I used to daydream about the usual stuff; winning the lottery, hitting a walk-off homerun in the World Series, joining the Mile-High club...etc.
My mind would wander off, usually while I was in a conversation with some other body. I would be looking in the other person’s direction sure, probably even looking in their eyes, but in my mind, I was buying crazy shit with my millions, rounding second base at Wrigley Field or...rounding third base at 30, 000 feet.
When the other person paused or altogether stopped talking –a cue for me to insert some sort of response-- I would nod as if in full accord and say, “Absolutely” or “hell yeah,” not knowing what had been said or, even worse, what I had just agreed on.
Oh crap! I thought, I really need to stop doing that.
But I didn’t stop. To this day, I still daydream. Nothing has changed.
What has changed, however, is the content of my daydreams.
A few nights ago, I was working out at the gym. This may surprise some of you who think that my physique came about naturally. But no. Like the song says, I work owww-t. Usually I will do 45 minutes of cardio on the elliptical. I hate cardio. I hate working out period, but the machines have TV screens and satellite which makes the 45 minute workout go by quickly. Unlike this post.
We don’t have cable or any satellite TV in our home for a number of reasons; we do a lot of running around and would rather play family games. The other thing is that our girls are simply fun to watch and interact with—they are, as some of you know, incredibly entertaining. We do not miss cable or Direct TV in our house one bit.
Tammy Carley Barrow thinks its funny that on Sundays I have to run off to the gym at a certain time so that I can watch The Walking Dead. I know. But I am hooked. And like I said it makes time on the elliptical fly by.
Then I remember the other reason I am glad that we don’t have TV in our home-- I detest commercials. I have a problem with someone telling me to “ask my doctor” if I need X...and then quickly spitting out all the side effects that I may have to endure including choking sensations, seizures, or even death, if my doctor says yes, that I do need it. No thanks. When I am forced to go to the doctors, I ask as few questions as possible and when I do ask questions, they are usually in the realm of, can I go now or can I pull my pants back up?
So every commercial break I switch channels.
Which leads me to my daydreaming. I changed the channel from AMC to CBS to watch 60 Minutes while the The Walking Dead commercials ran. The one and only, Steven Spielberg was being interviewed AND, unbelievably, he was talking about his alienation from and his eventual re-unification with, his father. I literally stopped mid stride. My heart beating faster now from the words that he spoke than from the 25 minutes I had just spent pumping away on the elliptical at level 15.
Could it be?
Steven Spielberg, the Oscar-winning director, alienated from his father? I admit I was choked up. Unable to believe what this would mean. Exposure! Mega, in-your-face, now we’re talking, shit just got real, exposure!
I listened for the words. Please Sir Spielberg, please say Parental Alienation. Please. Just say it.
But the words never came.
Still, I couldn’t help thinking what if. I began daydreaming about what that would mean to the thousands of alienated children and their equally devastated targeted parents. About how much attention that would bring to this horrific, under-exposed and insidious form of abuse. More people would hear about it. People would share their own stories about parental alienation. More books, like Alec Baldwin’s A Promise to Ourselves would be written and become best sellers.
Eventually a movie would be made about a child who is alienated from a loving parent. The story would follow how incredibly vile an alienating parents action are and how devastating they are to not only the other parent, but to their own children.
The child reconciles with an alienated parent in the end because someone did the right thing or--imagine this-- with the help of an incredibly insightful therapist (Think Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting or Judd Hirsh in Ordinary People), the disturbed, alienating parent sees the evil of his/her ways and grows. Okay. That last part is a stretch.
Of course there would have to be reconciliation in a Hollywood version of parental alienation. It’s how movies work.
Mark Wahlberg, Tom Hanks, Gwyneth Paltrow, or Sandra Bullock would play the part of the alienated parent. Kathy Bates or Doug Hutchison (the 51 year old mean guard from the Green Mile who later marries a 17 year old) would play the alienating parent. One of the above would win the Oscar for Best Actor/Actress or Best Picture if Spielberg himself directs it. The winner dedicates the golden statue to all the alienated children who have lost years of contact with a loving parent...
Sappy, I know. But hey, it’s my daydream.
Spielberg never says the words parental alienation, although he does blame his father for his parent’s divorce. I can’t help but wonder if he was influenced or if he came to his own conclusion.
I switch the channel back to AMC, and once again escape into The Walking Dead but, it’s over too soon. I get in my van I head home.
Materially, I find myself sitting behind the wheel of our minivan at a red light; mentally, I am in front of an insightful judge. He carefully looks over the facts of the case before him, flipping through declarations and months of documentation. He is not dissuaded by my ex-wife’s claims of “protecting” her daughter or frivolous accusations. He is familiar with the faulty reasoning that an alienated parent spits out as justification for denying the other parent access to their child. He is rightfully disgusted by someone who would place her selfish interest before those of an innocent child. The judge points a finger at me while addressing her, “he is a loving father. Who, in God’s name, gave you the right to separate a loving father from his daughter?”
Now pointing towards the alienating parent, he goes on, “You call yourself a Christian woman? Since when does a Christian woman teach their own children to hate? Do you have any idea of the damage that you are doing to your child?” He holds up a picture of Megan. Her eyes sad, distant, missing from them are the previously held promise of a life full of love, security, and wonder.
In my daydreams, judges really do rule in the best interest of children, “Ruling is in favor for the loving father,” he says.
He slams down his gavel on his desk and it honks.
I look up and the light is green. Another honk. This one, like the first one, coming from the car behind me.
I drive the rest of the way home trying to stay out of my reality as much as possible for now.
“No loving father, nor innocent child should have to experience this,” the judge adds. He then asks me what I would recommend that we do with parents who alienate their children from the other loving parent. I tell him that for the sake of not only our daughter but of all the children in that home that my hope is for the alienators to get help and so that they can see that children need to be taught to love and not to hate, to think for themselves and not be told what to think, and most of all, children need to be loved, nurtured, and shared by both parents...
The judge interjects, “or we can hang them.”
Sometimes, if I don’t laugh, I will cry. I kindly tell the judge that no, children need both parents.
As far as this area of my life goes, my daydreams are nicer.
I disagree with the judge that any further harm should come to the alienated parent. She is a victim herself.
I wonder if we would be dealing with this if Christy had known her father. I wonder about her father and if he would want to be a part of her life. Somewhere out there is Megan’s maternal grandfather and I sometimes daydream that they will meet one day. This is your beautiful granddaughter Megan, I would say.
I pull up to our driveway and am happy that it’s still early. Our girls will still be awake and I am relieved that I won’t be walking into an empty house. My wife will show me that she is happy that I am home by directing a smile at me or jump up to greet me. Sophie and Jaida will run into my arms. Malia will smile and begin to share with me what I missed out on the whole hour that I was gone or, God-forbid, re-tell me a lame joke.
And I will, for a while, forget to daydream.
| || |
If you liked the Blog above, if it saddens you, disgusts you, or if--God-forbid--it resonates with your personal experiences please comment below. Also, if you would SHARE, TWEET, Pin It on PINTEREST, and LIKE on us on Facebook our family and thousands of other fathers, mothers, siblings, step-parents, and grandparents and especially alienated children will be forever grateful. I am committed to bringing awareness to this atrocity, this insidious form of child abuse. Thank you,