My wife is traveling with our 10-year-old son, and this has left me in charge of the two girls.
This is not easy when you have a rascal for your youngest daughter.
On the first morning, the seven-year-old slept in. This is not uncanny. She likes to wake up in her own time, generally after 9 a.m. Maybe even after 10 a.m. This isn’t a stress for getting to school on time because our children go in the afternoon.
The stress is that I have to tread lightly because waking her up before “her time” can put her in a terrible mood that can last through the morning. I mean, this is a girl who when we once had to wake up at 7 a.m. to go renew our passports, said to us, “Mornings hurt.”
She meant it.
So my approach to her bed is on tiptoes. And after five checks, she was still sleeping, now at 10 a.m. On my sixth and still silent approach, there was a stir from under the covers. Then on the seventh, her heavy eyes started to open. On the eighth, she slowly lifted her hand up and spread two fingers apart to make a peace sign.
A few minutes later, she inched her body to the kitchen, sat down at the table and looked around for breakfast. I’d already done the dishes and was now working on my computer in the garage, and her 12-year-old sister was studying in her room.
“Hey,” she shouted. “What about my breakfast? Has everybody forgotten about me?”
This is not out of character for the rascal. And, to be fair, she had even more reason this morning to be demanding. Before leaving, Mum had given her a commandment: “Be good.” But when the rascal frowned, Mum quickly corrected herself. This was in part, I think, to keep her from crying. But it was also to not set her up for failure. “Be naughty,” she told her.
She has been.
“But Mummy told me to be naughty,” she said when she made a mess at breakfast.
Then at lunch.
I let it slide even at dinner.
But not when she made a mess of the bathroom before bed. I told her to mop the bathwater off the floor, with an unusual sternness for me.
She frowned, lowered her head and went to get the mop, no doubt in surprise that Dad had stood up to her.
Of course, I’m a softy, and so a minute later when I saw her mopping up, I smiled and said, “Hey, Cinderella.”
She stopped mopping and looked up at me glumly.
“I’m not Cinderella,” she said, with tears in her eyes. “I’m the witch.”
The next morning, I brought her breakfast in bed, but only after she’d given me the peace sign sometime after 10 a.m.