August 7, 2011

"Gee, and Since Your Break-up He Has Only Said Nice Things About You."

Most people understand that being a parent is never going to be easy nor predictable. There are things that one can prepare oneself for: the usual steps in development, the need for setting boundaries, children's dislike of vegetables etc. So in a way, expecting the unexpected has a certain amount of certainty, if I can put it that way.

As mentioned previously, JD is now 13 and has entered high school for the first time. This year has brought about some significant changes in his behaviour, his attitudes and a considerable need to be cool. Additionally, he has for the first time had a serious girlfriend. The two met in their first week of high school and were together for six months. I was a little baffled but pleased by the length of JD's first relationship. With JD being so "new" at the whole relationship thing, I was expecting him to go through a series of girlfriends before settling on just one. In fact, the reverse has happened.

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The one thing I hadn't expected as a parent, was that I might be confronted by one of his ex girlfriends and I was therefore completely unprepared for the experience. Out shopping one evening, his ex turned up in front of me and began telling me about the negatives of his current behaviour towards her and added that his then short-term girlfriend was "frigid." 

Non-plussed I could only really stare at her in stunned silence as she talked at me, hoping desperately that she was not going to divulge something completely inappropriate. When she stopped to take a breath in this one-sided conversation (which felt like it went on for an eternity), I muttered something about JD still being only young, especially when it came to relationships and that he still had plenty of time to mature. I hoped she would get the hint and move off, but she kind of hovered as if expecting me to take sides with her and bad-mouth JD.

I said nothing more for a moment, and then finished with "Nice to see you," and made a move to walk away. 

She seemed reluctant to leave, and appeared to be prepared to follow me. I didn't look behind me because I thought she might take it as a sign that I wanted her to talk some more.

How can one prepare oneself for such a confrontation? I think there should be an entire chapter in the Parenting Manual dedicated to dealing with children's exes, or at least have a few choice phrases one can use to get away from them, for example:
Say "Gee, and since your break-up he has only said nice things about you." 
Point, look behind them and say, "Isn't that him/her now?" Then when they turn to look, take the opportunity to run for your life.

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