My first husband left us in the September. We were all living with my parents in an old water Mill but even the idyllic surroundings couldn't prevent the marriage from falling apart. Any way he had packed his bags and after waiting for the children to come home from school he announced "Your mother has something to tell you" and left.
We had a roof over our heads and my mother would not let us go short of food but it was still going to be a Christmas without their dad and the youngest was already convinced that it was all his fault and if he had been a good boy daddy would still be with us. In November after having no contact I was summoned to court so that he could demand access. I don't have to say that I told the court that he could see the children whenever he wanted to, he could have them every weekend if they wanted to go and he could ring them every night as long as it was before they went to bed. He was setting me up you see because then he demanded that they go to him for Christmas. I said yes IF THEY WANT TO. and suggested that there should be a witness present when they were asked, just to make sure that I didn't unfairly influence them.
The court appointed a Guardian ad Litem to oversee this most difficult situation and a date was arranged. The day arrived and we went to the offices where he was to ask them to go and stay with him - I am sure that he had been promising them all sorts of things during his saturdays with them - He asked them if they would like to go and stay with him for Christmas and before the youngest could say anything my daughter asked "Where will we sleep?" "At Nanny and Bampi's house, with me" he replied. "How long do we have to stay?" she asked. "You'll come on Christmas Eve and stay until Boxing day" "Oh, no," she said, sounding quite relieved "We can't, we have to be in church for Choir on Christmas Eve and on Boxing Day we go to the Village hall for the party." She looked thoughtfully at her father and I suddenly realised that she had planned all this "Dad, why don't you just bring our presents to the mill on Christmas morning and then we can see you and we can still have our dinner with Granddad and Granny." The boys nodded their heads in agreement. The G.a.L was satisfied so that's what happened.
My father did make the children invite their father to eat Christmas dinner with us but he refused. "It's alright," he said, "I have my sandwiches."
My daughter refers to this as her father's martyrdom period and often reminds us all that you can't be a martyr without an audience.
I owe that Christmas to a 12 year old girl who knew how to manipulate her father - and I occasionally remind her of it. She insists that she didn't plan it at all and then she always smiles that smile - G*D! I love my daughter!