Gail’s parenting style, of helicoptering and martyrdom, gives me nightmares. So too do the products of her mothering. David has long been the most overtly, and dangerously, screwed up of the three offspring. But during his recent crisis, Nick’s injury and then Kylie falling apart, I thought he had gained some maturity, insight into himself and others and, dare I say it, empathy. I liked how he was with Kylie, encouraging and loving. He also seemed changed toward his mother – appreciative of the difficulty of her position, caught between two warring sons, and thankful for her efforts in caring for his wife and children. I was happy when he and Kylie reconciled, both of them seemingly a little wiser, a little more humble.
Then he knocked it all in the head. He no more than had his feet back under the family table than he suggested kicking his mother out. It wasn’t said in an angry tone, just as a matter-of-fact solution to a slight inconvenience to him and Kylie. He said it in the same tone one might use about a chair that no longer fit the décor or had a spring come loose. Kylie lamented the lack of privacy that they had as a couple, what with kids around and Gail. “Do you think I should ask her to move out?” And Kylie considers. But then she has a second thought: no built-in babysitter if Gail left.
And thus began the list making. The pros and cons of Gail’s presence. They had fun, dissecting Gail’s personality and actions. So it defused the heightened emotion of their reconciliation and all the reasons for their original separation: they were kids enjoying themselves by looking at how another person fit, or didn’t fit, into their lives.
We don’t know if they made a decision based on their scorecard. But they were too thoughtless to destroy it or at least hide it well. Left half under a magazine on the coffee table, Gail saw the list as soon as she walked in. Of course she read it. It’s not clear if she knew why, but she certainly knew she was being rated.
She shared it with her mother, which became a funny scene. Audrey certainly has her own difficulties with Gail and she couldn’t repress her amusement at some of the observations made. Also, Audrey’s light hearted teasing took some of the sting out of it for Gail and made her see the funny side. But still! Audrey might want to reflect on what this says about her grandson and the dynamics of the family of which she is matriarch. She might want to think about herself, and what might be his assessment of her should she be at his mercy. What would her future be if David had control of it?
What David wants, when he wants it, is his right, in his opinion. Yes, Gail made him what he is, as he is wont to remind her when things are not going well for him. But he quickly forgets the good she has done him. Like this recent crisis he caused and Kylie contributed to: if not for Gail, there wouldn’t be a well-looked-after little family for him to return to.