I must remain calm until I am in possession of all the facts.
The first step is to conduct a (basic) lie detector test. I position myself so my head is resting on the left hand side of his chest. Then I gently prod him awake and ask “Who is Maria?” His heart rate immediately (and audibly) increases as he feigns ignorance.
The next step is to make him talk. I pull my body back. And give him one almighty kick whilst bellowing “WHO THE FUCK IS MARIA?” He squeals in pain. I give him another kick. A two- legged (buckaroo style) one this time. He lands head first on the floor. His lower body remains on the bed; legs splayed with his bottom in the air. This (unfortunate) view momentarily brings to mind the haemorrhoid cream I found in his cabinet.
I recover quickly and repeat the question (again). He is still (foolishly) pleading ignorance. I lean forward. Grab his balls. And tell him I am giving him one last chance to tell me the truth. Otherwise I will destroy his chances of fatherhood. Permanently.
That seems to jog his memory. Maria is his girlfriend. I am now in possession of all the facts. And I am incandescent with rage.
He swears he had every intention of ending the relationship. That he doesn’t love her the way he loves me. He just needed confirmation that I wanted to be with him before he finished with her. He waits for my response (whilst nervously protecting his genitals with both hands). I surprise him with “So you’re a monkey now?” The idiot thinks it’s a reference to his hairy body (how unimaginative).
I am actually drawing a parallel between him trying to swing from one relationship to the next and a monkey swinging from one branch to another. He won’t let go of one until he has the other within his grasp. This is perfectly acceptable in a monkey (who is swinging in a tree). But it is both weak and despicable in a man (who isn’t).
He pleads, “Just give me a chance, please. I’ll end it tomorrow. I want to be with you”. I throw his clothes at him and order him to leave. He manages to get one leg in his pants as I’m shoving him out of the door. He is trying to simultaneously hop and walk. I watch (with a high degree of satisfaction) as he takes a tumble down the stairs. Then I slam the door shut. I refuse to cry. He is not worth it. I pop a couple of sleeping pills and go to bed until it is time for Mia to come home.
We are always very happy to see each other after a long weekend apart. She runs in with her arms outstretched. I scoop her up and hold her tight. But I can still feel that horrible knot in my stomach. I can’t believe he has a girlfriend. I feel so stupid.
I distract myself by taking Mia to the park. We finally return home exhausted. Then she drops her bombshell “Mummy, something feels stuck in my ear”. I check her ear. Nothing there. I tell her so. “Actually mummy, I know there is – I stuck a chick pea in my ear at school”. I ask her when. She thinks it was a few ‘sleeps’ ago.
I wearily pack a bag of wipes, books and snacks. It’s 8pm and we’ll probably spend the rest of the night in casualty.
We get there and I’m horrified to find that the same nurse is on duty that was there the last time we went a month ago. Damn. She remembers us. She gives me a tight lipped smile and tells me smugly that we’re in for a long wait. I don’t blame her. We caused a bit of a scene the last time we were here.
Mia had an ear infection and she was crying in pain. And that has a totally different effect on me than when she cries because I won’t let her have chocolate for breakfast. Said nurse decides to administer medication to ease the pain until we can see a doctor. Mia is hysterical. Shit. How do I deal with this?
I can’t think at my normal speed because emotion is involved. Yes. I know. My inability to deal with emotion is a recurring theme.
She’s screaming “Mummy, help me. Don’t let them do this”. And it’s killing me. But I want her pain to stop so I help them. I’m having difficulty holding her arms down.
That nurse loses patience with me and snaps "You’re not in control mum. You should be in control. Do your job”. I ask her calmly if she has any children. She says “No”. I scream at her at the top of my voice, tears streaming down my face “Well fuck off then!”
They finally manage to get it down her throat. Mia sits up wiping her mouth. She turns to the same nurse, points her little finger at her and scolds her with “That was not a nice thing to do to someone. You shouldn’t do that to people. You are not a nice lady”.
We stare defiantly at her. Me and my girl. Us against the world. Well, one nurse. But the principle of unity is the same.
So we’re in for a long wait and I can’t even complain. A chick pea in her ear is hardly grounds to demand to be seen before a baby that’s shooting out from both ends.
I look around and suddenly realise that all the other children have both parents with them. And what are the chances of that happening in London? Or anywhere in fact? Just my bloody luck.
I brace myself. Here it comes. I’m overwhelmed by loneliness. Not for long though. I notice Mia is about to get on a grubby bike. I grab the wipes and hurtle across the room towards her clutching them like a defensive shield and screaming “Noooooooooooo!” I pull her to safety. Then attack the bike in a wiping frenzy.
One packet of wipes and three hours later we finally get seen. No sign of the chick pea. I am advised to put a few drops of warm olive oil into her ear. I double check his ID to make sure he is a doctor and not a porter.
That’s what my mother suggested so naturally I assumed it was another one of those village ‘pearls of wisdom’ that could safely be filed under ‘useless – possibly dangerous’; along with their cure for constipation which is…..wait for it…..sticking half a bar of soap up your bottom!
The fact that you always went to the toilet shortly afterwards convinced them of its effectiveness. And speaking (sadly) from personal experience I can vouch that what they fail to take into account is that it not only brings out the poo, but half your bubbling insides along with it.
I thank the doctor and apologise to the nurse for swearing at her the last time we were here (it’s not her fault I can’t control my emotions).
We are driving home when ‘Just the Two of Us’ comes on the radio (I listen to Magic). I sing along. Mia loves it.
Then she says “That’s like us isn’t it mummy?” I blink back the tears and agree “Yes sweetheart, that’s like us”. She decides it is now ‘our song’ (apparently ‘You Are My Sunshine’ is too “babyish” now). And we sing together “just the two of us, building castles in the sky, just the two of us, we can make it if we try” until she falls asleep in my arms.
I stroke her hair, my tears falling on her beautifully innocent little face. It really is just the two of us. And who better to build castles in the sky with than a child who still believes that anything is possible?