‘Have a lovely day. Mum loves you,’ I say kissing him on the pen mark on his cheek, which he had refused to wash off during the bath he’d refused to have the evening before.
‘Whatever,’ he replies, shrinking from my touch.
I had woken up promising myself I would be oh so positive this morning and would put aside the events of the previous evening. I had opened my daughter’s bedroom door to wake her up and been faced with a blackened, split banana on the carpet.
‘Jamie put that there,’ she said, ‘to get me into trouble.’
That’s the sort of thing which happens in our house.
At breakfast Jamie and Rose had competitively jousted about whose school served the ‘best’ school dinners.
‘We get fizzy juice,’ said Jamie.
‘Well we get Slush Puppy.’
‘YOU DO NOT.’
‘We do,’ she stated, shooting Jamie a certain look which we call ‘the eyebrows’.
‘MUM, Rose just gave me the eyebrows.’
‘Just ignore it,’ I’d offered helplessly, my optimism diminishing.
‘And why does SHE get to choose tea just cos SHE has friends coming over and I never get to choose and I want fish and chips for tea on Saturday and I’d better get them or …….’
‘Ten pounds is missing from my wallet,’ said Rob, appearing from the bathroom.
We’d all eyed each other suspiciously.
‘I wonder how that could have happened,’ I had trotted out from a text-book when what I’d really wanted to say was ‘RIGHT EMPTY OUT YOUR POCKETS NOW!’.
I’d trudged upstairs to retrieve five one pound coins from my bedside table, which I had kept there for dinner money purposes. There were only three there. Jamie had then quickly and suspiciously offered to fill the dinner money hole with his own pocket-money. Plans of sock drawer searches and honey traps had flooded into my mind. Sensing my panic over the time and my anger over the money, Jamie had then refused to put on his shoes. We were precariously close to missing the school bus.
The ‘whatever’ stings me more than the previous evenings ‘I hate you’ but not as much as the ‘I’m going to kick you and watch you die’ of the week before.’
With children delivered to school bus stops, I laboriously gather up shopping bags and fester in a washy silence. When I arrive at Morrisons feeling bleak and angry I open my purse to find it has been cleared of change. I stand in a long, slow queue to buy a newspaper with a ten pound note so I can get a one pound coin with which to release a trolley which will not steer. I seethe with irritation.
Everything in Morrisons annoys me. The rolls of plastic bags are not kept by the loose vegetables where they are needed, but next to the already bagged bananas where they are not. A lady stops, mid-aisle to check her list at length, oblivious to me raging behind her. I wait patiently, then ask her politely to please move. An icy stare.
‘Don’t take me on today,’ I think.
I swing past the magazines looking for some light relief. ‘My secret pain’ says the well-known and wealthy presenter and ‘why I’m so unhappy with my body’ says a super-fit, gorgeous athlete. A loud, mocking, scoffing laugh sets itself free. People look at me. In expressing myself, to myself in a public place. I have crossed a line. Perhaps I am crazy. Or drunk. I might sweep the contents of the magazine shelf on to the floor and stamp on the fat celebrities and the thin celebrities and the suspected boob jobs and the fake tans. I might abandon my trolley and stride off into the distance. I am like Michael Douglas in Falling Down, the monster in me finally breaking free, bulked up by the sudden release of bottled-up frustrations. I could cause mayhem.
Instead I dutifully stand in line and pay for my shopping. I come home, eat a large bag of chocolate buttons and dance madly and alone in the kitchen.