Ever hear that expression, “It’s all good“? People often say it when when they’re trying to put your mind at ease. Sometimes, they’re sincere. Sometimes, they’re really not, and they say “all good” with a hint of sarcasm. The first time I remember someone saying “all good” was about ten years ago, when Bill’s ex stepson was secretly planning to change his last name while he was taking child support from Bill.
Bill had never formally adopted his former stepson; his ex wife had simply gotten the boy’s name changed when he was a toddler. I’m not exactly sure if she actually did the name change legally. The story went that he had to reclaim his original surname because he was getting a passport so he could visit China as part of his college program. Apparently, it wasn’t totally clear which surname was the legal one… although I think Ex just wanted to punish Bill for not putting up with her latest bullshit. She was probably pissed because Bill wasn’t devastated when she suddenly got her son back in touch with his “crazy, abusive” bio father.
Bill, who had basically been the lad’s de facto dad, since Ex had pushed his real dad out of the picture, was paying him child support directly, even though he had never formally adopted him and legally, it wasn’t his responsibility. The “kid”, who was then 21 years old, was using Bill’s last name and taking his money, stockpiling it so he could go to China. Meanwhile, he was also racking up debt and smoking marijuana. I don’t actually have anything against marijuana, but I don’t think it’s something one should be buying when one has a lot of debt. Unless, of course, there’s a medical reason.
Anyway, in January 2009, I discovered what Bill’s ex stepson was doing quite by accident. At the time, I was hanging out on a messageboard for second wives and stepmothers and someone had shared a now defunct Web site called Criminalsearches.com. I was bored and curious, so I looked up Ex and her family. Sure enough, Ex, her husband, and Ex’s son from her first marriage all came up in the search, which also included the original source of the information. It was all publicly posted on an official Web site in Arizona. It was there that I discovered ex stepson had taken legal action to change his surname, but he had not had the decency to mention it to Bill.
So I told Bill, who confronted his former stepson. They had an emotional discussion about it. Bill told the lad that his decision to change his name was an adult choice and, as such, he should be financially independent. Bill gave him until Easter to prepare to handle his own financial affairs, but he told the boy that he wanted to know when the name change was final. Easter that year was in April, so the young man wrote back “It’s all good, Dad.” He had made it sound like he was “okay” with Bill’s decision to hold him accountable, but it was clear that he wasn’t.
Well… the name change was final in February 2009. The information was all on the official Web site where I had discovered his misdeeds in the first place. But ex stepson had not uttered a word about it to Bill. So Bill cut off his “child support”, which he had the ability to do, since Ex never filed with child support enforcement. She had some kind of issue with letting courts get involved in her divorces.
In retrospect, we probably should have exploited that fear more, since she was getting grossly overpaid and was never accountable for how she used the money. Seriously… Bill paid her $2550 a month for over ten years– $850 a month per child, one of which wasn’t even legally his! And yet, now that younger daughter is speaking to Bill, we hear stories of how she once had to give her mother her birthday money to buy diapers for Ex’s youngest daughter. We looked up how much child support the court would have awarded Ex and it turned out she was entitled to much less than what Bill was paying her. But I’m glad she did it the way she did, since it made things much simpler for Bill when he decided he’d been her financial flunky long enough.
Ex stepson was panicked at the loss of income. He sent Bill an angry email, demanding “timely payments” of his child support. Then, when Bill explained to him that he’d best not bite the hand that was feeding him, ex stepson became pathetic and begged for one last $500 payment because he’d wrecked the car Bill had given him free and clear. He wrote in his email that if Bill would just give him $500, he would never “bother” him again. I remember how disappointed and sad Bill was that his “son” was treating him like all that mattered was the money.
It wasn’t about the money at all. It was about respect, and the total lack of it the young man had for Bill, who had been his “Dad” for so long in the absence of his biological father. And, this is not really a slam on his bio dad, because Bill says ex stepson’s bio father had tried to stay involved and faithfully paid support at first. But just as she had with Bill, Ex made it impossible for her first husband to be a real father to his son. It wasn’t until she decided to punish Bill for standing up to her that Ex finally let her son, by then an adult, contact his father and resume their relationship.
I have no idea if ex stepson talks to his bio dad now. He was still speaking to Bill when they had their first meeting. Ex stepson had described it as a Darth Vader moment. It was eerie for him to finally meet his father again after so many years. I think Bill’s younger daughter had a similar experience a couple of years ago when she Skyped with Bill the first time. But ex stepson has not spoken to Bill since 2009, after it was clear the gravy train had met its end. It was hard for Bill at first, because he had loved the young man like a son. But then he realized that he was never the lad’s father and that ex stepson never should have been denied access to his kin. And we have heard that ex stepson has matured and isn’t such a selfish jerk anymore. Who knows? Maybe someday they will speak again and it really will be “all good”.
I remember that ex stepson blamed me for this. He wrote Bill an email that vaguely accused me of “cutting off his money”. I never cut off the boy’s money. I didn’t have the power to do that. Instead, I was Bill’s advocate. I agreed with him that it was time to force that leech to fend for himself. I think it was ultimately the best parenting decision he could have made. Parents do their children a disservice when they don’t equip their children for taking care of themselves. I’d say it’s borderline abusive to constantly bail out adult children who get into trouble. How will they ever learn to be independent if someone is constantly fixing their mistakes for them?
There is a fine line between giving children too much responsibility and giving them too little. When I was growing up, I had to take care of a lot of my own needs– not so much financially, but in most other arenas. I was left to fend for myself a lot. I’m sure that ex stepson also had to fend for himself a lot. But his mother taught him that Bill was a resource to be abused and that he would take it, because he took her bullying and abuse for so many years. He now no longer takes as much crap as he used to. And maybe that’s my “fault”, since it’s partly my influence that led him to stand up to abusive bullies. Maybe that’s why some people dislike me.
I don’t need to be liked. I know I’m a good person, even if some people don’t see or appreciate it. It’s usually abusive creeps who have a problem with me. And if they don’t like me, it’s “all good”. Mess with me or my man and you’ll get the horns… 😉