Friday, January 31, 2014

don't hate the player...

I'm no stranger to bizarre questions in my household. Two step daughters at the ages of 13 and 10 are bound to ask some zingers that leave my head spinning. And most of the time they're questions that I should really know the answers to.

Like how to divide fractions.
Or multiply decimals.
Or what phase the moon is in. Yikes.
But every now and again, a question comes out of one of their mouths that is so random, I don't really even think twice about the question behind the question. It happened last night. Hubs, the girls and myself had just sat down to dinner at one of our go-to restaurants. We chatted about where we should go for our Thanksgiving trip this year (we decided somewhere with a beach; that's all Mid-westerners think about) and how excited we were that winter would soon be giving way to spring. Just mindless chit chat. Then, out of nowhere, my youngest stepdaughter turned to me and said, "Ruby? What's a player?"

I looked at Hubs across the table, and he shrugged. I mean, this wasn't an altogether kooky question, but it certainly had nothing to do with the topic at hand. I kind of chuckled and gave her an honest answer based on my experiences.

"Well," I said, thinking of a gentle way to word my answer. "It's when a guy or girl dates or go out with a lot of people, but they are only dating them because they want something from them. Like sex or money or something like that. It's a form of manipulation. Remember when we talked about your friend J that was trying to manipulate you to do her homework? It's like that, but with boyfriends and girlfriends."

She sat quietly, taking in my response, and nodded. And that was it. I chalked it up to her hearing the word at school from someone and moved on. No biggie. A few minutes later, as I laughed at an amusing anecdote Hubs was sharing, she tugged at my elbow and motioned for me to come close. Somewhat distracted, I leaned down to her face and she whispered softly in my ear, "Is my Mommy a player?"

Whoa. She now had my full attention.

A number of questions went through my head, namely "how do I answer this?" I've never referred to Mama Ex as a player, and I know Hubs hasn't either. However, I do know that Mama Ex is notorious for changing guys more often than she changes her nail polish. In addition, she never, ever lets a guy go. One of her ex boyfriends from 5 years ago still changes her oil every three months. Another ex still takes her to the local NFL games during the fall. Her estranged husband pays for the girls' cell phone bills, baby-sits for the girls and pays dental bills. Mama Ex has a long line of men willing and ready to give her whatever she needs when she needs it. One can only assume they're being compensated...

After cleaning up the soda I spit all over the table, I finally responded as honestly as I could to my step daughter's very perceptive question. "Well, honey," I said. "I don't know Mommy terribly well, so that's not something I feel like I can answer. Do you feel like Mommy's a player?"

She simply shrugged her shoulders. Her 13-year old sister, however, had plenty to say."Ruby," she said with a mouth full of french fries and a scowl we've become accustomed to. "Just tell her no, that's what she wants to hear, even though we all know Mommy is definitely a player." Of course this started World War III at the table between the two girls, and we abandoned our discussion about Mommy and instead focused on using our words and controlling our tempers. But the question remained, hanging there. Even now, almost 13 hours later, it's still haunting me. 

Later on it was revealed that Mama Ex recently shared with the girls that she does, indeed, have a new boyfriend and they've been dating since October. I'm sure, since Mama Ex is actually still married (they've been "separated" for 5 years) my youngest step daughter is probably beginning to see the pretty obvious pattern of behavior that is indicative of a "player."

Regardless of my step daughters' figuring all of this out, I've decided it isn't my place to agree or disagree with them. I mean, I wasn't lying when I answered her question. I really don't know Mama Ex well enough to know that she is, in fact, a player. (I mean, two and two is four, but I have no concrete proof.) Even if I did, 100% positively know that Mama Ex is a player, what good will it do me to confirm this to her children? 

When I was 10, I remember my mother gained quite a large amount of weight unexpectedly. I knew it, my family knew it, and my friends knew it. But did I punch a girl in the face at school when she called my mother fat? Um, duh. Just because the girls have figured out a less than flattering characteristic about their mother, it doesn't mean I should be the one to validate the thought. True or not, it would still hurt to hear someone they love and trust (me), say something mean or hateful about their mom. 

I certainly wish I could say that Mama Ex is going to extend me the same courtesy...but you can't have everything.

What bizarre questions have your SK's asked you that put you in a weird spot? How did you respond? Would you have responded to the question like Ruby did?


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