People are very concerned about children of divorce. Dozens of books outline the millions of things that can go wrong, and the very special attention kids will need during such a big change. Kids go to therapy, color their feelings, get calmed down by horses and most importantly, often get two Christmases. People make divorce out to be a bad and devastating thing, but there was only one child of divorce in my fourth grade class and she and her mom lived in a condo with a pool. My dumb married parents didn’t have a pool, so I don’t know, divorce sounded pretty cool to me. Teachers were also nicer to her, gave her a bunch of extra leeway, and she managed to con her dad into sending her to a sleepaway camp even though he said no the three previous summers. Michelle’s life was a lot better than mine because her parents were trying to buy her love, as the old divorce stereotype goes. But do adult children of divorcing parents get the same special treatment?
Heck no, it turns out. The Times recently ran an article about children affected by later in life divorce. There was a lot of talk about hurt feelings and other psychological impacts but not one mention of elaborate gifts. So these poor adult kids get their idea of marriage and love obliterated, without the specialized support young children are often afforded, plus no presents. What a rip off.
All those seven-year-olds get special mother/son dates and TWO bikes, but what of Gerald, the 31-year-old mild mannered systems analyst that just found out his perfectly boring parents aren’t celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary next month, but rather, they’re throwing in the towel and splitting up. Gerald played by the rules his whole life. He never snuck out while grounded or stole alcohol from the liquor cabinet, topping the bottles off with water hoping no one would notice. He never got high behind the bleachers or asked for anything more than lunch money from his parents. He got his degree from an ok school and got an ok job and just last year bought an ok house with money he saved up himself in an ok high yield account. Now his life is getting turned upside down but no one seems to care because he’s not an impressionable middle schooler anymore.
Who will take pity on poor Gerald? Will his mom take him out for soft serve after his little league game? No. Will ol’ Ger-bear have to teach his 59-year-old dad how to use Tinder? Oh yes. Will he learn his dad is “into butts?” You bet he will. Don’t you think he deserves an all expenses paid ski weekend for that? I sure think he does. It’s time to grab victimhood by the horns, Gerald, and here’s how.
First off, if my old pal Michelle can get away with doing no homework for three months, Gerald deserves a little break as well. In lieu of teacher pity, get boss pity. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to take four to six hour-long breaks during the day to walk around the block or chill out in his car for “mental health reasons.” I also think it’s fair that Claire take on a couple of Gerald’s projects as Claire’s parents are still together and it’s really time for her to step up to the plate and earn that promotion, you know? I also think it’s fair that people stop judging Gerald for how much free pizza he eats on Pizza Tuesdays because no one mentioned a slice limit in the recurring calendar invite, and also Gerald is going through a pretty rough time so everyone can piss off.
Secondly, just because Gerald’s parents don’t have to fight over his custody doesn’t mean they shouldn’t fight for his love. Gerald won’t have the luxury of two Christmases because he’s a “grown up” and grown ups don’t need a large pile of gifts to know they’re loved and blah blah blah. That’s a load of crap. He does need tangible proof this divorce isn’t his fault just like an eight-year-old would. But just like expensive cheddar, Gerald’s tastes have matured way beyond those of an eight-year-old. Summer camp isn’t going to cut it. An all expenses paid eleven day Mediterranean cruise will though. And horseback riding lessons are for babies. Jetskis are for adults. So, mom and pop should buy him a jetski. No wait, TWO jetskis. One for his regular home and one for his lake house; the lake house his parents should also buy him.
Some divorcées really knock it out of the park for their kids’ birthdays in an attempt to compete with, and then upstage the other parent. This applies to Gerald as well. Celebrating 32 might not seem like a big enough milestone to garner bar mitzvah or quinceanera level parties, but why not? And why even limit it to birthdays? Maybe it’s time for Gerald’s dad to cough up the dough for Drake to play Gerald’s laid back, backyard Memorial Day barbecue.
While Gerald’s missing out on the double Christmases, he will be punished with two Thanksgivings. He’ll have to split his time between two marathon dinners where he will get grilled two times by a bevy of aunts and cousins as to why he hasn’t settled down yet. His thirteen-year-old cousin Chloe will ask him yet again if he is gay and, yet again mention her piano teacher is “a catch.” He will repeat this misery again on Easter. Twice. Lucky for Gerald, the final act in making this divorce work for him is blaming all of his problems on this divorce. All. Of. Them.
Aunt Louise on him again about being single? Divorce’s fault! Late for work? Divorce’s fault! Hasn’t gone to the gym in six years? Divorce’s fault! Ice cream for dinner again? Divorce’s fault! Mounting credit card debt? Divorce’s fault! Commitment issues? Divorce’s fault! Are you questioning whether any of this can really apply since his parents only got divorced six weeks ago? Stop questioning because Gerald will answer, “you know, there was tension there for years.” And you can’t question him! Because he’s a little broken bird of an adult man who now owns two jet skis he didn’t have to pay for. It’s Gerald’s time to shine, excuse-wise. Literally everything that is wrong or even sort of wrong in his life is because he now comes from a broken home. Soar like the excuse ridden eagle you were always meant to be, Gerald!
James J. Sexton