Jane cried out in anguish when she entered the family room. There, gurgling happily at the coffee table was their pride and joy doing his best to paint its surface with something that was sticky and gooey.
There was a trail of splatters and splotches on the floor leading across to the pantry cupboard in the kitchen. On the table was an array of packets, bottles and canisters with lids awry, standing in a mess of spilled sugar, flour and bright green cordial.
Oblivious to the chaos his son was creating around him, Bob snored contentedly in his reclining chair.
“Bob!” Jane yelled angrily as she picked up her son with one hand on his chest and the fingers of the other hooked into the back of his nappy; thus transporting him to the bathroom with a minimum of contact.
Jane’s anger increased as she bathed Timmy and Bob’s sheepish smile and apology didn’t help at all. “For heaven’s sake, Bob, I only left him with you for forty five minutes!”
“Okay, Okay! I said I was sorry, didn’t I?” Bob replied, “I didn’t mean to fall asleep.” He chuckled. “He sure got stuck into it, didn’t he?”
“There’s nothing funny about it,” Jane retorted as she lifted Timmy out of the tub, wrapped him in a towel and took him to his room. Bob followed. “I just don’t know how you could be so…so damned irresponsible. You just don’t care.”
‘Oh, come on now love. It isn’t the end of the world, you know.” Bob tried to reason with his wife, “I simply fell asleep because I was tired…”
“Tired! You don’t know what it is to be tired. I’m the one who is tired. I’m the one who never gets a proper night’s sleep.” Jane’s voice was becoming more strident . She placed Timmy in his playpen and walked out of the room. “And I’m tired of picking up after you,” she said as she picked his briefcase off the hall table and hurled it onto the sofa in the den. Then, with face flushed, she stomped back to the family room and began cleaning up the mess Timmy had made.
Again Bob followed her. “Look, there’s no need to carry on like this, Jane…” he began in a conciliatory tone which suddenly became angry when Jane’s response was to glare at him. “Pick up after me, eh? Well don’t you bloody forget I slave my guts out five days a bloody week for you!” With that he turned and left the room. A few minutes later she heard the front door slam and knew he’d gone to drown his sorrows at the golf club.
Bob’s words slammed around in her brain like the little black ball in the Squash Courts. How dare he try and make me feel guilty. Am I not the one who slaves seven days a week FOR HIM? Am I not entitled to an hour of peace and quiet on a Sunday morning? It is just not fair.
Timmy began to cry. Jane looked across at her son and immediately realised she had been so angry she had ignored him. “Oh Timmy, I am so sorry darling,” she said as she picked him up and cuddled him. “It’s okay.” She glanced at her wristwatch and was amazed to find that a whole hour had passed since the argument with Bob. It had taken her all that time to clean up the mess. With Timmy’s arms around her neck she went into the kitchen to get him a bottle of orange juice.
As the day wore on, Jane tried very hard to put a lid on the seething cauldron deep within her. It wasn’t just the mess, she told herself, it was as much the fact that Timmy might have done himself harm while he was left to own devices. It was so damned irresponsible of Bob.
Jane was also furious that Bob had cut and run. She imagined him at the golf club enjoying the company of his mates. She also imagined him walking in the door and acting as though nothing was amiss. This is what he always did. When he found her still angry he’d turn it all around so that the whole business was her fault. Wasn’t he being conciliatory? Didn’t he say he was sorry? Is he going to be punished for ever over some silly little spat?
It was all too much. “This time, Bob, you are not getting away with it,” Jane announced to the empty room. “This time, I will leave you…I’ll take Timmy and leave.” The very thought brought stinging tears to her eyes and she dissolved into choking sobs. She didn’t hear Bob enter the room.
“Jane, oh Jane darling.” He said as he folded her in his arms. “I am so sorry.” He kissed her forehead and rocked her gently to quieten her sobs. “Please forgive me. I feel sick to my stomach to think what could have happened to Timmy.”
Jane wiped her eyes and looked up into Bob’s face. She saw the anguish in his eyes and knew he was genuinely remorseful. “It’s okay, my love,” she said as she ran her finger down his cheek, “we both got a fright, but nothing terrible happened.”
At that moment there was a gurgling sound from the nursery. Hand in hand, Jane and Bob went in to see their son.