I may be going into court on an ex parte next week. Prince has threatened Luca that if he doesn’t agree to a 50-50 timeshare, he will send him back to residential. There have been angry texts and ominous e-mails. Luca agreed to a 20% timeshare but was informed that “this is a new world order” not up for negotiation, and a refusal to comply means he needs “help.” Finally I said Luca and I would meet with him tonight which is the mysterious deadline for determining my 16-year-old son’s entire future.
Unfortunately, my lawyer is out of the country until Sunday. We had prepared documents before she left in case we had to rush into court next week. She was wary of Prince choreographing an ambush, but said if I absolutely had to meet with him, to do so without Luca, in a public place, and not to agree to a 50-50. She feels strongly that the judge will not force Luca — almost 17– to live with his dad, because, as she says, “how do you make a kid that big reside with a parent he doesn’t want to live with?”
Still, I’m nervous. I’m nervous that Prince will combust if Luca and I don’t meet with him tonight, that he’ll show up at his school Monday morning with two goons who will haul my son off to boot camp. I’ve urged Luca to consider returning to his dad half time so he doesn’t get disowned, but Luca has steadfastly refused, saying he’s going to get disowned anyway, and he’d rather kill himself than live half of the time with his dad. I think this may be adolescent theatrics talking, but I’d rather not take the chance.
So I extracted a month’s rent from my rapidly dwindling savings account and handed it over to my attorney. If the legal battle amps up – which it’s sure to do – I’ll be raising money for fees on gofundme, so don’t touch that dial.
Anyway, in the midst of all this strum and drang, I took Franny for a two-day girls’ getaway during her spring break. The trip had been planned before Luca came to stay with me, with money I got from cashing out some vacation hours. He was supposed to stay with a friend while we were away, but that person had to go out of town suddenly. I couldn’t take him with us because he’d just started his new job working at a swanky health food grocery store, so I told Luca not to pull a Risky Business move, and Franny and I left him at home.
We drove two hours north to a lovely seaside town. We stayed at a sweet hotel on the main drag. We ate Cajun food, and walked on the beach, and went to farmer’s market where we considered, but decided against, purchasing strawberry rhubarb pie. I sat on a bench with my face to the sun while Franny spent her birthday gift certificate at Forever 21. And despite sharing a bed with a squirmy 12-year-old, I had two nights of profoundly fulfilling slumber.
I checked in with Luca from time to time, to see how his job was going, and whether he’d torn the house up. To my amazement, my slacker son had thrown himself into his menial job. He donned a hair net and peeled bananas, put labels on bottles, washed dishes, and mopped floors.
At 16, he’s the youngest employee the manager has ever hired. The kitchen crew put him through a hazing process, and made him drink some kind of mulch fused with ginger and ginseng. He gets free lunch, and a 20% discount, and has decided he likes vegan chicken. He makes $8 an hour, not too shabby for a teenager. He’s thrilled to be making his own money so he won’t need anything from his dad. This is exactly the mindset he needs to have, I’ve told him, in order to grow up and be his own person instead of a puppet on a control freak’s string.
I just hope he gets to keep the job – which he won’t if he gets carted off to a boarding school.
I still haven’t decided on tonight’s strategy. Should I take Luca? Even if we meet in a public place, what if Prince drags him out and forces him in his car? Should I go alone? What if he has Luca followed and nabs him off the street?
After ten years – TEN YEARS! – of this nonsense, my blood pressure is only slightly spiked, and I am more annoyed than anything. I may be plunged into litigation with Snidely Whiplash next week, so I’m trying to suck the juice out of every pre-ex parte moment. Which is, after all, the best way to travel on this wild road we call life.
To be continued…