Bang Gang(6)By: Jade West
I sometimes wondered if motherhood was like this for everyone. Constantly feeling like a hot mess, I mean. They say you can’t judge what you see of other people and their parenthood goals statuses on Facebook. They say you’re seeing everyone else’s show reel while you’re living through the uncut edition, but seeing some of the mothers in the playground around me, I wonder. They always seem to have this shit totally nailed, and still have time for Pinterest-worthy baking projects.
Jesus, I hate baking.
I soaked in the September morning sun, my mind already zooming ahead to a hot mug of cappuccino and the latest gossip. I’d been ingratiated into the ladies’ club by my best friend, Tonya, whose friendship had been forged in steel back when we were kids, staying strong into adulthood through countless break-ups and job crises. She’d been my confidante and cheerleader through my two pregnancies and the epic break-up with Daddy Trent, too. That made us virtually blood sisters. Closer than blood sisters, since my real life one drove me insane through at least half the time I spent in her company.
The other ladies in our little coffee club were alright, not quite so close to my heart, but nice enough. Mandy, Steph, and Debbie. All local. All born and bred here.
Weren’t we all.
The bell rang to signal the end of my parental responsibilities for the school day, and my heart soared. Thank fuck for that. I was already disappearing back towards my car when a voice rang out from the outdoor sandpit.
“Jodie! Jodie! You-hoo! Jodie! Can I have a quick word?”
I toyed with the opinion of fake-deafness, but Miss Davies, Ruby’s teacher, was at my elbow before I could reach stage-exit.
“Hi,” I said. “Sure, what’s up?”
She did a little sigh, and pulled that face. The face that says your kid’s been up to no good. Oh bollocks.
“I’m glad I caught you,” she said. “It’s just, Ruby…”
My heart dropped.
“…one of the other mums heard something worrying last week…”
She nodded, pulled an apologetic face and lowered her voice. “Bad words. She’s been saying bad words.”
I could feel the heat on my cheeks. “Bad words?”
I hoped for maybe a bloody or a crap. Maybe even a sneaky little shit. I mean, bad words have scale, right?
She leaned in. “Very bad words…”
Great. Just great.
I held out my hands. “I’m sorry… Ruby knows not to say bad words… we don’t say bad words in our house…”
It wasn’t really much of a lie, either. Ruby hears me swear, but not at her, not much, not unless I’ve really lost my shit. But you can’t say that to her smiling teacher, can you?
No way, of course none of us swear. Not me. Never bloodied and shitted and fucked in my life. And Ruby does know, both girls know they can’t get away with saying nasty shit, I wouldn’t dream of letting that slip by on my watch.
I said as much to Miss Davies, and she nodded sweetly but she wasn’t really listening.
“The C word,” she said, just like that. “Ruby used the C word.”
Oh the shame. The terrible shame. My parenting goals crawled into a hole and died right there in front of me. And I knew.
King of the C word.
Otherwise known as God in Ruby’s eyes — Daddy’s girl doesn’t even come close.
Miss Davies knew it, too. Her face said it all.
She shrugged. “Look, Jodie, for what it’s worth it wasn’t at anyone. She’s not that kind of child. We have to act on it, but Ruby’s a nice girl, she just has some challenges with managing her frustration. She kicked out at the netball hoop after she missed a shot… called it a stupid C and told it where it could shove itself.”
I winced. I actually winced. “I’ll talk to her,” I said. “It won’t happen again.”
She patted my arm in sympathy. “Thanks, Jodie.”
I pulled out my phone as soon as she left me.
King C Word himself could deal with this one.
By the time I’d shaken off Miss Davies, sent a text to Darren C-word Trent about our co-parenting issues, grabbed Nanna’s prescription from the chemist and made the house look basically habitable, I was the last lady to arrive at the Velvet Bean coffee shop. Yes, that’s actually its name, and I work there when I’m not on the customer side of the counter. That means, in real life terms, that from the very first day I stepped foot behind it and donned my Velvet Bean apron, I’ve been known as Jodie-from-the-cafe and my business is officially everyone else’s business, and theirs is mine.