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While I was at work yesterday my brother-in-law called to let me know that my husband will be in town next Thursday and Friday and wants to see the kids. Now, the divorce papers he agreed to before a judge in September yet refuses to sign state this is my year to have the kids for Thanksgiving. I could tell my BIL was trying to draw me into an emotional response that they could then use against me. I didn’t bite.

With the most chipper voice I could muster I asked him to find out what hours R would like to see the kids on Friday.  I let him know that I had scheduled a job for Friday afternoon, thinking the kids would be with him.  However, if he needed to leave town before I’d be done I would gladly reschedule my job to accommodate him.  I didn’t even mention Thursday.  His brother was obviously disgruntled that he was unable to reel me in and said that he’d discuss it with R and call me back in the evening.

I never heard back.

So, today I called and happily asked if he’d been able to get a hold of him.  He had but just hadn’t bothered to call me.  Now, R is staying through Saturday and wants the kids all day on Friday and part of Saturday, which just happens to be my youngest daughter’s fourth birthday.  I’m deflated.  I wanted so much to make the day special and not have him taint it.  He originally didn’t plan on even being in town for it, but, since I didn’t get angry over the Thanksgiving bit, I’m sure he’s trying to get me angry over her birthday.  Again, I didn’t take the bait.  In fact, I may still get doughnuts the morning of her birthday just like I’d planned, and, knowing his favorite, I may even let the kids bring him one.  It will tick him off that this fish ain’t biting and that I’m being nice in spite of his best efforts to upset me.

There have been times when we’ve gone fishing, and I would swear those fish knew what they were doing.  They would nibble, nibble, nibble and then seem to hook on.  I’d get excited and start reeling away, only to pull up weeds.  I cursed them because I could just imagine them down there nudging and tugging on my line, maneuvering my hook into the underwater plant life.  Pretty smart for slimy creatures with primitive brains.

Well, I can be pretty smart, too.  And, I can see the constant changes in visitation times, the late notices, the attempts to take them when he isn’t supposed to over the last few months as being just bait to catch me.  Once he reels me in, he’ll probably gut me and throw me back.  So, I refuse to bite.  Instead, I’m going to nudge his line and let him get hung up in his own devices.

There was a time in the late 90’s when a pastor stupidly told me to “fix dinner for Jesus and serve it to R.”  I had told the pastor about the horrific physical abuse, and that was his brilliant solution.  Naturally, the abuse worsened.  Once the cycle rounded the corner and the violence abated, R confessed that it made him even madder when I was nice because he knew he didn’t deserve my kindness.  It made him feel like I was a better person.

I recognize these are dangerous waters we’re both fishing in.  Honestly, I’d rather not fish here at all.  I’d like to just cut bait and go home.  This is being thrust upon me though.  I don’t have a choice right now.  I’m going to have to just make the best of it.  I’ll put life vests on the kids (give them each a cell phone with Child Protective Services’ back line programmed in), and I’m going to try very hard to nudge his line (by being nice) and frustrate him so much that he’ll be the one to cut bait and just go fish easier waters.  If it backfires and, in anger, he throws his pole at me, I’ll call the fish and game warden.

No matter what, this fish is not taking that man’s bait ever again.