FAMILIES AND INTIMATE RELATIONSHIPS
My son began commuting between his two homes at age . He traveled with a Hello Kitty suitcase with a pretend lock and key until it embarrassed him .... He graduated to a canvas backpack filled with a revolving arsenal of essential stuff: books and journals, plastic vampire teeth, "Star Trek" Micro Machines, a Walkman, CD's,a teddy bear. The commuter flights between San Francisco and Los Angeles were the only times a parent wasn't lording over him, so he was able to order Coca-Cola, verboten at home ..... But such benefits were insignificant when contrasted with his pre flight nightmares about plane crashes ....
Like so many divorcing couples, we divided the china and art and our young son. First he was ferried back and forth between our homes across town, and then, when his mother moved to Los Angeles, across the state. Forty eight years since,he has been one of the thousands of American children with two homes, two beds,two sets of clothes and toys and two toothbrushes Four years later, Nick Sheff stated his own view on long-distance joint custody:
I am 16 now and I still travel back and forth, but it's mostly up to me to decide when. I've chosen to spend more time with my friends at the exp?nse of visits with my mom. When I do go to L.A., it's like my stepdad put it: I have a cameo role in their lives. I say my lines and I'm off. It's painful. What's the toll of this arrangement? I'm always missing somebody. When I'm in northern California, I miss my mom and stepdad. But when I'm in L.A.,I miss hanging out with my friends, my other set of parents and little brothers and sisters. After all these back-and-forth flights, I've learned not to get too emotionally attached. I have to protect myself.... No child should be subjected to the hardship of long-distance joint custody. To prevent it, maybe there should be an addition to the marriage vows: Do you promise [that] if you ever have children and wind up divorced, [you will] stay within the same geographical area as your kids? ... Or how about some common sense? If you move away from your children, you have to do the traveling to see them. (Sheff, 1999: 16)