Two notes! A parental dog whistle! I fight not to howl! But Noah won’t let me off the hook so easily.
“I knew it. It sucks.”
We’re at the boards placed at the entrance of his day camp. They list the participants and their groups. He’s spotted his name in the group of 8-9 year olds which makes perfect sense considering he’s 9. But he’s been harassing me about it since last Friday. Why?
“Dad, you know that next Wednesday, yeah we go to La Ronde (Montréal’s amusement park) and what’s really cool if you’re in the older group, like the10-12′s, is that you can get together with like, I don’t know, 3 or 4 other kids and it’s like you’re on your own and you can go all day without a supervisor. Cool huhn.”
“But, dad, that’s only of you’re in the 10-12 group.”
“But you’re 9.”
“Yeah, but sometimes, like they put you in the older group if there’s uhm, not enough of us.”
“Let’s wait and see.”
That was Friday. I heard the same explanation several times a day all weekend. And here we stand, Monday morning… the misery apprehended by Noah has befallen him. He has been put in the 8-9 group.
“Dad, you know what that means.”
“It means you’re nine.”
“About La Ronde dad. I’m not going to be free to run with the older kids.”
“But you’re not older.”
“I’m old enough.”
Sometimes Monday mornings with a kid are as enjoyable as a swift kick in the nuts.
“Wait ’till Wednesday. Maybe they’ll make groups that are different than these lists.”
“They never do that!”
He’s in a bitch mood.
“Last week they put you in a different group for the Wednesday activity. Remember? You’d already done your group’s excursion, so they let you change to another. Remember?”
“That was different.”
This is one of those ‘no matter what I say it won’t work’ moments. So I say nothing more. He woke with the intention of torturing me. As soon as I stumbled out of bed at 6:50 am, the meme began.
“Dad, what group am I in this week?”
And the story I’d already heard so often I could repeat it syllable by syllable, began anew as I went to the bathroom, as I made coffee, as I served breakfast, as we brushed our teeth, as I packed his lunch. I made sympathetic noises, attempted distractions, suggested we wait to find out. I tried to remain civil.
I woke from my sleep already harrowed. Uncomfortable dreams, fueled, I am sure, by a letter that I received on the eve, dropped in my mailbox by a recent mistress. She vented her injuries and resentments at my mistreatment of her. We went to bed twice. Both times, she practically exploded out of her clothes, so anxious was she to get naked and wet.
Consenting adults right? Right!
Apparently, having made her come several times in two passionate embraces made me responsible for her eternal happiness. The letter came complete with the infamous female bullshit…”all you cared about was getting me into bed.”
Euh…..yeah!?! But so did she. And that’s how all my love stories begin. And some lasted years. And one gave me a child.
So here I am, Monday morning, digesting an emotionally dependent female’s toxic dump and a 9 year-old kid’s unrelenting demands.
Noah expels air in a semi-sigh, semi-grunt of irritation. I’m fighting back the urge to jump him.
We’re in public.
“Noah, you’re going to La Ronde Wednesday with a bunch of friends. That’s awesome. Focus on that, rather than worrying about which….”
I don’t finish because he walks away waving a dismissive hand at me. I fight the urge to grab him by an ear.
We’re in public.
He registers with the animators at the entrance and heads for the staircase leading to the gym. Not a look, not a good bye, not a friendly smile. The little twit is sulking. He disappears in the stairwell.
We’re in public, but now I don’t care. He comes back up and stares at me.
“You’re punishing me. Right? It’s my fault that you’re 9. I should have had you a year earlier so that now you could be 10 and go in the older group, right? This is all my fault, right?”
Parents are looking. Some, with a pinched look of reproof. Beat the hell out of them, if they dare say anything, As if this has never happened to them.
“Since when do you leave without at least saying good bye? Or a hug. Or both.”
He gets the dead-fish look of a kid who knows he’s screwed up, but doesn’t want to admit it.
No response. The surrounding pinched parents are throwing me looks.
Fuck them all!!! is what I want say. Instead, I walk away.
“Forget it, Noah. See you tonight.”
Damn! What a beginning to my week. I’m barely at the starting blocks and I’m already exhausted.
As I head back up the hill, for the walk to work, I wonder if, maybe, I should care less.