Woman’s Fitness-As-Mother Called Into Question After Missing Son’s Wave
Forty-two-year-old mother of three, Sarah Hitchens, is unlikely to regain the trust and affection of youngest son Sebastian any time soon, after failing to capture his first ever successful air reverse on camera Saturday morning.
Friends of the family say Sebastian, 13, currently in the back seat of mum’s Honda CRV and being ferried home (most likely via the ToonaPies Bakery) is refusing to talk or make eye contact with the vile creature at the wheel, and has already taken to Instagram to air his frustration with a parent/designated filmer so inept.
Posting a black square in protest, @shredsebshred captioned: “This should of (sic) been my first #airrev but … #youhadonejob #lazycow #thanksfornothing #abusiveparent #deadtome, followed by copious angry emojis to underscore his fury.
Sebastian, who currently receives a steady and limitless supply of food, shelter, education, in-house laundry and room-cleaning service, gadgets and surfboards, and has both parents on full-time standby as chauffers to school, soccer practice and mate’s houses, reached out to Ding Alley on his iPhone to ‘Let the truth be known.’
Not at all concerned that the negligent troll at the wheel was within earshot, Toona’s fifth or sixth hottest U/14 surfer pulled no punches as he took us through the incident.
“I could tell Mum was off her game from the get-go this morning. Like, she didn’t hang my wettie out last night, and we were out of Coco Pops, so straight out of the gate it was like, ‘awesome, this is what I have to work with.’
“Then she wants to get a coffee on the way to the beach. Something about being worn out from her second job, cleaning Air B’n’B properties ‘til 10.00 last night blah blah. So I’ve got to sit there in the car while she goes into the café. Yeah she brings me out a hot chocolate and a cookie without me asking for it but that’s five minutes of my time I’ll never get back. Actually, seven minutes, ‘cos I sent mum back in to get the marshmallow they give ya with the hot chocolate.
“I mean, Come ON! The marshmallow… get with the program, Mum, like, Duhh!”
Sebastian – who receives a generous 25 dollars in weekly pocket-money for stacking the dishwasher every other night and taking out the bins once a week, and who contributes little to the cultural milieu of the Hitchens’ household other than savage lampooning of certain teachers at Toona Middle School over dinner, and moderately entertaining mockery of his older brother and sister – goes on to describe in harrowing detail their arrival at Toona Main Beach.
“We park the car, the surf looks sick and Mum’s got this big dumb tired smile plastered all over her face as she pops the tailgate. Turns out this scheming Jezebel has had the gall, the temerity, to sneak her steamer and 6’2” into the car.
“She actually thinks SHE might be getting wet. Like, excuse me?
“So I ask Mum if there’s something I’m missing, like is Dad on his way down here to film? Or maybe she’s got some special invisible friend who’s gonna set up the camera?
“I mean, my rides aren’t gonna film themselves, are they? For pity’s sake.”
“It’s like, have you thought ANYTHING through properly this morning, beyond your own self absorbed fancies, woman?
“At this stage I should be psyching up, checking my reflection in the car window, visualising, instead I’m swamped in the details she should be across. Like, ‘Mum, get the long lens and the tripod and go set up on the right, there’s no time for the drone, probably just as well the way you’re all over the shop right now, and get some establishing shots of me comin’ down the beach n’ that’”
Using phone records and Toona Surf Cam footage, Ding Alley has established that for almost the entire two and a half hour session, Ms Hitchens dutifully captures her precious chargers’ every wave, as well as shooting several artfully composed pulled-back cutaways.
Making the most of the lulls, Ms Hitchens also makes several calls, mostly co-ordinating the overlapping logistics of Saturday’s half-dozen school sport and birthday party pickups & drop offs: multiple SMS exchanges mapping out rosters for the upcoming week at both her jobs; emails are fired off to her siblings regarding the health of their ageing father, as well as making a list for the 400 dollar grocery shop she hopes to get done sometime between eldest daughter Karlee’s Netball match and taking Nathan to get new school shoes at Toona Plaza.
A forensic Ding Alley investigation has reconstructed the events of the 25-second timeframe that surrounds the contentious missed wave.
8:32:15 - A set approaches the break from the optimium east direction, a lovely present waiting to be unwrapped.
8:32:20 - Ms Hitchens readies herself behind the viewfinder and Sebastian paddles into position.
8:32:25 - Inexplicably, just as her son paddles into the wave, Ms Hitchens pulls back from the camera, allows her hands to drop by her side, smiles broadly, and just … watches.
8:32:26 – Simultaneously, just as Sebastian strokes in to the gorgeously shaped emerald wedge, all trace of twitchy grommet energy vanishes: he links two deliberate, oddly powerful carving turns out of the lip before racing out to the shoulder for a cuttie / rebound combination, from which he emerges with bewildering speed to launch a seemingly effortless air reverse off the oncoming closeout section.
8:32:39 – As if waking from a dream, Sebastian looks shoreward, sees mum behind the camera giving him the double thumbs up, and assumes the ride and move of his life has been documented (the misassumption compounding his distress ten minutes later when he learns it hasn’t).
What are we to make of this, readers?
Are we to suppose that a mother’s love has telepathic energy? By backing away from the camera and just bearing witness, does this somehow release Sebastian from needless concern about the regard of others, and allow him, just for a moment, to surf free as a bird?
Well, not really. No. This wave is just one of those moments when, for no real reason, it all just goes our way.
And even though Seb will go on to pull hundreds of air reverses through his surfing life, he’ll always remember everything about this one. This wave, all of it, from beginning to end.
And four short decades from now, when Seb’s in his mid 50s, fearful and dying too soon from cancer in the year 2062, this remarkable wave will play as a reassuring loop in Sebastian’s mind. And best of all is the fact that the only other person who saw it was his mum; his epic and amazing mum, who’s 84, and at his bedside right now, and who remembers it equally well.
They refer to it often together, as a shorthand of those amazing family years in Toonalook.
Postscript: As we go to press, Sarah gets in touch with Ding Alley to let us know her side of the story. “Yeah, the little bugger was on a roll that session. Soon as I saw that wedge come in, I knew something special was gonna happen, and I knew that if I filmed it, it woulda been on Instagram by the time we got back to the car. I dunno, he’s growing up so quick, I just wanted something we could share, between us, just us two. I’ll cop a bit of heat but that’s cool.”
And when pressed on how she would find her way back into favour with her lad, Ms Hitchens smiled and said, “Sunday night, roast night, followed by chocolate self-saucing pudding. Kid doesn’t stand a chance.”
// DING ALLEY
Ding Alley is Illustrator David @maccatoons McArthur and try-too-hard-sometimes writerer Gra Murdoch.