Shortly after my grandson was born his Mom and Dad had a picture made of the baby in their arms. As grandparents we dutifully put a copy in a tacky picture frame and placed it on a piece of furniture under the TV. It became one of those pictures that you see daily but sort of blend into the background and you stop noticing it unless you had to dust around it. After all, he was at our house daily so what’s the big deal. Then came the divorce. The parent’s ended up with shared custody of my grandson so we still see him regularly.
One day when he was about 4 years old I was following him from the kitchen to the den when he came to an abrupt halt in front of me. I heard him exclaim, “who did that?” Before I could speak he turned to me and again asked “who did that Pop Pop?” Did what I queried? “Who did that to my Mom” as he pointed to the picture.
I was perplexed but when I looked where his finger was pointing I was shocked to see that the left half of that baby picture, the part that had his Mom, was missing. “I don’t know” was my feeble response as I reached for the picture. It didn’t appear to be torn off so I opened the back of the picture frame in front of him and fortunately there was the missing portion showing his Mom; it had been folded back. Together we folded the picture back straight and flattened it out best we could. We talked about it being wrong to do that and we discussed how it was important to always love both his Mom and Dad. To him the picture seemed restored but to me I still saw the crease that marked the divide in his life.
Inwardly I was livid. Privately, I turned to his father (my son) and confronted him. He denied being the culprit so I moved on to my younger son. “It was just a joke Dad, what’s the big deal?” As a divorce attorney I recognized how big a deal it really was but it was obvious that the “teenager” just didn’t get it. Disrespecting a child’s parent under any circumstance may seem funny or just a joke between adults but there is a fundamental reason why we all take offense to “Your Momma is so . . .” insults.
Needless to say I was crushed when my grandson asked me again 3 days later “. . . but who would do that to my Mom?” I remember muttering some deflecting answer as parents tend to do. It was humbling as there was absolutely no defense for it having happened, and it clearly hurt his feelings. Some joke, huh?
My grandson has never asked about the picture again but I can assure you that I now look at that picture every time I enter that room and remember the day my 4 year old grandson recognized an ugly consequence of divorce between parents. Taking the high road may be the harder path but for the child’s sake it’s well worth the extra effort.