I had the kids over last Sunday.  Brooke, my youngest daughter, is six now, but has always been the most emotional, prone to outbursts of tears if she is in the slightest bit of trouble,  Fortunately she has improved in the past year or so being at school, and it’s rare to see her bawling unless she’s hurt herself.

As we were getting ready to pack up and go back to Mels, I was aware that the clean up operation wasn’t moving swiftly enough and started trying to get everyone moving faster.

"Charisma! Why are you dawdling? Just grab that bag and put everything in there!"  Charisma huffed and puffed a little and moved marginally faster.

"Aaliyah, why are you sitting down?!" 

"I’m putting my sho…" 

"Don’t give me that - your shoes are on and have been on for a while - Turn that tv off, get off your bum and help Chance pack his train set away!"

"But I didn’t play with the train set!" It was a well practised line, and one that seemingly never grows old.

"I didn’t say that you did," I answered with the diplomacy skills that only a parent can show, " but I DID ask you to help clear up please."

I wandered into the conservatory where the girls had been colouring earlier. Brooke was out there, pottering about.

"Brooke!" I said, possibly a little louder than I meant to given how high she jumped as a result, "what are these pencils doing here?"

The pencils in question - about 40 of them - had been left in a pile on the side, rather than in an old screw-up Vanish container where we normally keep them. "they don’t go there, do they?!" I asked, rhetorically, forgetting that Brooke wouldn’t understand a rhetorical question.

"I didn’t use them!" she protested.

"Well who did then?" 

"It wasn’t me!"

"Ok," I said, scooping up the pencils, "I’ll just throw them away then."

Her face fell "No! Nanny got me those as a present! I got them out for Charisma to play with and she didn’t use them and she left them there!"

She was getting upset, and though she wasn’t crying, her face was crinkled in a pre-tears way.  I relented a little, feeling guilty for shouting.

"Right, where do they go?"

"In the pot." came the reply, part-sobbed.

"Go and get the pot the and we’ll put them away."

Brooke fetched the bright pink Vanish pot and brought it over, her face still in upset mode. She went to hand it to me with the top fully screwed on. As one hand was full of pencils, I said: 

"Baby, take the top off please!"  I was annoyed that she hadn’t realised it would be difficult for me to do it one-handed, and her face fell again.  Clasping the pot in her left hand, she moved her right hand down to the bottom of her T-Shirt and started to lift it over her head.

"I don’t know why you want me to take my top off?" she said, thoroughly confused and upset.

This made me melt.  I pulled her close and gave her a cuddle, explaining that I’d meant the top on the pencil container rather than her top, and gave her a kiss, which seemed to brighten her up. 

I don’t think Brooke will ever change.

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