My brother is twelve, I am nine, and my little sister is six. We are playing a noisy board game at the kitchen table, waiting for our parents to come home with the new baby. My brother is appalled that it’s just another girl when he so fervently wished for a brother. I’m happy I’ll no longer be the only middle child, and excited to help look after her. We don’t know how Ann feels about the situation because she hasn’t said much, but we are about to find out.
We think it’s odd when there’s a loud knocking on the farmhouse door. If it’s our parents surely they would walk right in, and we aren’t expecting any other visitors. Ann jumps up and runs to investigate. We hear the door open and immediately slam shut. Who was it? Who was there? we ask her. She plunks herself back down, frowns and folds her arms. NOBODY, she says.
But the door is opened up again and mom and dad are suddenly there in the hallway in their winter coats, stomping the snow off their boots. They’ve apparently had second thoughts about the planned surprise grand entrance in which all of us were supposed to let them in with a warm welcome and open arms. They come into the kitchen and Mom carefully unwraps her big pink bundle so that my brother and I can have our first peek at the new arrival. Ann is looking quite cross and kicking the table leg.
Why did you say it was nobody? Don’t you want to see the baby? Oh, look, she’s all red and wrinkly and she has lots of black hair! Come see her, she’s so cute!
Ann still refuses to budge. THAT BABY IS NOT SITTING AT MY PLACE AT THE TABLE she announces. I roll my eyes. Her place at the table is beside our dad. She refuses to sit anywhere else. I tell her it will be months before the baby is big enough to sit anywhere and wonder why she’s being a brat.
But Dad gives her a big bear hug and tells her she has nothing at all to worry about. No one but our little Annie gets to sit in that very special place. Her arms unfold and the hint of a smile crosses her face as she relents, and leans in to look at her tiny rival for the very first time. She tells the baby she’s sorry about the door.
But she will never give in about her place at the table. Never. We can all see the firm resolution written all over her stern little face.