Sunday, 18 March 2007

empty box

I had spoken to Mum during the week and warned her that I couldn't afford much this Mothers' Day but that I would be sending something small.

Yesterday, I got an excited phone-call.

"I went out to the shops and when I came back, I found two packages outside my door. The flowers have come and THANK YOU, they're BEAUTIFUL!"
"Mum, I'm sorry, but they must be from your son-in-law. I didn't send you flowers"
"Oh..." [sounds of consternation]
"Was there a card with the flowers?"
"Yes, but I didn't open it"
"Well why are you thanking me for them?"
"I just assumed"
"You said there were two packages?"
"Well the other one is probably the one from me. Why don't you leave it until tomorrow to open?"

Today, the phone rang again.

"Hello Mum. Happy Mother's Day"
"My washing machine has broken, so I rang...... etc"

There followed a long conversation discussing the situation regarding the washing machine, the fact that the water was shut off yesterday (when she used it) and my patient explanation as to how that could be the problem. I added my standard request "Please Please Please call ME before calling any company", which will naturally be ignored as usual.

"So, anyway, Mum. I said 'Happy Mother's Day' "
"Yes, well I thanked you yesterday for that"
"No, Mum, you thanked me for the flowers - but they weren't from me"
"No, they were from your brother-in-law. They are beautiful. But you know something odd? The box that came with them was empty!"
"Yes, well I opened it this morning and there was nothing inside it"
"Oh No!"

So I got her to describe the box to me, reading out all the details on it's surface. This took several attempts, each one with a protestation that she'd already told me everything, and each revealing more details. I was trying to establish if this was some extra part of my brother-in-law's present, or if it was mine. I pointed out that the box was most likely MY gift.

"No, I got chocolates from you"
[gasp] "Right... yes... so, 'Happy Mother's Day' then"
"So I wonder what happened to whatever was inside this box!"
"Mum, I said 'Happy Mother's Day'. Are you going to thank me for the chocolates?"
"No, well I did that yesterday"
"No.... you didn't. You thanked me for the flowers, which weren't from me"
"Oh!" [consternation]

This is where I began to see the solution. I suggested to Mum that she'd opened the box yesterday, taken out the chocolates, and then opened the box again this morning to find it empty. After all, the chocolates must have come in SOMETHING, and how did she know that they were from me? Mum found this offensive and got angry with me. Mother's Day was turning out to be REALLY worth it! I ended the call with a rather forced repeat of "Happy Mother's Day!"

I got up and decided to check my order receipt from Thorntons. As anticipated, the order number matched the one printed on the mystery box. So my scenario had been correct. Moments later, the phone rang. Mum sounded like she'd proved something.

"I found this card on the display unit... it says 'Happy Mother's Day, Love G' "

I'm learning to accept a silent victory when Mum proves my point for me, even though she has no idea she's doing it...

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