“I’ve had an incident with Quentin,” I breathe heavily down the phone the moment Bakerman answered my call that evening.
“What?” he stammers back in surprise. “Did he have a meltdown?”
“Yes,” I say doing my best to fight back the tears. “He shouted at me because I told him to call his dad back later and do his homework first. He pushed me. He raised his fist at me. He threw his mobile phone on the floor. He told me to ‘fuck off bitch’. And that he hates me like I hate my mother. He’s only 11.”
“Wow,” Bakerman utters in astonishment.
“I have sent him to bed,” I say resolutely to show I still have matters in hand. “His phone is confiscated. And the playstation too.”
“Ok,” Bakerman encourages me to continue calming my thoughts.
“I’ll call for an appointment with the child psychologist tomorrow,” I resolve. “I’m broken hearted. A ‘sorry’ won’t be enough this time.”
“Would you like an alternative thought?” Bakerman speaks up finally.
“Yes,” I confirm that this is actually my real reason for calling upon him. “This is karma right? Or Picasso’s influence. What’s the alternative thought? I’ve screwed up.”
“Would it be possible to step into a different role?” Bakerman suggests.
“Which one?” I ask him in surprise. “Not being mommy anymore? Then who am I?”
“No,” Bakerman corrects me soothingly. “Being mommy is perhaps what is needed here.”
“I am not a mommy?” I ask him rather annoyed that he is questioning my mothering skills. “Okay so I’ll make a hot chocolate and take it up to his room? Then what?”
“Who knows but you,” Bakerman retorts. “Consider for a moment that something is really bothering him. Have you stopped to ask him? Are you able to have a warm conversation with him about him instead of about you?”
“He is closed on certain aspects,” I start searching my memory for profound conversations lately.
“Ok,” Bakerman urges me to dig deeper.
“I do try to talk to him often,” I say in my defense, failing to find anything significant being said of late. “He doesn’t open up.”
“Now is the time to pretend you care about him,” Bakerman knows how to get me going.
“I don’t pretend. I do care,” I snap back at him. “He’s worried about big school.”
“Oh ok that’s good,” Bakerman confirms we’re onto something here.
“About bullies and not being able to defend himself,” I remember how my eldest son told me these things apparently in passing, but which obviously have more weight than I originally attributed.
“I see,” Bakerman is making sense of what has been going on. “What about big school? What school is this?”
“That’s all I can think of,” I sigh as I desperately continue racking my brains in search of any other clue of what might be going on in my teenage son’s life. “In Turnpoint Mountains. Where he has always been.”
“Which one?” Bakerman points out there are numerous schools in our area.
“The Atheneum, by the lake,” I inform him. “I’m taking up warm cocoa. Feels a bit like rewarding bad behavior.”
“Try reassuring him all will be ok,” Bakerman says in his soft hypnotizing voice. “Tell him that his behaviour is not acceptable and when he is worried he needs to talk to you so you can help. Please avoid putting your shit on him.”
I put down my phone without turning it off or ending the conversation. My mind is worried and I am feeling it deep within me to be a mother now. To be nurturing and understanding of my child in need. When I return back downstairs five minutes later, I am amazed to find my best friend still present on the other side.
“He’s tired and almost asleep so no talk,” I sight. “I did tell him it was unacceptable but he’s asleep.”
“Tomorrow is good too,” Bakerman reassures me that tomorrow is a new day.
“I don’t put my shit on him,” I snap defensively. Then I correct my tone as I do realize that Bakerman is trying to help. “Problem is Picasso. We had words last night when Quentin was there.”
“Ah,” Bakerman pipes up.
“Picasso can do nothing wrong in Quentin’s eyes. He’s very defensive of his dad,” I complain. I hadn’t brought up the incident earlier as my dealings with my ex-husband are not the kind I am fond to remember. “Picasso started having a go at me so I finally ignored him and walked off. Picasso followed me of course with all comments and insults in tow.”
“No I mean don’t make him feel guilty,” Bakerman advises. “Not the right time for that. As for the idiot Quentin’s father, that’s a different story.”
“Don’t make him feel guilty about what?” I ask not sure of understanding his clear words of wisdom.
“When will you learn to teach your moron he is welcome to talk about kids,” Bakerman scolds me as he has many times before. “Anything else to write you a letter.”
“He pushed me and raised his fist. This will have consequences,” I burst out a little too loud. “He came along to the school for enrolling Quentin. We queued for three whole hours. Three hours is too much for Picasso.”
“Yes it should,” Bakerman acknowledges. “But first find out what is going on, then punish accordingly.”
“Three hours is too long to spend confined with Picasso,” I ponder on.
“I guess you asked him to come and keep you company?” Bakerman mocks me openly now.
“I will try,” I nod more to myself, wondering how I am going to get my boy to confide in me what’s bothering him so much. “No he wants to be co-parent and be involved in all this stuff. I should have let him leave. I was outraged that he wouldn’t make the effort to queue along with all the other parents.”
“Yes you should know better by now,” Bakerman laughs gently to diffuse the tension. “Picasso has the IQ of a fish for God’s sake.”
“I don’t know how I’m going to understand what’s going on with Quentin,” I sigh reluctantly and already feel the first tinges of wanting to give up before I’ve even started.
“Picasso is all talk no action,” Bakerman reminds me. “You know this.”
“He’s a plant. He’s a spoiled brat. Oh my God, poor Picasso had to queue for three hours. Fucking idiot,” I spit out letting my anger and frustration rip. “How will I get through to Quentin? Why does he hate me so much?”
“Quentin is easy,” Bakerman reassures me. “Be kind, attentive, loving, warm and understanding. But most important ask questions and listen listen listen.”
“And when he starts shouting?” I want to know. “What then?”
“You tell him you love him so much,” Bakerman replies matter of factly. “Keep your voice calm and firm. Ask how he is feeling and what is he thinking about.”
“Ok, but I do stay calm and firm most of the time,” I reply rather annoyed that his answers aren’t shedding more light on the matter. Well apart from the fact that I should remember to be a mother more often. “Thanks for listening.”
“Ok don’t worry too much,” Bakerman continues to tend to my emotional wounds. “Persist and he will come around. He is old enough to understand what’s going on. So tell him the truth about your relationship with Picasso.”
“Which is?” I ask him as my interest goes soaring through the roof. “He doesn’t want to know. His dad is sacred and I am mud.”
“Picasso was not right for you,” Bakerman continues to spell it out for me step by step. “But he made two beautiful children who you love. Picasso is angry that you left him. Picasso is not always right and is teaching Quentin bad manners.”
“Yes true,” I admit relieved. “Picasso still talks about me as his wife. He did that yesterday.”
“It will work out,” Bakerman lets me know it will all be alright again soon. “Quentin needs to know the basic truth.”
“And the truth I explain as you just told me?” I insist.
“Yes,” I can hear Bakerman smiling warmly now.
“Ok. That’s easy and clear and low drama,” I am feeling instantly so much better. “Thanks.”
“Ok,” Bakerman’s warm voice echoes down the phone.
Being a mother is a nurturing, selfless role. To me, being a mother is a well of unconditional love. Or at least that is my aim most of the time. Sometimes it’s easy to lose touch of our motherly role, especially when we’re feeling depleted. Yet it’s these qualities that I love most about being a mother. Reminding myself to step back into this role is a life changing realization.
* Disclaimer : Any resemblance between the fictional characters in this story and any persons, living or dead, is a miracle by chance more than by choice.