The room is dimly lit except for the bright spotlight shining on me. I sit hunched over with my head resting on the cold metal table, arms outstretched in front of me. Waiting.
The door opens and she walks in. I listen to the sound of her bare feet feet as she moves across the room. She pauses briefly in front of the two way mirror I had tried hopelessly to peer through earlier. When she reaches the table she scrapes back a chair and climbs up onto it.
Surrender she says.
Never! I cry as I throw back my head and look her in the eye.
You'll never defeat me she continues. I will wear you down until you are begging me for mercy. Give up now and it will all be over so quickly, she coos softly to me.
No! I shout with as much conviction as I can muster. I am the mother and I will stay strong.
Really? she asks me. How much longer can you hold out? Hmm. let's see, shall we she says as she grins at me.
Mum, mum, mum! she whines at me from across the table I'm hungry! No, I don't want to eat an apple. No, I don't want a cracker. I'm hungry for something else. I want something different. Something new. Something good. I want ice cream. No I haven't had ice cream in a really, really long time. I'll have it today and then I'll never ever have it again. I promise. Yes, it is good for me to have ice cream! Mum, mum, mum!
Stop I whimper as I cover my ears.
Mama! Mama! I want to paint. Now! I want to paint now. I don't want to have a bath, I want to paint. I know, I know. How about this. This is a good idea. How about I paint and you have a bath. Because painting is funner then a bath. How about I paint for ten minutes and then have a bath. But ten minutes isn't a long time. I can paint really fast. Or we could skip a bath and have one tomorrow. Mama! Mama!
I cringe as her words wash over me. Be strong I tell myself, be strong. Inhaling deeply I think of all the mothers that have come before me. I will be strong for them.
I stare her in the eye. I will always be your mother. You will listen to me. You will respect me. You will stop whining and making demands and negotiating every simple request I make of you. You will, I continue as my voice rises, listen when I ask you to go upstairs and use the toilet instead of peeing in the training potty in the living room!
My forceful declaration exhausts me and I lean back in my chair. Let's stop all this I say. Nothing you do will break me.
Oh, really she asks with a smile. Let's see shall we.
With that she turns her head to the door. Confused, I follow her glance and am surprised to see the door open. In walks a smaller, male version of her. He runs across the room and flings himself onto the seat of the chair before pulling himself up to sitting.
Oh no, I think bracing myself for whatever is coming next, there are two of them.