‘Okay, pyjamas on please,’ I say for the third time, watching my eldest, jump naked from bed to bed. My youngest is pretending she can’t hear me as she busily closes the blinds.
‘Girls, pyjamas,’ I say, but apparently, I’ve moved to that magical realm where I don’t actually exist right now.
I go back into the loungeroom. I light the candles on the coffee table and light the fire. I burn through 6 matches before it catches.
‘What are you doing?’ asks my youngest enticed out by the light.
‘I don’t need a nappy anymore,’ chants my youngest as she skips into the room. She’s been at her first Montessori kinder now for 4 days. They have toilets and the children are encouraged not to wear nappies from about 18 months of age. They have special underwear that is more absorbent than normal knickers, but that still let them know when they are wet.
‘Is that right, darling?’ I say, bending down so that I can celebrate this new milestone.
My eldest, however, is devastated. A gastro bug has swept through her school and only ten minutes earlier she had agreed to put a nappy on because she couldn’t get to the toilet fast enough. She is humiliated and she is angry. The offending symbol of babyhood is whipped off followed by inconsolable tears. Sometimes life really is cruel.
‘Are they ready yet?’ Asks my daughter as soon as she slides the chocolate biscuits into the oven and closes the door. She hasn’t even taken her oven mitts off.
‘Not yet, they need 10 minutes.’ I say.
‘Oh,’ she says pulling up a chair and sitting down to watch her chocolate biscuits cook. The girls have a little oven in their kitchen. It’s at their height and the dials are easily used by them. It sits on a cupboard I found out on the street, which has since been painted and repurposed as their kitchen bench.
She is making chocolate biscuits for when her friends come over to play. She made invitations for them yesterday and hasn’t quite understood that it can take a little more time than this for her friends to actually appear at our house.
‘Is it 10 minutes now?’ she asks a minute later.
‘Lets make the ganache.’ By the time the biscuits are ready, there is more ganache on her face than in the bowl. She decides not to wait for her friends to arrive before eating the biscuits.
‘Don’t drink that,’ says my husband shaking his head and screwing his forehead up in distaste at the generic silver and black can in my mum’s hand. ‘Soda Water pulls the minerals out of your body and leaves you more dehydrated. Drink this,’ he hands her a bottle of Perrier.
We are perched on stools in the business class lounge in Hong Kong. It seemed to be the least offensive place for us to perch, given that my girls’ ‘spirited cuteness’ tended to be viewed as a personal affront, in places like this.
Mum laughs and looks around at what has to be one of the largest business class lounges I’ve ever been in. It’s like a luxury hotel, chandeliers hang from the ceiling and people mill about in various states of activity – from those furiously tapping away on their laptops to those asleep on the chaise lounges. Staff stand at the ready behind four different buffet stations, offering a wonka-sized selection of doughnuts, ice cream, noodles, and antipasto.
‘This is my daughter’s life,’ says my mother, waving around the bottle of Perrier, ‘and this is mine,’ she says holding up a silver and black can of soda water.