Living in such a confined space with the kids has been surprisingly wonderful. As annoyingly irritating as a fly up your nose, obviously, but also wonderful.
The best part has been listening in to their conversations – it’s an eye opener.
A few days ago, Tracey and I were in fits of laughter under our doona while Miss7 explained sex to her siblings.
“Mum and Dad rub against each other and go huh and then a baby comes out the birth hole.”
Then last night Miss9 woke up with a bad dream climbed into our bed. This morning she was being especially difficult to be around so I explained to the other kids (read as, forewarned) this was probably on account of broken sleep from the nightmare.
Suddenly, the heated ‘discussion’ about whose turn it was to pour milk on cereal was set aside.
“What was your nightmare?” Miss13 asked her. “Can you remember?”
It’s easy to assume Miss13 was being a lovely big sister and endeavouring to support her younger sibling, but I couldn’t shake the idea, like Jack Nicholson in Witches of Eastwick, she was just collecting data for future reference.
“Of course I remember,” said Miss9 indignantly. Chores aside, she remembers everything. She quickly summed up the major plot points which ultimately had her kneeing me in the kidneys as she crawled between me and Trace. “I made a friend and you came to play with us and then you both played together and not with me.”
There was a pause as Miss13 waited for her little sister to finish.
“That’s your nightmare?” asked Miss13, incredulously.
Cue Miss13 rushing in to give her sister a hug and say she’d never do that, I thought….wrongly.
“You suck!” said Miss13.
“No,” Miss9 corrected her. “You suck. You’re the one who wouldn’t let me play with my friend.”
“It wasn’t real, you know,” said Miss13. “You suck because that isn’t even a proper nightmare. Proper nightmares are when Grandad’s head comes off and floats around the room, or a dinosaur is about to eat you.”
“But they’re not real.”
“Of course they are,” said Miss13. “They’re my nightmares so I should know.”
But Miss9 wasn’t having any of that.
“No, they’re not. They can’t happen. Dinosaurs aren’t even around anymore,” she explained. “But you could take a friend off me and not let her play with me. That could actually happen so it’s scary.”
Which, of course, is why you wake up self-righteous, treat your sisters like crap and be about as difficult as a teaspoon of hundreds and thousands on the International Space Station.
Again, I thought this would be Miss13’s cue for reassuring her sister and saying this could never happen.
But, again, she chose a different course.
“That’s true,” confirmed Miss13 in a tone which left no room for doubt, going on to suggest. “I think the sensible thing is to be super nice to everyone for a while.” This was followed by as much sickly sweetness as I’ve ever heard a sentence dipped in. “And right now I really do love you…but maybe you better pass me back the milk just in case.”