Sunday, July 19, 2009
Dancing to a fine tune
I have two sisters, I'm in the middle. My baby sis' is much younger than me, my big blister is far older. Maybe it's because of the age gap we remain close. Or perhaps being raised by lunatics made us circle our wagons tight.
Either way, despite the busy lives we have to tend, on the rare occasion we do manage to sit under the same roof, it is always a quality, funny and replenishing time. Big sis' lives on the mainland, she flies over to visit with us only for one week a year. It's precious - and exclusive - husbands and children be damned, this is supposed to be our time. Sure, we'll make small talk with the clan, but it's only token, we're treading time to take off to the beach, or to slip out for lunch together - fact is it hardly matters where we go, so long as it's a safe place away from prying ears, a place where we can gossip, cuss and remind each other of our glory days. Frivolous, flirtatious, and outrageous, we laugh ourselves silly into mascara panda's, returning home damp-knickered and endorphin high to plot out our next day ahead.
Which is why I am so pissed off that my niece has lumbered us with her son, yet again.
The poor kid is alright, but being young, he's demanding, and like most six-year-olds, totally all-consuming. As an only child, he loves an audience - we don't get a minute's peace.
We can't get tipsy, I have to disappear when I want a smoke, and his ears are constantly flapping. I resent the hell out of him cramping our style. We've served our time, including sitting his own mother. It's just not fair! This is our turn.
Well, I mean, we can't exactly drag him along to the Comedy Club, to the Pub or even to the cinema with us, now can we? (Well, not to the kind of films we happen to like.) Forget a sitter, he's welded to his Gran's leg - if she so much as picks up her coat to leave he fusses and frets like hell. As she has been the only constant in his life, you can hardly blame him. (Oh, I'm sure he'd settle eventually, but the thing is, sis' wouldn't. The night would be ruined anyway.) And he won't as much even look at regular food, if it doesn't come with ketchup, chips and spaghetti hoops, just forget it. His doting mother doesn't stretch much to home cooking. He never stays in bed at night, yet he's up and about jumping for his cocoa pops by 5am (or so it feels). Worse, my lot have usually discovered this aforementioned sugar fix and scoffed it down by then (deprived bunch), resulting in us all waking to the dulcet tones of a full blown melt down.
"So," I hear you ask, "Why don't you simply have a talk with your big sis', tell her how you feel?" Because I love her, her other little sister loves her too, and the both of us know she has no choice but to take him along. Our darling niece sees to that.
Where to start? She was an adorable kid until her family fell apart. Yes, blank slates are written upon, and mistakes are made - she wasn't born bad, but she sure as hell turned out that way. Big sis' has been paying the price forever since. I've lost count of the amount of blokes her grandson has had to call daddy. He even had a step-father for three whole months (his gran picked up the bill for the full white wedding and first class honeymoon to Venice, babysat him for the entire duration, and is still paying off the debt for the brand new house and furnishings her daughter - unemployed at the time - coerced - nay demanded, she sign up to). Yes, you may be right that sis' has made the rod to break her own back, but it's far too late to shut the stable door, the horse has long since bolted.
J hasn't one maternal bone in her body. Pregnant at 17, she put the wrong name on the birth certificate and claimed maintenance for the first two years (until the paternity test). My sis', (re-married), happily let J and her grandson live rent free with her and her husband for the first two years, placing her relationship with her second husband under a considerable strain. J spasmodically resumed her studies - she actually qualified as a teacher this year. In the interim, she dragged home a string of violent drug addicts to shag, used sis to raise her child, and hurled abuse and threats she would take her son away and disappear forever, should sis' dare to attempt to lay down any ground rules. The police were always at the door, the house often trashed. It was an absolute, pure living hell for everyone.
J is her only child, and J's father walked out on them when J was only five, sis' has always carried the guilt of that around, made excuses for her. Both my younger sis' and I have tried to be there, in fact both J and my big sister lived with me for a couple of years in the early days. But in reality, we all finally settled in different towns and our actual contact thereafter was spasmodic. When J acted out as a teenager, I took her on holiday with us to give my sister a break. It ended with us chartering a flight to fly her home again. Cost us a kings ransom, but we had no choice. She was completely out of control, and I truly feared for my children.
Sis' knew to seek help for her, and she did. Nothing seemed to work.
And, of course J is a master at hitting the right buttons to get what she wants from her mum. Although she has somewhat cleaned up her act, since moving out she still relies on her mum to bail her out and to virtually raise her son, sis' still works from home solely to support the pair of them.
This visit over here is my sister's one and only break, to come over here and to chill and relax. But J? She simply sees it as a golden opportunity to have a child-free week (she has a new man in tow). The sad truth is, my sis' is afraid to leave her grandson behind. J will do as she darn well pleases, regardless of whether he's there or not.
It's unnatural to detest someone of your own flesh and blood with such a vengeance, but so help me God, I honestly and truly could happily throttle this little cow.