"Can you babysit on Thursday?" I ask my ex, regretting the word 'babysit' as soon as it's out of my mouth.
Because it's not babysitting when it's your child, is it? It's 'parenting'. Yet sharing childcare seems to be one of the major causes of dissent in every single-parent household I know. Especially mine.
My friends probably think I have it sorted, what with my ex and I still living together, but actually our set up makes things harder. There are no boundaries or rules, just endless rows.
The family calender is an excellent barometer of the mood in our house – if it's empty, chances are, the homestead is in a period of calm. If it's heavy with meetings – especially evening functions or events – you can guarantee the atmosphere at home is heavy, too.
Even the way entries are made on the calender is telling. If I have announced an 'out' and not marked it down in a timely fashion, then my ex will, in large, angry letters, whilst his own dates seem to be written in the smallest, faintest hand, as though he doesn't want me to spot them, like they are not really happening.
And really it's got nothing to do with childcare; it's not that we don't want to look after our little boy, it's simply that neither of us wants to be told what to do by the other.
It's a resentment that must be familiar (and festering) between most separated couples?