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David's bottom

It gets better ... apparently.

It gets better ... apparently.

The last couple of occasions I've seen my daughter, she's run around chanting "David's bottom, David's bottom" which is strange, considering I'm the only man whose bottom she's seen and my name's not David.

Curious, I asked her mother, my ex, about this and she revealed the hereto undisclosed information that "David" is the name of her new boyfriend.

"So why is our daughter talking about his bottom?" I asked, to which she replied that my two-year-old talks about her grandfather's bottom, nana's bottom, her playmates' bottoms - it's just something she joyfully intones now she's discovered we all have one.

On a recent visit to the art gallery, I showed my daughter a reproduction of Auguste Rodin's exquisite nude sculpture The Prodigal Son and all she could do was point at the appropriate anatomy and exclaim "BOT-TOM!" So she's got form in this area.

Still, I'd prefer not to hear about my ex's new boyfriend's bum while breakfasting with my daughter and no doubt she'll feel the same about my future girlfriend's derriere. So what to do?

Separation, when it involves a child, is never easy; in fact, it's been the most difficult thing I've ever had to cope with. However, my self-pity has been tempered by the experiences of friends who've gone down this road themselves.

"Wait until your ex hooks up with someone else," they counsel, "that's a whole new level of crap you have to deal with."

Eventually, they say, the happy new couple wants to go away up the coast for weekends (with your child) or, even better, move up the coast for good. Maybe the new guy insists on being called "daddy", or, best of all, your kid decides to impose the name themselves. Just friggin' kill me now.

A friend told me how he picked up his then four-year-old son from his ex-wife's house, where she was living with her new boyfriend, despite his hopes for a reconciliation.

"That's until my son started chanting in the back seat 'mummy, doesn't love you, mummy doesn't love you', as I sobbed in traffic like a crazy person," he said.

Another friend said her son (who now has a great relationship with his dad) bonded "frighteningly" quickly with her new boyfriend, Peter, even asking if good ole Pete could be his daddy instead.

Ain't that fun?

So, I reckon I don't have it too bad. It's just me and David's bum so far.

Of course, it's also not unheard of for a new partner to actually make things easier between a divorced or separated couple.

I know former husbands and wives who'll share a knowing look with the new partner when their ex has one of their turns - like they're a tour of duty in Vietnam: you have to have been there to truly understand.

In the end,though, what's most unedifying about being a non-custodial parent is the indisputable fact a stranger has more freedom of access to your child than you do.

The new partner can drop around whenever they want, lift your child into their arms to kiss them good night, while you're left to prowl the cage of your negotiated visiting times. I can honestly say it's a feeling I wouldn't wish upon Joseph Kony.

When it comes to grappling with emotions like this, my brains trust of friends is pretty much united in their advice that "it gets better" as the child gets older.

So, if you're a father or mother experiencing this "new level of crap" - stay with me on this - we'll supposedly laugh about it one day.

Maybe even with David.

Sam de Brito's latest novel Hello Darkness is in bookstores now. You can follow him on Twitter here. His email address is here.

56 comments so far

  • Haven't we all seen David's bottom before?

    Just sayin...

    Commenter
    Aqualung
    Location
    Sitting on a park bench....
    Date and time
    April 30, 2012, 4:40PM
    • Hi Sam,

      for a few years I was the "David" - though the female version...so perhaps more likely your potential new girlfriend in this scenario. Negotiating the raising of an emotionally stable child under any circumstances is not an easy task in our society. Try to see the positives of it - it takes a village to raise a child according to a lot of communities around the world. When you can let go of the illusion that you have any control over your life (let alone your daughter's) you will be able to accept David as part of the "village" and recognise that the more positive role models your daughter has, the better off she'll be in the long run (that is assuming he's a positive role model of course!).

      Good luck on the journey, and your writing is getting better every time I read it by the way so you must be doing something right :)

      Rebecca

      Commenter
      Rebecca
      Location
      Adelaide
      Date and time
      April 30, 2012, 4:44PM
      • She's a bright little cookie, your girl. I've known six and seven year olds who are still going through the "everyone's bum" phase ;) so at least she's getting it out of the way nice and early.

        But more on topic, coming from a "blended" family myself, I've generally found that kids with a loving Dad tend to know who that Dad is. If you're in their life and acting as their Dad, nobody else can really hone in on that spot. If you're always her Dad, well, he'll always just be David.

        Commenter
        Thea
        Date and time
        April 30, 2012, 4:50PM
        • I prefer Thia's comment over than Rebecca's above. Thia's confirming you are her father, Rebecca's is just softly telling you to roll over and suck it up.

          Commenter
          Mr Cool
          Date and time
          May 10, 2012, 1:19PM
      • As far as new partners go for the custodial parent, there should be imho a rule that you introduce the new partner to the non custodial parent.

        I have had the experience of being advised by the mother of my daughter that she met some one and that they are taking it easy (alarm bells rang there and then), 2 weeks later I was told that she's moving in with the new guy. My mind was preoccupied by the new guy and his real motives.
        There was never any hope of reconcilliation, so from that point of view I was at ease, BUT my 10 yo daughter moving in with her mother to a stranger's house.

        I wsas not introduced for weeks, my daughter openly spoke of the new guy, it put me somewhat at ease, along some mutual freinds put in some good words re the new guy.

        When i eventually met him I could size him up and try to get a measure of the guy.

        My ex seems happier (makes my life less 'dramatic'), so I'm all for it, as for the guy , limp wristed.... a perfect match for my ex!

        Commenter
        bettersville
        Location
        here but not now
        Date and time
        April 30, 2012, 5:17PM
        • I didn't meet the most recent ankle's ex until after I threw him out. He refused to give me her contact details and I didn't want to push him for the information for the duration of our relationship.
          During that time his children spent every second weekend and half the school holidays in residence with him and I and I can't imagine what went through her mind every time she dropped them off at our home.
          We have spent some time getting to know each other and I can now see what she had to deal with while she was with him and being mother to his children. We went through out various break downs during those early meetings and were able to understand how difficult it is, much more for her than me.
          Something to be firm about is that your ex's new partner is not the parent of your child and regardless of how much they may want the title it is not theirs to ask for.
          What you can also do is seek more custody. I am sure some people here will huff and puff about how difficult that is and I would still suggest giving it a go.
          It is not easy being a parent in the first place, being a part-custodial parent is even more difficult. I wish you the best of luck.
          As a former step-parent (for want of another title) I would ask that you don't heap crap on the new person in your ex's life. Giving them the benefit of the doubt can be to your benefit as well as your daughter's.

          Commenter
          M
          Location
          needing an escape plan
          Date and time
          April 30, 2012, 5:26PM
          • I don't have any first-hand experience with this (children with exes, I mean - I have plenty of experience of babies talking about anatomy). My sister is having trouble at the moment with the partner of her ex acting like the mother of her child and getting really defensive when my sister asks a simple question or takes an interest. It's made worse by the fact that the couple doesn't seem to think education is all that important...

            Commenter
            JEQP
            Date and time
            April 30, 2012, 5:42PM
            • Sam, feel for you, mate. It's enough to give anyone the cold sweats. I have 2 mates walking this minefield at the moment and I fear for their sanity.

              And with one in particular; I fear for his life. He's mentioned some pretty bad thoughts to me.

              One guy's ex has taken up with a coke dealer, he said that there's regularly a plate of coke sitting on top of the fridge and was beside himself about his son is being exposed to some pretty abnormal shit.

              The double whammy is the financial broadside that a couple going through a separation cop, makes life that much more miserable. Both these guys' arses are hanging out of their pants. One bloke's had to break 2 leases to stay near his children, costing him money that he doesn't have.

              That being said, it is less likely for your ex to move away from Sydney if she has the support of her parents here. Pretty hard as a singleton or in a new relationship to forgo the support and child-minding.

              Commenter
              Trog
              Date and time
              April 30, 2012, 6:08PM
              • Aww that's a tough one Sam. There's so many tricky things with shared parenting. Hang in there.

                Commenter
                She-Raz
                Date and time
                April 30, 2012, 6:48PM
                • ouch that's harsh - you have my sympathies.
                  the worst Ive ever had is a set of kids saying "if my mum dies, dad can marry you and you'll be my new mum" in front of their very much living mum - out of the mouth of babes. yikes.

                  as for dating single dads, kids were never involved unless we'd made a decision that the relationship was 'serious'. So far never happened.

                  Commenter
                  CityChick
                  Date and time
                  April 30, 2012, 7:14PM

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