Janet Christie: I’m playing chess with a rabbit

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I’M lying beside Youngest Child as she drifts off to sleep. Or rather, I’m drifting and she’s blethering.

“I’m bored, felt pens, school musical, hockey, boys who need hit, drone, drone.”

An elbow digs into my flab.

“Wake up. I’m the one who’s meant to be asleep. Not you. Right, I’ll tell you a story. There were two girls. One small and sweet, the other big and nasty.”

“They sound familiar. Are they you and me?”

“No [evil giggle]. Anyway, they both have boyfriends. The big, nasty, chavvy one …”

“Chavvy? Bloody cheek. I’m not chavvy. They call me ‘madam’ in John Lewis.”

“Shhhh. The big, nasty, chavvy one, with the big nose, has a really nice boyfriend. But the little sweet one has a mean boyfriend. Anyway, they have to change their character to keep them. The nasty one turns all sweet and lives happily ever after and the little nice one gets to be as horrible as she likes for ever. Sigh.”

“ZZZZZZZ.” Dig. “Ow.”

“OK, another story,” she says. “I’m a baddie and I swing round in my chair and say, ‘I’ve been expecting you …’ I’m playing chess with a rabbit and stroking my evil pet. You’re the evil pet.”

“Why not play chess with me, the evil pet?” I ask.

“Because the rabbit’s more intelligent.”