“What’s a plebamite?”
“A what?” I took a sip of my cold coffee.
“A plebiscite,” said Matt as he continued to shovel Weetabix into his gob.
We really need to get Sally into speech therapy, I thought.
“Thank you for clarifying but we need to let Sally speak for herself.”
He shrugged and kept gliding his index finger up and down the screen of his iPhone as he munched. His little sister sat with a giant smile on her face, as if she was proud someone finally understood her. She started kicking her legs in the air under the table causing the food on top to slightly shake.
The toaster popped. I shuffled towards the kitchen sink and my hands sunk into the cold water, lurking for a butter knife. “Sandra! Hurry up!”
She comes thumping down the wooden stairs, tote and scarf in hand. “Can you drive me this morning?”
“Mummy, what’s’ a plebakite?”
“Sorry, sweetie?” said Sandra.
I leaned towards Sandra and whispered, “A plebiscite. She wants to know what a plebiscite is.”
“Did you hear the word at school?” said Sandra as she whipped a scarf around her neck.
“Nah”, said Sally.
“Well where did you hear it?”
“On the telemision.”
Sandra spun away from Sally and mouthed speech therapy? in my direction. Sandra picked up the Pepper Pig backpack lying on the hallway floor. “Sally, honey, please don’t leave your bag in the middle of the hallway.”
After a few failed attempts, I found a knife. I wiped it dry then I spread the soft butter on the cold toast. “Sandra, this is yours.”
“Is anyone going to tell me what a blemagite is?”
“ahh… we will Sally but can we do it in the car? We need to leave in…” I looked at my watch. The face had filled with dirty dishwater but the hands were still ticking. “… 4 minutes.
Twelve minutes later, all four of us trickled into our Subaru Forrester. The car smelt of a stench that wasn’t new, but it was new to the car.
“Matt, did you put deodorant on this morning?”
“Whoops,” he said with his face locked on the screen his fingers were tangled around.
I held the steering wheel with my left hand and dug around in my car door with my right.
“Is plebasmite a bad word? Is that why no-one will tell me what it is?”
I wrapped my fingers around a small roll-on Mum deodorant and threw it over my left shoulder.
“Oh!” said Matt.
“Did it get your head? I was aiming for it.” All but Sally chuckled.
“MUUUUMS!” the child screamed as she clenched her fists.
“What do you think a plebiscite is, Sally?” asked Sandra.
“I don’t know,” she said as her bottom lip dropped and her body sunk into the back seat of the people mover.
“It’s ok to guess. I would like to know what you think a plebiscite is.”
“Is it a rude word?”
“No, sweetie,” said Sandra as she glanced towards me. We both smirk.
“Has it got something to do with having two mums?”
“Dah,” said Matt. Sandra stretched out her arm behind her and took a swipe at Matt’s head.
“No hitting!” screeched Sally.
“I’m sorry, Matt,” said Sandra.
Matt blew a kiss to his mother and patted his sister on the head.
“Yes, sweetie. You’re very clever. It does have something to do with you having two mums.”
“Oh,” said Sally as she dropped her head towards her chest.
“Does that make you sad?” I asked my daughter.
“I love you, mummies.”
“We love you, too. We love you more then Matt loves his iPhone.”
As we drove off towards the children’s schools, the car fell silent. I kept my eyes forward on the car in front of us: a white commodore with a wonky “fuck off, we’re full” sticker slapped on the back window. The radio in our Subaru gained volume and a softly spoken woman recited a story about loving her children and her dismay about how her kids, and our kids, just being called the stolen generation.