Category Archives: Books

The Furry Dragon Beast

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Mum and Dad installed a gate to lock me in the kitchen where my play mat is. A gate. With a lock. And now Hoot is on one side and I’m on the other and it’s like a zoo but no-one knows who’s locked in and who’s locked out. I can’t even crawl yet so I don’t see why a gate is even necessary. Talk about over-kill. And now Hoot is sitting, staring at me and I have to talk to him through the bars like we’re prisoners. I’m telling Hoot about Iris pooping in the toilet like a real person and he seems very interested. His tail is swishing and I’m pretty sure soon it will swish right through those bars and I’ll be able to pull it. Pulling Hoot’s tail is perhaps the greatest discovery of all discoveries, because – are you sitting down? – it’s ALIVE! It moves all by itself!
Maybe YOU would like to learn how to poo in the toilet instead of in your tray of pellets, Hoot? I think it’d be so much more fun.
It’s talking about poo again. Like there’s nothing else going on on the planet than who’s pooing where and from whence poo came. It’s remarkably tiresome.
And then Grandma held ME over the toilet! But I didn’t need to go and I didn’t really get how to I think. But it was fun! Especially when she jiggled me a bit! Hahaha!
The giggle is somewhat cute, I’ll give it that.
Hoot?
Yes, kid.
What’s your tail for? I mean, what does it do?
It’s for balance, kid. Something you have an inordinately limited amount of.
Can I pull it? I’d REALLY like to pull it.
No.
Why?
It’s painful. It’s a significant invasion of my personal space. I am a God among humans and nothing on my person may be pulled, grabbed, drooled on, or hit.
Can I use you to maybe get upright?
I need to ponder on that.
What does ponder mean?
It means I need to think about it.
Ok… Have you thought about it now?
Ok, kid, you can try, but seeing you’ve failed so spectacularly to crawl, methinks pulling yourself up is maybe many months premature, but what the hell, it’ll be funny to see you fail.
Woot! Now?
I suppose, but one of us will need the management to open this interminable gate.
Ok. How?
You scream and I’ll yowl. On three.
Hoot?
Yes, kid.
I can’t count yet.
Right. Annoying. Go!
WOW! What a sound! We were MAGNIFICENT!!! I’ve never seen Mum run so fast! And with a towel wrapped around her, which isn’t exactly work-out gear.
‘I’m here Cricket! I’m here!’
She looked kind of surprised when she bent down, like she was expecting to see a severed limb, or at the very least, blood.
I waved. Hi Mum! Can you please open the gate? Hoot and I have things to do.
‘What the hell was that about?!’ She opened the gate and Hoot shot through. ‘I can’t believe you can’t jump this, Hoot. It’s less than a meter high. You’re a cat. A lazy cat.’
Ok Mum, you can leave us now. Hoot, come here.
Why am I doing this? Ok, kid, I’ve braced myself. Knock yourself out.
Mum left, shaking her head, and Hoot squatted on his haunches and all these furry muscles stuck out of him! He really is a magnificent God, just like he always says. I rolled over and threw an arm up over his back and grabbed the biggest handful of flesh and fur I could and heaved. We teetered for a moment and then I felt Hoot crouch closer to the floor and then lift up slowly and I went with him!

I’M FLYING ON A FURRY DRAGON BEAST AND I WILL CONQUER THE WORLD!!

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Fortitude

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When we last left Cricket she was performing a concert with her bestie, Iris, while Saff introduced Grandma Willow to Mrs. Iris…

‘It’s so nice to meet you Willow. Saff’s told me a bit about your exciting life. Sounds wonderful!’
‘It has its moments that’s for sure, but it’s just so hard with this lot living over here, especially with my little Cricket-Wicket being so fabulous and growing so fast.’
Grandma picks me up and I squeal. I didn’t know I was FABULOUS!
‘Yeah, it would be hard. I don’t know what I’d do without my Mum to babysit.’
‘I don’t know what I’d do without your mum to babysit either!’ Mum said that and Grandma looked a bit miffed I thought.
‘Oh? So you get Tess’s mum to babysit Cricket, darling?’
‘Only a few times, but yes, she’s been so lovely to offer.’
‘Yes, of course. So you’re on mat leave too, Tess?’
‘Yep, but I’ll be going back soon unfortunately. I’m a makeup artist and worked casually and for myself before we got pregnant so I didn’t get any leave entitlements and I think it’s time to go back now.’
‘A makeup artist, that’s great. How’s it going, working for yourself?’
‘I’d only just started really when I got pregnant, so I’ll basically be starting over.’
‘Tess is almost 20 years younger than me Mum.’
Tess looked shocked. ‘Twenty?! No, not that much!’
‘Mmm, yeah, I think so. I’m 42 and you’re 23 aren’t you? That’s 19 years…’
‘Yes, right, wow. You don’t look 42.’
‘I feel it today.’
Mum put her hands on the bench and stretched her back out.
‘23! Goodness, it’s like the 1950s again. Was Iris planned, Tess?’
‘Mum! Oh my god, she has Tourette’s sometimes. Sorry.’
Mrs. Iris laughed and it sounded like happy, like finally finding a green sheep. ‘It’s fine! She sort of was and sort of wasn’t is the short answer.’
‘I think I need the long answer, dear.’
Mum banged Grandma’s coffee down on the floor next to her. ‘Mum, seriously, wow.’
‘There’s not really a long answer, but the medium answer is that I have quite severe endometriosis and my doctors told us it would take many years if we wanted to try and fall pregnant naturally so we started trying and fell pregnant three months later.’
‘Goodness, that must’ve been a shock! And it’s the opposite of Saffron’s story isn’t it?’
Because I’m plugged into Mum I could feel her heart hurt a bit. Not too bad, but a little tug, like when you fall over, but on your back, not on your face.
‘It was a bit of a surprise. A good one, of course. And I guess it is the opposite of what Saff went through. Sometimes I feel bad that she struggled for so many years and we tried for a few months and were lucky. It’s been a bit of an adjustment period, especially career-wise.’
‘Yes, but it’s a blessing really, I mean, you have all this time now, and you can have lots of children if that’s what you decide.’
When Grandma said that I felt Mum’s heart hurt much more than the first thing she said. Face-plant hurt this time. I stretch my arms up to her but she isn’t looking at me.
‘Yes, I guess that’s true.’ Tess looked at Mum funny. ‘So, will you guys try again do you think Saff?’
‘Well, yes, I think so. We’re actually starting the process now.’
Grandma stopped squeezing my knees to stare at Mum. ‘Really darling? That’s… I mean, that’s wonderful. I’m a bit surprised, but it’s just wonderful. When does it all start?’
‘Thanks Mum. Well, I think it might start now. If we can do the first bit quickly and get to the egg pick up stage then it’ll be really helpful if you’re still here.’
‘Well of course I’ll still be here if you need me to be. That’s such good news!’
‘Well, we’ll just see how it goes.’
Iris started slapping her leg and looking at Mrs. Iris. That means Iris gets to poo in her bucket! Life is so unfair. Mrs Iris jumped up and picked Iris up.
‘Saff, can I use the toilet?’
‘Of course hun, you don’t need to ask.’
Grandma looked very interested as Mrs. Iris took Iris off to the bathroom. ‘What’s this?’
‘Tess is doing elimination communication with Iris.’
‘Elimination communication?’
‘It’s basically toilet training from birth, it’s pretty amazing. It’s common practice in heaps of places across the world and is just starting to become better known in the west. If I had more fortitude I’d do it myself.’

WHAT DOES FORTITUDE MEAN? WHY DOESN’T SHE HAVE ANY?!

‘Toilet training from birth? Wow! I need to see this!’
Grandma scooped me up and ran with me to the bathroom. SQUEEEEEE! And there was Iris pooing in the toilet LIKE A REAL PERSON!! Mrs. Iris was holding her above it and she was POOPING INTO IT! Ohhhhh how I wanted Grandma to hover ME over the toilet too! I went berserk in her arms to let her know.
‘You like that, do you, Poppet? It is pretty cool, isn’t it? Maybe you and I can try it while I’m here, what do you think?’
Oh Grandma, how I love thee.

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Fun and Funner

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When we last left Cricket, GRANDMA had just arrived for a surprise visit…

‘I hope the timing is ok. I was going to call, but you know I love a good surprise!’
‘Indeed you do, mother.’
Mum sits with us and the coffee smells good. I’m not allowed coffee. I’m thinking of staging a protest. Maybe I can get Grandma to help me.
‘The timing might force my hand on something a bit, but that’s ok. How long can you stay?’
‘How long can I stay? Normally you’re asking me how long am I staying!’
‘No I don’t.’
‘Yes, darling, you do.’
I sense Mum getting tense. I’m a barometer for Mum’s feelings. She doesn’t know this. She thinks if she sings or makes everything rhyme, or says everything with a very big smile on her face, even when she’s unhappy, that I’ll think she’s happy anyway. But it doesn’t work that way. Even though Placenta got taken away from me (my dear, sweet Placenta), for some reason they left the pink ribbon behind. I’m beginning to think I’m the only person that can see the pink ribbon. It stretches from Mum’s heart to mine and it’s always there, even when we’re not together. And through the ribbon I can feel everything she’s feeling. It’s pretty cool.
Mum tends to get tense around Grandma. I don’t know why because Grandma only has two settings – fun and funner. I hope when Mum and I are old we don’t get tense with each other.
The doorbell rings. IRIS IS HERE!! I go to crawl before I remember I can’t and face-plant the play mat. Mum get’s up to let Iris and Mrs Iris in and Grandma grabs my hips and lifts them up and pushes my knees together with her hands so it feels like maybe I could crawl. It feels amazing!
‘This is how you do it, Cricket-Wicket.’
Mum comes back down the hall with Iris and Mrs Iris behind her.
‘Mum, this is Tess and this little cutie is Iris.’
Grandma strokes Iris’s cheeks – she does have lovely cheeks – and everyone says hello and finally Iris is right next to me and we get started practicing for our concert straightaway. We’re a bit rusty, but I’m sure we’ll be amazing very soon. Mum is already bustling. Mum is very good at bustling because of how many things she can do at the same time. Dad can’t do anything at the same time.           ‘Who wants coffee?’
‘I’ll have one, thanks Saff.’
Mrs. Iris has a lovely voice. It makes me hope she joins our concert.
‘I’ll have one too thank you darling.’
Grandma calls Mum darling, just like Mum calls me darling!
Grandma sits on the floor with us and Mrs. Iris sits at the kitchen counter.
‘So are Iris and Cricket the same age?’
‘Pretty much. Iris is three weeks older.’
‘She’s very beautiful, what’s her heritage?’
‘Mum!’
‘What?! I’m interested!’
‘It’s fine Saff, she’s got interesting genes.’
‘Yes, but it’s rude to ask someone their heritage.’
‘Why darling? Why on earth is it rude?’
‘Because, I don’t know, it just is. Why is it relevant, why do you need to know?’
‘It’s relevant because I’m asking about Iris.’
‘Yes, but…’
‘It’s fine Saff, seriously, I’m not in the least offended.’
See?
‘Yes, Mum, I see.’
‘She’s a quarter Italian and half Chinese. I was born here, but my Mum is Italian, and her Dad is Chinese.’
‘Wow! Beautiful combination isn’t it?’
‘All babies are beautiful.’
Grandma tickles my belly and I crack up. I’ve only just learnt how to crack up. It’s hilarious! Obviously. Everyone loves it. Except Hoot. Mum and Dad always clap and laugh when I crack up, but Hoot just looks alarmed. Cats look kind of funny when they look alarmed so I just end up cracking up more and then he looks more alarmed. I think that’s called a venomous circle.
Grandma looks back up at Mrs. Iris and Mum.
‘So how do you two know each other?’
‘We met at Mother’s Group and now we see each other almost every day. I’m not even sure how that happened, are you Tess?’
‘Boredom? We started meeting for coffee every morning after nap time and it just stuck I guess. It’s great, and the girls love each other, which is really cute.’
The timing with that remark is a bit unfortunate because Iris had chosen that moment to pull my hair just as I decided to test my removable eyeball theory. It doesn’t mean we don’t love each other, it’s just what we do. Iris’s eyeball didn’t come out either, even though I felt definite movement, because Grandma prized our hands off each other.

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Neck Skin is Detachable

babe22We last left Cricket wondering who was at the door and thinking how beautiful her mother is…

There is seriously no-one beautifuller in this entire world than my Mum… her legs have freckles on them that look like chocolate drops, and her arms are so chunky and strong that even when I’m too tired to hold my head up she can carry me anywhere I need to be.

I bang a cupboard door open and closed, open and closed repeatedly because Mum didn’t even leave me a toy to play with. She’s such an enigma. And then there’s a weird yelping noise and I wonder if Hoot brought Mum another pet dead bird. I strain my neck to see down the hall. All I can see are Mum’s bare feet and another pair of feet in sparkly shoes. I can’t wait any longer for Iris to be in front of me singing Let it Go. And I can’t sit here with nothing to do but bang a stupid brown (brown means poo) door. And I can’t wait any longer to touch those SPARKLY SHOES so I start to wail. I start off slow and quiet because I’ve learnt there’s nothing more dramatic than a build-up. I’m only midway through when a giant, sparkly, Christmas bauble with legs comes running down the hall, straight towards me, shouting CINNAMON CRICKET!! at the top of its voice.

GRANDMA IS HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It’s too much. I fall backwards and bash my head on the floorboards. I go quiet and Grandma stands over me and we’re both stock still for a few seconds and I’m starting to realise that hurt quite a bit and it wasn’t what I wanted to happen and maybe I’m in shock, but before I can wail, Grandma scoops me up in a shiny, glittery, perfumey hug and then hangs me upside-down to look at those sparkly shoes. What a rollercoaster!
I’m hanging upside-down with my head dangling close to the floor and all the blood in my body rushing to my eyeballs when Mum walks in.
‘Mum! What are you doing?!’
‘Showing Cricket my new shoes.’
‘Mum, don’t dangle her, you’ll break her ankle!’
‘You can’t break a baby, darling.’
And now Mum has me under my arms and Grandma has my legs and I’m suspended in the air and Mum is looking like she looks when she thinks I’ve swallowed a carrot stick without chewing it (never happens, never will, but Mum thinks it every, single, time) and Grandma looks like she’s just won the lotto.

This is going to be GREAT!!!

Mum wins and yanks me free of Grandma’s twinkly hands. She has rings on EVERY FINGER! She schmooshes my cheeks.
‘Oh my sweet girl, look how big you’ve grown!’
I launch into a dissertation about how big I am and how I can’t crawl yet and how frustrating it is and how Iris poos in a bucket and how Hoot is sort of my friend now and how glad I am that she’s here.
‘Yes indeed my talky girl! You are big and I am very happy I’m here too!’

IT’S A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE!!! GRANDMA UNDERSTANDS BABY LANGUAGE!!

I squirm ferociously in Mum’s arms, throwing myself towards Grandma as hard as I can.
‘Guess she wants you.’
Mum hands me over and so much is twinkling I barely know where to start so I grab dangly earrings and pull. Turns out Grandma’s lobey things are much stretchier than Mum’s lobey things and Grandma doesn’t even care that I’m stretching them down REALLY far. I pull harder. It’s the best fun ever!
Mum starts making coffee and Grandma kicks off her sparkly shoes and sits cross-legged on my play mat and let’s me keep trying to slide her ears off of her skull.
‘You’re not mad are you darling?’
Mum looks around at Grandma and smiles her I’m-fine-but-not-actually-smile that only dad and I know what it means.
‘Of course not! It’s great you’re here. I’m just surprised. I thought the show was still filming.’
‘Well you’re meant to be surprised! Filming finished yesterday and I just couldn’t wait any longer to schmoosh these little cheeks.’
Grandma schmooshes my cheeks again and I grab her nose and turn it. I have a theory that noses can actually turn upside-down if you twist hard enough. I’ve also worked out that it’s better to test this theory on old people because everything on their bodies has more give. Grandma doesn’t seem to mind, which hasn’t been my experience so far when I test out my nose theory. She must be a very tolerant person. I make a mental note to test out my other theories on her tomorrow:

  1. Lips are detachable
  2. Eyelashes are food
  3. Bellybuttons are homes for teeny tiny people and must be filled with food to save the teeny tiny people from starvation
  4. Knees bend the other way
  5. Ears are detachable
  6. Elbow creases can be microphones as well as vomit receptacles
  7. Eyeballs can come out
  8. Tongues aren’t real
  9. Neck skin is detachable
  10. Boobs need to be slapped in order to work.

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A bob, Mark, a BOB.

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We last left Cricket witnessing a discussion between her parents about whether she should have her own mobile phone after she carefully dunked her Mum’s phone in the cat’s water bowl. Hoot was so alarmed, he wrote another letter to the Management announcing his intention to roll a poo across the familial abode.
… ‘I know it seems ridiculous, but this generation will be connected from the very beginning, so maybe it’s not such a big deal, Mark.’
‘Yes, but I’m not sure the very beginning needs to be before Cricket can even talk.’

Talking is going to be the most epic thing that will ever happen to me. I’m going to call the CEO of the world the day I start talking. I’ve always wanted to talk to Mem Fox.

‘Well obviously it’s not to make phone calls on, it’s just so she isn’t so obsessed with mine. She can have my old iPhone 4 and we can just have music and photos and videos on it for her.’
‘I don’t know sweetheart, it seems wrong to give an 8 month old a mobile phone.’
‘Yes, it does, and I’ve already acknowledged that and I don’t disagree, but you don’t have to spend all day wrestling with her and then find your phone in the bottom of Hoot’s water bowl.’
‘Did you put it in rice?’
‘It was immersed, in water and cat spit, possibly for hours, I’m pretty sure it was beyond rice.’
‘You didn’t look at your phone for several hours? Really?’
Mum gave Dad a withering look. I know what withering looks are because I’m usually the cause of them.
‘The empathy is overwhelming Mark. And no, it probably wasn’t hours, but it was at least one hour. I do have other things to do than stare at my phone all day.’
‘I don’t doubt it, but I do wonder if you hadn’t used your phone so much around Cricket in the first place we wouldn’t be having this problem. Wasn’t it one of the mums from your mother’s group who said you shouldn’t expose a baby to a mobile at all?’
Gasp! My life without the magic rectangle would barely be worth living.
‘Yes, darling, the very same mum who sews her own baby wipes and thinks the 100% organic veggie pouches from Coles are devil’s food and most likely sterilizes her own nipples in 500 degree steam baths before each feed. The mum I’ll never ever ever match up to, whose breasts are gravity-defying alien life forms, who wears perfectly appointed make up every day and has a blonde bob. A bob, Mark, a BOB.’
Mum burst into tears. Not the pretty, quiet, Hollywood tears where people smile kindly and hot air balloons drift across an orange sunset – the loud, snot dripping kind that sound like Horshack from Welcome Back Kotter.
‘What you mean she makes her own baby wipes? How do you make a baby wipe?’
Even at 8 months old I know that that’s not what Dad should’ve focused on from all the things Mum just said. From my vantage point sitting on the floor, it’s hard to see Mum’s face properly, but I can see her feet and she’s stuffing them into her shoes with some ferocity. Shoes means business.
‘You’re an arsehole. I’m going for a walk.’
It took me a few precious seconds (I was still musing over ‘arsehole’) to realise Mum was going for a walk WITHOUT ME.
WAH-WAH-WAH-WAH-WAH-WAH!
‘But she’s crying now!’
‘Yes, she is, you need to comfort her.’
I strain my whole body as far as it will strain towards Mum. I move about an inch. My existence is just one, big exercise in frustration.
‘But she wants you.’
‘So she does. Good luck.’
And she’s gone and I’m beside myself with grief. Dad picks me up and I scream into his face as loud as god will allow, IS SHE EVER COMING BACK?! Dad looks alarmed which confirms my suspicion that’s she’s never coming back, so I cry louder and harder then I ever have in my long and illustrious career. Dad panics now and grabs his phone out of his pocket (I guess he’s not keeping it in his Doodle Bag today) to ring Mum to come back but it doesn’t connect and I shove three fingers hard into his right eye socket and scream into his left eye socket as hysterically as I can – I DROWNED MUM’S PHONE IN HOOT’S WATER BOWL, REMEMBER?! WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO? WE’RE DOOMED!!
And just at that moment, Hoot walked past us pushing a big round poo in front of him like he was an elephant in the circus pushing a barrel of monkeys.

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Art and Life

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Mum in the 60s in her amazing boots.

I don’t know if it’s a case of life imitating art, or the other way around, but Grandma really IS coming to visit! I told Charlie and she threw her chicken, apple and cinnamon mush up over her shoulder and high into the air in excitement. Ok, so it may not have been because she understood that Grandma-Dawn (GD) was coming, might just have been because throwing things in the air is a hoot. Or maybe she thought chicken, apple and cinnamon mush has the same result as salt when thrown over one’s shoulder. Who knows what babies are really thinking?

Mum hasn’t seen Charlie since she was about three months old and obviously a lot has happened since then – she’s solving complex mathematical problems, she’s joined a band, she’s ompleted her first ultra-marathon, and she’s now an apprentice chef. Ok. Ok, she’ll look at a book with numbers in it, she bangs things together, she can smoosh across the floor in a weird, crawly, snakey type way, and she’s now eating actual food. What? That’s close.

The thing about Mum is that I’m starting to think of her as the Grandma from my new book (as yet untitled) and that’s confusing. The idea for the book did actually start with my Mum. Mum and Charlie have been texting each other from soon after Charlie was born and some of the texts are really funny and both Mum and I really enjoy them. It’s also been a great way for Mum to feel involved in the day-to-day goings on of Charlie’s life. I remember laughing over a funny exchange between Mum and Charlie about me saving some of my clothes from this era for Charlie to wear twenty years from now and Mum telling her about an amazing pair of boots she had in the 60s she wished she’d passed down to me, and I thought it would be lovely in a book. Of course you can’t really write a book of text messages and Charlie is a very easy baby so some artistic licence was needed and suddenly I’m writing a novel half based on Mum and Charlie and half pure fiction about a famous dancing Grandma and a baby who understands the English language. See my confusement?

It’s great fun though, looking at these two people I love so fiercely and then making them different – louder, softer, naughtier, funnier. Who knows what either of them will think with the finished product, but hopefully it’ll be a tribute to them both and something they’ll enjoy.

I still think I need to put all of Mum and Charlie’s texts into a book for them. I know all three of us will be glad I did down the track. Here’s an exchange between them from early February. How cute are they?

Charlie:     GD I ATE FOOD!!!! … It was awful!!
GD:              Oh no Darling! What did they give you?!! Poor poppet xxx
Charlie:     Carrot!!! I wanted cake and coffee. I’m not a farm animal. Stupid parents 😦
GD:              Indeed my darling. I’m with you!
Charlie:     Thought so. Good talk, GD.

 

 

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GRANDMA IS COMING!

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Cricket has told us the story of her birth and now moves onto the things at hand, like GRANDMA is coming!

Turns out Grandma is in New Zealand because she’s famous in the REST OF THE WORLD TOO!! Grandma was in a movie about dancing a long time ago, when gay meant happy and Facebook was called visiting. Grandma’s movie made everybody feel very gay so now it’s got all these very happy people who like rainbows and kissing obsessed with it.

Like Auntie Jack. Auntie Jack is Mum’s best friend and she has boy hair and big boobs and wears lots of eyeliner and her Mum’s ITALIAN! How EXOTIC! Her Mum isn’t called Grandma, she’s called Nonna, and she doesn’t give me cake, she gives me torta. WOW!! Sometimes Nonna fills in for Grandma because my Grandma doesn’t live here. I think this might mean that I’m exotic by proxy.

Auntie Jack came over today to help Mum with laundry and cooking and me, which means Mum makes Auntie Jack coffees while she runs around doing laundry and cooking and Auntie Jack flicks the occasional toy in my direction. Auntie Jack doesn’t have any kids so she doesn’t understand how someone as small as me can make so many loads of washing and eat so many vegetables. But she also SINGS! Not like Mum sings, she sings like she’s swallowed a dinosaur! – a dinosaur who can SING! It’s REALLY LOUD! When I’m grumpy she sings me Ave Maria and it makes Mum cry. I don’t know why Mum cries, it cheers me right up!

Auntie Jack flicks me my phone with the big buttons. ‘Knock yourself out, kid.’
Seems a tad aggressive. Maybe I’ll just make a phone call. I think I’ll call Dad and tell him how I pooped out a fully formed Baked Bean this morning. I think that’s newsworthy.
‘Is your Mum coming over after New Zealand?’
‘Yeah, I think so. We’ve barely spoken since she’s been there.’

WHAT???!!! GRANDMA IS COMING??!! I’m so excited I throw my phone in the air and then faceplant my xylophone. It really hurts.

Auntie Jack is sitting on the floor right next to me watching Mum cut vegetables and my scream makes her jump two feet in the air.
‘Holy mother of shitting shitballs, that’s loud!’
‘Jack!’
Mum is already at me, scooping me up before Auntie Jack has time to retract her swear.
‘Sorry Saff. Cricket, my girl, would you like a song?’
I make it a habit of never saying no to Auntie Jack’s offer of a song, even when it hurts my ears and makes my eyes bug out a bit. I stop crying long enough to request Let it Go from Frozen and use my phone to call Iris so she can listen too, but Auntie Jack does Un bel di from Madame Butterfly so I hang up. It still cheers me up though.
‘That sounds amazing Jack. You been practicing?’
‘A bit, yeah. Soph likes that one.’
Soph is Auntie Jack’s new girlfriend. She loves Auntie Jack’s voice even more than Mum does. She’s always telling her to go on the stage, but Auntie Jack just laughs and says that’s over with now.
‘You ok, Poppet?’
Yes, Mum, thanks for asking.
Mum goes back to chopping vegetables and I bang my phone against Auntie Jack’s leg because I like the slapping sound it makes. I’m also praying to the God of Arendelle that there’s no cauliflower up on the bench.

Was there cauliflower on the bench? When is Grandma coming? Can you stand the suspense?!

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