It’s just me and the boy (and the dog)

So… Steve’s time is nearly up. I’m jealous. Our conversations have been a little perfuctory of late, mainly because I am doing my usual thing of trying to find out as much information as possible and Steve is doing his usual thing of giving away as little as possible.

“Hello Lillian. What do you want now?”

Lillian is his pet name for me. I’m not sure why.

“I’ve lost the dog.”

Yesterday, Molly decided she did not like the distinct lack of entertainment since her erstwhile friend Monty has been hemmed in next door. He used to be able to jump over the fence, they’d hare about the garden a bit and then roll about panting. Sometimes, whilst the dog sleeps next to me on the couch (blame Steve. I never had a couch for a dog. Couches are for cats!) Monty would come bounding in and off they’d go, racing about. Not so anymore. Monty is now behind 6 foot waneylap and they have to resort, like Pyramus and Thisbe to kissing through the chink of a wall. Well, okay then, a B&Q fence. Anyway, Monty, a.k.a. Houdini must have given the Mollster the wanderlust bug, because she’d run off by breakfast.

I was frantic. I drove about her usual haunts (she’s escaped twice before, and she’s always ended up in the new estate ferreting about.) She was nowhere to be seen. I raced back, trying to get the boy ready.

“Come on, Jake. Moll’s escaped. Can you get ready for school? What do you want for breakfast?”

“Crumpets.” Hmmm. Concerned then!

So I set about making the crumpets, burnt them, made some more, doused them with chocolate spread to hide the second lot of burns, raced upstairs and dumped them on his table. Breakfast in bed. Alright for some.

He grunted.

I went on looking for the dog, doing another three circuits in the car. No sign of her.

When I got home, Jake was standing at the top of the stairs in his Nike trackies. Hmmm. Not happy. We’ve had this argument for a week, since Miss let him wear them after PE. Apparently, it’s okay now. It’s not okay with me.

“Can you put your school pants on?!”

“Miss doesn’t mind.”

“Well, I mind. When we get to France, fine. Non-uniform is fine. Not here. Rules is rules.”

And then the sulks come.

“But Miss says it’s alright.”

Well, fine then. No arguing with that. Except I’m way more crafty than the boy. I have 37 years of experience of craftiness.

“Well, we can go by the head’s office and check.”

“No!”

“What? Will he mind?”

“No, but…”

“So let’s go then.”

Dog still missing, burnt crumpets on the side, boy in a sulk. I’ve had no caffeine and no nicotine. It’s too early for all of this shit.

Boy deposited via headteacher’s office who reminds the boy that it is not okay to wear Nike trackies (like it is anyway?? He is mini-chav in the making!) in school and grumpy boy stomps off to class. 0-1 to me.

I go home, hoping Moll has returned. No such luck. I know I need to do something, so I call the dog warden and notify them. They don’t seem to care much about finding them as making sure they don’t do anything wicked, like chase cars, fight or violate old ladies. Probation for dogs. Then I have to call Steve. I don’t know why I do, except I don’t want him later to say I should have called him. He’s more bothered that someone might have stolen her. He knows I’ve covered all the ground he would have done.

I drive up to the quarry, thinking this is Moll’s favourite haunt. She’s not there. It’s a bit of a way and I think there are far too many distractions along the way. So I start with the side roads and work my way back.

Just as I’ve decided to give up the ghost and come home, there she is, standing nose to the wind on a piece of waste ground. Brazen as you like, like she’s on the chase for a lion. I pull over as soon as I can and go after her, shouting like a maniac. No sign of her. Shit.

Just as I think I’ve made a mistake and it wasn’t her at all, out bounds this filthy, smelly creature holding half a tree in her mouth, dragging it for all its worth. She bounces over to me, leaps all over me, tears half my skin off my arms, dirties my top and runs riot. 0-2 to me. Take that, Universe!

She’s still so giddy I can’t possibly take her home, so I finish the walk off trying to make her wash off in the quarry lodge. She’ll still need a bath. Poor dog didn’t know what she was in for.

I phone Steve.

“Lil, any news?”

“I’ve found the dog. She was halfway to the quarry, pleased as punch with herself.”

He muttered something about belts for lawnmowers and I said I’d call him back later.

3 hours later, one clean dog, one exhausted me.

Jake is still sulking out of school. He continues to sulk all evening and when he said he was going to his friend’s for tea, I was kind of glad. To be honest, he’s been an absolute star whilst Steve’s been away, and it’s the longest they’ve been apart since the Boy was born. There’s been a few sleepovers, a few nights where he’s gone to sleep down here on the couch in an odd parody of me and Steve, and a couple of nights where he’s asked me to read to him in his room, but other than that, he’s been an angel. Monsieur Sulk had gone with Steve, I thought.

But no, because here he was, larger than life, when he came back at 9 and asked if he could play out. So far, he’s never been out later than half eight on a weekend night, let alone a school night.

“No.” Harsh, me.

“Why?” I hate it when he does the ‘why’ whinge.

“Because it’s late. It’s dark. You’ve got school in the morning.”

And then he does his teenage ‘urgh’ groan and throws himself through the door way, into the kitchen, searching for God knows what.

“Lillian, what do you want now?”

“The boy says he won’t listen to me.”

“What have you done?”

“Sent him to his room.”

“Do you want me to speak to him?”

“Yes.” Because this is very much what I want. I want the boy to go back to being happy Jake and not sulky Jake. So Steve speaks to him. It doesn’t make any difference, but it calms me down. When we talk about it, though, it’s clear that Steve thinks I’m as much to blame. Grrr. Not a good line to take right now. So I leave it.

“How’s my carrots?”

“Good.”

“And the potatoes?”

“Doing good.”

“Good good.”

“Aren’t you going to ask me about the others?”

It’s a standing joke that for the last two weeks I have been asking him if my melons have grown, no pun intended. I daren’t ask. They haven’t grown at all.

“No.”

“What about your melons?”

“What about them?”

“They’re growing!”

Hurrah! 0-3 to me and the day ends well.

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