‘I’m going to leave this family. I’m going to go out and leave this family because I hate the Mop so much.’
And so it begins.
Six year old Bombshell is sitting on the toilet, wailing about how annoying her sister is. The sister in question, three year old Mop, is in the bath with the baby, either oblivious to what is erupting around her, or just being quietly crafty. I have my money on crafty.
I am sitting on a small plastic stool, eyes on the baby who likes to belt the Mop over the head with toys, eyes on the Mop who likes to dump water on the baby, and eyes on the Bombshell who looks like she is going to implode.
‘I remember when she was born and I was so jealous because I was afraid you were going to love her more than me. And it’s true. You all hate me, so tonight I am going to leave.’
It’s difficult to take her seriously. She is completely nude with a shower cap on, and as she moans and wails dramatically, she is watching her reflection in the shower screen. Every now and then she adjusts her posture or facial expression for maximum impact. Not once has she actually looked at me or the target of her derision.
‘That was three and a half years ago, so I don’t see how you can possibly remember that. Besides, it is obvious I don’t love the Mop more than you. Mum’s can’t love one kid more than another, we’re not allowed to,’ I tell her. ‘Besides, why aren’t you jealous of Baldy then?’
‘Because she is smarter than the Mop.’
We both look at the baby who is trying to wrap a soggy wet face washer around her neck like a scarf. She pokes herself in the tummy, laughs, then pulls the washer off and starts sucking on it.
‘Okaaay,’ I say. Even the Mop rolls her eyes.
The Bombshell is now standing next to me. She is refusing to get in the bath if the Mop is in there. Considering the Mop is capable of staying in the bath until the water evaporates, I can’t see the standoff ending any time soon.
‘Listen, can you go and get me a pen and paper please,’ I ask the Bombshell.
‘Why?’ she asks.
‘So I can write down everything that you say, so I can reflect on it later.’ This isn’t actually untrue.
‘I’m saying I hate my sister!’ and she flounces off.
The Mop looks up. ‘Is she getting a pancake?’
What? ‘No,’ I say. ‘A pen and paper, not a pancake.’
Soon she returns with a notepad and pen, and I begin writing down the conversation (see, I don’t make this stuff up). She is fascinated at being the source of Mum’s attention and her attitude momentarily changes. She has stopped moaning and staring at herself in the mirror. She is trying to read over my shoulder, but even I can’t read my own writing.
Suddenly the baby cries out. The Bombshell has tipped a bucket of water from a great height right over her head. Baldy looks stunned, and a little cold – they have been in there for ages and the water is getting a bit on the tepid side, not so great for a 10 degree Perth night.
‘Stop! What did you do that for?’ I cry at her.
‘See, everyone hates me,’ she sobs, fists clenched at her side. ‘I’m outta here,’ she yells in my face and flounces out of the bathroom, slamming the door behind her.
I bundle the baby out of the bath, rubbing her vigorously to dry her wet hair.
Meanwhile, the cause of all the commotion, who hasn’t made a single sound, continues to play quietly in the bath, a small smile just flickering on her face.