By Margo Daly
I am five today.
“Happy Birthday, big boy,” Mummy says when I crawl into her bed. She pulls me close. She’s wet and sticky. I wriggle away from the stinky milk smell. She gets up and goes to the baby’s room.
I go into the kitchen, stand on my stool to reach the tin of Milo. I hear Mummy’s voice behind me. “How about leave that, and I’ll make special pancakes for breakfast?”
I turn around and watch her put little white patches over her nipples then do up her blue, shiny dressing gown. I’m glad she’s only got two nipples, not four like cows.
“I’ll get the ice cream,” I say “and the maple syrup.”
The baby screams in its high chair. I mash ice cream into the pancakes so I don’t have to look at its red face. I squeeze the maple syrup bottle hard.
“Hey, slow down there, big boy, don’t want you bouncing off the walls!” Mummy says, pulling the bottle out of my hands.
The baby kicks its fat legs and tips cereal all over the floor. Mummy laughs. “Oh, no! Let’s clean this up, then I’ve got something for you!”
When it’s done, she hands me a present wrapped in Thomas the Tank Engine paper.
“Happy birthday, my big boy!”
I haven’t played with my Thomas the Tank Engine train for a year, but I rip the paper off. Bumper cars. She looks at me; her eyebrows go up.
“Awesome. Can I play with them in my room?”
I sit on my bed and press the buttons. Make them crash again and again.
I will get my big present when Daddy gets home. I know it’s a bike with three wheels. I can tell by the shape. It’s in the garage covered in stupid Thomas the Tank Engine paper.
Daddy’s Up North, and he won’t be here for the party. He was here for the baby’s birthday party, though.
The night before he left he’d said, “We’ll have our own party, mate, when I get back.”
But it won’t be a birthday party because it will be too late. His wine breath made me turn my face away when he gave me a goodbye hug.
Joshua and Nathan will be here from Pre-School. They have bikes.
I hear Mummy outside my room. “Knock knock,” she says and opens the door. “Time to get ready.”
I can choose my own clothes. I put on my red Spiderman T-shirt.
When I come out, Mummy’s standing on a chair in the lounge room hanging up balloons on the curtain rod.
“Look,” I say, pointing at my T-shirt.
She turns around, and her eyebrows go up.
“I thought Thomas…”
I do my photo smile right up into her face. “My handsome big boy,” she says. “Don’t forget to go pee before the guests arrive.”
But I go back to my bumper cars.
Aunt Lizzie gets here first. She has her hands behind her back and says, “Which one?”
I guess the right one and tear the paper off. It’s a special microphone. I sing into it: You’re a poo bum, la la la.
Mummy frowns, the baby cries, Aunt Lizzie laughs. She doesn’t have any children of her own. I might go and live with her.
Joshua comes in next. He hands me his present, which is a cool game called Pie Face Cannon.
“We can play after lunch,” Mummy says.
I get Lego from Nathan.
Mummy’s new friend with her baby comes next. It stinks out the whole room.
“Oops, nappy change time,” the mother says, then, “Happy Birthday, darling” over her shoulder, on her way to the bathroom.
Mummy sprays everywhere with the air freshner so that the room smells of poo mixed with perfume, yuck. Then she gets wine glasses from the cupboard, and soon the adults are all talking and laughing in the kitchen.
Left alone, I kick Nathan and Joshua under the table.
The adults come out with a Thomas the Tank Engine cake, all lit up. Mummy puts it in front of me. I look at the floor. Everyone sings The Happy Birthday song, but it doesn’t sound happy; Mummy’s voice is squeaky.
“Blow!” they say, but the smell of wine and poo, and wanting Daddy all get mixed up in my head so that my breath won’t come. Then a candle goes out by itself, and Mummy doesn’t even notice because she’s picking up the baby that’s crying again.
My tummy hurts. I need to pee. I stand on my chair.
“Look, Mummy, I’m a big boy now!” I say, then I pull out my willy, shake it up and down, and squirt right into Thomas the Tank Engine’s stupid face.