Uh... awkward moment...

We visit LK's birth dad oh, once or twice a year or so. Whenever he gets out of jail or treatment. It's been about a year. I know cuz the last time we saw him, we brought a baseball, bat and gloves to a park and watched them play a little baseball. So he called a few weeks ago saying he was out of jail and going into treatment. Then a couple of weeks ago he called saying he could start having visitors. Next thing I know, he's living at his sister's house, which means he left the treatment facility.

Fortunately, LK's old enough to actually talk on the phone with him now, which is easier than telling him she didn't want to talk to him like I had to do when she was a toddler and didn't want to talk to anyone on the phone, let alone him. I envision more of that reluctance in future years, but we're not there yet.

We are happy to see him, and LK knows when a visit is scheduled. Our visits are fine - no conflict, lots of play, lots of compliments to her, lots of catching him up on pictures, activities and so on. Then we say goodbye, figuring we'll see him once or twice and then not at all for another year or so.

So here's the situation - this whole weekend, LK's been touchy, pouty and prone to sulkiness. She does this now and then, and gets her feelings hurt easily. She doesn't stand up for herself much and just kinds of shuts down. Her teacher is working on this with us. LK also misreads situations frequently and takes offense when there was really no sign of any. But she actually sat out an inning of her game this weekend to pout because someone sat next to someone else. Then when she went back in, she made two outs, pouting all the while. It's like she dissolves into this puddle of mush that is somehow weirdly functional. It seemed more pronounced this time than usual.

What seems to be the key difference here? Maybe the scheduled visit? Does it weigh on her mind when she knows we're going to see him? Is that the X factor that makes her so fragile at times? Seems likely - or is that just me trying to assign a logical reason to something that might just be a typical little 1st grader grumpiness?

So what to do? I don't want to avoid the visits - I think in the long run, it's better for her to know that he wanted to maintain contact - at least in whatever way he can. And that we were always open to that. But I hate like heck to see her fall apart so easily.

There's always this awkward moment at the end of our visit when we say goodbye and he gives her a kiss. We all know he expects one from her too, but she's so not there. He gets a little half hearted hug, but that's about all. Sigh...
I guess awkward moments are a given, and so are the labile, fragile occasional weekends. At least for a while.

btw - the visit was fine, she beat him at air hockey and we ate pretty crappy pizza and ended up with about 17 bouncy balls. Oh, and the awkward moment when he gave her a kiss and then said, "Where's mine?". After the halfhearted hug he got instead, we were off to see "Earth" with her Brownie troop, where she sulked for about an hour before perking up and having fun with a friend who stuck it out with her. What a weekend.

At least we got to see Baby G on Saturday! Check out the preshus feets... and face...


LemonySarah said...

*sigh* I have a very emotional kid too, yet I have little to say. In the end, they are who they are. Good thing your sister's a psychologist - those of us with little experience with kids' deep emotions and unusual family situations need a little help with this stuff, don't we?

Again, Baby G is so beautiful!

Lunasea said...

Sample comment from helpful sister: "Geez, that sucks."