Just two days in to the school year and already the morning was a disaster. It ended in tears. This can be, in part, attributed to any or all of the following factors:
- Miss 14 left her phone on the school bus on Friday and is visibly suffering from lack of social networking.
- The fridge broke down and until the mechanic can get the relevant exorbitantly priced part delivered from somewhere in Outer-Mongolia, all of the perishable foodstuff is located in the old-but-not-quite-old-enough-to-be-retro-chic refrigerator in the shed, which, of course, is situated at quite some distance from the upstairs kitchen and dining room.
- As a direct consequence of the above point, no matter how often Mr Turning-17-on-Thursday stands with the fridge doors wide open, for the first time in his life, there actually isn’t anything to eat in there.
- Bad Mother hadn’t filled in the multiplicity of permission forms the
school emailed to
meher last week, which all had to be completed and returned by this morning.
- It’s Monday.
But for me, the problem was that both of the human beings under the age of 20 who occupy the same house as me spoke lovingly and gave attention to the younger of our dogs and completely ignored the other. The old girl. Even when I asked them to include her, pointing out that she wouldn’t be with us for much longer and she loves them too, they didn’t. At first that really rankled. Then it made my eyes leak.
My most beloved canine companion is unlikely to make it through another winter. Casablanca has already lived beyond the average lifespan for her breed, and in the past few weeks has suffered a couple of minor strokes. Her dear droopy old face has forever been described with those clichés that must make Boxers want to accidentally drop a juicy lump of gob on the speaker’s foot, or better still, right on the head of the recently coiffed fluffy slipper such humans mistakenly believe is a dog. Such ignoramuses repeatedly and predictably say Cass has a face so ugly that either (A) it’s beautiful or (B) only a mother could love it. Well, I adore that face. To me it is the face of trust and love. But now, my companion's already polarising face droops even more. And she lists to the right when she walks.
Still, she loyally pads behind me wherever I go. I try to instruct her to stay and wait when I’m just heading for the bathroom or the laundry, telling her I will be back in a flash, but she pretends she cannot hear me. So the trip takes me a little longer than if I was alone.
The wooden staircase is bothering her. Going up is fine, but she has to work up the courage to come down. Her hind legs have betrayed her a few times and she has tumbled the last metre or so. And yesterday, she almost… almost… didn’t bother to jump up onto the bed to lean against me snoring contentedly while I was reading.
I hate that with the brashness of youth, my kids have made redundant a companion they cannot remember living without. Made her less valuable than her younger counterpart. Less deserving of love. Invisible. Because she’s old.
I know exactly how that feels.
So when Miss 14 directed a particularly snarky and hurtful comment at me as I was dutifully preparing school lunches of crispy fresh bread rolls filled with left-over roast lamb and arugula, complete with Monica Geller's secret moist maker, I didn't pretend I hadn't heard it. I didn't smile wanly and tilt my head in that way that says 'I know you didn't really mean that to sound as shitful as it was, Darling'. I didn't politely suggest that she mind her manners.
On behalf of both of us, me and the other invisible old bitch in the family.
And yes, then it all ended in tears.