Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Bad things come in threes.

It's true. Have you ever noticed that? So now my third bad thing has happened, I'm hereby notifying the universe that it's time to back off! I prefer to lead my normal comfy cosy life, and
that's what's going to happen. After this rant at the ex husband.

Bad things list:
1. Mr Bleep being nasty about my perfect little boy.
2. The job rearrangement. I'm ok with it now, but it was a hard decision at the time.
3. Tony (ex husband... thank God for that!) insinuating that I was trying to rip him off financially about orthodontics.

Pardon? You don't know about this drama? Hardly surprising, because it erupted yesterday. That man just doesn't learn. I may be many nasty things (I truly don't think so, that was just me being modest) but dishonest is NOT one of them.

When I left my then husband 11 years ago, we had $120 in the bank. Even though I was the one with the kids, I gave him half. For years during the first half of our lives apart, he was on the dole or he worked for cash, so he only paid $20/month child support for 4 kids.
(Those years were very hard financially. I couldn't go back to work because the child care fees for 4 kids would've been more than my wage, and I didn't want to work then anyway. I wanted to give the boys a stable home base to recover from the upheaval of the divorce and to be nice normal kids. There was no point going through the drama and heartache of breaking up a family to remove an unhealthy model for a marriage from the boys' lives if they were then left to drift rudderless while I raced back to work. So I was a SAHM until Connor went to school. I got very sick of watching 'Playschool' and listening to 'The Wiggles', but the boys are fantastic kids now, so the struggle was worth it. Plus I've got some great stories that happened during that time. But I digress.)

Dad said to me once during those days, "Tony's a worker. Don't worry, he'll get back into another business because he can't stand to sit around and do nothing. You've just got to ride out this time and then you'll be right."

That's what happened. As soon as I started cleaning houses ( Bleuch! One day I'll tell you about the Cat People and the Filthy Nurse) and then doing CRT work (emergency teaching) and wasn't dependent on the child support, he started working again.
But money has always been a big issue with him when it comes to child support. He treats child support as if it's a business deal, and he has to win. So I've always taken less than he should be giving, because he owns a cash business (a food type shop) so he doesn't have a 'wage ' that the child support agency could simply take the proper amount from. When he was establishing his current business he asked me to be patient while he built it up, and then he'd pay a decent amount. That's what's happened. As of this year he currently pays 1k a month, which I put aside to pay for school fees and music lessons. I know he should be paying more, but he and his new wife have just bought a house, and anyway I'm happy with a thousand a month. That's a sum that I can do things with and so we're both happy with it. We've been getting along beautifully for the past couple of years.

Until now. We have four children, and three of them need braces. (The fourth needed his ears pinned back, which I did when he was in grade 4, with no financial help from Tony. All of this means that the whole lot of them are genetically ugly hideous beasts who need cosmetic help. They get it from their father's side.) The orthodontist I went to is also a single parent. He looked at the motley collection of misshapen smiles I was presenting to him, heard me when I said there may be a problem with payment from the father's side and gave me an excellent deal on the prices.

Tony and I talked about it, I showed him the quotes, and we agreed that he should pay for Brennan's braces ($3850) , I should pay for Jack's (also $3850) and I would also pay for Connor ($350 for a mouth guard thing which hopefully will stop him wearing braces in the future.) I said I'd pay for all of the dentist bills (check ups, cleaning, x-rays etc) because that's what child support payments are for. Naturally as soon as that arrangement was made Jack felt an agonising pain in his jaw and have to have a root canal done. I paid. Around another thousand dollars for that little exercise. (Well, I had to. He was rampaging around like a demented wildebeest.) All up I've paid nearly $2K in root canal and other assorted dental work, without taking into account Jack and Brennan's braces.

Sorry for the essay, but I wanted to be clear that I'm not some grasping harridan out to extract every last dollar from the ex. I think I've been extremely fair to him.

So to be told on the phone that he wants... no, he demands to see every bill for the braces, because he wants to make sure that he's paying only what is fair..... well it fairly sent me into orbit.

Selected orbit-sending bits follow:

"All I saw was a hand written quote. Is that all you've got? "

"Yes, I showed you the same thing I got."

"Well that's not very professional. (*sarcastic tone in next sentence* ) That's a real educated guy you've got doing their teeth."

(What the hell are you talking about??? How is that relevant? Besides, he's the one with a degree, I'm the one with a degree, and you're the one who did one term of engineering, decided it was all too hard and went into business as a fruiterer with your brother. How can you possibly try and take the high moral ground on the (non relevant anyway) education issue? )

I hadn't worked out yet that he thought I was lying about the quotes. I was honestly bewildered that he was objecting about the legitimate paperwork that I'd already shown him, and left with him.

"I want to see every single receipt you've said you've paid for their braces."
I still thought he was asking because he wanted to see if he could claim them on his tax or something, so I went through how I'd already shown him what they looked like.

He sighed, and said very clearly and slowly, " We're not communicating. I want to see every quote and every bill from that orthodontist. I want to make sure I'm only paying what's fair."

I went cold. Then I went hot. The room seemed to go a little hazy.

"So are you trying to get out of paying then?" I asked. I probably had a slight edge in my voice.

"No, no. I just want what's fair."

That was it. I was bobbing somewhere up near the roof by this stage. "Great! " I said. "I guess that means you owe me money. A lot of money. You haven't paid a cent towards Jack's root canal work which was about a thousand dollars, you haven't paid for their x rays, check ups, mouth moulds... do I need to go on?"

He stupidly said with a tone of almost derision, "Ohhh. You've got a bit of an attitude...." (I think he thought that he had me... that I was worried that I was going to be found out in my scheme to rip him off.)

I was at work so I had to be cool. I hissed into the receiver, " Yeah, I DO get an attitude when I'm accused of stealing. Ring the dentist, get the forms and if they won't give you my bills get them to call me."

I was boiling. I jumped into the car and got the forms from the dentist/orthodontist myself. They've obviously seen this situation before. They knew everything I needed, handed them over, and I went back home, stalked past the kids and picked up the phone.

"Which address do you want me to send these things to? I've got them all. And after you've read them I demand one hell of a big apology."

Again he made a comment about my attitude. He tries to take the high moral road when he's in the wrong. It used to drive me crazy when we were married. Apparently it still does. I have the address, I told him that they'd be in tomorrow's mail and hung up.

After 11 years.... actually, he's known me since I was 17... surely he's have twigged by now that I'm not out to get him? One thing's for sure. I'm so glad that divorce was invented, because at least now I only have to deal with his Persecution Dramas every once in a while. It's his new wife that has to deal with them every day. That used to be my job, and I'm so very glad I'm not in that position any more.

(Plus, when he reads the bills and realises that he's pissed me off for no good reason, he'll be kicking himself... )


Dollfinn! said...

Many Many Hugs, I have one of those ex's too! PITA is the nicest thing I can think to say about him and he is being relatively good at the moment, either that or he is planning something :(

Ooh and I dont envy you the four sets of teeth, I only have two kids, but both need glasses and Miss Boo is on her third set this year as her eyes keep changing rapidly and very acutely, so its not like the optometrist is ripping me off, as they happily reuse Mr Moos lenses in new frames (as he always needs new frames due to Miss Boo breaking them over his face!).

We have been to the "free" dentist this year as Mr Moo needed a filling (gee wonder why when the closest to tooth brushing is when he bites the head off the toothbrush!) but he is almost ten and currently looks like a shark with all his adult teeth coming up and around the baby teeth that refuse to leave or move. I can see extractions and braces happening in that mouth and AM NOT LOOKING FORWARD TO ANY OF IT as the free dentist doesnt "do" that sort of work.

lightening said...

Oh Frogdancer - you're really going to have to do something about your delivery here because I feel absolutely AWFUL laughing my head off while reading about your predicament!

Well - I've just been out and come home and discovered my comment didn't go through the word verification *sigh*.

Phoebe J. Southwood said...

Dear NaBloMoPo participant,

I'm sorry to do this, and of course you don't have to follow up, but I was tagged today for a meme that is going around NaBloPoMo - one where you write 7 weird things about yourself and tag 7 others.

I have selected your blog at random (but mostly because I loved the name) to be on my list.

If you are into it, you can come over to to see the rules as they were forwarded to me.

I'm glad I happened upon your name, because your blog is really lovely!

Happy NaBloPoMo!

River said...

I'm on your side Frogdancer. My ex refused to pay any child support at all, claimed he was broke and if he sent me money he'd have to send his credit card bills as well. HIS cards - I've never had one. Anyway we (4 kids and me) sat around the table and discussed the situation and decided it wasn't worth fighting for. I was working and we were managing okay. The youngest two were already teens and the older two were also working part time.

My sympathies to Jack. I've had several root canals. The pain of an abscessed tooth is hellish.

Frogdancer said...

Thanks everyone.
I posted off the receipts today, plus the bill for Brennan's braces that he still hasn't made a payment on. (His first appointment is next week, and Tony's known about the amount since August.)We'll see if things calm down from his end.

River: my four are like a team with me too. They love their Dad, but they're my boys, which is only natural. I've been the one raising them for 11 years. I told Brennan that he'd get braces no matter who pays, but I felt it wouldn't be fair for their Dad not to share the payment. They all agreed. (Plus they want to go to Bali again next year, and they know that if I have to pay for Brennan's braces as well.... then we can't go. I'm not made of money, unfortunately!)