continued from here.
We finished the call and I sat and did some pondering. I like pondering and I'm quite good at it, not world class but I think I'm a decent club level ponderer. I'm sometimes criticised for being too right sided but can hold my own. In fact I often do hold my own when pondering.
I figured that Old Mrs Z was probably only saying she wanted to speak to me as a bit of a threat, to keep her son on his toes and make him and K aware that it was a possibility. I reckoned my panic was a bit stupid. I'm nearly an adult myself after all, what was there to feel nervous about, why should I feel as if I might be on trial? It wasn't like I was going to be talking to Lady D's Mum or something.
Yes, I placated myself, calmed down and sat there watching Geese on the river. "Geese on the river" was actually what I was watching, it's not a crap film with Samuel L Jackson about some Geese running riot on the river and killing people with terrorists and stuff, just so you know.
Then, about thirty seconds later, my phone rang with a call from an unknown number. I paused Geese on the river, well I would have if I could, and readied myself to answer the call. By readying myself I meant I got serious.
So Old Mrs Z really wanted some did she?
Well any daughter of mine is good enough for any son of hers, I figured. If she wants to interrogate me then I'm up to the job.
"Hello" I said. Then thought that I should sound a bit lower in tone, a bit more commanding. So I did. This time I said
"Hello" It did the trick.
"Hello, this is S, Z's mother. I understand that Z and K are quite good friends and I just wanted to introduce myself and say hello."
She'd hesitated when she got to the "quite good friends" bit, something I understood totally. What do you do when they're fourteen? It seems wholly inappropriate to refer to them as boyfriend and girlfriend, or a couple, but it's also inaccurate to just talk about them as friends. My observations, which could be wrong or carefully planned, are that they hang and mess around, but they do a hell of a lot of it.
In the recesses of my mind lurked the suspicion that it might not be so good for Z if I mentioned to his Mum that I'd already met him a few times. It seemed as though he must have just told her of K's existence as a "special" friend and that it would be best if I made out I was in the same boat.
While we're on that subject I'd also suggest that, should you ever meet Old Mrs Z, you don't mention that you read about her son on my blog some months before she'd been told about things. Thanks.
Then she told me that he was planning to come round that evening and asked if I was happy with that. I replied in the affirmative, asking her what time she wanted him to leave and if he was okay in getting a train home. It all went quite smoothly. I tried my utmost to sound respectable and mature, told her to call me anytime if she needed, now she has my number, resisted the temptation to say miscellaneous things about the Z I've met already, then that was it.
It's bloody weird and I can't help chuckling. One week there am I trying my best to impress C's parents, then the next week I'm hastily trying to impress Z's Mum, whilst Z's doing his best to impress me. Mental.
I went to collect the girls, had to tell K every minute detail about the phone conversation, then the evening hit us, along with Z.
A and myself watched the England v USA match while K and Z flitted between the sitting room and the girls' bedroom, where they seemed to be hanging, chatting and monitoring Facebook. Obviously it's important that kids of that age check the book around every forty seconds just in case any friends have changed their status or left a witty comment somewhere.
I'd bought a good selection of crisps and chocolate things and K and Z raided my newly formed chocolate drawer at regular intervals. I made pizza for them, which they devoured as if they hadn't eaten for a couple of years. RD Towers isn't the hugest of places, with rooms and wings which people can disappear to and not get found for some hours, so we have to do a lot of living in each other's space.
Each time I encountered Z at the kitchen island there'd be the briefest of interchanges, getting briefer each time as I used up my methods of extracting words out of him. Once I'd asked him how his drumming was going and established he wasn't that interested in football the conversation went back to sporadic grunting.
He was starting to annoy me too, with drumming. I noticed he'd be at the island doing various rolls and paradiddles things with his hands and feet and it was getting on my nerves. Until I was hit with a revelation. I didn't find God or anything, but suddenly realised that the little oink was trying to impress me, yes me. He was doing all his best and most impressive drum moves and, while I'd been getting annoyed, he was busily trying to show me his chops. (that's a drum term)
Wow, cool and fab, I thought to myself. I've had weeks of trying to impress parents all over the show and suddenly there's a child attempting it on me. I wasn't sure what to do with this new found knowledge so observed, smirked a bit and did nothing. It seemed wise. Probably not as wise as Stephen Fry but wise by my standards.
Some hours later, as I'd promised to Old Mrs Z, I made sure he went off to get his train at the allotted time.
This was a dodgy call. He'd been allowed to leave at ten, then we discovered the train was at ten thirty so he planned to go to the station at about ten twenty, all of which had been okayed by the mother via a text message that I'd been shown.
I told K that I'd walk with them to the station, a five minute walk from RD Towers, and she'd been predictably unhappy with that plan, but no way was I going to let her walk back from the station on her own. I settled on letting them go on their own but with A, the elder sister, accompanying them.
They set off, with A walking some paces behind K and Z, listening to her iPod and doing her best at playing the disinterested and reluctantly dutiful elder sister. I waved to them and did my best to play the cool and nonchalant Dad, pretending I was watching TV when I was far more worried about their ten minute walk at just after darkness on a Saturday night.
Twenty minutes later and there was no sign of them. I left it another five minutes and still there was nothing. I called a mobile and K answered, to tell me that they were still at the station waiting for the replacement bus to arrive as the trains weren't running for some reason. I did the only thing a parent could do, particularly one who'd just promised Old Mrs Z that he'd look after her son.
"Well you'd better come back, you can't have Z getting a bus on his own at this time of night. I'll drop him home" I said in my kindest, slightly victim but general good father tones.
What can a fellow do? I couldn't stand, or sit, and watch the chap go by bus and get home at God knows what time. A, K and Z arrived back at RD Towers in a few minutes and we piled into the car. The journey itself was uneventful. I kept on eye on K and Z in the rear view mirror but all seemed calm there, everyone was tired including me.
Once we got to the house of Z he sort of spilled out of the car, grunted a thank you for the lift and then was gone. I knew that the mother was out at work that night so I waited to see that he'd got into the house and we left.
As we drove back, it was around midnight by then, both the girls fell fast asleep and I had one of those parent's moments; when you look at your kids and see them as gentle and angelic butter wouldn't melt in their mouth beauties instead of the horrible things they really are. I dropped A back at her mothers and went back to RD Towers with K, who was allowed to sleep in her own bed.
Shortly after getting back I got a text. It was from Old Mrs Z.
"Thank you very much for dropping Z back. I always have my doubts about weekend trains."
It was nice of her.
"No problem, anytime."