2005-06-27 - 10:03 a.m.
I DID IT! Sent an e-mail and a phone message ceasing the relationship with my former attny. I also instructed her NOT to have contact with opposing counsel or the law guardian as I don't want them to immediately get wind of this and try to take advantage of the situation!
I can still hear Soren's voice saying to me "This will be good! I can stay with Daddy this year and then maybe DAD will have my new room painted by the time I come back!"
And KAterina was told "Bring your stuff down to your new room in the basement." Which she said "OK" to ACTING like she was FINE with that.Then she got her stuff, went to the basement and BAWLED.
I consoled her and said I hope she learned a lesson! I also said "Don't worry this means you get the new bedroom! It will be really nice!"
(WHAT THE KIDS DIDN'T KNOW is that we had ORIGINALLY decided to let Soren have the new basement room as we thought Katerina and one of her sister's might have to double up! WE THOUGHT of the new basement bedroom as a privalege! But we later thought it through and realized that SHE is the more responsible and mature so we really TRUST her more to be FARTHER AWAY in the basement room which is not close to our room, and that SOREN tends to have more of those immature moments so we thought it better to have HIM closer to us for greater supervision of him!
Soren was just so THRILLED to head back upstairs to his old room as he had been the one temporarily sleeping in the basement on the futon while KAterina had been temporarily been sleeping on the couch and we were getting what used to be a SHARED room of theirs ready to have the FINAL paint job (after a few weeks of having cleaned it out and done some work on a wet part of the wall. Westley DID NOT allow them to sleep in that room until he took care of the wall that had water in it TO ENSURE THEIR SAFETY as he was worried about possible mold and adverse affects on their health!)
So this action on his part was brought up in the process of this when I was asked by my attorny "Why was Katerina sleeping in the basement"
I laughed and said "So we could paint the room she had been sharing with SOren and because she WANTED to rather than still share with him" I told her the whole story and that she had choices!
I also commented that our basement was likely nicer than my Ex's apartment!
Of course SOREN had been sleeping in the basement before Katerina and he was PATIENT in staying there BY CHOICE as he SAID he'd PREFER to stay in the basement rather than move temporarily back into the room with Katerina until his NEW room was done. THEY BOTH WANTED to have their own space! So the basement had been fixed as a temporary room during construction along with a nice desk and bulletin board. Westely even set up a computer for their use there, along with a bunch of games. There was another computer to be used for internet access with supervision only. There was a nice rug and my old big Papazon Chair THAT I LOVE! I Gave up it's use upstairs to make the basement cosy! And I retreated there during the day when the girls napped if I wanted to have a private phone conversation. OH YES the phone was there too... where the kids often sat on Sunday afternoons to have a private conversation with GRANDMOM who undoubtedly fed into any discontent and stoked it and encourgaed resentment of the EVIL stepfather!) WE used to JOKE about the NEW ROOM being in the DUNGEON-- only becaue in the transition what was done was the castle like stone walls... and Soren LAUGHED.
Now in the process of this custody case I ASKED KATERINA why she complained about the basement. She said she didn't like it and was upset at having been kicked out of her room! I asked her if she realized it was temporary until THE NEW PART of the house was done! SHe said "NO I didn't know that!" and I did comment annoyed "Where have you been? What family were you living with the past year?
I swear the answer SUBCONSCIOUSLY has been "In Buffalo" !
She really DOES HAVE alot of anger AT ME for having gotten a divorce, and moving and then re-marrying. This issue is the root of it all. Its also been stoked by her GRANDMOM and perhaps even CAUSED by her. In any case, hopefully someday KATERINA will realize this. But regardless, I KNOW that SOREN didn't WANT to leave our home. I know that HE thought it was time with his DAD and then he's be back. I wonder if he is upset and if the reality is sinking in yet. I wonder how he perceived the fact that they haven't come to stay with ME for the summer. I wonder how that's being represented to him.
I know this for a fact. SOREN certainly did not talk to me EVER like a kids who FEARED his DAD WESTELY and NEVER WANTED TO SEE HIM AGAIN. HE in fact was EXCITED about the new room. HE in fact was THRILLED when he came home from that trip having spent time with DAD (like always) He always enjoyed his time doing stuff one on one with EITHER WESTELY or ME! ME moreso of course! I wonder how he is feeling at not seeing me. I can't imagine he is REALLY OK with that!
And I keep thinking of the social worker/ JD Bonnie MCLAUGHLIN'S comment that she Was GREATLY concerned about KATERINA's Comment in response to her questions about whether she would miss me "I have grandmom"
She said she thought a girl NEEDS her mother. She said she was MOST concerned about Katerina's attitude toward me. She in fact FOUND IT DISTURBING and I think not indicative of a problem WITH ME as much as an unresolved problem that Katerina has and a problem of the undue influence of GRANDMOM.
I think maybe its time I call the couselor in Buffalo who the kids meet with and ask how the PAS TREATMENT is going.
That would be PARENT ALIENATION SYNDROME and it is unfortunately not a widely ACCEPTED diagnosis YET.... ALSO unfortunately the leading researcher killed himself a few years back... so that put a damper on the movement to RECOGNIZE this as a condition of children of divorce who are manipulated by one parent to the detriment of their relationship with the other parent. It can also occur when the manipulation is targeted at a NEW STEP PARENT... and can occur when the manipulation is carried out by A GRANDMOTHER.
Also BUFFALO is not known as a progressive community themselves... I think they typically ARE BEHIND the times in all things and are treating me in the POST FEMINISM phase that the rest of our country has passed through in the evolution of actually respecting BOTH women's rights as well as men's. I think there is a natural progression in this that can be seen and part of that assertion of women's rights is the man hating stage... we saw alot of that in the angry chick music like ALANIS MORRISSETTE( who I can't stand!) and Buffalo's own ANI DeFRANCO... (whom I do like!) , but like all things, including music... there is an evolution of which revolution is itself a healthy PHASE... and then there is an overcompensation and eventually a BALANCE that is reached when a faction of society that has been subjegated becomes empowered. I think the way the Buffalo legal community acts demonstrates there is still an over- sensitivity when it comes to respecting women that this sore spot hasn't really HEALED yet. The defensiveness seems to me to be due to them STILL having issues with women NOT REALLY being so empowered... and STILL having such issues with RACE as a city, and still therefore being EXTREMELY DEFENSIVE regarding those two things. They see me as this women in need of their HELP They see themselves as being progressive because they don't ASSUME that children are always better off with mother... yet then they overcompensate and MINIMIZE the imortance of roles of mothers. They really don't get to the part of looking at each parent AS INDIVIDUALS and gender is SO MUCH a part of the dynamic of how they view things BUT THEY DON'T EVEN RECOGNIZE IT...
HEy- Moday is the day they go to counseling. Grandmom of course takes them all. That is a plus as I am SURE the COUNSELOR met her... and if they are ANY good at what they do they will have observed her attitude and involvement and have already seen things to be concerned about. Bonnie McLaughlin didn't need MY HELP to identify the REAL issues! SHE BROUGHT THEM UP - not me!
I am starting to think that the difference between SOCIAL WORKERS and PSYCOLOGISTS is really a real big issue! Courts seems to see Psycology as a SCIENCE and give it great weight, whereas the DISCIPLINE of social work is one of studying systems and seeing the broader picture but recognizes that the SUBJECTIVE view of the observered can't be ignored. SOCIAL WORKERS and sociologists are not considered to be practicing SCIENCE... in part because they ADMIT this subjectivity and don't CLAIM to be scientists! They also however think PSYCHOLOGY is an art and not a science and take objection to much of psycology that they feel IGNORES all the other external factors and is insular in its study and review of an individual- their brain and their experiences, at times missing the bigger picture. I made the mistake of referring to this academic DEBATE when I met with the Psycologist and was talking of WESTELY cutural foundations work... But it was ALSO discussed with my friends ROSITAT and My JD/MSW law buddy who ALSO agree there is a DEFINATE tension between the two disciplines. (THe psycologist acted like I was mistaken! She of course BENEFITS from the court bias which brings her in as more of an expert than the Social Workers)
IN this case I TOO THOUGHT ANY PSYCOLOGIST with even the SMALLEST amout of skill couldn't MISS the problems of KAterina and Soren's DAD and have an ALARMING report as the SOCIAL WORKER did. YET I WAS SO WRONG to make that assumption!
Well... off to try to find the name of the Counselor that the kids see. I DO WANT to talk to her regarding the PAS possibility as well as the alleged FEAR the kids have been said to have of WESTLEY. ANd hey-- the interesting KAGAN interview I linked to a while back discussed PARENTING and how parents HAVE to have an adverse effect of non desired behavior to teach and train children to have habits of GOOD behavior. That was a PSYCOLOGIST speaking and he too seemed to think a certain degree of FEAR of a negative consequence isn't such a detrimental thing ! The real issue is WHAT ARE THEY AFRAID of and I KNOW The real HONEST answer. THey like me are actually AFRAID when he yells! That still SEEMS to me to be a NORMAL and HEALTHY response! Shouldn't people remain AFRAID of yelling to a degree? Shouldn't we recognize that is NOT an acceptable way to communicate? My children HAVE not been DESENSITIZED as when yelling WAS done it was of concern and also ADDRESSED by me. KIDS IN ABUSIVE HOMES FIND THIS TO BE NORMAL!!! THEY ARE NOT DETERRED BY YELLING AND AGRESSIVE BEHAVIOUR AND IN FACT THEN EXHIBIT THOSE BEHAVIOURS THEMSELVES IN SCHOOL AND ELSEWHERE! THEY ARE NOT STRAIGHT A STUDENTS WITH GOOD BEHAVIOR!!
Yelling is no longer a dominant commincation technique in our home. HECK we even used phones with pagers so no one would YELL for EACH other across the house. I USED TO HATE HEARING THAT CALL OF MY NAME!! AND I AM not being CALLED all the time EITHER because that dynamic was a pattern WE ALSO broke! I AM NOT WESTELY'S SERVANT TO BE ORDERED ABOUT, NOR ARE THE KIDS... but we are a FAMILY and can ASK to help each other out respectfully... and at times YES I THINK IT OK to TELL KIDS that they are to help! IN a large family EVERYONE HAS TO PITCH IN AND DO THEIR SHARE!!
Growing up I have a brother who was not MADE to do his part. HE CONSISTENTLY was allowed to NOT BE A PART of the household work... and as adults HE'S the one who has trouble getting along in the world! HE's the one without all the needed skills to be capable of taking care of himself. Like KAterina and SOREN's DAD who ALSO has been enabled by his mother... they are the ones who as adults ARE NOT INDEPENDENT. So although the kids DON'T LIKE the mandatory help with household tasks... in the long run they will have SKILLS they wouldn't otherwise have!
YEARS AGO WESTLEY used to do OTHER things than yell! He really CEASED those behaviors WHEN THEY DIDN'T GET HIS DESIRED RESULTS! Like kids, adults TOO LEARN and GROW and adapt!
And He did indeed have the abusive episode with Katerina. I STILL think this case HAS to be ABOUT ME. I still think the thing the court HAS to look at is WHETHER I RESPONSDED appropriately and prudently and whether I PROTECT my children.
I STILL THINK My now dismissed ATTORNEY is an IDIOT for NOT HAVING FOCUSED on those questions from the onset.
And I recall her comment "THE LAW GUARDIAN WAS ANNOYED YOU WERE BEING LEGALIST.SHE SAID YOU WERE ACTING LIKE A LAWYER"
I think SHE DIDN'T like me being LEGALISTIC because once the case is looked at in that manner then there IS NO CHANCE that the law guardian has things go her way. IT makes her feel GOOD to have the judge do what she recommends. BUT LEGALLY I AM CONVINCED when all the facts are presented and the law is ACTUALLY applied in the court that a JUDGE is BOUND to have a different outcome... WHETHER THEY LIKE IT OR NOT. A GOOD JUDGE makes decisions based on LAW NOT THEIR OWN PERSONAL OPINION.
And FRANKLY when this case first started I read the VA law and THOUGHT "WHAT THE FUCK!" and was quite ANNOYED that the LAW DOES PROTECT CORPORAL PUNISHMENT!! I TOO LIKE THE LAW GUARDIAN and my attny and most ENLIGHTENED people of this time, THOUGHT THIS IS FUCKING ARCHAIC... LEAVE IT TO VA!!!
But as this case has been played out, I happen to have GREATER RESPECT for the statorily protected RIGHTS of corporal punishment NOT BECAUSE I CONDONE OR AGREE WITH OR WILL PERSONALLY ACCEPT THAT AS A CHILD REARING TECHNIQUE-- I DON't and I WON'T But BECAUSE I SEE THAT THE LAW IS SO BECAUSE IT PROTECTS THE INTEGRITY OF FAMILIES BEING ABLE TO BE A FAMILY!!
I AM SURE THE POLICY IS SUCH (not only IN VA but a half dozen or more OTHER STATES) SO THAT ONLY CLEAR AND CONVINCING CASES OF ABUSE CAN BE BROUGHT FORTH and not frivolous ones bases on a few spankings! THE FACT IS THAT A HUGE PERCENTAGE OF CUSTODY CASES ALLEGING ABUSE end up being UNFOUNDED and in fact end up being motivated by OTHER THINGS SUCH AS AVOIDANCE OF CHILD SUPPORT. or SPITE..... I forget the figure... but it was remarkably high and well over 50%. I think 70 or 80% range... but I have to look that up again. THINK OF WHAT THOSE FALSE ALLEGATIONS DO TO KIDS!! THINK OF WHAT THOSE FALSE ALLEGATIONS DO TO FAMILIES...
Now in this particular case We did have the incident that I in fact was VERY aggressive in addressing to protect children. IN this case I HAVE ADMITTED the facts of the incident and my former attorney thinks that is enough for me to lose. But I think this push to settle has really been motivated by an effort to AVOID the laws of VA being applied to the facts. I think my former ATTNY has been played by the law guardian. I think my former attny really is not too bright! (NICE LADY who I actually like as a person-- but I think she should be practicing something other than family law! During my divorce she was real adament about NOT having a law guardian appointed and seeking DRUG TESTING as a stipulation for their visitation with them! HER BOSS the partner in the firm who I met with along with her AT FIRST ADVISED a law guardian and advised seeking SUPERVISED visitation and drug testing. SHE ADVISED we settle and took out ALL CONTROLS on their DAD in the settlement and advised that I was ANGRY and shouldn't make decisions based on that. I Got angry at HER THEN and said I was NOT ACTING OUT OF ANGER but OUT OF CONCERN AND PROTECTION of the kids and argured with her THEN about those points. Finally I gave up arguing and agreed to settle without getting the controls I wanted that A TRIAL would have ENSURED! WHY?? BECAUSE It was FASTER and CHEAPER and I KNEW THE KIDS DAD didn't give a damn about spending time with them then, nor would that likely CHANGE! WHY- because I KNEW THAT THEIR GRANDMOTHER would continue to be the one involved in their lives. SO I THOUGHT THE PRECAUTIONS REALLY IN THE END POINTLESS. SO I took her ADVICE and settled without the yucky trial and without persuing those concerns then.... and I am convinced ALOT of this crap NOW would have been AVIODED by having handled that DIFFERENTLY At the time! A BETTER ATTORNEY WOULDN"T HAVE DISMISSED my concerns about the kids when with their DAD... a better attorney would have taken them seriously THEN so his issues would have been ADDRESSED in the initial divorce and custody agreement FOR THEIR SAFETY. A better attorney WOULDNT HAVE A PATTERN OF ALWAYS ENCOURAGING SETTLEMENT!! I See this as a pattern... she encouraged settlement THEN when it was such a lopsided case in which I was going to clearly be granted custody and in which if it went to trial he would have lost rights. So THEN I settled thinking EVEN IF HE IS DYSFUNCTIONAL that it better that the kids see him- KNOWING THAT THEY REALLY GO TO GRANDMOM... a BETTER ATTORNEY WOULD HAVE HAD FORESIGHT that SOME ISSUES Are BEST NOT OVERLOOKED for the sake of the kids! I swear she like many attnys must SETTLE all her cases and be afraid of trial! HELL TRIAL TECHNIQUE IS MY FORTE! ITS WHAT I WON IN HS DEBATE AND IN LAW SCHOOL ... I KICK BUTT IN THAT AREA AND I KNOW IT... SO let the court NOT LIKE me being legalistic, LET THE PSYCOLOGIST think me ARROGANT... they STILL WILL BE FORCED TO APPLY THE LAW AS I WILL GO TO TRIAL AND PUSH THIS ISSUE
And now after almost a YEAR of this, I FEEL MORE PREPARED to go forth to trial than even a year ago. A YEAR ago my defending of VA LAW and invoking of VA LAW would NOT have been WHOLE HEARTED. NOW I MYSELF HAVE ZEAOLOUS RESPECT and GREATER UNDERSTANDING OF THE WISDOM OF THOSE LAWS. NOW THAT THE THREAT OF THE KIDS NEVER BEING ALLOWED IN MY HOME WITH WESTELY makes me understand just how proactive those laws protecting parent's rights to discipline without outside interference ARE! VA LAW IS SET UP TO PROTECT THE INTERESTS OF PARENTS EXACTLY LIKE ME!!!! IT IS SET UP SO THERE IS NOT A SLIPPERY SLOPE OF BEING ABLE TO STRIP PARENTS OF RIGHTS WHENEVER THERE IS ANY USE OF PHYSICAL DISCIPLINE....IT IS SET UP TO DELINEATE A CLEAR LINE BETWEEN WHAT IS ACCEPTABLE AND WHAT IS NOT.
Because in VA WHEN THERE IS HARM its a different story. IN VA there is NO PROTECTION for parents when there is actual HARM of a child. THere is protection when a parent uses corporal punishment though WITHOUT ACTUAL PHYSICAL HARM.. THERE IS PROTECTION FOR USING OF CORPORAL PUNISHEMENT AS A TEACHING METHOD. THERE ARE SCHOOLS AROUND THE STATES, IN NY INCLUDED THAT STILL USE THESE METHODS... WHETHER I WOULD SEND MY KIDS TO ONE IS AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT MATTER. WHETHER I WILL ALLOW MY HUSBAND TO USE PHYSICAL DISCIPLINE IS ALSO AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT INTEREST THAN THE INTEREST OF THE STATE IN ENSURING CHILDREN ARE NOT ABUSED! THE STATE HAS INTEREST IN PREVENTING ABUSE, NOT IN DICTATING HOW PARENTS TEACH AND DISCIPLINE THEIR CHILDREN. THose issues are STILL in the family's domain! IN VA harm is CLEARLY defined as PHYSICAL. They don't enter into that ETHERAL realm of FEAR being a thing that is not MEASURABLE criteria- they don't take kids away because of FEAR - BECAUSE FEAR IS NOT A TANGIBLE MEASURABLE THING. SO the laws protecting parents right to use corporal punishment DO allow parents to instill FEAR of misbehaviour in their children. BUT EVEN under what I initially thought of as ARCHAIC LAWS-- IN FACT I HAVE OBSERVED and am IMPRESSED by the PROGRESSIVE and steadfast commitment of the LOUDOUN authorities to BE COMMITTED TO NOT ACCEPTING OR ALLOWING ABUSE IN THE PARAMETERS OF THE LAWS THEY DO HAVE. I think they are EXPERT at doing this. I think they are EFFECTIVE at doing this.
I know because I TURNED TO THEM ! And this is the fact that most of all is REALLY strongly in my favor: A CHILD CAN NOT BE REMOVED FROM A PARENTS HOME WHEN THERE IS IN FACT EVIDENCE THAT PARENT PROTECT'S FROM HARM!
BECAUSE of my COMMITMENT AND EVIDENCE OF PROTECTION OF THEM I aM SURE THE KIDS WILL EVENTUALLY COME BACK HOME TO ME. -- EVEN IF I OVERREACTED LIKE SOME THINK - THAT IS BETTER THAN ACCEPTING AND UNDERREACTING WHEN THERE IS EVEN THE REMOTEST POSSIBILITY OF HARM
SO I am convinced that when this goes to trial, the FACT that I DID CALL the police will speak as loudly as anything else.
AND THE FACT THAT IN NY They CAN NOT DO A COMPLETE INVESTIGATION whereas IN VA THEY CAN indeed give GROUNDS FOR A CHANGE OF VENUE
WHAT AGGREVATED ME MOST OF ALL is my former attorney REFUSAL to file that motion.
SO I MADE ANOTHER DECISION WHICH ALL THIS WRITING WAS MY WARM UP to do: I WRITE AND RAMBLE BEFORE DOING ANY IMPORTANT "OFFICIAL" WRITING
I am filing a COMPLAINT to the ABA for her repeated failure to follow my instructions, her entering into agreements PRIOR to even seeking my consent (like moving the trial OFF the JUDGES DOCKET and into a legal arbiter then LATER TELLING ME and mailing me the form to sign I SHOULD HAVE FIRED HER THEN AND THERE.... )
IF she NEVER FILED that response SHE IS FUCKED.... She'll learn a thing or two about professional ethics when she's under investigation by the ABA. She who I am convinced is so worried about her career and concerned about how the law guardian and judges view her!
All in all at this point I HOPE that she indeed didn't file that RESPONSE. I HOPE the judge (not relly judge but whatever she is called I think its a "law arbiter "that acts like a judge) who seemed to have this negative view of me and the codescending speech to me about decision making.. .HAD THAT IMPRESSION because ALL SHE SAW WAS THE PETITION and never got a strong response from me! I HOPE HER IMPRESSION was due to her seeing only a ONE SIDED STORY.... for a variety of reasons
I hope that indeed when someone DOES READ my response they do take pause and understand HOW THE KIDS were placed in Buffalo temporarily in part DUE TO THE MANIPULATION OF THE LAW GUARDIAN WHO LIED TO ME REGARDING PROCEDURE SHE UNDOUBTEDLY KNEW ABOUT when the night before the first trial she called my home and said I could get and ADJOURNMENT... then she went to court the next day and the judge heard HER PRESENT her case for the kids remaining with their DAD!
(THIS WAS DIRECTLY ADRESSED IN MY RESPONSE!)
OOPS WROTE TOO LONG! VIDEO OVER... AT LEAST I ACCOMPLISHED THE FIRST THING on my list today! LATER during nap time I'll make more progress. I am also ready to enter that focused mode of writing at night as needed which I have done for every VISA
MY GOAL: TO ACCOMPLISH MORE PROGRESS ON THIS CASE IN TWO WEEKS THAN MY FORMER ATTORNEY DID IN SIX MONTHS.
FRANKLY I DON't think that will be too hard.
Oh- and I did accomplish one other task. I swallowed my pride and made an order for sale of stock at a loss. I HAVE TO IN GOOD CONSIENCE PAY MY LEGAL BILL BEFORE SPENDING ANY OTHER MONEY... (So I did not go to the dance class I am eying... when all this is poid off!! I am not one to incur debt when having past due bills! AT ALL ! WE TRY TO LIVE WITHIN MEANS..... although sometimes don't succeed!! )
I AM CONSIDERING SELLING off the remainder of my retirement fund to pay my attorney part of her bill. I hoped to not do this- but I haven't much choice in the matter. Its such an insignificant amount anyway... should I sell the VOLVO the remainder can be set up in another fund... but I figure even though I'd prefer to hold onto this ACCOUNT as its a great account and easy to use and would save aggrevation trying to set up a new one, I don't want to sit on her bill too long without some payment as I REALLY don't want her to file a lien on my car! AND SHE JUST MIGHT if she is at all passive agressive once I have fired her AND am complaining! Heck she is certainly not an AGRESSIVE attorney- so I figure that means SHE MUST be the passive agressive type! ISN't it a job requirement for attorneys to be one or the other?
I feel like the biggest game of procrastination is FINALLY over and now I am REALLY going to trial FOR THE FIRST TIME!! Not that there were not BENEFITS and REASONS to allow that procrastination... there were which I ALREADY wrote about... but SCHOOL is out and its summer.. so I AM READY to RUMBLE so to speak!