Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Return of the Mother

I haven’t had much to do with The Mother lately.

Not since I rescued F from children’s party detention for saying the word ‘idiot’. That was a week after she told me that F wasn’t allowed to play with her children ‘until further notice’ because her son had thrown a tantrum after lending F his bike and then changing his mind.

At the beginning of this school holidays, my ex asked The Mother about arranging for the boys to play together.
‘I’ll talk to Ariel about it’ she told him.
The next day, at Auskick, neither of us spoke to nor looked at each other. The boys didn’t play together during the school holidays.

So, imagine my surprise when the phone rang this afternoon and The Mother was at the other end.
‘Hi!’ she chirped. ‘It’s [The Mother]!’
‘Oh.’ My stomach dropped. Somehow, I knew this wasn’t about calling an end to ‘further notice’ and inviting F over for cheese on toast.

‘WELL, I’ve had the WORST day!’ she wailed, her tone dropping from terminally perky to tragic in one quick beat. ‘It’s been a bad time, really. I’m sorry to call you like this. The dog has been eating all the plants in the garden and I had an electrician, and I called him and then he had to call me back and then I missed him and he didn’t leave a message and then I had to call that number, you know, where it tells you the last number dialled, and it was him, so I called him back and then he wasn’t there.’
‘And anyway, now I’ve reached him and he’s coming. And THE BOYS! Oh, A just kept going ON at me in the background and he wouldn’t STOP while I was trying to talk to him and it was AWFUL.’
‘Oh dear.’ I am mystified and growingly alarmed at the reason for the call. ‘Well, um, they do tend to go on when they know you’re busy.’
‘Oh, I don’t think he knew I was busy. He was just shouting at me from upstairs. It was terrible. And then Kujo has been so bad this week, really, so bad, he’s been ripping up the garden and he ate my plant that I bought. And it’s so cold, isn’t it. Are you cold?’
‘Um, yes, it is a terrible day.’
‘It’s just been LIKE that. Terrible. And the reason for my call, oh, that’s terrible too.’

I am imagining that F has beaten up one of her children. That he has taught them new swear words. That he has exposed himself in the playground. At the very least, that he’s given them Andy Griffiths books to take home.

‘W went on and ON at me when I went to pick him up from school tonight. He was very upset. He said that F had TAKEN all of his Tazos, that he’d snatched them and run off and wouldn’t give them back. He INSISTED that we find F and get them back, but there was so much going on, and I couldn’t find him. So.’

This was not good. In playground currency, Tazos are gold. If W was right, F is behaving like a thug. All The Mother’s worst fantasies about F are coming true. Which is why she’s on the phone. I detect a smug undertone to the surface wailing. I don’t even remember, to my shame, if I apologised at this point. All I could think was: ‘here we go again’.
“Shall I give you a name of the Tazos he is missing?’ she continued. ‘I’ll tell you what they are. Are you ready?’
‘Well, F isn’t here right now. He’s with his stepmother. But okay, tell me and I’ll call him there and make sure he brings them to school tomorrow.’

She tells me the Tazos, consulting with the boys along the way. There are nine of them.
‘So, which team do you go for again?’ she asks, mid-list.
‘I don’t have a team.’
‘Oh. Okay.’
‘So, what exactly happened?’
‘F snatched them from W and ran off with them. Hold on, I’ll ask him. Would you like to speak to him?’
‘Okay.’ I hold the line.

A small voice pipes up, somewhat nervously.
‘Hello W. So, what happened?’
‘Um.’ He pauses. ‘Um. Do you know, I actually can’t remember if F took them from me or if we had a deal to borrow them and give them back.’
He repeats himself.
‘You don’t remember?’
‘Right. Goodbye, W.’

The Mother comes back on the line.
‘Oh,’ she says. ‘Did you hear that?’
‘I did.’
‘Maybe F will have a, um, a better memory of what happened.’
‘I’m sure he will. Okay, well I’d better go.’
‘Oh no, how are you anyway? Is your heater about to overload with the cold?’

I make forced chit-chat for a few minutes, rage boiling below the surface. I want to kill her and her stupid lying dobbing children.

I ring F’s stepmother. I tell her I’ve had a complaint from a mother at school about F taking cards, and that it seems he hasn’t, but I need to read him a list and make sure he brings them to school.
‘Was it [The Mother]?’ she asks.
‘Yes,’ I says, surprised. ‘How did you know? Have you had trouble with her?’
‘Oh, no. But I know you have.’
‘She is really odd, though.’
‘Yes. She is.’

Long story short: you’ll be unsurprised to hear that F and W had a deal to consolidate their Tazos and share them, taking turns to bring them home.


killerrabbit said...

Oooo The Mother is a evil wench because she would have to be encouraging her son to dob, or at the least not telling him off when he does. I hope that you get to give her a good death stare next time you see her.

Watershedd said...

I don't know why you tolerate The Mother's attitude. Her child seems a liar and a cheat. Perhaps you should level some carefully pointed revelations at her feet regarding her own parenting abilities - or lack thereof. I hope for your sake (and F's) that the two children are in different classes.

Eleanor Bloom said...

Sweet Jesus! I felt like screaming just reading her verbal insanity... She's freakin' nuts.

As I was reading I imagined that her son mentioned something and she just jumped on it, thought: great, I can jump down Ariel's throat again and be all-superior.

I agree with killerrabbit, evil wench deserving of a death stare that makes her really feel the cold.

Kirsty said...

Do you reckon A just knows if he wants to avoid trouble with his mother he just blames F? Probably didn't think far enough ahead to the phone call we all know she would inevitably make.

Still, A's attempt to avoid his own trouble shouldn't become your problem.

elsewhere said...

Mmmmm...sometimes I'm glad I'm not a mother...

Ariel said...

killerrabbit: She might get more than a death stare! And I think it went something like this. W: 'F has my cards. I want them back.' TM: 'Did he take them from you?' W: 'Yes' TM: 'And he wouldn't give them back?' W: 'No.' TM: 'Right, that's it, I am calling his mother!'

watershedd: Oh, there is no tolerance. Only so much bottled=up anger that I can't afford to let it out. ANd they are in diffeent classes.

eleanor: I think you're right. On all counts!

kirsty: I think W (and A) loves dobbing. I often tell W off when he dobs to me about F and I do drill him about the truth. I think he tought I was about to drill him (I wasn't) and cut to the chase.

elsewhere: it's other parents like this that are THE worst thing about motherhood

redcap said...

Is it possible to nuke the ground a woman is standing on just by thinking about her? Because if it were, The Mother would be extremely-toasted toast right about now.

I am, however, quite glad that you and the stepmother have a point of contact. I imagine that these relationships can be really rather awkward. Perhaps you could stake out the woman's house together and egg her car? Actually, next time I'm in Melbourne I'll be perfectly willing to help you stake out her house and egg her car. I suppose she'd just think it was an example of the universe conspiring against Really, Really Good Mothers ~vomits~

PS I can't think of anything more tragic than terminally perky.

naridu said...

I've just gone through and read both this and the previous two posts on The Mother and all I can do is think back to some very similar accounts my mother used to share with me when we needed to blow off steam about parents of my younger sister's friends. My partner and I are in absolute agreement that there are very few actual bad kids out there, but unfortunately more than enough bad parents.

What makes me smile though is the karma she will reap as those children grow up.

mindlessmunkey said...

Hi Ariel,

I have been tagged for what is essentially a meme, called the Thinking Blogger Award, and I'm choosing you as one of the five blogs I pass it along to.

Feel free to ignore, or pass it along, as you wish.


p.s. I am, as always, a great admirer of your work here.

Kirsty said...

How's things?

Ariel said...

RC: Look forward to the egging!

Naridu: Welcome! 'very few actual bad kids out there, but unfortunately more than enough bad parents.' True, and I think that applies to the Mother's kids.

MM: Thanks so much, I am honoured - more than I must seem to be - and will belatedly tag five blogs.

Kirsty: Thanks for asking. I'm okay, but so completely swamped with work that I've had no time to blog (and then lost the habit, so the next one needs to be interesting, so I don't do it ... you may know how it goes)

redcap said...

Are you coming back soon missy? It's been Quite a Long Time...