Confession: I'm glad he left the kids alone in the house (Updated for clarity)
3 kids, 7, 8 and 10.
I'll leave them alone for 5-10 minutes at a time if I'm running to get milk or something and they want me to. We call it 'practice'. One time, I had to pick the little one up from a Friend's house and the big one wanted to stay home. I told him it would be 1/2 hour or so and I wasn't comfortable with it, but he begged so I said 'okay'. He had changed his mind before I pulled out of the driveway.
Ex asked me to switch weekends with him about a month ago but I couldn't. I had a wedding and related stuff to go to last weekend. He had just been invited to a party. EVERY other time he's asked if we could switch or he's bailed, I've handled it with no problem or drama. He got pissed. Said new wife really wants to go to the party. I told him that he'd have to find a sitter, that I just couldn't pull up the slack this time. He said he'd ask his parents and sulked off.
My cell rang Saturday night, about an hour into the wedding reception. It was my ODK, sounding panicked. Daddy and SM left them home alone to go to the party and said they'd be home around midnight. They'd been gone an hour. ODK tried to call Daddy to tell him that he was scared but he didn't pick up the phone. I told him I'd be right there and he fell apart crying saying that he knew I would.
As I gathered my things and explained to a friend where I was going, I kept trying to call Dad and it went straight to voicemail. Same with SM. Friends who's a state trooper told me to call the local precinct and get an escort so that there could be no question of parental kidnapping or whatever.
I set up my iPad to record when I got in the car and I called ODK back to tell him I'd be there in 20-25 minutes. (I live in the marital home in the suburbs - Ex moved to the city). He was a wreck. I called the precinct and explained what was going on and they said that they'd meet me there.
got to the house, got the kids, we all spoke to the cop and I left a voicemail, a text and a note for Ex. The kids were fine as soon as they saw me and told the officer and I that SM had 'talked Daddy into it'.
Two hours later, with the iPad recording, I got the irate phone call from Ex. He was freaking out because their tenant had let him know that there was a patrol car patrolling their street and he was sure they were waiting for him to get home. The party was a pool party so he didn't have his phone on him, that's why he didn't answer. He told me I should have butt out.
They cited him for neglect and endangerment. First offense, NO history and I had told the police officer that I was surprised because he's a good dad and that made it into the report, so they ordered parenting classes and well checks. Saw him yesterday at his parent's house and he apologized, profusely, to me and the kids. He couldn't take the fighting with his new wife so he made a bad decision. His parents were pissed - at him.
Turns out, fights with her have been on the rise as the kids 'take over' their lives, more and more. WTF?! Nothing's changed since the day I threw him out because of her. Twice a week and EOW. She's 'tired' of having to schedule around 'his' kids. After court, she told him that she thought that once he left us, he'd eventually give up on the kids and move on. She also thought I'd be a b1tch about letting him see them and that would 'help'.
He's back with his parents and getting another divorce. She called me, screaming, about ruining her life. Very satisfying phone call. He's explained to the kids what's going on and they seem okay with it, though they liked her. Therapy starts next week, just in case.
UPDATES for clarity:
Ex and I are NOT high conflict.
My reluctance to switch weekends is because I am trying, after many years, to get him OUT of the habit of using me as his de facto babysitter when he wants to make plans during his time with the kids. Nothing more. And that was only the second time that I've said, "No."
The cops were ONLY called to avoid the appearance of custodial interference and on the advice of a State Trooper. They were NOT called because I wanted Ex to get in trouble. The law in our state is murky as to children being left alone, leaning on "it's different for all children" and "parents have to make the best determination" which, as I see it, means that, as a parent, you're going to be judged by an officer or CPS case worker if, God forbid, something happens but...
Ex and I decided TOGETHER to start the 'home alone' practice with ODK and agreed that it should happen at my house where they are more comfortable, spend more time and know all of the neighbors.
I am NOT glad that Ex ended up in trouble. Best outcome would have been that he answered his phone at some point BEFORE I got there or that he was there when I got there with the police. I'd have preferred a stern talking to about being a helicopter mommy to what actually happened. At no time, though, was I crazy or hysterical.