I’d imagine most Americans know the term “Arrested Development” from the TV show, rather than the diagnosis that it revolves around. But I get to experience it on a regular basis, and I would guess a lot of people do, and either doesn’t realize it or don’t bother to think about it. But when you’re slapped in the face with it like I was today, you tend to think about it and marvel at it.

The grandmother of my child, whose name is Cecelia Musgrove, was supposed to drop my daughter off to me today at noon. She was sent to the wrong place and left me waiting over 30 minutes and set off a lot of excited texting, with me being accused of not knowing where the regular exchange point is over someone who regularly screws things up, screwing things up. I was called a liar, and my ex declared she was going to call her lawyer for some idiotic reason and no one in their camp could remotely fathom being wrong. It’s simply impossible and beyond all factual reasoning. That’s how things work these days. They don’t. That involves reflection on someone’s part by not believing anything anyone says or does because everything they say or do is untrue. And no one can unknot that mess. To no one’s surprise, I was in the right but still received the usual spears and arrows of intemperate, ignorant hysteria.

I’ve learned there are two ways to hand a child over to another person. One way is to carry them over, set them on their feet, and allow them to walk over to the other person. That’s generally the preferred method for several good reasons. The other way is to carry the child over to the other person and have the new person pry the child away from the person carrying them and climb onto the new host. That is an awkward, unpreferred way to exchange a child, for everyone except someone who has given no thought or consideration for what’s going on and for the child, much less the other person. The first method is what I had to explain how my daughter should to be given to me at exchanges, because at the beginning of our custody exchanges, it wasn’t happening that way, and as any astute parent would know, it caused emotional turmoil for the child.

So today, I was once again made to pry my child from another person, unthoughtfully. But what came next was what prompted this post. What should have happened was Cecelia should have been released to me, and the other person turn around and go on her way without incident. But the following is the level I’m left contending with these days which is easily dissected so that maybe somewhere, someone may take pity.

As my child’s sixty-something age grandmother turned to get into her car after creating a giant mess of an exchange, she blurted out ” Goodbye, Sara Celia!” across the neighborhood.

So let’s break this idiocy down. That wasn’t meant to be a bittersweet farewell to her grandchild, which she could and should have tenderly whispered to her before letting her down to come to her father. It was shouted for no one but me to hear. Why, may you ask?

Because this is the mental strength we’re dealing with: It was intended for me to hear to hurt my feelings. How would that hurt my feelings? It doesn’t, but here are the microsteps of thought behind it: She was trying to create an emotional wedge between me and my daughter by exclaiming Cecelia’s first name, “Sara” which isn’t even her family’s name, but the other twisty dysfunctional limb that was my ex-wife’s grandmother’s name. Then, to add some salt to that “wound,” she truncated my mother’s name to “Celia” as her mother does, to disrespect the very person their child and grandchild is named after. That is, it means more to try and zing me, who is of no consequence to either of them, below the most infantile level than it does to respect their very own child and grandchild. Pathetic? You decide. Trying to change the name of your child to disrespect the family of the chosen name of the child. Can it get any more egregious and wretched? I’m sure it can and will, unfortunately for Cecelia and me.

So, does this strategy work? Hardly. What it does is tamp them back down onto the bottom of the pit of idiots where they dwell. It’s not everyday pettiness. It’s an adult living in arrested development in that of maybe a twelve-year-old. And it’s what I have to grapple with on a regular basis these days.

Why, you ask? Why would a grandmother want to hurt the feelings of her grandchild’s father? What could have turned her against the person who helped raise her other grandchild? A manipulative and selfish force that lies and betrays in order to create a comfortable little den that sits atop a foundation of nothing more than words? Yes.