In a recent text exchange between Sam and his 12 year old son Zack who has chosen, with his mother’s blessing, to refuse time with his Dad this summer, Sam asked how Zack’s baseball practice was.
Zack’s reply, “You’d know if you had been there.”
First of all, this snide response sounds nothing like Zack and everything like his mother, Missy. Zack’s typical reply to a text question like this would be, like many 12 year olds who text at lightning speed, a one-word answer like, “Fine,” or “OK,” or “Good.”
Zack has been playing sports since he was four years old. Missy originally denied Sam any information about Zack’s sports practices and games. Sam had to contact the coaches or the leagues (some of whom had been “warned” about Zack’s Dad by Missy), and he often encountered obstacles when asking for information about his son’s participation. Eventually, along with an order to share medical and school information, the court required Missy to share Zack’s sports league information with Sam. She began obediently providing information, but usually not until the week or the day Zack’s practices or games began, and she has NEVER communicated with Sam when she signs Zack up for activities. When Zack was younger and Sam was still fighting to receive information about his sports’ schedules, Sam would attend Zack’s practices as soon as he heard about them. Missy resented Sam’s presence at these practices if they fell on “her day,” and she told him he was not welcome there. Zack often ignored Sam altogether at these practices, and Missy would go on the field or court to help Zack pack up gear and would hustle him to her car to avoid any contact with Sam. On the flip side, when Sam took Zack to practices on “his day,” Missy, and sometimes the Smith grandparents, would attend and would go so far as to go on the field of play to greet and hug Zack ensuring that the Smith family, unlike the Baker family, could not be ignored. (See “Do the Math,” Story #10)
This recurring kind of situation, created by Missy and the Smith family, is exactly why her behavior is harmful to her own son — a fact she cannot recognize as its creator. Eventually Sam attended few, if any, sports practices on Missy’s days.
So, not only is Zack’s sneering response to Sam’s inquiry out of character, he and Missy have made it perfectly clear in the past that Sam is not wanted at Zack’s practices. (Also keep in mind that coaches and other players’ families witness this dynamic and see Sam and his family put firmly in their place as fringe characters.)
The conversation between Sam, Melanie (Zack’s stepmom), and Grandma Baker (Sam’s mother/Zack’s Grandma) after Sam told them about Zack’s spiteful text and his upcoming first regular season game was this:
Melanie: If you had called Zack this morning and asked if he’d like you to be at his practice, there is absolutely no doubt that he would have said No.
Grandma Baker: Does this mean we won’t be welcome at his game next weekend?
Sam: Mom, we’ve never been welcome.