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|The Family (standard:humor, 3567 words)|
|Author: Lilly Plume||Added: Sep 06 2007||Views/Reads: 2749/1780||Story 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. Tweet
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