After the spectacular and slightly surreal dance seminar weekend, I feel like going back to basics. Counting my blessings. It might even be time for a list. And I hate lists.
Blessings No. 1:
Lulu is still dealing with the pitfalls of social media. Yesterday at Jack’s stunning Sunday roast, we were all hanging over the food when Lu burst into tears.
‘What’s wrong?’ we asked.
She sniffed. ‘So-and-so said I’ve been spreading shit about people and I haven’t. She’s just a bitch.’
I sat back and tried not to smile. It was like the murderer scratching their nose.
‘They said that I said if this girl was going to to cut her wrists then she might as well do it and not by halves as she said she was. Apparently I said, “Who cuts their wrists by half?” But I don’t remember saying it. It was right at the beginning when I joined school.’
I thought for a moment. ‘Tell them you don’t remember saying it. Or that you were homeschooled. That always explains a lot.’
Lulu’s face brightened. ‘Oh yeah. Good idea.’
Blessings No. 2:
I like to call my mum from the car. It usually has a nice transitory conversational appeal.
‘So what’s going on?’
She groaned. ‘Your grandmother is at it again.’
My ears pricked up. ‘What’s happened now?’
‘Welll, you know how she has to wear those pads? For some unknown reason she doesn’t want to throw them away. I keep telling her to but it’s like taking a horse to water. For two nights now, I’ve found them rolled up under her pillow.’
I gasped. Tried not to perform an emergency break in my car. ‘Under her pillow?’
’Under her actual pillow. I told her if she continues to do it, then I’m going to have to throw away the pillows.
‘What’d she say?’ I asked.
‘She swore there was no need to throw them away because they weren’t dirty. Of course when I put my nose into them, they stank.’
Now I had to try to laugh and drive at the same time. Maybe driving and talking wasn’t such a good idea.
’When are you taking her back to Poland?’
’On the 8th of March.’
I was just torturing her now. ‘Will she be able to manage on her own?’
My mother was grimacing down the phone. I could definitely hear it. ‘We’ll see.’
Blessings No. 3:
Before we left for the seminar, I asked Jack to put a towel down in my car boot for Fin sit on with muddy paws. Delph and I had cleaned my car and I’d put the old towel in the wash.
At 5am he told me it was too early in the morning to talk about it. Fifteen hours later, having not thought about my car all day and instead driven his beautiful Audi Olympia, the first thing I did was to check the boot of my tiny car. Are you crazy? I should have gone instead straight to our fridge door where the diagram our family therapist kindly drew up for us is pinned.
This diagram explores the relationship dynamic between parent, adult and child. I should have gone and stared at that motherfucker. If I had, when Jack told me four times he had put a towel in my car but then smirked at me because no towel was there, I might not have gone apeshit. The next morning I gathered myself back together.
’I was asking you as an adult,’ I said, having finally remembered the diagram. ‘You responded in child mode.’
He raised his eyebrows, went to the fridge and studied the diagram. Very handy it is too. A series of arrows point from one dynamic to the next.
He considered it. ‘So, if you spoke to me as a parent, then I would have responded as a child.’
‘No,’ I insisted, ‘I spoke to you as an adult.’
‘But there is no arrow from adult to child. There’s only adult to adult. You would’ve had to speak to me as a critical parent for me to respond in child mode.’
I frowned at him. Stared at the diagram. Goddamnit.
For the rest of the day in the beautiful, early spring Welsh sunshine, he grinned at me.
‘Trust the arrows,’ he said.
Ahhh! Postscript Blessing No. 4:
Vronnie, Jack’s stepmum, came back from walking with Fin down the village yesterday.
‘How was it Vron?’
Vronnie took a breath. ‘Welll, we saw one dog.. and Fin took one look at it, sat down and pawed me for a treat.’
I shook my head in disbelief. ‘Instead of her trying to eat the other dog?’
Vronnie nodded. ‘She looked at the dog and then at me, as if to say, ok time for a snack.’