Thursday, December 24, 2009

Part 1

I love the Ones very much. So it was with a sense of excitement that I woke early this morning, loaded the last of the gifts and my overnight bag in the Jeep, settled Chienne in the passenger seat with her blanket and set off through the miserable weather toward my parents' house. I called when I was about 10 minutes away so I arrived to an open garage, Dad waiting at the door and 3 faces at the window surrounded by waving hands.

Little One helped unload the toys, immediately plucking her pink Webkinz from her basket of gifts while Smallest One struggled into her shoes and coat, coughing all the while. I leaned down to scoop her up, finding a tissue in my pocket to wipe her nose before giving hugs and kisses and wondering how sick I'd be after this virus had a chance to incubate a bit. Shrugging it off, I set her back on the floor and let her cuddle the giant SpongeBob pillow that had settled in her box of presents.

We played and talked and, as 4PM neared, I helped Mom with a few of the items we were taking to Aunt's that evening. Chronically early as we are, we were bundled up and had the van loaded with presents, food and people and were heading to Brother's house just after 4 to pick him up for our "Christmas Eve" at Aunt's.

"I don't want to come in," Mom said when she called him. "The girls are sick, it's cold and rainy and we hoped you'd be ready early." She attempted to argue some more but finally tossed the phone to me where I perched in the last row of van seats. "He's very angry - I don't want to talk to him again."

I raised an eyebrow, sighing impatiently since we'd had to wait for his girlfriend to get off work and forced this event later in the day when the girls would have done better with an afternoon excursion. But Brother and I are both selfish people so I tried to take it in stride. I failed, however, when he called back and said 'fuck' more times than I could count in a 90% irrational tirade about how, by arriving 15 minutes earlier than the designated time, we had turned his children against him and Ruined Everything. "It's all a competition!" he raged, leaving me to blink in response. "And they only want to win. They're always beating me. I always lose." Frowning while he muttered, I told him to calm down - we'd wait and then we'd have "Christmas Eve" and all would be merry.

He hung up on me and I met Little One's worried eyes. "I want Daddy to go with us," she said softly and I nodded, recognizing the family manipulation characteristic when I saw it. As Smallest One began to repeat "Daddy" between sniffles and coughs, my parents and I grew more miserable sitting there in the rain. The fifth time Brother called to vent his frustration, we unbuckled and went inside to wait as he'd originally requested.

"I told you 4:30!" he said as we helped the girls with their coats. "No earlier! No later! Why would you come earlier?! Why?!"

"It's 4:20," I pointed out in what I thought was a reasonable tone and watched with horrified fascination when his nostrils flared and he began to slam dishes around in his kitchen. "Hey!" I interrupted sharply. "You Will Stop," I hissed, wearing my most disapproving of expressions. "You're upsetting the girls and this stops now."

Just after 5:00, both girls and Brother had been in tears. Apart from the brief bout of weeping, he remained furious while my parents and I tried - and partially failed - to elicit further outbursts. Still, given that they do keep the girls a lot - they've had them for 4 days straight and are rather exhausted - they were feeling a bit petulant and unappreciated themselves.

At nearly 1AM, Little One has emerged from our shared room and joined me on the couch. So we'll wait for a resolution for a little while longer.

No comments:

Post a Comment