The silence of the predawn hours was shattered by a little voice shouting at the top of her lunges from the bathroom. I was in the living-room, and turned to observe the 4 year-old running from her sister and into her brother’s room. The 3 year-old was screaming at the top of her lungs, “You did not wash you hands! You, you did not wash you hand! Hey! Hey, you need ta wash you hands!!” Then there was a moment of silence, followed by a timid, “Is anybody out dere?”
I poked my head around the door to see her sitting on the toilet with her footy pajamas around her ankles. At the sight of her father #4 started up again, “Hey! Daddy, her did not wash her hands!”
I looked down that hall and found #3 pulling her baby brother out of his crib, and hefting him to some game of her own. I said back to #4, “Don’t worry about it this time.” I did not want the baby to start fussing. #4 looked up at me dejectedly, as if I had toppled her entire belief system.
A few minutes later I was about to leave the house when #4 was walking out of the bathroom when shouting followed her, “You need to come back and wash your hands right now!” this time it was the 7 year-old, the eldest sister.
From across the room the 3 year-old locked eyes with me. Her raised eyebrows and slight frown conveyed her opinion, while her hazel eyes expressed perfectly the thoughts running under her light walnut hair, “You started this.”
With a sigh, she conceded to the shouts of her older sister. She walked back to the bathroom with slumped shoulders, her every movement showing the world her defeat.