Yesterday I got off the bus at Doncaster on my way home from work, and as I walked along I felt a tap on my left shoulder. I turned around and saw a tall kid in a school uniform, and it took me a second to realise it was Erik. You know, I'd often day-dreamed about getting off the bus and running into Erik, but it never happened until yesterday.
He said I'd been walking directly toward him, Harlem - not recognising him - must have guided me around him causing him to have to tap me on the shoulder to get my attention. I hadn't seen him, I had passed by him, he did not need to attract my attention, but he did.
He walked me to where Dave picks my up and told me along the way he was going to see a friend who was coming over from Coburg. Later he revealed the friend was his ex-girlfriend. He said he was wondering if I might ask my brother if he could do Erik's first tattoo. He couched the question in another question about whether or not I was on good terms with Mike. I said we're always on good terms, we have never let our parents get between us. He wanted someone to go with him to Mike's if Mike agreed to the tattoo.
We got onto talking about Mum and Lester. He started with saying he really didn't want to say anything that was going to piss me off, but then - because, we've always been able to talk about stuff - he told me all sorts of things.
He told me that he'd visited them a few times this year, and every time, they spent many hours talking to him about the bible. I asked him how he felt about that and he said he just asks them a bunch of questions because he's been watching the show, 'Lucifer' and he wants to know how closely that adheres to what is written in the bible. He also told me they'd talked a lot about the End Times and the predictions in Revelations and how they thought it was all coming together now, and they expected the Day of Reckoning to happen in the next half a decade or so.
He said they wanted to take Ari out for his birthday but thought we wouldn't let them - to be honest, I don't think I would, given they have such a low opinion of me. I said to him, they might have thought of Bryn who they'd promised to do something special for for two years running, but then never did anything because they never had 'any money'. They always seemed to find money for home improvements, though, even replacing $600 worth of garden that was ruined when a tourist crashed into it, just a few days before Christmas. The same Christmas they didn't 'have a lot of money to spend on the boys' and I helped them pick out $12 worth of presents for each of the three younger boys. The same Christmas they later gave Erik a $50 voucher. The same Christmas that resulted in me asking them not to show Erik preferential treatment which led to mum stating that I had no right to tell them how to spend their money, and that if my kids cared about money so much then I had raised them wrong (they would care about the imbalance, not about the money. Erik had caused so much pain in the family, and it would seem to them that he was being rewarded while they were having to just understand that their grandparents were broke).
I was accused of being like my paternal grandmother, who mum always considered a miser. Which beggars the question, if money is so unimportant to my mother, why on earth did she care how my grandmother handled her money. The thing that gets me is not that I'm supposedly like my grandmother, but that somehow saying this is an insult. Mum (and Dad, who also made the same observation when I wouldn't let him criticise my parenting) is trying to control my behaviour by trying to insult me with the memory of my grandmother.
My nanna was not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. She never liked any of her daughter-in-laws. They were never good enough for her sons. She forced her religious opinions on other people - like the time she called me a whore because I was going to move in with Dave with no plans of marriage (I didn't talk to her for 10 years after that). She tried to manipulate her children financially by saying she'd take them out of her will every time they upset her. She was also a busy-body, inserting herself in situations which had nothing to do with her among her family members.
So far, I have done none of these things, and would never do any of these things. Sure, I didn't like the girlfriend Erik was with when he moved into her house without a word to us. I really didn't like that the girlfriend had encouraged her mother to take Erik in so, 'he had a safe place to go'. Is not liking his girlfriend under these circumstances such an outrageous thing to do?
My grandmother had some great qualities too. She was fiercely protective of her family. She worked hard to provide for them. She adored her grandchildren. She was actually extremely generous to everyone (except her daugther-in-laws). She was fun-loving and always open to new experiences with not a shred of self-consciousness. She was her own person and didn't make excuses for who she was, whether people like who she was or not. So comparing me to her is not an insult.
Erik ended up coming home with us, he said he'd walk back up to his bus. He stayed for an hour and a half. At one point during that time, he got a phone call which he went to another room to take, and we heard him saying he was on his way to meet his friend and that he was walking there at that moment. He was lying to the person on the other end of the phone.
We all kept chatting and talked about him getting his license and going to RMIT and a whole bunch of other stuff. He told us Centrelink had chucked mum off her carers pension because she's eligible for an aged pension in Iceland. Now, she's an Australia citizen - can they chuck her of a pension just because she's eligible in another country? Is this a new Government scheme to save money?
Just as he was leaving, I asked him if he wanted to come for Christmas dinner at our place in mid-December. He said if he did come he would have to make up a story for the ex-girlfriend's family because they don't want him to have anything to do with us. I asked him why. He said they were extremely pro-vaccination and obviously we don't vaccinate. We have no issue with him choosing to get vaccinated though - he's of an age where he can read up on vaccines and make an informed choice, or not do any research, it's up to him, it's something he is capable of now. As well as this, he said we were polar opposites on a range of other parenting practices. I can only guess what these might be. Perhaps breastfeeding past 12 months, or homeschooling Erik until he asked to go to school, or homebirthing? Obviously, we are child abusers, haha!
Whatever the case. While he is being secretive about his contact with us - which is ongoing and coming from him because we allow him to make his own choices about when he wants to talk to us - he is still seeking us out. Blood is thicker than water, and he knows he can tell us anything, because when we're not thwarting his desires, he doesn't view us as abusing him.
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