My neighbours have five kids. Or maybe six. I saw someone shoveling snow in a diaper, so maybe they cranked out another one over the winter.
This past weekend, when the Havenot sky cracked open to reveal a blue, blue sky – my fertile neighbours loaded up their offspring with Captain Crunch and aired them out in the sunshine. Like headless, hyperactive, free-range chickens they ran through the neighbourhood and into my yard, swarming my house like maggots on a dead dog. It was cute for a nanosecond – then I morphed into my grandmother – practically running for a pack of Rothmans so I could burn the little peckerheads as they dashed by.
If I wanted a pack of snot-faced kids with no social graces slamming my gate and kicking the stucco off of my front doorstep I would have had sex five or six more times. When it comes to children, my motto is: quality over quantity.
My father's mantra was, "children are to be seen and not heard", so it comes as no surprise that my tolerance for children leans more toward the witch in Hansel and Gretel than Mary Poppins. Even my own child grates on my nerves.
Take for instance this past weekend, when necessity – a toe sticking out the end of a running shoe – found us facing a wall of Usain Bolt-worthy running shoes that were, after a slack-jawed moment of inaudible grunts – rejected from afar. The lack of enthusiasm was puberty raring its pimpled head. So, I did what any sane, mother-of-the-year would do. I snapped. We left the store, and without warning, I dropped the little bastard at the entrance to the nearest mall, threw him my bank card, and told him not to come home until he's 22, or has a haircut and a new pair if running shoes. Preferably a pair that lace themselves.
I also told him to walk home because I need to hear full sentences – not inaudible grunts – and "this was my life too!", and I think I added "you selfish little prick!" – just before I squealed out of the parking lot in a cloud of blue smoke – burning rubber and listening to CBC, which took away some of the impact. I should have been listening to Golden Earring or In a Gadda Da Vida for the sizable patch I left on the pavement.
And now I probably need new tires.
I spent the time alone, checking my monthly calendar, worrying I may never see him again, and wondering if my actions were a bit harsh. What if he got abducted – although at 6 feet with size-12 shoes, a lingering hockey smell, and an exposed toe – that's unlikely.
What if he got swarmed by the Hare Krishna's? That would solve the haircut dilemma – but he looks horrible in orange, and has stereotypical white-man rhythm, so would suck in their band. His turn on the symbols would be out of sync, and the Hare Krishna's would get all mad and return him to the mall – shoeless and bald, with egg yolk all over his forehead.
What if the last words he heard out of my mouth were drowned out by the squeal of the tires and Stuart McLean's, Vinyl Café.
So I waited. Anxiously. If and when he arrived home, we'd celebrate with a trip to Q Smokehouse and Southern BBQ on Argyle Street. We'd talk about things like respect, and hockey, and respect for salespeople – then he'd eat smoked wings, pork ribs and fries, while I'd sit there all slack jawed, grunting inaudibly about baked beans and cole slaw and my shit luck at having another delicious smokehouse open up, just when I am deep in tofu hell.
I even considered going to look for him – but I hate the mall, and with my luck he'd be standing in front of the shoe display, all stunned and pubescent, unable to make a decision because I wasn't there, hovering, saying things like "What about these? These are cute."
The good news is, he arrived home with new running shoes and a decent haircut. Maybe it was my, "this is my life too!" comment – but he seemed nicer, and spoke in full sentences for the remainder of the weekend.
As for the neighbour's kids, I'm considering an electric fence – or burning a life-size Barney in their front yard – or handing out informative colouring books with titles like: "Mommy Needs Her Tubes Tied" and "ADHD is Short for Fucking Rude" and "Your Parents Think You're Adorable. But You're Not".
Ah, the sweet, sweet smell of bitterness in the springtime.
Q Smokehouse and Southern BBQ is at 1580 Argyle St., Halifax. 407-4006