Worse than Useless

My son is starting to receive picture postcards from faraway places. He has two already, not the usual bright happy postcards, these seem to have a melancholic feel to them. The first is a picture of elephants bathing in a river in Thailand, while the other shows the backs of a mother and child kneeling to offer some food to a pair of orange-clad monks, it is from Laos. His father sent them, in his strange all-capitals printing style. They are signed LOVE PAPA & CLAIRE and always have the same silly remark “I hope school is not boring!”.

I first found out that my ex husband was a world-traveler on the one occasion when I needed him to do something for our son. Robert’s passport expired in March and I started applying for his new one in February. It turns out that South Africa requires me to have the father’s signature, even though I have full custody of the boy. I sent him the forms and asked him to sign them at the embassy but I am sure he never did.

I thought I would tackle it differently by applying for a Canadian passport for Robert. Last week I was reassured by one of the young officials at the embassy, so I went ahead and started the paperwork. Today as I showed them the forms for review, another older woman told me, to my dismay, he has to sign at the nearest embassy. So I go and email the father again. He said that the nearest Canadian embassy would be in Phnom Penh, and they won’t get there for some weeks.

I find it ironic that my son and I might ultimately be stuck here in the USA unable to go home, or anywhere else,  just because his worse than useless father is traveling the world. No wonder the cards injure my sensibilities. Not for the first time I cannot help the thought that we would have been better off without having the father in the picture.