I look at him across the table. He’s just sitting there, looking down at the plate before him with two pieces of wire hanging from his ears. I tell myself to sit still.
Today, I am the centre of attention. I am the one and only princess on this table. Today, everything revolves around me.
I gaze around, trying to find something to entertain me while the old people talk about politics and swimming pools. I’m a big girl now, and dad says I should be able to sit at the table and not do silly childish things. My eyes land on a pretty painting of a flower as they discuss the new captain of the country, Primeminister Johnhoward. I think it’s a pretty funny name actually, and I wouldn’t put my hand up to vote for him because he’s old, but dad always tells me to be polite, so I keep it to myself, and sit still. Mum puts some fish into my bowl, and I obediently eat it even though I don’t like fish, because I’m being good today.
My eyes get bored of the flower petals with a gold colour like my new bracelet, and scan the room once again. Gold was my favourite colour last week, but it’s pink now. And he’s wearing pink! If he came to my school everyone would call him a girl because only girls are allowed to wear pink. I wonder if his mum told him to wear it, because she knows I like pink.
But I don’t think he’s like a girl. I think he’s cool because he always lets me play on his computer when my mum and his mum talk for forever in their kitchen. He’s nice too. When we go to big dinners he talks to me when the big people don’t, and doesn’t make me eat anything I don’t want to eat. He’s not like my mum, which is good, because she’s mean to me and I have to listen to her. She always says mean things to me when she thinks I’ve done something wrong, and whenever I get bad grades at school she yells at me. But it’s my birthday today, so she can’t yell at me, and if she does I’ll yell back! Unlike my mother, he’s nice, and I don’t even have to listen to him. And he’s…
Oh wow, triple chocolate mud cake with strawberry topping, cream, assorted dinosaur shaped sprinkles and my name on the top in pretty, swirly writing! And seven candles, a flower in the middle surrounded with pieces of chocolate, a small plastic ‘Happy Birthday’ and cut up strawberries along the side. In the next few moments I’m oblivious to the world surrounding me as I devour the cake, finishing my whole chunk even though my stomach has already been filled with other dishes.
I always see those people on television that say girls don’t eat enough, and lots of young girls these days develop eating problems, so I should appreciate the food I have and finish it all. I can’t imagine never being able to eat; I think I would get hungry. I let myself wonder how those girls do it, playing around with the possibilities of them having no stomachs or no mouths, but the more I think about it, the more confused I become. So I guess it’s better not to think about it. Apparently I’m going to understand everything better when I grow up anyway.
The clinking sound of plates being taken away jerks me back to this reality. The adults say their goodbyes, and strut past, patting me on the head as they go. I can tell by the looks on my parents’ faces that I have behaved well. I wonder if they all think I’m grown up now, because if they do they might start telling me things rather than telling me I’ll understand “one day”. Dad always says that I’m smart, so I don’t know why they won’t tell me particular things.
He walks past me too, but he doesn’t pat my head, just nods and smiles. I bet he knows everything! But I would never ask him to explain anything to me, because he would just think I’m stupid.
The last of the adults walk past me and out the door, and I realise that I don’t need to put on an act anymore. I also realise that the excessive amount of food I have eaten is now creating a bloated feeling in my stomach, and getting up at seven this morning due to my anticipation has made me tired. As I follow my parents to the car, I make my wishes and resolutions. I’m going to grow up this year, like my mum always tells me to. I’m going to be responsible, and help with chores around the house. I’m going to do well at school… I’m…
I fall asleep sometime between getting into the car and arriving home. When the car stops, I pretend that I’m still asleep so my dad will carry me upstairs. And when I’m safe underneath the covers of my bed, I start my wishes again.