Flare Up Lesson 3.
Christmas Week at her mother-in-law’s house was not an event Nat had looked forward to. The twins were two and a half and she wondered how much had changed inside the house since their visit when the twins were babies.
Stan’s mother was a collector and all sorts of ornaments and antiques were usually displayed on every available table and shelf. Nat had discussed with Stan that the items would have to be put away while they were there as an accidental breakage would add stress to the already fragile relationship Nat had with Ethel. Nat had come to understand how difficult Ethel was after her interstate visits with them. She’d kept her cool hoping to be in a better family position than Stan’s two brothers and their wives.
As the door opened and the twins ran inside one glance was all they needed. Nothing had been put out of reach in spite of their request.
Greetings over and Stan explained.
“Mum you’ll have to put these out of the living area. As the twins play around they could easily bump them. I’ll help box them up after I unpack the car.”
“Many of these were here when you boys were growing up. They’re not moving now.” Ethel’s voice was steely. “Nat will have to make sure the children behave calmly inside just like I used to do.”
Christmas Day had been great fun at Stan’s brother’s home but on their return Ethel had started her bitter comments about the daughter-in-law. Nat had tried to change the subject.
“Don’t keep butting in Nat. I’m speaking.” Nat took a deep breath. This wasn’t getting any easier.
The next day as Ethel was watching her soapie Nat asked if she could leave the twins inside while she hung out the washing. Nat heard the yell and raced inside. Ethel stood over Jason, her arm raised.
“You naughty, naughty boy. I saw you pull Josie’s arm and make her fall. Look at my table. You’ve broken my treasures.” Ethel’s face was contorted and her voice raging. The children clung together frightened by nanna’s angry outburst.
Nat moved carefully over the broken china and shattered glass.
“Don’t move. You’ll cut your feet.” The children were crying. Nat scooped each child under her arms and took them outside to the back yard.
She tapped Stan’s number.
“Get here fast love. Listen.” She turned the phone towards the window.
“Are you coming back to clean up.” The shrill voice drifted through the opening. “I knew you’d never be able to manage two children. I’m not moving from my chair till everything is in order.”
Stan knew this was just the start of his mother’s jealous bickering. Their holiday here was over.
“I’m on my way.”
“We’ll stay outside till Daddy comes. He’ll help nanna. It’s okay. It was an accident.”