Tuesday, June 27, 2017

April 29th & 30th sulky teens and dogs

April 29th

I forgot to fetch Greg from school.  My cellphone was lodged under the car seat, was on silent from a meeting earlier in the day. I missed six voicemails and 23 text messages. Greg's rugby practice was cancelled and has been waiting for me.

I get a terse phone call on the house phone from Neville-the-ex who implies that I have committed the ultimate sin.. Parental neglect of the highest degree.  I race to the school and find my son chatting up a teenage girl with a netball skirt that barely covers her underwear.  I urge him to get in the car giving the girl a glowering stare. On the way home I give him a lecture on chasing girls with low morals. I end the argument most persuasively by telling him I am WAY too young to become a granny!

April 30th

I had a rush of blood to the head and in an uncharacteristic display of generosity I agree to look after Annie’s dogs for the week, while she is going away with Raymond on a business trip. 

News flash ... I am not an animal lover – ok  I have said it. It is just not in my genes. I would never hurt animals and of course I get all gooey at the sight of puppies but generally I am so over them once they pee on my carpet.

Annie’s dogs are highly strung ... they are noisy, energetic, badly behaved rottweilers who need Ritalin in their food. I think she caught me in a weak moment. 

I have two of my own dogs. How's that for a twist of fate - he screws the dog trainer and I get to keep the dogs. 

Trevor who has obscene taste in animals - and women - not me of course! 
Chose the worst dogs he could find at the SPCA. Between the two of them they do not have a single redeeming feature.

They are ugly, stupid and cowardly. Of course when Trevor the ex, shacked up with Rieta in Umhlanga, their townhouse would not allow dogs. So whoopee for me - I got to keep the dogs.

Thanks to my insanity I have Annie's two dogs and mine plus two horrible teenagers and the week stretches ahead into infinity. 

Looking after dogs is not as easy as it looks. Dogs and cats are not as difficult as exotic iguanas or temperamental parrots. On one occasion I offered to babysit a friend’s little innocent looking maltese poodle for a month, the harmless looking “Shrek” was renamed “Satan” within a few days.

 He transformed into a bundle of fur and teeth and a rolled up newspaper was the only thing between him and our ankles.  We returned him to his owner and said “everything was fine” … “We lied!”

My mother’s spoiled Daschund is totally pampered.  He gets gourmet offerings from the table laced with gravy and on occasion my mother spoon feeds him. He is always brought along to visit, but I do not pander to his gourmet tastes. 

I notice Annie’s dogs are coping quite well with their downmarket B&B accommodation.

I am irritated when it becomes apparent that they had caused a minor flea infestation in the house. I dose them with a very expensive spray from the vet and still they scratch madly.

 I washed blankets and still they scratched like dogs possessed, we all  began to scratch in sympathy. Bloody fleas! I had already invested in flea collars and laced their food in garlic. No vampires but still the fleas are breeding by the dozen.

As gorgeous as the local vet is, and he is a dreamboat – I was determined to resist another expensive bill and I try to convince myself that the scratching is now a bad habit.

Some people sneeze and others itch – incessantly.

Annie’s dogs have a problem – they bark ... at everything that moves.  A butterfly flits past - they bark. A person walks past – they bark. A bird sings - they bark. I am going barking mad.

A yell out the window causes a temporary lull and then they start again.  My dog telepathy has not worked and I am determined to use the hosepipe method as recommended by Google. It recommends that a squirt of cold water will deter dogs from barking.

I have not slept in days. In a fit of rage I decide I have had enough – at 3am I am stumbling around the yelling obscenities and tripping over the pot plants in my effort to find the hosepipe so I can spray those bastard barking dogs.

“Shut up!” roared” a voice over the wall.  Surely he didn’t mean me …..

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

April 25th - school holidays off to the ex

School holidays are looming and I always dread these events.  The children hang around the house with long faces and complain about having nothing to do. Eventually I reach the end of my tether and I send them to their father, who is always threatening to have full custody.

But when presented with a chance to have the fruit of his loins for more than a weekend he suddenly changes his mind and has a million excuses why it would not be convenient. 

Of course his new wife Rieta  who always professes to be so fond of the children would rather be drawn and quatered than have to actually live with them. After a week her polite facade begins to crumble.

Rieta always reminds me of those overbred neurotic horses that startle at the slightest movement.  She seems to be looking down her narrow nose at everyone and everything.  Especially me.

It seems that Neville has definitely chosen someone who is the exact opposite of me in every sense. I'm loud, red haired, curvaceous, witty, effervescent and sociable.

Frieda is thin to the point of emaciated, her fine blonde hair is long and whispy and if you blink you might miss her walking by. She's quiet and introverted and spends hours going through health magazines, and checking fitness apps on her phone.

Despite her meek and mellow appearance she has an inner dominatrix which comes out when she does dog training. She barks commands at the neighbourhood dogs and it seems their owners quiver.

Rieta and I are perfectly civilised to each other's faces - but I cannot ever see that we will become friends. It's that small issue of her shagging my husband while I was still married to him. I know I should not be so petty. In fact in the grand scheme of things she did me a favour. I managed to see what a snivelling little twat my ex was .. er ... is.

Through the lens of my emancipation every irritating habit he has is magnified. I hope dear Rieta still loves him in a year or two when he pees with the bathroom door open or farts under the duvet and fluffs it so the odour disperses.

But as a responsible parent it is my duty to send the children to visit their father and his new wife.I can rest assured that they will be well fed - erm - well nourished.

Rieta knows everything about nutrition, macrobiotics, microbiotics, organic food, vitamins, nutrients and of course the dreaded CALORIES. Greg comes home after a weekend at his father and heads straight to the nearest Steers fast food for a binge fest. 

I do try and limit fast food but he looks at me with a deeply pained expression and say: “I had a broccoli smoothie for dinner ... dinner MOM!” . My children have the appetites of raging teenager.

So Neville agrees to have the kids for a week. I can tell I've put a spanner in the works because it's the time he loves to go golfing at a snazzy little seaside resort.  I think its timed brilliantly - the kids get to go to the beach and I can have some ME time.

No doubt every little thing the kids do will be hugely embarrassing to Rieta and I will be bombarded with whatsapp messages from Neville and the kids.  

I am planning to have a techno-vacation and will make sure that I do not read any of the messages. I do have to gird my loins for the inevitable attack when he drops them off. 

They are miserable, ungrateful, badly behaved ... blah, blah.  I find it helps to have earphones in and to just shrug.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

April 23rd - murder mystery party

I am invited to Annie’s 40th birthday, this year she has decided to have a murder mystery evening and we are all going to play characters in a murder mystery plot.  I am quite keen on this idea as I have always fancied myself as a drama queen.

Annie is quite beside herself with excitement and I hope for her sake that the whole evening goes off without a hitch. She has invited me (the best friend) and two friends from work and their husbands and Raymond her husband and his brother and wife. Of course as I am a single I have caused a numbers problem, so they have invited a neighbour along to make it an even 10.

Annie has tried on a few occasions to play matchmaker and I am always appalled at her choice of men – or rather I am appalled at her choice of men for me. 

I have warned her that if “Mark the neighbour”  is like her previous choices he will have to be the murder victim in the game.  She laughed nervously. I was serious.

So here I am playing Francine the slutty heiress ( I have a blonde wig on, fake plastic boobs, and a red velvet dress) I really am enjoying this alter ego. The problem is that Mark the neighbour, a six foot three ecologist is in character too, he is playing Greta (the mysterious and sultry secretary).

 It seems Mark is perfectly in touch with his feminine side – he arrived in a shimmering silver dress and matching shoes and had a sleek black bob.  Well I have to say he has better legs than I do, and all the other blokes were ragging him the whole night.

Annie was playing the part of Tristan the gallant and misunderstood genius.  I wondered if there was some deeper psychological component to theses games as it seemed to me beneath the obvious joking and laughter that went with the whole game as we delve into the plot and the characters, certain people gelled with aspects of their alter-egos. It would be a case for investigation by Dr Freud ... not Dr Holmes.

After many glasses of red wine I decide that I would not be comfortable dating a man who had a pair of size eleven silver sandals in his closet. I mean I could add transvestite to the long list of wierdos I have dated – but I think perhaps I should err on the side of caution. Not that he has asked me out ... but I just think I should tell Annie before she tried to pull one of her matchmaking attempts.

Annie has by now had sunk almost two bottles of wine and is slurring. She sidles up to me in the kitchen and said in a not so soft drunken whisper : “So whaddaya think of Mark?” 

“I don’t think so Annie ... he’s just too pretty,” I whisper.

She gives me one of her best exasperated looks and then shrugs dramatically saying at the top of her voice, “Well now you’ll neverrr get laid!”

This could have been one of the most embarrassing moments of my life, but fate intervened and she tripped over the hem of Raymond’s trousers and flew headlong into the glass sliding doors.

She split her lip and broke her nose and the party descended into general chaos, we had a body for our murder mystery – not a dead one – just a drunk and hysterical hostess. 

It was a 40th birthday we would not forget in a hurry.

Monday, May 29, 2017

April 19th - school sigh!

I am thrust a newsletter from the school. Of course I was supposed to respond two days ago and sign an indemnity form. Now Cheri is demanding that I fill it in immediately. I dread these school notices it is as if they have – to the bad mother – written in invisible ink at the top.

The problem you see is that I am not one of those super efficient mothers that thrust all their ambitions onto their offspring. I have no ambitions for my offspring. Well I want them to do well - but am not going to run behind them with a stick. 

I often remind them that if they fail they will end up on the street and often give them a lecture on the privileges of a good education.

But I stopped doing homework with them in Grade 2 when the maths became a challenge ... for me!

I have no need to be on the PTA, school committee and prefer to be in the car outside the school reading a book.

 I am one of those mothers that stumbled into motherhood unprepared and lost. I am always mildly surprised when my children score well on tests and if they pass – Bravo! I dread these school newsletters as they seem to be proof of my dismal failure as a responsible parent.

Requests for cakes, donations and tuck shop duty are my idea of hell. I would gladly host a water bomb fight or man the pie-in-the face stand than have to stand around the school tuck shop and make small talk with these other mothers that seem to have nailed the super mommy role.

I dread any school meetings with the teachers as it seems to me that everything that is wrong with my child is invariably MY fault.  I also get that feeling that the teachers treat me as a “special” case and are quietly sorry for my children. 

The offspring of the poor mother who is slightly batty – of the artistic temperament and not quite A grade material. If the kids have two wrong socks – it is my fault for not spotting it before they get to the bus. If my child has peanut butter sarmies invariably the others have chicken mayonnaise –  it is my fault – of course.

I suspect my resistance to school may have been induced in me at an early age when I was never one of the star pupils at my school. My own mother was busy always and her mother was a teacher - which instilled in her a hatred of school.

I didn't hate school. It was okay. My survival tactic at school was to fly under the radar and do enough work to pass but not enough to get noticed.

I see one of my children has adopted this strategy. Greg said: “Mom – they want me to be a prefect. That’s so uncool. I don’t want all that responsibility. All my friends will think I am a jerk!”
 I hear myself saying : “Oh come on, it will be good for your CV one day.”

He would much rather be captain of the rugby team than a prefect. Priorities ....