I had rather a bust up with my dad on Friday night. I had gone over for dinner (G was away) because my nephew was there. My dad and I slightly rubbed each other up the wrong way not along after I got there because he started to give a lecture on how I needed to make it clear to mum if I needed a lift home, so that she didn’t drink too much. Seeing as mum never drinks too much and she also knew that I had come straight from work so would need a lift home made me think this was all a bit unnecessary and I (a bit stroppily) said so. My day then walked off and then came back a few minutes later and, rather angrily, said not to lay him a place for dinner because he would not be joining us. We told him not to be so daft and to have dinner at the table. He then made a few digs at my nephew (who is five years old) and I told dad to leave him alone.
Then my nephew and I went and played ludo and snakes and ladders and about an hour later we all sat down for dinner. Dad kept getting angry during dinner and made a few more digs at my nephew, and both mum and I told him to stop. Dad then got really angry and shouted at us and told us not to tell him to stop it. My nephew said to dad not to get annoyed and, as dad kept saying things with his mouthful, my nephew said to him to stop talking with food in his mouth.
Then dad got really angry with me and kept making mean comments to my nephew, and then dad started to swear at me – and these were definitely not the sorts of words you would want a five year old to hear. I was just so angry with dad about the things he was saying to my nephew and him then swearing that I stood up and walked round to where he was and really shouted at him to tell him to stop. I have to say I was reminded quite how scary my dad is and I did rather think I had bitten off more than I could chew by going over to him. The shouting match didn’t last very long, maybe 20 or 30 seconds, and it came to a very abrupt halt on my part because I turned and saw that my nephew was really shocked by what was happening. I went over to my nephew (who had gone over to my mum) and apologised to him for shouting and I said that I shouldn’t have done it. We talked about it and he was fine with me. But he was talking to me a little while later, after dad had left the room, and told me that he was scared of granddad and didn’t understand why he kept being mean to him. Then he said that he thought it was his fault that granddad was so angry i.e. because of what he had said to dad. I explained that it wasn’t his fault – he is five whereas dad is 69 and therefore dad is the one who needed to behave better. My nephew said it all just made him feel very sad.
I managed to cheer him up and we wrote G a letter and ate ice cream etc, but mum tried to get him to say goodnight to dad, but he refused and said he didn’t want to talk to granddad. I had thought it was a risky strategy on mum’s part as there was high chance dad would have just ignored him. In fact, later when my nephew had gone to bed, dad turned out the light that was left on for my nephew because he doesn’t like sleeping in the dark. Very, very mean.
I also heard dad (rather loudly) telling mum that he didn’t know why I came round and that she should go round to mine if she wants to see me. It’s like turning the clock back a decade to when he and I were on such bad terms and we didn’t speak for a couple of years because he thought I was such a waste of space.
Anyway, I explained to my sister what had happened and that I shouldn’t have shouted in front of my nephew but that I was just so angry at the way dad was speaking to my nephew and that he was swearing etc. My sister was fine with me about it and was concerned that some of the things dad did were very reminiscent of how he treated us when we were children i.e. threatening to take things away from us – be that physical things or emotional things, and that there was no way she was going to let dad treat him in the same way.
I spoke to my sister again yesterday and asked what had happened when she went to collect my nephew. Dad had told her that he and I had an argument and that it was over what he said about getting a lift home and that I had reacted badly to it. He didn’t say anything about having a go at my nephew or swearing – and he didn’t point out that there was about an hour and a half between the conversation about getting a lift home and the argument.
My sister knows that he wasn’t telling the truth (not least because my nephew had also told her a bit of what had happened!) and we discussed why he might have done that. The most obvious explanation, of course, is that he wanted to cover up what he had done, but actually another possibility, that is equally credible, is that he really believes that is what happened.
On a number of occasions dad has come up with stories and we have suggested to him that we were dubious about whether that is actually what happened. Several times mum has said that she has never heard the story before and dad then looks confused and then no-one, including him, is sure whether what he has said is actually true. He rewrites history to make it show whatever suits him – you’d have to see him in action to quite understand what I mean. So possibly after a night’s sleep he had a different view on the previous night’s events. Thus meaning that the argument was down to me and that he had said nothing inappropriate to my nephew etc. You can’t reason with someone like that.
I also wonder what will happen next time I see him. He can hold a grudge for a very long time and be very malicious. I do feel like this is a massive step backwards, and I also feel sorry for mum, as she will have to pick up some of the pieces of it. But it also reminds me why we have had a very acrimonious relationship for so long – he is a bad tempered man, not very trustworthy and will say what he needs to try and get out of a tricky situation. Ultimately he is only interested in himself.
I know he is getting old though, and he has already had two strokes, so I need to decide what to do next. That’s not going to be an easy decision.
London’s Alleys – Gunthorpe Street, E1
15 hours ago