The girls really did handle it much better that last time he went to jail at their birthdays. Riley said it best when she said, "I love him, but I don't miss him." Being younger, not remembering a time when we lived together helped her a lot. Sylvia was getting there, but it was just going to take longer. Every time X screwed up, she got a little closer.
Things went on, the girls had fun on their birthdays, he got out again, and eventually - can't remember exactly when, but it must've been early 2007 - X came back down to L.A. to live. My anger had dissipated, and we went back to some visits with me as a chaperone. Some went well, some not so well.
The next big happening was Mother's Day of that year. Or rather, the night before Mother's Day. We already had plans to be with my parents on the actual day, but X said he wanted to take us out for a nice dinner at this great restaurant to thank me for everything I've done. Of course, he asked me with the girls around, and how could I say no?
So we made plans to meet him. We were there before him, and I got a little freaked out that he wouldn't show. But he called and said he was on his way.
We had a nice dinner. He seemed a little distracted, but I just figured he was feeling depressed, and I didn't ask.
Until the bill came. And he started telling me how he needed to go meet someone who owed him money, and would we just wait for 10 minutes or so while we got the cash to pay for the bill.
In my head, I could see what would transpire. He would leave. and not show up for a good half-hour at least. And when he came back, he would claim the friend stood him up and he still wouldn't have the money to pay the bill. Or he wouldn't come back at all. And I would be left with the question of how long do I wait?
The girls were already getting antsy, and I could feel my irritation rising to a level of pissed. Without a word, I got out my credit card to pay for my own Mother's Day dinner. I so badly didn't want to make a scene in front of the girls (not to mention, I knew the waitress). I just wanted to get out of there.
Of course, X wouldn't let it go that easily. He couldn't have me mad, or not talking to him. I was being unreasonable again. It wasn't like he wasn't going to pay, we just had to wait.
And of course, Sylvia was on his side. Why wouldn't I just let him buy the dinner?
Tears were springing in my eyes, but I refused to answer. I tried to give X the look to say, "shut the f*** up. Do NOT do this in front of the girls. " X just ignored it, though. Just went on pretending like it would all work out.
We managed to get out of the restaurant, but X insisted on following us, on continuing to try and goat me. The girls were crying at this point. But I got them in the car and got the hell out of there.
My cell phone started ringing not 20 seconds later. I finally started yelling at him, while the girls cried in the background. He finally gave up.
I apologized to the girls, but explained to them that it wasn't right to say he was taking us to dinner without having the money upfront. He could've canceled, he could've postponed, he had any number of choices available rather than just leaving us there.
The best thing to come out of that was that I told them I couldn't do it anymore. I couldn't be in the same room with him anymore. We couldn't spend time together because too many times, it ended in disaster. And the best thing was, they agreed.
P.S. And, no, he never did pay me back for the dinner. He still owed me for four years' worth of child support.