By the time my sister was born I was almost four years old, and well established as an only child. I was a precocious child and the definition of the word has always challenged me, as in: “This one is such a precocious child, she’s wearing me thin.” Poor, thin Mum had an awful labour with my sister, resulting in a very drugged, coliccy and unsettled baby which they sent her home with toot sweet. Well, it was the 70’s. And there I was, not exactly Damien – but who knew what to expect?
My mother had read her copy of ‘Dr Spock’ backward and forward and every attempt was made to incorporate this new (and difficult) baby without putting my cute, precocious little snub nose out of joint. Before the birth my Mum taught me to read so I could be distracted while she fed the new baby; she consulted me about how the baby’s room would look. She unknowingly created a little control monster. Who could read. Your basic nightmare, really. Her plan was to bring my sister Em in as ‘our baby’.
“Let’s feed out baby!”
“Let’s change our baby’s nappy!”
“What shall we dress our baby in?” And so on, and so forth…
This seemed to work brilliantly for a while, but some months in, just as she was finding her feet with the whole mother-of-two thing, just as she was getting over the pain of her milk drying up as a consequence of abject rejection from the coliccy-our-baby-Em, I did what children the world over do: the unexpected.
We had fed ‘our baby’…we had bathed ‘our baby’…we had changed ‘our baby’ and then my Mum suggested:
“Let’s put our baby to bed!” In retrospect, I guess I must have just been OVER the sibling thing!! That or I was bored with reading the spines of the orange Penguin books in the bookshelf.
“MY baby!” I said, before snatching my infant sister out of Mums arms, stomping off to the nursery and hurling her up, up, up in the air above her cot. While the baby went into freefall, I wiped my hands twice (a job well done) and walked out to the loungeroom, presumably to watch a bit of Sesame Street – Boy, I loved that show!
I know this story well, from being told it seventy billion times as an illustration of my early, efficient personality, so I know that our baby, quite miraculously, landed in her cot, eyes wide open. And, to her credit, she didn’t even start to cry until my Mum started howling.
Knowing me, I turned the Sesame Street up, so I could hear it over the noise the two of them made in our little house. And thus family lore was made.
My sister has been travelling around the USA for the last three weeks, so you know she survived me. Surprisingly.
And I miss her.
See, Em? I never really wanted to kill you!