My ex wife and I play this game every time I we drop the kids off with each other. Currently we have split custody, so I have the kids one week, and then she gets the kids the next. Every week when I drop the kids off with her I make sure they’re well dressed in case she has evening plans with them or whatever. For that fact, I try to make sure that they always have something decent to wear. I’m not talking about ensuring my children wear Nike’s or Nautica gear, but at least there are no holes in their clothes and everything fits.

Now, here’s where the magic of this game kicks in. Consider this tennis metaphor…

“Jake serves up the children. He’s showing good form. The kids are dressed in jeans and shirts and coats that fit accordingly and show no severe wear. Everything looks in order….”

Now it’s my ex-wife’s turn to volley. Her part in the game is to return the kids the following weekend in clothes that are (A) either too small for the kids by at least a size or two. (B) worn out to the point of huge gaping tears in the knees or rips at the collar or elbows. (C) both A and B! Yesterday she dropped the kids off in some really horrible clothing. Henry’s shirt was so tight it hurt his head to take off. His pants fit in that French-artist-high water sort of way, and the knees were blown out. Zoe’s shirt fit her fine as it was something that we had sent her in last week, but the jeans were, aside from being horribly ripped in the knees, a good two inches above her ankles. She complained later that they hurt her stomach when buttoned.

“…. The ex-wife returns the volley. Owe! She’s sent him back last year’s summer clothes! That’s a really tricky shot. How is he ever going to return that?…”

Like I said before, I’m not one to be hung up on name brands. That is not the case here. But when the kids are dressed like victims of some fast-acting growth serum from a science fiction novel, well I’m damned embarrassed. Whenever I ask her about this repeating scenario she replies, “ Oh, I’m sorry. I haven’t done laundry yet, and this was that only thing that was clean.” It’s gotten so bad that last switch when we picked the kids up to take them to the National Aquarium we brought a separate change of clothes for them, because we weren’t sure if they’d be dressed in anything inappropriate.

I would feel better about this if I thought that it was just because things are tight with her. I know they are, but when I see her with a brand new DVD player, and decent clothes herself, I have to wonder where her priorities are.

I have decided on something recently. I have decided that although I think the important thing is that the kids have clothes they can wear leading into this winter season, that I will no longer supply my ex-wife with a wardrobe.

“…It looks like Jake’s going to block with sweat suits. That’s right matching sweat suits for the children have been used to block her volley….”

Game over? Not likely.

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