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The Family (standard:humor, 3567 words)
Author: Lilly PlumeAdded: Sep 06 2007Views/Reads: 1763/1079Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A mother lays back and lets her family take over everything (to be continued)
 



Click here to read the first 75 lines of the story

loudly?” 

“Look, it's a hermit crab! They carry their homes on their backs, Bobby
told me!” she seemed very pleased with this fact, and seeing the 
sparkling look on her face that showed how proud she was of telling me 
something I might not know. 

“Oh my goodness! What an interesting fact Bibby, why don't you tell
Nelly, I'm sure she doesn't know about hermit crabs.” And with that I 
managed to send her off to inform, and annoy, Nelly and let me get back 
to my magazine. Though only for a few minutes as Abigail came running 
back to me, crying that Nelly had told her to ‘push off' and that she 
‘already knew enough about hermit crabs to know they were disgusting 
and that she didn't want to know any more.' Luckily Robert chose that 
moment to announce that the sand castle was ready to be decorated and 
Abigail ran happily off to gather up all the shells, stones and 
feathers she had collected and to press them randomly onto the sand. 
Faith was watching with a pained expression. She was a bit of a 
perfectionist and the random fashion in which Abigail was attacking the 
castle with her decorations which totally lacked any kind of pattern 
known to man obviously caused her great pain, and annoyance. Eventually 
Abigail's assault on the sand castle finished and Faith was able to 
safely arrange the decorations in a complicated pattern with swirls and 
stars and made the sand castle look like a truly amazing piece of art. 
Abigail dragged me down to admire the superb sand castle just as Faith 
had finished. Abigail seemed to neither realise or care that it had 
been ‘tampered with' and proceeded to show me how lovely her sand 
castle was that she made all by herself, while Faith and Robert stood, 
watching and smiling. 

Later it was ice-cream time, according to Abigail, and therefore Robert,
and neither Harold nor I could be bothered to argue. The walk to the 
ice-cream was not long; it was only just up the stairs of the sea wall 
and along the top of the wall about 100 yards. Sandy and sun bleached 
we must have looked quite a sight to anyone who would have bothered to 
look, though they would have probably looked the same. Once we reached 
the ice-cream van we realised that it was not only Abigail, and Robert, 
that had decided it was ice-cream time. The queue was quite 
spectacular, it stretched so far back that it curled around the nearby 
bush and then along the sea wall. 

“No,” I said, before the discussion erupted, I was not waiting in that
queue, I wasn't even that keen on ice-cream! Of course Abigail erupted 
into ‘Please Mummy, please!'s and Faith sighed. Nelly quickly glanced 
at her flat, brown stomach and announced that she wasn't going to have 
an ice-cream anyway, and proceeded to vanish back onto the beach to 
restart her sunbathing marathon. Harold had the thought to remind her 
to put on more sun cream, and proceeded after her on the pretence that 
he was going to make sure she put it on, and also removed himself from 
having to stand in the almighty queue. Although my attention had been 
elsewhere Abigail had not stopped demanding that I remained with her 
and got her the Mr Whippy August 2007 special. 

“Please Mummy, please! The Mr Whippy August 2007 special won't be on for
much longer now and I got to have one! Jayne, Harriett and Louise have 
all already had one and they said their amazing! Please Mummy, please!” 
she was pulling at the sarong I had tied loosely around my waist, it 
was my favourite one from when Harold and I had gone on our second 
honeymoon and he had bought it as a present for me on our last night 
because I had been mooning over it all week as we passed it in a little 
shop on the way to the beach. It was the same holiday that had resulted 
in Abigail, as our first had resulted in Robert. I had thought 
afterward that this coincidence was nice, but it was funny how these 
two, out of all our children, seemed closest. 

“Bobby,” I said desperately, glancing over at Robert, but with the
tiniest movement of his head he conveyed that there was no way he was 
going to stand in that queue. If Abigail had changed her tactics and 
gone on to ask Robert to stay with her and get the blasted ice-cream, 
he would not have thought to say no, but the fact remained that she 
wanted me to get the ice-cream. 

“I'll stand in the queue,” said the quite voice of Faith behind me. If
it had been Nelly, or Robert, or even Harold, who had said that to me I 
would have been all too happy to hand the queue standing in duties over 
to them, but Faith's porcelain skin was already looking red, and my 
want for her to get back underneath the umbrella instead of standing in 
a massive queue, for what would be at least 20 minutes, without shade, 
filled me with an awful clash of conscience. Faith's skin was very 
sensitive to the sun's UV rays and she burnt so easily that it would 
make anyone gasp. Our doctor, when confronted about this, said that 
though she was allowed in the sun she should never expose her bare skin 
to the sun as far as possible, even with factor 50 sun cream on. This 
was one of the reasons she wore a shawl around her shoulders, a long 
flowing skirt and a wide brimmed hat. Even with these precautions Faith 
was better kept under the umbrella and especially after the sand 
castle, which had lead to her being out of the shade for nearly an 
hour. As I listened to this in my head I realised how paranoid I 
sounded, but I knew there was a history of skin cancer in Harold's 
family and I was not going to let my daughter that had conquered so 
much be beaten by something that I could prevent. 

“No it's fine dear, I'll wait with Bibby, though if you would like to be
helpful it would be great if you could walk along to the restaurant bar 
place and get us a bottle of water,” I smiled at her, she was a very 
helpful girl, I feel that she needs to help to act more normally 
because Harold and I wont let her do a lot of things because of her 
health, but giving her something to do would make her feel better. She 
smiled back as me and I handed her the money she'll need. She turned 
and walked back along the sea wall in the other direction to the great 
mass of a building that contained a bar and restaurant. The building 
had a lot of glass and it reflected back the beautiful day, though with 
a browny-orange haze to it, making the air look muggy and polluted. It 
made me think of all those pollution warnings about greenhouse gases 
and so many other awful gases and pollutants that were emanating from 
our seemingly harmless household appliances and lawnmowers and goodness 
knows what else. It made me wonder if in 50 years time, 100 years time, 
the muddy brown air wound be real and not just a reflection in a 
window. 

Once the fabulous ice-cream had been attained and eaten Abigail and I
returned to the beach, hot, sweaty and ready to go swimming in the sea. 
Faith was safely back beneath the umbrella drinking water and 
chattering away to Harold about something on one of her courses. Robert 
and Abigail immediately began doing a dance around the sandcastle and 
singing a song that made them sound like Native American Indians, I saw 
people sitting along from us tut at them. Nelly was, of course, 
sunbathing and had once again removed her vest and was being ogled by 
every passing male over the age of 10. 

“Nelly!” I snapped, feeling a bad mood creeping up on me, “Cover
yourself up a little, you are making people stare,” She looked 
surprised and immediately put on her vest, Harold looked over at us and 
gave me a look, as if to say ‘lay off'. Of course this made me feel 
even angrier and the clouds that had been gathering in my mood suddenly 
turned stormy. 

“Well, Harold, you can think it's not necessary for her to cover up, but
as I remember the history of skin cancer is in your family!” I snapped. 
Snapping was suddenly becoming my only form of communication. 

“Just calm down, Joyce, it's a nice day, we're on holiday, we should all
be happy,” he said, almost lazily. I resented his lazy attitude and 
calmness when I was feeling so stressed. I had had to stand in a queue 
for 20 minutes in the blistering heat to get Abigail an ice-cream that 
she decided she didn't really like in the end, I had to worry about 
Faith's sun burn and her more fragile state than the other children, 
yet make her feel normal, I had to watch Nelly cooking in front of my 
eyes for her blasted tan and he sat there and talked about the history 
of medicine with Faith! And of course I would have to deal with tutting 
people sat beside us, because Robert and Abigail looked like they were 
practicing satanic worship around the perfectly decorated sandcastle. 

“Fine, Harold! You look after the children, make sure none of them get
cancer and die. You can buy the ice-creams and sun-tan lotion; you can 
pack the car with everything we need for the beach. You're right this 
is a holiday and I am officially going on holiday! That means that you 
lot will all have to make the dinner, while I lounge around in the pool 
or watching TV,” by this point Abigail and Robert had stopped dancing 
and singing and were listening to what was going on, as was the rest of 
the beach, but I was beyond caring, “you can wash the clothes and try 
and get all the juice and mud out of Abigail's clothes, which I can 
assure you is not easy, you can pay the bills, by the food, pick up the 
children and drop them off wherever  they need to go, and you,” I 
turned so I was looking directly into Harold's eyes, which were not so 
calm, I was glad to see, “you can stand in the queue for ice-cream for 
half an hour!” Now you must understand that I was under a lot of 
strain, I thought, Faith was awaiting the arrival of her GCSE results 
which was putting a lot of strain on me, because though I trusted her 
how many mothers can truly say that did not worry about their 
children's results more than their children? Nelly was going through 
that awful stage were she was being sulky, argumentative and unhelpful. 
She annoyed her sisters, as Robert didn't live at home anymore, 
constantly. She was rude and overly correct about things that Abigail 
should not be hearing about, she had not learnt the subtly of Faith and 
Robert at that age which they had adopted with their new knowledge. 
While redirecting Abigail's questions and subtly telling Nelly that 
that sort of language/behaviour etc. was not acceptable, how many 
mothers can truly say that 13 is not an unlucky age for all middle 
children? Robert was constantly coming home and moaning about Elise and 
how she wouldn't listen to him anymore and how she was completely 
absorbed by her work as bank manageress. He would come home to me and 
try and find out how to make Elise want to have children as much as he 
did. This in itself was stressful for me, how many mothers can truly 
say she doesn't want her children to always have what they want? 
Abigail had acquired herself 3 new best friends, Jayne, Harriett and 
Louise, and was absorbed in the process of showing off to them, pushing 
each other to see how far they would go talking back to the teacher, 
pushing their parents for new things, pushing other children to do as 
they wanted, pushing pushing pushing. I had to stay after school one 
day with her teacher to discuss her behaviour with Jayne, Harriett and 
Louise's mothers. It was extremely embarrassing as it appeared that 
Abigail had taken the role of ring leader. The whole experience was bad 
enough, but having to go home and confront Abigail about it was worse. 
How many mothers can truly say that they have not wanted to deal with a 
situation their child has got themselves into? And then there was 
Harold, who had been promoted and now worked more hours than I thought 
it was possible, including weekends, leaving me to deal with al four of 
our children and their various problems. On top of this he was grumpy 
and unwilling to help, or to even engage in conversation when he did 
return because he was so tired from working. This all lead to me 
snapping, the standing in the queue worrying about Faith's sunburn was 
the straw that broke the camel's back; the camel being me. And never 
had I felt more like a camel, laden with more things than could 
possibly be needed and defiantly missing the essentials for a 52 day 
gallop across the Sahara that formed the school holidays. 

“Now Joyce, don't you think that is over reacting just a little, dear?”
Harold managed to reply after a long and very conspicuous pause. The 
word ‘dear' grated inside me like the taunt of his calm attitude. 

“No Harold, tell me when the last time it was that you, or anyone other
than me, made dinner? Or when anyone other than me put the washing on, 
or went out to buy food, or cleaned the house?” my whole family was 
listening intently now, thinking, I could see the cogs of their brain 
turning in desperation to find a way out of this dire predicament, but 
I knew there was no way out. When no one spoke, I turned onto my front 
and continued reading my magazine that I had left behind when we had 
gone for the ice-creams. 

Later Abigail returned to me, asking if I'd take her swimming in the
sea, though earlier I had been so ready to dive into the water, the 
rage had seemed to cool me down, miraculously, and I quickly diverted 
her towards Harold, saying that he had not been swimming yet this year 
and that she should make him go in. Surprisingly she didn't argue, or 
moan that she wanted me to take her in, though I was sure that she knew 
I was still steaming from my earlier outburst. This act of taking 
Abigail swimming was the first thing I was handing over to Harold in my 
new holiday regime. 

“Did you know that in the water you are 5 times more likely to be
sunburned than sunbathing for the same amount of time?” I said 
conversationally to Faith, who was not listening, but watching Harold 
trying to blow up the giant inflatable crocodile called Gordon that 
Abigail insisted on going swimming with. It was quite a sight to behold 
and quickly Faith, Abigail and I were not the only onlookers. Harold is 
not a thin man, and in his Speedos, red in the face with the effort, he 
looked exceedingly comical. Gordon was flapping about madly in the 
light breeze like a deranged wind sock, while Harold tried gallantly to 
wrestle it into submission and clamp his teeth around a tiny opaque 
plastic toggle in which you had to blow to inflate Gordon. Abigail was 
squealing with glee and shouting helpful things such as, ‘Go dad, bite 
Gordon hard!' and, ‘Just jump him, he won't know what's hit him!'  
Abigail's shouts as much as Harold's war against Gordon was attracting 
attention again and quickly we were becoming the beach's main source of 
amusement. I sat in silent amusement, a wicked smile, I though, 
creeping across my face. It was the beginning of my holiday well and 
truly and I sat with no intention of helping, watching and feeling 
exhilarated and free. 


   


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