Week 5: Monday

“Happy birthday, Mandy! You’re getting to be such a big girl now!” Christopher praised his daughter, picking her up out of her crib.

“Is she ready for her big day?” Marylee asked from the doorway. Christopher smiled and nodded as Mandy squealed with delight and flailed her arms impatiently.

“I think so,” he replied, gently handing his little girl over to his wife. Marylee had set up the usual birthday cake and balloons that morning. She had rushed, trying to make sure Marcie would still be home to celebrate with them, but Marcie held things up by getting in her mother’s way and running around the kitchen, distracting everyone. Marylee suspected she did it deliberately to ensure she’d be at school and away from Mandy during the party.

Marylee and Christopher sang Happy Birthday to Mandy as she laughed and smiled up at them. Her blue eyes were brimming with excitement. It was obvious she was more than ready to grow up. After blowing out the candles and gently being set on the floor, Mandy admired how big she’d gotten. She could crawl now! It was all very exhilarating for a young child.

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Marylee sighed. “You know, they grow up way too fast for my liking. I’m going to miss having tiny little baby feet padding across the floor…” she admitted sadly to her husband. Christopher hugged her.

“I know. I am, too, but it’ll be wonderful to see them grow up and start families of their own,” he consoled her. Marylee nodded in agreement. That would be nice.

Like Marcie, Mandy looked just like her mother, with sun-gold locks and shining blue eyes. Marylee was relieved to see that Mandy’s facial features were dainty and feminine, unlike Marcie’s, though she felt a little guilty for comparing the two. Marylee picked up her daughter and snuggled her close. “You’re turning into such a pretty girl, Mandy. Mommy and Daddy love you so much.” Mandy laughed and enthusiastically clapped her hands together.

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“I’m going to head to work, Honey,” Christopher told Marylee. “I think I might get a promotion today, but we’ll see,” he smiled. “Bye bye, Pumpkin. Daddy will be back later. Be a good girl for Mommy,” he cooed. He had decided that both his girls should have nicknames and chose Pumpkin for Mandy. She was always jolly and inviting, which reminded Christopher of a pumpkin’s plump, happy shape and friendly orange colour.

“Bah bah… dadoo…” Mandy said. Christopher chuckled. They definitely needed to teach her how to talk.

“Okay, first thing’s first: you’re going to learn how to use the potty,” Marylee said after Christopher left. She set Mandy on the kinder-potty, thankful again that they had saved all of Marcie’s old things in storage and showed her how to do her business. Mandy just blinked and stared at her mother with a blank expression. Unlike Marcie, potty training didn’t seem to be something that came easily to her.

When Mandy scrambled off the kinder-potty, Marylee sighed and picked her up. “Well, we’ll just keep trying, I guess,” she told her. Mandy started to cry and squirm in her mother’s arms, and Marylee set her on the ground to go play with her toys.

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Marylee busied herself with cleaning and practicing guitar until she heard an outraged shriek coming from Marcie’s bedroom. “GET AWAY FROM THAT! IT’S MINE!”

Marylee ran into Marcie’s room to see Marcie looming over a quivering and crying Mandy. Marcie had come home from school without Marylee noticing. Mandy kept reaching for a doll from the dollhouse that Marcie had evidently snatched away from her, while Marcie held the doll high out of Mandy’s reach. “No! You can’t have it! It’s MY dollhouse, Mandy! GO AWAY!” Mandy screamed and cried, trying desperately to get the doll back.

“Marcie Magnolia Charm!” Marylee yelled, storming into the room. “How dare you treat your sister like that? She’s just a baby!” Marcie jumped at being scolded; it didn’t happen very often. She put her hands on her hips and tried to plead her case.

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“But Mom, it’s my dollhouse!” she whined. “You and Dad gave it to me for my birthday! Mandy has lots of toys. She can play with them and leave my stuff alone!”

“Marcie, all the toys you have are to be shared between you and Mandy, just like all the toys Mandy has are to be shared between her and you! I can’t believe you would make your poor baby sister cry, and on her birthday, too! You’re grounded for the night, young lady! No TV, no playing outside, and I’m taking away all your toys for the night. That will give you time to think about your actions until you’re ready to apologize to your sister.” Marcie burst into angry tears.

“It’s not fair! You ALWAYS side with her! She ruins everything!” she cried, crossing her arms. Marylee knelt down to comfort Mandy.

“It’s okay, Sweetie. Mommy’s here. Do you want your dolly back?” she asked gently. Mandy sniffled and nodded, and Marylee gave her the doll that Marcie had taken away from her. “There you go. Play nicely with it. Marcie likes to play with that dollhouse, too, so be careful you don’t break it,” she warned, but Mandy was perfectly content to simply hug the dolls and talk to them in her incomprehensible baby language. Marylee stood up and looked sternly at Marcie. “I’m telling your father about this and he is going to be very disappointed in you,” she told her. Marcie scowled at her mother’s back as she left the room.

Marcie glared at Mandy, now happily playing away with the dollhouse. That dollhouse was her prized possession and her parents wanted her to share it? She hated having a sister. Mandy looked up at her big sister with a smile on her face. She offered one of the dolls.

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“Pay?” she asked. Marcie assumed she was trying to ask her to play. She frowned.

“No! Why would I want to play with you?” she huffed, climbing into bed. She didn’t care that it was 4:00pm. It wasn’t like she could do anything, anyway. She was grounded and restricted from doing anything fun for the rest of the night, thanks to Mandy. Mandy’s face fell and she sadly looked down at the dolls in her hands.

Marylee tried to calm herself down by strumming on her guitar. She was falling behind with her practicing and wanted to make the most of her last few days on maternity leave. I don’t know what I’m going to do about Marcie, she sighed to herself. It seems impossible to get her to get along with Mandy. Maybe if I take them out somewhere together… she mused to herself as she relaxed to the sound of the music she was playing.

A few hours later, Christopher came home, shaking his head. “Well, no promotion, but I did get a seven simolean raise. I think I’m really, really close to my next promotion, though. I just know I’m going to get it tomorrow. I can feel it!” he told his wife confidently. Marylee smiled and congratulated him. “Where’s Marcie?” Christopher asked, looking around the room. Usually, she was painting at the easel when he came home. Marylee sighed.

“In her room. She’s grounded,” and she explained what had happened to him. Christopher groaned. He thought his talk with her had gotten her to like Mandy. Apparently not. Marylee sighed.

“I just don’t know what we’re going to do about those girls,” she said. “Maybe they’ll start to get along more when they’re older.”

“I hope so,” Christopher said, stifling a yawn. “It’s late. We should put the girls to bed.”

“I’ll do it. You look exhausted and I’m not tired, yet. You go ahead to bed. I’ll be there in a few minutes,’ Marylee offered. Christopher thanked her with a kiss and headed to their bedroom for the night.

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“Mandy? Come on, Sweetie, it’s time for bed,” Marylee whispered softly, walking into Marcie’s room. Marcie was already asleep in her bed, but Mandy was still playing with the dollhouse. She seemed to really love that toy. “You can play more with the dollhouse tomorrow,” she assured her, but Mandy shook her head, pointing at the doll she had tried to offer Marcie. “What is it, Honey?” Marylee asked. Mandy crawled across the floor and used Marcie’s bed frame for support as she pushed herself onto her feet and slipped the doll under the covers beside Marcie’s head. “Mawsee…” she tried to say quietly before kissing her sister on the cheek and crawling back to her mother. Marylee smiled. “That’s very sweet of you, Mandy. Now let’s get you to bed.”

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“Are the girls asleep?” Christopher mumbled in bed, half-asleep himself. Marylee nodded.

“Yes. Mandy kissed Marcie goodnight on the cheek. It was adorable.” Christopher chuckled.

“And Marcie didn’t run away screaming cooties?’ he joked. Marylee laughed, too.

“She was asleep. I don’t think she noticed. I wish she had, though. It might have made her realize she has a pretty special little sister,’ she whispered, snuggling up against her husband.

Back in Marcie’s room, Marcie silently touched the spot on her cheek where her sister’s lips had been. She hadn’t been asleep. She looked at the little doll nestled neatly beside her head and couldn’t help but smile just a little bit.

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