Their Two Dads
The twins spent the weekend with their biological father. Carina and I were both a little skeptical, but the girls said they wanted to go, and their father's been paying child support pretty regularly, so we didn't really have grounds to object. The kids are both responsible enough to know how to get help if they need it; and they know how to contact us if they need us. They've been doing an admirable job sticking up for themselves when they're around their dad (who, historically, hasn't been the best role model, nor entirely attentive to their developmental needs). We made it clear that we'd pick them up if they wanted to come home for any reason. They called Friday night, Saturday afternoon, and Sunday morning to report that they were having a good time, and that all was well. They were having such a good time that they asked to stay an extra night, so that they could watch fireworks. We consented, again lacking any strong reason to bring them home other than we missed them.
Their father commented to Carina on Friday that he wasn't going to enforce a bedtime. She laughed, and strongly encouraged him to reconsider that position, for his own sanity: if the kids are too tired they'll be grouchy and ruin his plans of a fun weekend. Not living with the kids day in and day out, I can understand how he might think differently about the utility of a regular bedtime.
Carina and I talked for a bit about this. It's clear that he wants to be "the fun dad" and allow the kids perhaps more freedom (and materialism) than permitted at our home. That's fine with me. He's been so far removed from the twins' day-to-day lives that he will have trouble making any kind of deeper connection with them. Buying their short-term affection is about the only thing he knows how to do that will have any success.
He'll keep them up late, and bring them home exhausted, and we'll be the ones to deal with the aftermath of getting the kids back onto a normal schedule. That's okay, too, though; because when the kids need advice, or when they want comfort, or when they're scared they're not going to call him. They're going to come to Carina and me. We're the ones to whom the kids look for safety, support, and love.
And indeed, this is exactly what happened: Tyler called us at 10:30 Sunday night, sobbing that she wanted to come home. Tayler fell ill some time earlier that evening, and Tyler wanted to either get away from her, or get them both back to a more comfortable environment. Whether their biological father was capable of administering the kind of medical care they needed wasn't really important: she felt he was unable to give them the comfort they needed, and wanted to come home.