War and Peace

There they were – a family straight out of one of those irritating television advertisements. Sitting together on a park bench – handsome dad, attractive mum, two photogenic kids.

When I looked again the kids had gone – playing with wild abandon on the nearby swings and slides, Then something caught my eye.

The man and woman were sitting at opposite ends of the bench. Any further apart and they would have fallen off.

The unusual positions may have been some form of ‘New Age’ contemplation, but I suspect not. This was a couple with a deep loathing for one another; forced together on late Sunday afternoons when the change of ‘duty parent’ occurred. Or, so I surmised.

The man had a somewhat dishevelled look, like he’d been in the nightclubs most of the night. Surely he’d not been the parent on duty.

The woman was snappily dressed, perhaps even over-dressed for a mid-summer afternoon. Her face was devoid of any warmth – icy cold would not be an overstatement.

The kids were just carefree young beings – enjoying all that the spacious playground had to offer. They seemed oblivious to the visible hostility emanating from their parents.

My nosiness reeks of someone nastily judgmental. Gosh, given my ‘failed’ relationships over the years, that would be the height of ….

That aside, watching this sad scene got me thinking about the life span of a number of my relationships – from the excitement and tenderness of the early stages, to the usual less than pleasant end – and that’s without the complication of children.

Back to the family. When I looked again the kids were giving their dad an affectionate hug. Meanwhile the woman looked away.

He then sped off in an old dunger. Perhaps he’d been the loser in a division of property settlement?

Half an hour later we were off – my family seemingly unaware of my mischievous, meandering eye.

Some distance from the park we passed a rundown house. Young men were arriving with boxes of the “amber liquid”.

Who should emerge from the property to greet them but the dad from the park. His beaming smile said it all.

Weekend duty done. Time for a real ‘piss up’!

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Brad Page is a house husband with experiences to share.