‘Do other parents ever really wonder what it would be like if they hadn’t had their kids?’ Cassandra asked Derek. ‘I don’t. Ever.’
But she knew she was lying. Cassandra hid it extremely well, but she didn’t really like her children at all. Her first child, Trudie, was constantly whinging; ‘I don’t like it, I don’t want it, I don’t want to go.’ When other people were around, Cassandra tried to pacify her, but on their own, she’d leave the room. The four-year-old would sit and cry or follow her and cry. Cassandra would have a coffee. Eventually, Trudie would get bored and find something to do, or get hungry and nibble on the food she’d been refusing to eat.
Trudie was not as bad as Simon. He was two and Cassandra thought he had some kind of developmental problems. She would stare at him as he head butted the furniture and talked to the ducted heating vents. In public, she had to be particularly careful with him. He was on to her. Last week, having coffee at the local first-Sunday-of-the-month club, he announced to everyone that ‘Mummy doesn’t like me.’ Everyone laughed and cooed, and Cassandra laughed it off and pretended to take his nose, but in the look that passed between them, Cassandra saw understanding.
‘You just have the patience of a saint,’ said Derek, and he kissed her on the head. ‘You really must be the best mother ever.’
Cassandra smiled. Yes, she must be.