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The Boston Globe

Magazine

Connections

Talking about a past marriage

Telling the kids means admitting we’ve made mistakes.

THE APPROACH OF SUMMER reminds me of the great idea my wife and I had last year of sending our 6-year-old son to French camp. Five days of French cultural immersion would be enormously beneficial, teaching him to wear berets and make pithy observations in a language his parents barely know.

I vividly recall the scene at the end of that first day of camp, when I arrived to find only the receptionist in the normally bustling lobby. “The kids are upstairs,” she told me. “There are only two of them.” People were coming through the door behind me, and when I turned I suddenly realized it was my ex-wife and her mother, two people with whom I’d barely communicated for the better part of a decade. We exchanged awkward embraces and a few actual words along the lines of “What the . . . !” My ex was there to pick up her son — the only other child enrolled in the extended-day portion of this obscure French camp. Soon the boys appeared with their teacher. My ex-wife was in a hurry, and my son was peppering me with questions, like “How do you know her?”

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