Daughters of the Dirt / Sarah Higdon

by Diane Fleming

After school, most kids ride bikes. My oldest son comes home, pops Lithium, and does a damn good imitation of his father. He jabs his finger at me and chants, "You, you, you." And his father sings the chorus. His father says his own life would be great if he could change one thing: Me. If he could CHANGE or KILL me, he would be a well-adjusted citizen in a better world. But for now, I am the Protestant in his Catholic Ireland.

We are in a court mediatorís -- the Guardian ad Litem -- office for another installment of our kidsí rearrangement drama. We both want the same thing -- to have my older son go spend some time with my ex -- but my ex takes this opportunity to have a juicy anger orgasm. He shakes and screams, "You are a liar. You are stupid. You ruined our lives." The guardian says, "Stop, stop. Do you hear yourself?"

I tell the guardian that when I am not home, and my ex returns my kids from visits, he comes into my house and uses my computer. "DONíT DO THAT" the guardian pleads, My ex says matter-of-factly, "But she wasnít there." The guardian says, "But most people have a tacit understanding that you DONíT DO THAT." My ex says, "There are two people in this room who know what Ďtacití means and Iím not one of them."

I cancelled my sonís birthday party because he called me a bitchcuntwhoreslut. My ex says, "What kind of mother cancels her sonís birthday party?" And the guardian asks, "So you think itís ok for your son to call her bitchcuntwhoreslut?" My ex says, "Well, he only does that to HER."

The guardian tells my ex, "I must call your therapist and tell him youíve had a really big set back." I guess he no longer believes, like he did last week, that my ex has had a miraculous recovery.

He and my son: They are co-conspirators. Instead of telling my son to straighten up, he tells my son, "Just hold on, Iíll spring you from that place. I baked a nail file into that cake I brought you last visiting day."

I could kill him first. But Iím on a quick repayment program: Iím paying off thousands of years of Karmic debt by spending one lifetime with this man. And I am a slow learner: I still hand my mood to him and let him control it.

Until one day I imagine his pointing finger caught in a fast-whirling ceiling fan, which swings his fat spastic ass around and around. With each revolution, I hear: "You WHAP you WHAP you WHAP" and the words in between are happily blurred. Instead of hearing "You bitch," I hear, "You are beautiful." Instead of hearing, "You liar," I hear, "You are lovely." And maybe my ex IS right. There IS only one person here who can and will change: Me.

But, I knew that already.
Diane Fleming is an award-winning writer and AustinMama favorite. Originally from the Northeast, she found her true home in Austin six years ago where she lives with her son, her boyfriend, and her hairy dog, Buddy.  Read more from Diane in the AustinMama.com archives, and buy her book of poetry
Trip to Normal.