Janet Christie: Sibling advice can be hard to take

Pic Lisa Ferguson 25/08/2015

New Magazine byline pics - Janet Christie
Pic Lisa Ferguson 25/08/2015 New Magazine byline pics - Janet Christie
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I’m in my favourite place – bed – but I can hear the early morning chat. Youngest Child is putting on make-up. Middle is trying to get her to go easy, at my instigation, as there’s no point me trying to talk to her. He is my envoy.

“You should listen to what mum says sometimes,” he is saying.

Silence.

“She’s usually right.”

Ha. Really? Who knew?

“It’s just she says it all wrong.”

Hmph.

“And she goes on and on so that puts you off.”

Yeah, all right, let’s rewind to ‘she’s usually right’.

Middle continues. “It’s just that your face has natural contours, and if you put stuff on it to make it all the same like a base, then you have to put colour back on to get the contours again. Why not just leave it all off and have the natural contours in the first place?”

Silence. I know this silence. It has the potential to go either way.

He starts again. “Your make-up is nice, though.”

Nice recovery. The Silence may yet stay benign.

“When I was at school there were girls whose make up was nice, some not so nice, and some who were orange,” continues Middle Child. “And some wore none at all. You can be any of those things.”

Silence. The Silence is thinking.

“But why put stuff on when you’ve got a face underneath anyway?” he says.

Slam. She’s in her room, probably adding more, angrily.

“Thanks for trying,” I call through to Middle Child.

“Yeah,” he says, coming to sit on the end of my bed and tickling the belly of a supine Biggie Smalls.

“It’s how you talk to young people that’s important,” he tells me. “You can switch them right off if you don’t get it right.”

“Maybe best not to bother at all,” I say.

“No, no, you say it, then wait for them to grow up and agree.”

Slam. Youngest has left. Middle and I smile and enjoy the silence. It’s going to be a long wait.