Friday, 2 January 2015

More Christmas Joy

Right. I haven't slept all night and I don't feel tired so I'm gonna bitch about my ex. All you faceless strangers are welcome along for the ride, if you're in the least interested. You might be. She's a real piece of work.Strap yourselves in.
     Ok. First, I did my back in. Like, serious, morphine for the pain and valium as a muscle relaxant kind of did my back in. So there was no way I could have my 4 year old and my 2 year old. They saw my pained crawling around the floor as a constant invitation to play horsey. So I didn't have them for two weeks and then my back was better enough that I arranged to go up and spend a few hours in the ex's house with the kids while she went out and did shopping. It was brilliant. I'd missed them so much and we knelt on the floor and built a giant castle out of blocks and played the piano and it was great. Then the ex storms back in with her cowed mother in tow, obviously in a foul mood. The kids are going, Mummy, look at our castle! She doesn't even look at them, just dumps her shopping and and goes out the back for a fag. The mother gives me a feeble smile and we make smalltalk. The ex comes back in just as my son is about to have a minor hissy fit cos he wants something and he can't have it instantly. I kneel down to talk to him about it, get him to breathe, like I always do, which works 95% of the time, and for some reason this makes the ex angry. She'd rather yell at him or just give him whatever he wants, and since that's not parenting, I ignore her initial pissy comments and concentrate on my boy. He calms down, which makes the ex angrier.
Why don't you just leave him alone? she says.
Would that have calmed him down? I ask.
Silence for a beat, then she says, I thought you had a bad back. How come you can kneel like that?
I said, Actually, this is far more comfortable for me than standing, cos of where the pain is.
If there's any pain at all, she says. Just fancied some time off then did you?
Why are you being so snarky with me? I ask.
She just looks at me. Her mother looks at the floor.
Right then, I think I'll be off, I say. Things to do and all that.
I kiss the kids goodbye, who are upset I've got to leave so suddenly, and get the fuck out of there.
The Sunday before Christmas, this is.  
The next day, same deal. She's going out shopping, I'm looking after the kids.
My daughter likes me to put music on and then hug me while I stand up and sway around. She's four and we've been doing it since she was a baby. I guess the only difference between us and most people is that my girl likes to listen to The Cardiacs and Primus. Anyway, we were doing this in the ex's kitchen, listening to Kyuss, while my boy drew pictures, and while looking through the cd booklet for new tunes came across two cds of my own band. Cool, I thought. I'll have them. So I took them out and placed them on the counter to put in my bag later. Later, I saw a copy of the graphic novel The Ballad Of Halo Jones I'd had since I was a kid, sitting on a shelf.
(I should explain. When I moved out, the ex packed up all my stuff. In doing so, she took out all my favourites and ones that had special meaning to me and kept them. Not cos she liked them, or wanted them; just so I couldn't have them any more. I'd already reclaimed a bunch of other cds and books at various intervals over the past couple of years.)
So I took that as well and put it in my rucksack.
The ex comes home. First she tries coming on to me. Cwtching into me on the sofa, getting into my personal space, making suggestive comments, and when I don't respond, she gets angry. Starts making snide comments. So again I say, Right, I'll be off then.
My daughter starts to cry. Please don't go Daddy, she says. I want to play with you more.
I've got to go, angel, I say. Santa's just been on the phone and he wants me to run some errands for him, so I've got to go and do that.
The ex chimes in: Santa's all the way up in the North Pole. How are you supposed to get anything to him?
I look up at her in disbelief. Are you seriously trying to deconstruct a comforting story I'm telling our child right now? I say.
Well, it's just logistics, innit? she says.
Because of course, I say, 4 year olds are so concerned with logistics.
Well, it can't be done, she says.
I say, Dude. Are you seriously attacking me for trying to comfort our 4 year old daughter?
She stares at me.
I turn back to my daughter. So listen, I've got to run this errand and then meet up with one of Santa's elves so he can get it to Santa.
Over my daughter's head, I give the ex a smile that says, There. Happy? Does that fit your exacting standards?
Ok Daddy, says my daughter, still leaking tears. I kiss them away and giver her a hug, laboriously stand up, pick up the 2 cds of my band I found to put in my bag and the ex says, What are they?
Cds of my own band, I say, holding them up to show her. Old crappy college-recorded ones.
Why are you going through my stuff? she says.
I explain that my daughter and were looking for music to listen to.
Well stop going through my fucking stuff! she says. What else have you taken?
Well, I took my copy of Halo Jones back, I say.
Right, get the fuck out! she screams. My daughter starts bawling, my boy follows suit. You're a fucking thief!
How can I be a thief when it's my stuff? I say.
I don't give a fuck! she screams.
I'm trying to back out of the door while saying to the kids, I love you, I'll see you Christmas Day, everything's gonna be fine, while she's charging at me howling, You're not welcome here! You're a fucking criminal!
I can't help it. I burst out laughing as the door slams behind me. She screams FUCK OFF! so loud her voice cracks. She doesn't seem to care she's in the same space as a 4 year old and a two year old. I stop laughing when I remember that now those two poor little bastards have got to be left alone with her.
(I don't sleep much. This is why. The thought of what she gets up to when she has the kids, unsupervised. With no-one to keep her in check. She'll scream in their faces in the street, so what will she do in private? Hence: I don't sleep much. There's a lot of staring into the darkness, trying not to think about this stuff.)
Merry Christmas, folks. 
I swear on the eternal souls of my children, even though I'm not sure I believe in such a thing, that every word here is true. She says and does these things. The other day my son said these words: I'm scared of mummy. What 2 year old says such things? I was talking to my daughter today, and she was saying that Mummy shouldn't shout cos bad guys shout, and bad guys kill people, and what if Mummy killed me, cos then I'd be dead forever and I'd never see you again Daddy - and she started to sob. I knelt down and hugged her and said Not gonna happen angel, and I'll always be with you cos I'm in here, and I tap her gently on the chest, and you're in here, and I tap my chest (and I'm welling up now writing this, Jesus H Christ, what a fucking mess) and I hold her close and I'm thinking, I didn't even know she properly understood what death is. Or how she knows it's forever. No-one close to her has died, no pets, no-one. I've never said anything about it, I've been dreading it. I first understood death at 5, when my best friend's mother died. Why is my daughter thinking about this stuff now? Again, she's four, for Christ's sake. What does her mother say to her?
Hark, the herald angels you reckon they ever sing about the record number of suicides over Christmas? Or do those poor souls not get sung about,cos they're not getting in Upstairs?
I sometimes daydream about getting a phone call from the cops saying, Your ex has been in a fatal accident, or something. And I picture all the tension draining out of me, my shoulders slumping.
We're free.
That would be a Christmas miracle I could get behind.


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