Harriet beamed at her husband. “He’s beautiful, isn’t he?”
Dan stroked his new son’s head and smiled. “Perfect. Just . . . perfect.” He turned to his daughter and said, “Lola, come and say hello to your little brother.” But Lola was having none of it.
“No. I don’t want to. He stinks.” She stuck out her bottom lip and crossed her arms. This little girl was ready for battle. She had known, from the moment her parents told her there was a baby inside her Mummy’s tummy, that bad things lay ahead. Now, here she was, faced with this ugly, little ball of pink, and already her parents loved her less.
“Don’t be silly, Lola. Come and give him a kiss. He wants to meet his big sister.” Harriet spoke softly and held out her hand.
Still scowling, Lola took her mother’s hand and stepped closer to her parents. She stood on tiptoes and peered underneath the powder-blue blanket.
“Lola, this is Thomas. Isn’t he wonderful?”
Lola harrumphed, and stood back down. “He looks like a pig.”
When her father berated her, his voice was louder than usual. But rather than frighten her, it only made her more determined. “An ugly, stinky pig. Mummy, why did you grow a pig in your tummy?” Her turquoise eyes sparkled as she realised she had her parents’ full attention.
“Lola Kay, you say you’re sorry. That’s a horrid thing to say.” Dan’s voice quivered as he tried to maintain control.
The little girl didn’t move. She could taste victory. If she just kept this up, they would leave her horrible, attention-grabbing brother at the hospital, for someone else to take care of him.
“Say you’re sorry. I’m sure we never raised such a hateful little girl.”
Dan’s neck and face flushed red, Lola noticed; her bravado backing down. They would choose her over her brother, wouldn’t they? Her chin wobbled, but still she remained silent.
Harriet stepped in. “Lola, honey. You have to treat Thomas kindly. He is your brother. He may be little right now, but he will grow bigger; like Daddy.”
The doorbell rang, making the little family jump. “I’ll get it. It’ll be Mum and Dawn.” Dan jumped up, and his daughter watched him carefully as he left the room.
Turning back to her mother, she raised an eyebrow. “Thomas will be as big as Daddy?”
“Yes. He will. And when he is, he will look after you. You never know when you might need him. You know what I think?”
“What?” Lola rested against her mother’s leg, and cast a surreptitious glance at her brother.
“I think he will love you to the moon and back, and what’s more, I think he will hope you love him just the same.”
Chewing her lip, Lola took a longer look at Thomas. He wasn’t so ugly, she supposed. With a swift movement, she planted a kiss on the top of his head. “Okay, Mummy. You can keep him.”
As she ran to fetch her toy box, Harriet shouted after her, “Daddy and I love you, Lola! To the moon and back.”