Tommy wanted to know how much money I send each week for his upkeep.
I replied saying "$150 a week, why do you want to know?"
The reply came back - "Dad said he couldn't pay for some boxers for me."
I recently got a new Child Support deduction notice, related to my payrise. It's calculated on my gross income less $13000 living allowance, and I pay 18% of the remainder. This is supposed to be my share of Tommy's living costs.
Yes, folks, my $150 a week is half of what it's supposed to cost for Tommy. So, to all intents and purposes, in the ideal world he would be living the life of Reilly on $300 a week.
And his Dad is claiming that he can't afford a pair of boxers. Hmm... unfortunately, I'm guessing that the excuse is that I don't pay enough for Tommy, and that Tommy's father is telling him this.
Tommy's a smart kid, and we've talked about Child Support and how it works. He knows the ins and outs of it. He also knows that my Mum and I have a bank account for him, in which we've been squirrelling away money since he was a baby, that now has a couple of thousand dollars in it. I am quite happy to send Tommy a copy of my latest Child Support deduction notice as evidence that yes, the money is being paid to his Dad.
But I'm concerned. What I'm concerned about is that his Dad is lying to him, and that he knows this.
I'm aware that Tommy's father is a person who will pass responsibility onto someone else if he can, especially for things he knows are going to make him look bad. It's easier to say "Your Mum doesn't pay enough for you" than it is to admit that you spent $100 on beer and bounced a couple of cheques and there's nothing left.
The difficulty is that in defending myself, and ensuring that Tommy knows I'm not the irresponsible uncaring person I'm made out to be, and that in fact I do have his back and love him, I would be undermining his father. While I have no problem exposing a liar who is an adult and should know better, the fact that this centres around Tommy involves him in an 'in-the-middle' kind of way that I'm not entirely comfortable with.
I have always figured that as an intelligent person, Tommy will figure out for himself what's what, and make his own decisions regarding how he feels about his parents. But at the same time, I'm not keen to allow Tommy to go without things because his Dad's a dropkick with money, especially if he's willing to make me out to be a bad guy in order to justify it.
Of course, it could be simply that at 12, Tommy's becoming more fashion conscious, and asking for these particular boxers, even though he already has 7 perfectly serviceable pairs that don't have the 'right' designs on them. In that case, I would explain to Tommy that next time boxer-buying came up as a necessity, I'd get him the ones he wanted, but meanwhile the ones he has are fine. I would not tell him that I couldn't afford to buy them because the other parent wasn't holding up their end financially.
What would you do? Should I send him the deduction notice, or is that just adding fuel to a fire I'm not keen to light under my kid?
In other news, it's the weekend as of about 6 hours away. For four whole days! By Monday I'll be in the country and at least partly unpacked and settled. I'll be mostly without internet (at least, good internet) for the first bit. But, you know, I don't really mind. khaybee and danjite are moving today, and will then be away for most of the weekend. Clayton's flatmates!
(this also means that xhile and I can run round in the nuddy if we want for the first couple of days - so text if you're visiting mmk?)
Fidels tonight for Surrogate Friday Socialising...