“Hello, Sergeant? Yes, I was wondering if you could help me get my cell phone back from the big bully down the street… You will? Oh, that’s just great. Thank you!”

Ridiculous.

I’m sure that’s what the police officer was thinking when he had to make a phone call to my ex to try to “reason” with him. And maybe it sounds ridiculous to anybody who hears the story.

I’m learning what my limits are, but sometimes, other people need to be reminded of theirs.

It started a couple of weeks ago when he found out that I had allowed Niki to have an online computer account that I knew he would disapprove of. Right or wrong, I made the decision not to tell him about it. She lied to him when he asked her directly about it, which I do not approve of.

He decided to punish Niki by taking away her cell phone for one month – the cell phone that I set her up with, that’s on my plan, that I pay for every month and that I count on for communication with her sometimes.

He gave her a temporary phone to use for emergencies; he programmed in family numbers and 911. That’s it.

Now, while I don’t really agree with his punishment (and like my daughter says – he lies all the time) I feel I have to support him because Niki is a pill, and it would not work in her best interest for me to ignore his punishment.

I asked him if we could discuss it. He very clearly told me no, there would be no discussion. “No team play here” were his exact words. He told me that since I did not inform him of the online account, I was lying by omission (I guess he would know all the types of lying, since he is the expert on that) and I made a big mess, and Niki would not have to be punished at all if I had included him in this.

A few years ago that would have thrown me, but now I can see clearly when he tries to turn everything around on me and excuse his bullying.

I asked him to return the phone to me, as it is not his property. He refused. He told me to “just chill” and let him handle everything. I asked again, and said I would involve the police if he did not cooperate. He said fine, just make sure they don’t come while the kids are here, because he didn’t want to traumatize them.

Now, if you don’t know the background stories here, you might think I was just being silly about all of this. But I very well know that his keeping the phone was not at all about Niki’s punishment, but rather, a message to me, that said, “You are not in charge. I am in charge. Don’t forget it. I can take your things whenever I like and keep them and you can’t do anything about it, and you’d better think twice the next time you decide to keep information from me.”

I don’t know what the police officer said, but I have the phone.

Niki was happy and excited, but her face fell when she realized she still wasn’t going to get her phone. But she brightened up again shortly, and looked at me admiringly, “That’s really cool, Mom – the way you stood up for yourself and didn’t take no for an answer.”

I told her there were times to stand up, and times to give in, and one of the hardest things for me in life is to know the difference.

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