Honey: (knocking on the door) Hello? Are you in there? Hey Conscience! Listen, I was just wondering –Conscience: (in a high-pitched sing-songy voice) Nobody home!Honey: (annoyed) You’re clearly home, I just heard you in there!Conscience: Nope. Not home.Honey: I need to talk to you.Conscience: Oh, you need to talk to me? You’ve been ignoring me for years.Honey: Yah. Been pretty busy. So, listen. I just have a quick question for you.Conscience: Shoot.Honey: Ok, this may seem like a strange question, but I was just wondering under what circumstances would it be OK for me to move away from my kids?Conscience: Like, how far?Honey: I don’t know, like 2,000 miles, give or take.Conscience: Hmm. That’s a tough one. Is there a life-threatening circumstance that required you to move?Honey: Uh, no.Conscience: Did you have to relocate because you were serving your country?Honey: No, you know I’m not in the military anymore.Conscience: Was the only job you could get on planet earth there?Honey: No, man, you know I didn’t go there for work. It’s kind of in the middle of nowhere.Conscience: Hmmm. Was it because boobs?Honey: No, it wasn’t because boobs!Conscience: It was so totally because boobs.Honey: It’s not like that, man. But, like, so there’s not any other reason that you could think of that would be legit?Conscience: Define legit.Honey: Well, you know. Socially acceptable, I guess.Conscience: That’s a rather odd question to be asking your conscience, don’t you think? First of all, you already moved. And second, I deal in moral absolutes and guiding principles. I’m not real concerned with what’s ‘socially acceptable’.Honey: Oh yah, no, I totally get that, but it’s just that…I’ve got a bit of a problem on my hands. Recently I’ve been feeling this weird thing I’ve never felt before-Conscience: (interrupting) I know. It’s called ‘guilt.’ It’s new. Just had it installed Monday.Honey: You did? Well, get rid of it, it’s awful! It’s always nagging at me day and night, saying ridiculous things like ‘he’ll never get to have his dad at his baseball games’ and ‘she’ll grow up damaged because you walked away.’ I hate it.Conscience: Sorry. Can’t help you, Buddy. Tried all the usual things to get your attention, but you’d always just turn up the sound on the TV to drown me out.Honey: Well, you’re wasting your time installing that guilt nonsense. I’ve done nothing wrong.Conscience: So is that why you’re here, then? Because you’re so sure of that?Honey: I live with myself just fine. I mean, kids are resilient, right? Isn’t that what they say?Conscience: Who exactly is ‘they’? Whoever ‘they’ are, they must not know any of the statistics about fatherlessness.Honey: Uh, they aren’t ‘fatherless’, thank you very much! I’m their father. I mean, you know. On Skype.Conscience: Ha ha! Oh, that really is sad, man. Do you actually believe they feel like they have a dad because of Skype? First rule in parenting: show up. If you haven’t shown up in three years, they have no dad in their life.Honey: I don’t appreciate your tone, man! You know, this is why I ignore you. You suck.Conscience: No, YOU suck BECAUSE you ignore me.Honey: And just what statistics are you referring to, exactly?Conscience: You really wanna know?Honey: No, not really.Conscience: Well, since you brought it up: Children in fatherless homes are 20 times more likely to be incarcerated. 11 times more likely to have violent behavior. 70% of adolescents in juvenile correctional facilities come from fatherless homes. 80% in psych centers are from fatherless homes. They are 9 times more likely to drop out of school, and 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances. 44% more likely to be raised in poverty. 90% of all runaway children are fatherless. 82% are –Honey: (interrupting) Those statistics cannot possibly be true.Conscience: Well, I’m sure your expertise about their insignificance must be a huge comfort to your ex-wife.Honey: Who?Conscience: You. Are. Literally. Hopeless.Honey: Look, I have reasons other than ‘because boobs’, ok?Conscience: I doubt that very much, but go ahead. Lay it on me.Honey: Well, it’s hard to explain, ok? You don’t choose who you fall in love with.Conscience: Yes, you can, actually. You can choose to control acting on it if you’re married. But self control is not a topic I want to waste my time getting into with you. I may as well be speaking Mandarin.Honey: Just tell me how to get rid of this guilt thing, I can’t take it anymore! Pull the plug or flip the switch or do SOMETHING to make this stop.Conscience: Let me guess. The ‘affair fog’ has cleared? Your once-exciting dalliance has become more of an income anchor and daily drudgery than that fairy tale you sold to everyone?Honey: Yes! Exactly.Conscience: And now the weight of what you’ve done to your kids has really hit you?Honey: Yes, ok?! Now just DO something!Conscience: Ok, ok. Keep your pants on. Here’s the instructions for removing those pesky feelings of guilt: Nénggòu fàngqì értóng de rén méiyǒu róngyù. Nǐ xiǎng xiāochú nǐ de nèijiù ér bùshì jiāqiáng fùmǔ zhè yī shìshí biǎomíng, zhè shì yīgè méiyǒu xīwàng de shìyè, yīnwèi nǐ de liángzhī. Wǒ zhèngzài lǚxíng yīduàn shíjiān. Wǒ zài xiǎng fěijì, huòzhě shuō zhōngguó de xī xìng shěng. Wǒ kěyǐ shuā shàng wǒ de pǔtōnghuà, cóng zì liàn de èchòu zhōng huòdé yīgè hěn hǎo de xiūxí. Rúguǒ yǒurén wèn nǐ rúhé líkāi nǐ de háizi, dá’àn shì “yīnwèi xiōngbù”. Zhè shì wéiyī chéngshí de dá’àn. Zhù nǐ hǎo yùn.Honey: But those instructions are in Mandarin, man!Conscience: (in a high-pitched sing-songy voice) Nobody home!
Translation from Mandarin:
People capable of abandoning children have no honor. The fact that you want to eradicate your guilt rather than step up as a parent indicates that this is a hopeless cause as your conscience. I’m taking a trip for a while. I’m thinking Fiji or maybe the XioXing province in China. I can brush up on my Mandarin and get a well-earned break from the stench of your narcissism. If anyone asks how you could leave your kids, the answer is ‘because boobs’. It’s the only honest answer. Good luck.
I’ve kept meaning to ask but what’s up with this? Is he suddenly have second thoughts? Is he trying to be more involved in their lives, or is he just whining to get a little sympathy? I thought maybe something had changed.
No, these are just the kinds of things I envision in my strange, late-night brain. I like to imagine he actually at least has the occasional guilty or self-aware thought so I can pretend for a second that I wasn’t unknowingly married to someone indifferent to his own children’s suffering. Even after the whole court debacle he dragged me through, there’s been no visit or hint of a plan to. He’s still Mr. Rogers on the phone and the last (and only) time he visited was 2014. Count my blessings?
It’s a double edged sword, isn’t it?
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I’d also like to know the same stats for the wives who have been abandoned!