless of her answer I'll remind her that she can always ask me in the future and I'll always say yes.

I hate that I'm the only one of us that wants Hailey to have a good relationship with both parents. It feels like a lost cause walking the high ground sometimes.
 
Today I received a message from Sarah regarding our daughter. She tells me she is "concerned with the amount of TV and games I allow Hailey to watch/play when over at my place every other weekend. She has implied that my "lax" rules have made our daughter difficult to deal with when she is home with her, including walking away from her online learning to play outside or on other sites. She has apparently been enforcing 30 minute max electronics time on weekdays and 1 hour max on weekends that Hailey can earn by doing schoolwork and chores. But, in a quote to me, she said Hailey said the following " She also said that she does not care about earning TV back because she will just go to your house and watch TV, play video games, and sit on Youtube the whole time." My ex tends to overexaggerate situations so I can never tell when a situation she has described as accurate. I've reached out to Hailey's teacher regarding the claim that Hailey isn't paying attention during online classes but I haven't heard back from him yet.
When Hailey is at my place she is very well behaved, listens, and has never once argued with me or had a temper tantrum of any kind. Of course my situation here is a bit different. At home with her mother she also lives with her step-dad, step-uncle, and 4 siblings of ages 11 and younger. When she is here I spend the majority of the time with her (since her time with me is so limited). We watch her favorite shows together, we play her favorite games together. But we also have dedicated "screen free" times where we go on walks, play board games, do crafts, and read.
I've attempted to work with my ex by offering to include some additional "screen free" time and come up with some little chores that our daughter can do while she's here with me.
If my ex were anyone else I'd probably be more concerned about Hailey's behavior, but knowing my ex as well as I do I can't help but feel like the situation has been exaggerated to twist blame in my direction for our 8 year-old acting like an 8 year-old.
 
Just saying this as an outside observer - it sounds like she's acting like an 8 year old that has probably less time with her mom with that many people in the household vs the time she gets to spend with you doing stuff in your much limited time together. If your ex is complaining about a "rebellious attitude" at 8, whatever is she going to do when your daughter becomes an actual teenager? (for some context of this post, my wife and I are still together, but our son is going to be 13 this year and is generally starting to be a teen in that type of attitude for a large portion of time)
 
I think it's good you reached out to her teacher. They can give you a far more accurate idea of how Hailey is handling her online learning and where she might need extra help or boundries. Otherwise, it does sound like an 8-year-old being 8, and lost in the shuffle of a busy household.
 
Just saying this as an outside observer - it sounds like she's acting like an 8 year old that has probably less time with her mom with that many people in the household vs the time she gets to spend with you doing stuff in your much limited time together. If your ex is complaining about a "rebellious attitude" at 8, whatever is she going to do when your daughter becomes an actual teenager? (for some context of this post, my wife and I are still together, but our son is going to be 13 this year and is generally starting to be a teen in that type of attitude for a large portion of time)
I absolutely see it. In fact I saw it when Sarah and I were still together. We had issues with the kids. Sarah seemed to think the issues were worse than I thought they were. But yes, any issues we had seemed very clearly based (at least partially) on the fact that it was she and I taking care of 4 young kiddos and overextending ourselves. When we separated my ex immediately brought in the new boyfriend and within a few months had In Vitro Fertilization to get pregnant with her 5th child. So not only did the problems likely persist but they likely have gotten worse.
When Hailey is over I can give her that attention, because now she's the only kid in my life.
My ex seems to think that means there are "no rules" at my home. Which isn't the case. Just right now Hailey doesn't have a lot of chores or responsibilities at my place. She cleans up after herself, helps me with dinner when able, and is polite and behaves wonderfully.
But I do not in any way want Hailey to feel that one home is better than the other. I know Sarah loves her, but yeah its probably not always obvious to an 8 year old.
 
If one house is "the place where I get attention from dad and I get to pick the games/movies/series we play/watch, and I can be at ease" and the other place is "where I'm forced to do chores the whole time for a bunch of kids I don't care about, and nobody listens to me and I just have to keep my head down", of course she's going to feel one's better than the other.
Mind you, that might as well be one house "the place where i'm stuck all alone with my dad and there's nothing interesting to do and he's always busy and I just wait around" vs "the place that's always full of life with a bunch of kids to play with, lots of interactions, always stuff going on and new things to do". It's not necessarily "being a single child" that is more or less fun than "being in a group" (I never got the impression any of @strawman's kids didn't feel loved and at home - whhile my niece, who's an only child, is pretty vocal in how she doesn't fel appreciated because neither of her parents actually spends time with her) . It's also partially down to personality, and how authority and tasks and time management are handled on both locations.

Parenting, especially co-parenting, isn't a competition, or at least it shouldn't be. In the best of cases - which yours is not :-P - it can be a cooperation and everybody can help develop talents and give the kids homes they enjoy. In the worst case, it's a constant competition for being the "best" parent and the "good guy" (/woman). She clearly needs it to be the second - and doesn't like to lose. Tough on her.

Obviously, you should take care that it doesn't just become "when I'm over at dad's place, I can do whatever I want, it's happy fun time, no rules! Whoo!". When my nephews or nieces stay over here, it's easy for us to allow them more freedom etc than they have at home - they're only here for one or two weekends a year, it's a treat, we're going to the zoo and museums and whatever. As a co-parent, that's a trap to avoid...But from what I've read and heard so far, I think you're doing a pretty good job of avoiding it.
 
I think my ex is absolutely confusing "no rules" with "fewer responsibilities". When Hailey is over she doesn't have homework with her. She's not attending class. She doesn't have a room to clean up. And honestly I think it would be unreasonable to ask her to vacuum or clean a room in the house if she doesn't live here more than every other weekend. Currently I only ask of her to clean up after herself and help me with cooking and dishes whenever possible. All of those things she does with no issue.
If I take anything from this its that I absolutely do not want Hailey to disrespect her mother or lax on her responsibilities at home. First I have to ask Hailey for her perspective on things (because its hard to tell what Sarah is just exaggerating) but from there I can hopefully have a good discussion with Hailey. If Hailey is to continue having fewer responsibilities at my place than at her own home (for the reasons I gave) then I think its fair she understands she can't use that to push back at her mother.
 
Spring break is coming up. I thought maybe I could ask for a second overnight (Sunday) this coming weekend, so asked a week in advance. Sarah replied and said she had plans Monday and Tuesday. I asked if it would be possible to drop Hailey off Monday morning in time for those plans. Was told she wants to leave early (7:30am) and didn't want to rush Hailey out the door. I asked if maybe, due to the special occasion of Spring Break, that I pick her up Friday after school. No reply until a few days later.

"You can take her on Monday. I just canceled my plans. I will tell you that this is very frustrating for me that you request short notice changes and then are basically requiring that I cancel plans that I made months ago to accommodate your wants. You were aware of this schedule and if this was something you were interested in you should have mentioned it in a timely manner. I am upset by this. Additionally I am requesting that Hailey not have any electronics time at your home this weekend. She is grounded from electronics as she went off and played during school. Since you are taking her this is now a request that you must follow up on. No electronics this Spring Break which includes your home."

I never asked her to cancel anything. I was hoping for some extra time as a curtesy and nothing more than that. I don't know if the two alternate options I asked were too much, but when she shot them down I never argued it.
When I referred to the "grounding" in a reply back she corrected me and said it was a "loss of privileges" and never a "grounding". Called the electronics free weekend a request but made it a demand in a single sentence "Since you are taking her this is now a request that you must follow up on". No say in it. Just what she says goes.

I mean two days without electronics isn't a big deal or anything. I don't have as much to do at my place but we'd manage for two days. I initially told Sarah we could make it happen. But then I started asking questions about why Hailey was losing privileges for an entire week when, personally, I think a week is a pretty long time for an 8 year old.

Sarah answered a few questions for me. She told me that Hailey wasn't physically leaving the computer but was switching to a browser to play games. When I asked if we had her on parent controls Sarah specified that the games were the educational games on the school site she uses for her classes. So I guess she could get bored and start playing one of the games, like a kid doodling in class or daydreaming. After those few questions Sarah shut me down and told me

" I have answered all required questions and what you do in your house is up to you. I requested that she be restricted in your home as you have her this weekend for extended time as this was requested last min and was my time and thus has impacted my family and my agreement already in place with Hailey. Now that is the only reason I requested this of you. No further communication is required on this topic as it was already resolved"

After speaking with Hailey's teacher today I got the impression that Hailey does well, has an infectious enthusiasm, loves to read and participate, and yeah can be found being distracted at times. He also mentioned that he felt one of the issues was that its such a busy house over there (3 adults, 4 kids, and a baby) that Hailey doesn't have privacy that provides the best suitable working environment. But, with a nice set of headphones that the school is about to donate to her, hopefully it makes a difference. Her teacher was also going to reach out to Sarah to make some recommendations.

So after this I thought about it, and I wrote the following back.
" Since we are in agreement that it is my home and my rules I will let you know that I have decided on allowing Hailey some electronics time within reason during her normal visiting time with me. I have spoken with Hailey's teacher and received some good information including links for Hailey's independent learning work. Per his recommendation we're going to spend 15 minutes or so on that per day. There will also be the reading time and extended screen free times that I initiated during her last visit. You had intended for Hailey to be electronic free upon returning home from my place originally so, if you still allow Hailey to stay until 10am on Monday, there will be no electronics for her beginning 6pm on Sunday evening to begin her electronic free week as you intended. "

Sarah is going to flip for sure. Probably accuse me of not co-parenting with her. Accuse me of undermining her authority in this situation.

Originally I was going to go along with the electronic free days but then I started worrying about a few things. Sarah didn't demand that I take away electronics until she begrudgingly gave me more time. She was clearly frustrated in her tone in that email. I started to wonder 1) would she had said anything about the "loss of privileges" if I didn't ask for anything? and 2) is it possible this punishment was more fueled by Sarah's hatred of me than off of anything that Hailey ever did?
It also doesn't help that this is yet another matter that Sarah has decided she is the "rule maker" and I am the "rule follower". She complains I don't co-parent but I barely get a say in anything that goes on with Hailey's life unless I really pester the hell out of her about it.

I think I could have worded my email a bit better but, with all of these worries about what this is really about I can't bring myself to punish Hailey with it.
 
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It's been well-documented that your ex needs control over everyone and everything at all times, so it wouldn't surprise me if she didn't have plans in the first place. Most likely someone in the household pointed out that letting Hailey spend time with you would mean one less kid they need to watch/entertain for a few days, and she had to find a way to not let it seem like you were "getting your way" without some "suffering" on her part. Just a guess, here.

So, since your ex has proven not to be the most reliable narrator, I think you reaching out to Hailey's teachers, and making sure you are on any mailings, is something you're going to have to do from now on. I've noticed in a lot of cases of divorce, it's assumed that the father will be taking less of a role in the child's life (which is a whole other issue, but I digress) and everything falls to "Mom". You don't have to fill the teachers in on all the drama of your ex, but just reach out to them and say since you are co-parenting, please copy you on class notifications or any emails concerning Hailey. You want to stay up-to-date on her schooling even if you don't have her every day. It will benefit everyone in the long run, except maybe your ex, who likes to create her own version of things.

She told me that Hailey wasn't physically leaving the computer but was switching to a browser to play games. When I asked if we had her on parent controls Sarah specified that the games were the educational games on the school site she uses for her classes. So I guess she could get bored and start playing one of the games, like a kid doodling in class or daydreaming.
I have yet to hear of the child of Hailey and Li'l Z's age group that DIDN'T do this at some point. As diligent and responsible as he has been about online learning, there were a couple of times I caught Li'l Z switching over to the school-supplied math games or the virtual library when things got a little boring. The result was he lost tv in the afternoon on those days. There was one time he lost his weekend nightime Switch privileges because I caught him playing math games and doing the bare minimum on his creative writing. But he also doesn't have a full household, so I can see that how that can contribute to Hailey losing focus.
 
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Honestly, I'm pretty sure 95% of all adults on telework/remote work/home working have at some point read an article, played a game, checked Facebook ,or whatever during a meeting or a boring call. I know I most definitely do.
I mean, it's not behavior to be encouraged, I get that, but it's not like playing a school-supplied math game is terrible. During some of the quieter moments at my work I was playing Diablo III on my PC just keeping an eye on my work computer so it didn't go into idle mode :rofl:
 
Honestly, I'm pretty sure 95% of all adults on telework/remote work/home working have at some point read an article, played a game, checked Facebook ,or whatever during a meeting or a boring call. I know I most definitely do.
I mean, it's not behavior to be encouraged, I get that, but it's not like playing a school-supplied math game is terrible. During some of the quieter moments at my work I was playing Diablo III on my PC just keeping an eye on my work computer so it didn't go into idle mode :rofl:
Hell, 90% of my time spent in meetings is this. I have spent so much meeting time in Freecell or Hearts it's sad.
 
Spring break is coming up. I thought maybe I could ask for a second overnight (Sunday) this coming weekend, so asked a week in advance. Sarah replied and said she had plans Monday and Tuesday. I asked if it would be possible to drop Hailey off Monday morning in time for those plans. Was told she wants to leave early (7:30am) and didn't want to rush Hailey out the door. I asked if maybe, due to the special occasion of Spring Break, that I pick her up Friday after school. No reply until a few days later.

"You can take her on Monday. I just canceled my plans. I will tell you that this is very frustrating for me that you request short notice changes and then are basically requiring that I cancel plans that I made months ago to accommodate your wants. You were aware of this schedule and if this was something you were interested in you should have mentioned it in a timely manner. I am upset by this. Additionally I am requesting that Hailey not have any electronics time at your home this weekend. She is grounded from electronics as she went off and played during school. Since you are taking her this is now a request that you must follow up on. No electronics this Spring Break which includes your home."

I never asked her to cancel anything. I was hoping for some extra time as a curtesy and nothing more than that. I don't know if the two alternate options I asked were too much, but when she shot them down I never argued it.
When I referred to the "grounding" in a reply back she corrected me and said it was a "loss of privileges" and never a "grounding". Called the electronics free weekend a request but made it a demand in a single sentence "Since you are taking her this is now a request that you must follow up on". No say in it. Just what she says goes.

I mean two days without electronics isn't a big deal or anything. I don't have as much to do at my place but we'd manage for two days. I initially told Sarah we could make it happen. But then I started asking questions about why Hailey was losing privileges for an entire week when, personally, I think a week is a pretty long time for an 8 year old.

Sarah answered a few questions for me. She told me that Hailey wasn't physically leaving the computer but was switching to a browser to play games. When I asked if we had her on parent controls Sarah specified that the games were the educational games on the school site she uses for her classes. So I guess she could get bored and start playing one of the games, like a kid doodling in class or daydreaming. After those few questions Sarah shut me down and told me

" I have answered all required questions and what you do in your house is up to you. I requested that she be restricted in your home as you have her this weekend for extended time as this was requested last min and was my time and thus has impacted my family and my agreement already in place with Hailey. Now that is the only reason I requested this of you. No further communication is required on this topic as it was already resolved"

After speaking with Hailey's teacher today I got the impression that Hailey does well, has an infectious enthusiasm, loves to read and participate, and yeah can be found being distracted at times. He also mentioned that he felt one of the issues was that its such a busy house over there (3 adults, 4 kids, and a baby) that Hailey doesn't have privacy that provides the best suitable working environment. But, with a nice set of headphones that the school is about to donate to her, hopefully it makes a difference. Her teacher was also going to reach out to Sarah to make some recommendations.

So after this I thought about it, and I wrote the following back.
" Since we are in agreement that it is my home and my rules I will let you know that I have decided on allowing Hailey some electronics time within reason during her normal visiting time with me. I have spoken with Hailey's teacher and received some good information including links for Hailey's independent learning work. Per his recommendation we're going to spend 15 minutes or so on that per day. There will also be the reading time and extended screen free times that I initiated during her last visit. You had intended for Hailey to be electronic free upon returning home from my place originally so, if you still allow Hailey to stay until 10am on Monday, there will be no electronics for her beginning 6pm on Sunday evening to begin her electronic free week as you intended. "

Sarah is going to flip for sure. Probably accuse me of not co-parenting with her. Accuse me of undermining her authority in this situation.

Originally I was going to go along with the electronic free days but then I started worrying about a few things. Sarah didn't demand that I take away electronics until she begrudgingly gave me more time. She was clearly frustrated in her tone in that email. I started to wonder 1) would she had said anything about the "loss of privileges" if I didn't ask for anything? and 2) is it possible this punishment was more fueled by Sarah's hatred of me than off of anything that Hailey ever did?
It also doesn't help that this is yet another matter that Sarah has decided she is the "rule maker" and I am the "rule follower". She complains I don't co-parent but I barely get a say in anything that goes on with Hailey's life unless I really pester the hell out of her about it.

I think I could have worded my email a bit better but, with all of these worries about what this is really about I can't bring myself to punish Hailey with it.
When she tells you fine, you can take her because I cancelled my plans, your reply should only be "Great, thanks."
 
In May a coworker has made important plans on what is my usual day of the week with Hailey. To cover for him they need me to come in several hours early.
I asked Sarah if it would be alright if I dropped Hailey off an hour and thirty minutes early that day so I could get to my shift on time.
She completely surprised me by asking if I wanted to pick her up earlier that morning so I still have the same amount of time with her.

Whenever she's nice like that I always wonder what the catch is.
 
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