USUALLY Youngest Child takes herself off to bed with a book and she’s soon gibbering happily in her sleep (“Keep your head down Mum! and “Give me the gun you idiot!”).
However, some nights start with a pleasant “Night, night, love you,” and end with slammed doors and “I hate you”.
Tonight it’s the latter. I’m washing dishes as she dances behind me, giggling and blethering, poking me with a ladle.
“Go to bed. Night, love you,” I drone, withholding eye contact.
She pirouettes, leaps and pas de bas. “Look at my new dance.”
“Lovely. Like a gazelle. Bed.”
“Can I have a drink please?”
She ransacks a cupboard.
“Hmm, tonic water. Is that nice for children?” “Yes.”
“Put some gin in it,” I suggest.
“Noooo. Want to see my magic trick?” “No.”
She rummages for “three cups exactly the same”. Does she think she’s living with Kirstie Allsopp?
“Now. Which cup is the penny under? Wrong! And wrong again!”
I snap, lunge, and a penny skites off my cheekbone. Youngest exits, guffawing.
“Hate you,” she calls from her room.
“Hate you too.”
Peace at last.
“Mu-um. Come and cuddle me.”
We lie in mutually offended silence. Then a whisper ... “Love you, Mum.”
“Love you too, baby.”