My sister-in-law, Sonia has two sons, aged five and three. She plucks out her grey hairs on a daily basis and, at the age of thirty five, has started drinking coffee for the first time in her life and knows more about knights and jousting that she'd honestly care to. She is always cheerful and always tired and, last year, made the decision (with her hubby, my little brother, Thumb) to not try for a third baby.
Thumb told her, "Look Sonia, you are already tired and worn out from having two boys. I know you'd like a little girl, but you might end up with another boy and end up on intravenous espresso, bald and curled up in a foetal position, muttering something about how you wished you stayed on as an exchange student in Canada and reversed your decision about joining the moose herd." Unusually wise words for Thumb, but Sonia needed more convincing. Several glases of wine later she confided that, "Oh I could change Thumb's mind just by wearing some lingerie and staying awake." That may have been true (even thought a mental image of what exactly got my brother, er 'interested' wasn't top of my day-dreaming list), but she did agree with him that two energetic boys were enough.
It was then that my daughter Sapphire got given a treasure trove of little girl delights from her Auntie. Blue satin flowergirl frocks, old high school taffeta ball gowns, bridesmaid sheaths, lace shawls, floral dresses and some delicate little china ornaments. Sonia had been saving them for her own little girl, now relegated to the occasional, "What if..." when young Matthew or Jack had chopped the heads off her sunflowers or given Perky the guinea pig heart failure.
Sonia's wistfulness was Sapphire's wish fulfilment - a seemingly endless supply of the most feminine outfits to try on and wear around the house as she pleased. Well, for a week at least.
You see, Sonia's imaginings that a daughter would fill the girlie gap in her blokey boys' world were a little optimistic. Whilst Sapphire can enjoy playing dress-ups and stomping around in my little-worn stilettos, she tends to be much more interested in what boys like to do.
Stuff like Farting. Doing Farts, laughing at Farts, pretending to Fart, smelling her own Farts and blaming her mother for doing those Farts. She has a laugh that turns into a tickling, infectious little giggle when she's up to evil instead of good and Farts bring this out in her often. Never at school mind you - she seems to have the presence of mind to "squeeze them back up" (her words) but loves to "Let them go" when she's at home, regardless of what family, friends or visitors might be present. She's the seventy year old senior citizen in a seven year old body who believes that anything goes - bodily function-wise - when you're in the privacy of your own home.
She skipped into the lounge room the other day, dressed in a pale blue number that reminded me of Laura Ingalls on 'Little House on the Prairie', singing to herself and trying a ribbon around our orange Dogadoo's neck. It was a pretty scene and one of those rare times that you get to quietly observe seeing your child at play, un-self-conscious and utterly innocent. Until BBbbbuuuuuurrrrrrrppppp! It was a real rattler, one that normally only three cans of beer or a shaken up bottle of coke could produce. She laughed so hard at the result she fell onto the floor, her evil giggle emerging and her brain on high alert for any other 'rudey' activity she could get away with.
This was my timely hint to get the hell out of the room because once she starts tooting, it's time to take a deep breath and leave her to it. She may have the face of peaches and cream and a willowy figure, but it is clearly arranged internally like Dr Who's tardis - much bigger on the inside with a sophisticated, state-of-the-art system to produce mustard gas that would have felled many thousands on the Somme.
Another favourite has been her container of green slime. This gloop was around when I was a kid, packaged in a plastic trash can, costing $4. I had begged my mother to buy me some, but, like the requests for a trampoline, swimming pool, ABBA concert ticket and a date with Storm Boy, she refused. Sapphire, on the other hand, tends to get the stuff that I craved - albeit Greg Rowe now lives in Canada and Agnetha selfishly refuses to attend any Abba reunions. "Mwah hah hah hah haaaaah" she cackles to herself in glee and affixes it to my bedside table, giving me a good fright when I lean over to reach for a tissue and instead have my hand sucked into what appears to be a booger bog. Her two friends Cameron and Brandon (9 and 7) are very impressed at her ability to sneeze and ostentatiously fling out the slime from the area of her nostrils. "GROSS, Sapphire. Cool though!"
Sometimes, if she's not skipping, reading, patting Dogadoo or farting, she can be found in her room, playing with her Barbies. Changing their outfits more than twice quickly becomes boring, which I can understand well enough - mine had their hair cut off, panda eyes drawn on in texta and were roped to tree branches - so her mind turns to more tomboyish methods. I enter the room: "Hey Sapph, are you thirsty, do you want me to--- Oh, very nice, that's a look that'll sweep the world. Barbie's got her knickers on her head and the Bratz bimbo is doing a pressed ham against the dolls' house window.... What a proud mother I am."
"Mwah hah hah hah haaaah," she cackles, lost in her own world of Benny Hill-style humour, the joy of smelling her own butt blasts and in humiliating her Barbies. More power to her.