A message from the mother of James and Jude’s best friends.
Yesterday, I was supposed to testify in the case for the custody of James and Jude Younger. Unfortunately I was called into the courtroom and dismissed 30 seconds later, because the judge said that the lawyers needed to rest their case.
This prevented the jury from benefiting from the information that I hoped to share.
You see, I’m just a mom. A mom of 4 kids (3 being boys) who happen to be James’ and Jude’s best friends. As such, I have spent over 150 hours with them over the past year.
I have fed them, read to them, played with them, spent hours talking with them while we did art projects together and have been the victim of an onslaught of 5 little superheroes with foam swords. I know them in a way only a best friends mom can. You know, the mom they go to when they want an adult- but don’t really want to talk to their parents. I have been this for them and I have seen, heard and experienced so much more than any of the other witnesses simply by spending real quality time getting to know and care for them.
If I could, I’d adopt them and take them away from the whole messy situation. A trial like this pits 2 adults against each other and no one comes out looking good because it’s just awful.
Over the past year, I have observed that
James is blissfully happy as a boy. He loves to march around outside and yell, “we are the only boy scout troop” or “I’m the Leader of the wolf pack!” He is always the ring leader, even though he isn’t the oldest of the group. He loves dressing as a super hero and sword fighting. One day we all walked to a playground near my house and on the way home James slipped in some mud and got his clothes dirty. He asked if he could borrow some of my kids clothes and I could wash his. Of course I said, “no problem” and grabbed him a pair of shorts from the chest of drawers and tossed them to him. I said, “hang on while I grab a shirt from the closet”. He immediately said, “Mrs. Sarah, I don’t need a shirt! It’s hot! And boys don’t have to wear shirts if they don’t want to! Isn’t that awesome!” He was so cute. I said, “yes that is awesome!” As he ran off to play. I did eventually get him to put on a shirt. It was gray with lizards on it and he loved it! He also likes having his hair cut a certain way but told my son Grayson that his mom wouldn’t let him get it too short even though he wanted it to be spikey.
We document everything with home videos and pictures so our kids can look back and remember fun times together. James and Jude are such a part of our lives that we have tons of photos and footage of them playing together and you can see how happy they are.
James is clearly embarrassed by things that happen with his mom. We were all discussing what they were for Halloween and when my boys asked James he said, “it’s a secret. I’m embarrassed”. I taught my boys that we don’t press James for information when he feels uncomfortable because we love him and always want to be a place where he doesn’t feel forced to talk so that he knows he can share freely when he wants to. We immediately changed the subject, but there have been many instances like that.
While the situation with the boys’ “mother” wanting to transition James is a big deal, there is another half of the equation that is equally important. Jude.
Jude is bright and kind and has the cutest laugh you ever heard. He loves legos and his whole face lights up and he talks really fast when he is excited about something. But Jude is withdrawn and quiet after prolonged time with his mom.
One Sunday afternoon, we had been playing and he suggested that we all go somewhere for dinner. Jeff said, “sorry buddy, we have to go back to mom’s tonight. You have school tomorrow”. He immediately started crying. He clung to his dad and said, “Please daddy don’t make me go home. I don’t want to go there.” He was distraught. After awhile he gave me a hug and let me comfort him but it was as if he just shut down. The happy boy I know was replaced by a numbing quiet. It broke my heart to see him suffer so much.
Jude has also told me that things “disappear” at his mom’s house that are special to him. His favorite shoes that his dad got him went “missing” and other things. So when my kids made a photo album for James and Jude that had a bunch of silly pictures of them all together they told my kids that they wanted to keep it safe at their dad’s house because they were afraid it would disappear at mom’s.
I have also observed neglect when they leave their “mother’s” home. In the winter we regularly met for dinner on the Thursday nights that Jeff had the boys. They came out of her home inappropriately dressed for weather in clothes that were ill fitting and not at all warm enough. Pants that were too tight and short, shoes that they couldn’t run in and no coats, even when it was extremely cold. I began to keep extra coats, gloves and hats in my car just so they could play. Jeff bought them coats but this was still a regular occurrence.
Truth be told, I’m not sure how often she is home. The boys told me that mom was at work a lot and that their sisters or someone else watched them. Then they told us that they had a new “brother”. We found out later that a troubled young man who was a friend of one of Anne’s daughters had moved in because he had some family trouble. I have heard that it was due to drug use, but I don’t personally know that for sure. I do know that the boys were not happy about it, especially Jude. It made him very uncomfortable and unhappy.
No parent is perfect, but both boys adore their dad. They hang on him like a jungle gym. They jump in his lap and tell him they love him. He is great with them. He is firm but gentle, never raises his voice and the kids respond really well to his authority. Sometimes I have to tell my kids 3 times to do something. When Jeff speaks they listen - not out of fear, but out of respect and love. I have heard them both said they wish they could live with him all the time.
I wish the jury could know what I know and could have experienced the joy of these adorable little guys.
Now, I’m trying to console my children who fear they have lost their best friends. There are many hearts breaking today- but there are 5 little boys who are going to suffer the most from this ruling. The wolf pack.
I pray that the judge will be wise and fair with the details surrounding the final decision tomorrow and give these little men the best chance they can get at a happy healthy life.
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Yesterday at 1:35 PM ·