Friday, 2 February 2007

Big argument

There is a big argument. Everyone hates each other.

It starts because something upsets Squirrel. I don't know what. Some slight or thoughtless action, dealt early on by a triplet sister, who remains unaware and probably unconcerned that a wound's been made. Usually when there's a blow, it's obvious. There are cries of 'My sisters won't let me play with them' or 'I'm never playing with her ever again.' Or it will be straightforward insults: 'Shark smells.' 'Tiger's manky.' Squirrel has a big bum'. Then there are direct actions. Finger claws, hair pulls, kicks, slaps. But sometimes the wounds are made and not much noise is made after. Then the wounds are not resolved. And then they start to grow.

I know there's been fighting. And my deaf ears make Squirrel's wound worse. I won't listen. I'm determined to leave the house and arrive at the art and craft session with plenty of time for play. The thirty minutes before we get out the door I don't listen to anything. Shoes and bags and coats are flying, and a stream of words is coming out of my mouth. 'Get in the car. Stop whining. Are you wearing shoes. I can't find my keys. Put your shoes on the right feet. Get a bag. Don't tell me. I've lost my glasses. Bring a coat. Carry those. Put this on. Wait in the hall.' The words form a seamless flow and rise in volume the further the clock ticks on. I don't expect answers. I can't deal with questions. I don't want to hear tales of hurt or injury or problems. We're late. I get Shark and Tiger in the car, fighting over the arm rest.

But Squirrel's got a problem. And so begins our conflict.
Squirrel stands on the stairs, arms folded, not moving. 'Do you not want to go?' I shout, not looking for an answer, looking for movement.
'Yes' she huffs.
'Well come on then. Now.' I'm not talking any more. I'm shouting.
'You won't let me.'
I don't know how standing at the foot of the stairs shouting 'Get in the car now!' constitutes not allowing her. So I bark, 'Why not?'
'Because you don't love me,' comes the reply. I'd like to say it's sniffled sorrowfully or said with brimming eyes. But it's not. It's spat out with scorn and contempt like a challenge to a battle.

At this point I should have replied with a jumble of nonsense. 'Oh well, I would allow you in the car but it's full of puffins, so I'll strap you to the bonnet in a paper bag with the vegetable hot-pot and tie you on with a singing pink zebra. Is that ok?'

But I don't say that. I'm furious. I scream, I tear my hair, I hit my temples with my hands and scream in frustration again. At full volume I roar, 'Get in the car!' She doesn't move. So I turn and slam the door behind me.

If I had something accessible and inanimate at that point I'd probably kick it to bits. It would go the way of the kitchen bin which stood in the yard for 18 months waiting to go to the tip after I kicked it so hard the dents had dents.

In the car Shark and Tiger are still fighting over the arm rest. So I give them a hard time. We get petrol, I drive home, go in, slam the front door. I go out, unload Shark and Tiger, unpack the car, slam the front door again and shout at Dig. Shark goes off to hide, Tiger sobs and Squirrel's still defiant. After an hour I shout to everyone that we're going because I want to meet Jol afterwards. She's invited us to lunch, so we're going. 'Which means you have five minutes to get in the car', I order. Unbelievably, they all scamper in. Nobody utters a word on the journey.

We miss most of the art and craft. But afterwards, I do get to talk to Jol, while Shark, Tiger and Squirrel play with Am. It's therapeutic. When it's time to go home, no-one wants to leave. Jol is calm with everybody, cajoling and fun and never demanding or reprimanding. I promise myself I'll learn again from that. But I still won't be able to put it into practice everyday.

I have a memory of my mother, pushing me and Big Bro to fight it out together in the front room while she went into the kitchen and threw a plate at the wall. And the day she threatened to leave home if we didn't stop fighting. We didn't, she did. The house rattled empty without her while she sat at Mary's house, probably wanting to kick the sofa to bits, or sitting on it weeping. We filled her empty space with fists and insults. After a while, she returned and threatened to leave again if everyone continued fighting. I can't remember whether it made much difference. I regret it all. Me and Big Bro caused her so much heartache, and she forgave it all and said it probably didn't matter much in the end.

So at the end of this day, it probably won't matter much at all.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

There's always another week . . .

Can I auto-post this comment for every Wednesday and Friday?