There seems to be a trend that when I travel for business, my Ex seems to think that the sky has actually fallen. The world is indeed ending and nobody can put it right until I return home. As flattering as some might think that would be, I find it extremely annoying.
I got a frantic message as soon as my plane landed in Houston that our daughter was sick and I needed to to call him right away. So, I call:
Dad: Well, she only has a 99 degree temp but she says her throat is sore.
Me: Did you look at her throat?
Me: Tell her to say Ahhhh and see if it is red
Dad: I can't see any red
Me: Um, okay, I am in Houston so there's really not much I can do from here
Dad: Should I take her to the emergency room?
Me: Is she on fire, bleeding profusely or projectile vomiting?
Dad: No, very funny...I guess you don't think this is an emergency then?
Me: Nope, but if it makes you feel better, call the doctor and make an appointment. I would be willing to bet she is fine. If you are really that worried go ahead and take her in.
After the doctor visit, he realizes that he may have been bamboozled into keeping the daughter home from summer school. She is completely fine and is bouncing off the walls. Yep, she worked you Dad...
When I got back from Houston later that day, I went to pick up the daughter from Daddy and find that she is extremely okay (bouncing) when I get there. Daddy immediately starts explaining why his apartment is so messy and blames it on our daughter saying she leaves her toys everywhere and how hard it is to keep up with it all. I just about choked on my tongue trying to keep from saying anything mean.
First, most of the mess is his. I lived with him for almost 10 years and he is 100% a complete slob. Second, if you want the child to put away her stuff, ask her to do it and follow it up with some consequences if she doesn't. Daddy looks at me like I am speaking in an alien language that he does not understand. What? You want me to actually parent my child? I thought I was just here for the play time?
He actually had the gall to say to me that this was his first time being a parent and how should he know all of this stuff. I stood there with my mouth open. I think a moth flew in because it was open for so long. I counted in my head the number of children I have, umm...one. Then I confirm that the ONLY child I have is also the same child we are talking about before I calmly tell him that I am pretty sure this is my first time being a parent too. DOH!!
Contrary to popular opinion, just because your child does not live with you full time does not mean you are excused from parenting your child. You don't get to play push over while the other parent establishes and polices all of the rules. It is an age old syndrome where the non-custodial parent thinks they have to make up for only being with their children part time. No chores, no responsibility, no accountability, no rules. In the end, they are left also with no respect from their children.
At least my daughter has figured out that when she says "Daddy doesn't make me do that", she gets in trouble. I have tried my best to explain to her that while Daddy and I try to have the same rules, some things will always be different. (I want to tell her that no matter where she is, Mommy's rules are the right ones because Daddy is an idiot, but I have managed to keep that thinking to myself thus far.)
I have seen this syndrome in many families where one parent ends up being the bad guy all of the time and the other skates by with being the hero. Just remember, in the end when your child is on TV after a big win or walking across the stage graduating with honors, that child will turn to everyone and say "thanks Mom"!