Missing a Kiddo: When a Relationship with a Single Parent Ends

The relationship before the one with the Narcissist was with a guy who had a son. I used to call his son, “Kiddo.” It was our thing, Kiddo and I.

I loved that kid.

It’s been seven years since I saw him last and I still think of him frequently; probably more often than I do his dad.

Today, Facebook showed me a couple posts made on this date eight years ago. Kiddo was 7 years old at the time.

Kiddo was willful, defiant, had a terrible temper, and was horrible to his teachers and his father. Somehow he and I got along okay, though.

He was a smart kid and incredibly compassionate. He would refuse to simply follow orders and march in lockstep with others, but would respect those who would see and respect him.

The post from eight years ago was from one of many nights where he had suddenly decided he hated what was for dinner when his father expressed liking what was being served. It was a relatively new habit for Kiddo but the mindset was painfully obvious to me.

He was trying to assert himself and have some power in a life, and home, where he rarely felt he was listened to or loved. It was painful to see, and not something he was able to understand or discuss given his age and stage of emotional development.

This is what I wrote about it at the time.

It started with:

Kiddo’s dad: “Wow, babe, this pulled pork is terrific.”

Kiddo: “This is disgusting! It’s horrible! I hate it!”

Me: “Huh. One of you is gonna be pretty hungry later. I wonder which one?”

One of my friends responded encouragingly, and made a sarcastic comment about being a short order cook.

Here was my response:

Hehe. My mom used to say, “This isn’t a restaurant. You can’t order food and have it magically appear. This is what’s for dinner. The kitchen is closed. No other food is coming out of it tonight.”

My line last night was, “Look, I go to work every day so I can earn money, then I used my own money to buy food, then I cooked and prepared it so that we’d have something to eat tonight. Maybe when you get older you’ll learn how to cook so that you can make dinners for yourself that you like, but most of the time, your dad and I make things that we don’t like as much as other things because we hope that you’ll be willing to eat it. [He seemed pretty surprised at that – it clearly had never occurred to him before.]

“For tonight, though, this is the only option you get for food, and it’s a heck of a lot more than a lot of other kids get. Not every kid is lucky enough to have grown ups in their lives who have jobs, earn money, and can buy food to make for them.

“So, you have two choices: You can either appreciate that someone has tried to make a nice meal for you and choke down a few bites of it so that you aren’t hungry later, or you can be hungry later. It’s entirely up to you. Missing a meal is not going to hurt you in any way.”

Of course, that’s what prompted me getting yelled at by him, but so be it, I’m not backing down on this one. And I’m certainly not letting him think he got to me, either. When he yelled at me, I snorted and gave him a look. He stopped immediately.

We’ll be having a talk over the weekend about being more respectful of my feelings. It’s been a tough week – this wasn’t the first incident, unfortunately.

It’s so interesting to read this and to recall how incredibly unfazed I was at the time. I understood completely where Kiddo was coming from and could tell he was listening to me and absorbing what I said. He was upset and feeling powerless and hadn’t calmed down yet, so his immediate response wasn’t positive. But he was hearing me, and I knew with a consistent and calm approach over time his behavior would change. And, sure enough, it did.

With me. It changed with me. Because with me, he always knew what to expect. He knew I would love him no matter what, and that he could rely on me to speak to him honestly and respectfully. And he knew I meant what I said and it wouldn’t suddenly change without warning or reason. I was predictable, because I told him regularly exactly what to expect of me. That was calming for him.

Except, it was untrue. Because what I didn’t anticipate was how quickly or how badly things with his father might change, or that one of the times I saw Kiddo might be the last time, without me knowing.

I never said goodbye to him. I just disappeared from his life.

It was seven years ago when I saw him last. He’s 15 years old now. I have no idea what kind of man he’s turning into. It’s unlikely I ever will.

But I think of him often, and miss him, and regret that I had to disappear out of his life like I did.

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