I have done something to my back. I cannot quite stand upright. Periodically I groan a lot. I was squatting next to the children, pleading with them to chose something in a shop so I could go back to a cup of tea and a cheese scone in the cafe next door. I admit I was buying silence. I am not proud of it but I was desperate for the tea. As I stood up, I thought: "Oops." It was so bad, I was clutching at the shelves. The nice shop assistant came over. I said: "Having a bit of a problem standing up. I just need a minute." He was about 23; he thought I was 70. The car was parked up a hill. As we laboured up it, my husband said to the boys: "We'll have to roll mummy down this hill like a pig in a barrel." I was in a considerable amount of pain at this point, hanging on to my husband's arm with one hand and holding on to my six-year-old's shoulder with the other. I stopped walking in silent protest. My six-year-old said: "I don't think you look like a pig Mummy," I smiled lovingly at my child, "even if Daddy does." I did not smile lovingly at his father.
We were en route from the hospital where we were having the six-year-old checked out by a consultant paediatrician to see if he had some sort of falling down disorder. (He doesn't.) This was at the suggestion of the school after a series of incidents in which my son was hurt. As responsible and courteous middle-class parents, we took their piece of paper with its Google search results on dyspraxia, said "Thank you" and that we would "look into it". My suspicion was that as the incidents tended to involve other children (sitting on him, for instance) and he did not seem to fall over spontaneously at home, any official medical diagnosis of a problem with motor skills was extremely unlikely. If I was in the habit of swearing, which of course I am not, I would have said it was an absolute fucking waste of time for all concerned.
I know some people still consider the fact I blogged my concerns about what was going on beyond the pale. Others, however, are back on board. I liked one mother very much the moment I met her; she had no great need of my company but I felt we had interests in common and when she needed my help, I gave it freely. The first time she cut me dead, I thought: "She didn't see me." The second time when I could not move a car fast enough for her, I thought: "What's going on?" The third time, I sucked my teeth and shook my head in regret as I strapped the children into the car. Then I thought: "You know. I don't think so." I crossed back over the road to where she stood with another waiting mother. I said: "Would you call me?". I waited but she didn't call. Two weeks went by until she e-mailed.
She wrote: “There's so much I want to say and most of it focuses on the appalling attitude I have recently adopted towards you. I haven't phoned you as you asked me to do because I was afraid you wouldn't really want to talk to me. I have behaved terribly, like a stupid spoilt child, not to mention sheep - following suit, if you know what I mean. I have never meant to ignore you, snub you or act coolly towards you. It's something I've never done to anyone before and believe you me it's preyed on my mind every day since I first heard about your blog. I actually feel quite disgusted with myself. Please forgive my rudeness. I am truly sorry for being so pathetic.”
I thought: "Cor blimey." I replied: “Listen honey. Fret not... I respect anyone's right to hold a different opinion to my own. 100%. Truly." I went on a bit, but that is the kiss and make up gist of it.I was slightly gobsmacked when she told me later, over a cup of tea, that caught up in the feeding frenzy, she, herself, had not read the blog. I admire her bravery though; having the courage and making the effort to apologise in such a handsome manner. Knowing when and how to say sorry is a gift. I am hoping she will be a new marra.
To a few, I remain: "The Unforgiven". Northumberland, although a huge county, is a small world. I blog. My words do not go away. They hang around in cyber-space, witness to my awful mood, my anger, my scary desperation. I look at them, sometimes in the same way as I look at my children and think: "Cor blimey. Are they mine?" They are. I cannot walk away from them. They would cling to my leg and scream. But the words thing; that cuts both ways. Everyone knows everyone else. Maybe, not directly; face-to-face. But they probably know someone who knows someone, a cousin, a neighbour, a sister in law. I do not know everything, but I know more than I want to about those who still ramble on about the blog. I think: "Get over it." I have.