All of my kids went to co-op preschools, where parents (usually moms) run the school and take turns "co-oping" (being the teacher's assistant) in their child's class. My step-son (now a HS freshman) also went to a co-op kindergarten and my youngest is in one, now.
A big annual event at co-op schools is Special Person Day, where the parent who doesn't "co-op" attends a special Saturday class with the child, to see what a typical school day is like. The kids prepare for weeks, making gifts for their dads and learning special songs, etc.
My husband and youngest son are getting dressed for his Special Person Day, right now. Our son is SO excited and my husband cancelled an important business trip, to be home for this.
I cannot help but have some flashbacks to my step-son's kindergarten Special Person Day. DSS still lived here, with his mom. She had falsified a No-Contact Order, to convince DSS's kindergarten teacher that DH wasn't allowed around DSS and to call police if he came to the school or even called the teacher to talk about DSS. DH could have gone to school and let the teacher call police and discover the truth about the No-Contact Order, but it would be scary and confusing for DSS, so DH waited to sort it out through the courts...which took all school year.
DSS's mom sent him to Special Person Day with her friend's husband, as though DSS had no father in his life. DSS felt humiliated and DH was heartbroken.
I am listening to DH and our little one talking about what to wear and where to get breakfast on the way to school. Our marriage isn't a storybook. I know what it is to feel so frustrated or angry with DH, sometimes, that I'd just like to shake him...as I have no doubt his ex-wife sometimes felt. Nevertheless, I could not conceive of ever feeling entitled to take away experiences like this, from my DH and DS - especially my bright-eyed, chubby-cheeked 5-year-old.
No doubt, my instincts are not to my own credit, but some unpredictable amalgam of my influences and experiences, over 40 years. I know many of DSS's mom's influences and experiences were hard.
I'm so glad the days when she could do things like ruin Special Person Day are behind us. I'm glad that my little guy's parents are both committed to not using our kids to push each other's buttons. I'm sorry for DSS's mom, who is now kept away from her boy and has missed so much of the rest of his growing up. I know she loves him. I wish I could help every parent who's mired in anger and vengefulness, like she was, to see a different path; to find a way out of the woods, by focusing on their love for their kids; instead of getting more and more deeply lost.