Way back when Arabella was at pre-school she had one special friend, Olivia. Arabella was tall, thin and all stick arms and legs and by obvious contrast, Olivia was well-rounded. But that’s if you put it politely because actually, she was obese. But Arabella and Olivia seemed oblivious to each others differences and they certainly didn’t let a few kilos stand in the way of a solid friendship.
I forged a friendship with Olivia’s mother and all was going well until one day the mother asked if I could look after Olivia. ‘It’s not for long. It’s just it’s our older daughter’s birthday and on Friday night we’re taking her and her friends to the movies and then to a restaurant and we just don’t think it’s appropriate for Olivia. It will be too late for her. She doesn’t have to stay the whole night; we could come and get her on our way back from the restaurant if that’s a help’.
Arabella and Olivia were four years old at the time and Arabella certainly hadn’t been on any sleepovers outside of visiting grandparents so I agreed to look after Olivia for the duration of the party but not have her overnight.
Everything seemed fine. The mother assured me Olivia would be no trouble at all and in fact she was looking forward to it and she would come with her pyjamas and go to bed and then they would transfer the sleeping child into their car when they came to collect her.
It started out well. I collected Arabella and Olivia from pre-school. They came home and had some afternoon tea. Apart from Olivia constantly stating she was hungry there weren’t any issues. They played outside in the cubby house and went down the slide and climbed the rope frame and all was good. Then they came in for dinner and Arabella was reluctant to eat because she always had to be force-fed but Olivia kept saying, ‘I need something else’ so I was offering her more fruit then dried fruit then crackers and cheese but she kept saying, ‘I’d like some ice cream’. Arabella started to get annoyed because she thought the dinner business had been going on far too long and she wanted to get down from the table and play. Finally I persuaded Olivia to have a bubble bath with Arabella and ice cream forgotten, the girls had a wonderful time distributing bubbles all over the bathroom.
Once they were in their pyjamas it was time for bed so I took them into Arabella’s room and read them stories and Arabella who has always loved her sleep was then keen for lights out. Olivia said she was hungry. I told her the kitchen was closed. I left them and had barely sat down to my wine when Arabella was calling for me. ‘She won’t stop talking. I want to go to sleep’.
‘Olivia, do you think you could be quiet? It’s time for everyone to go to sleep now’. And back down the stairs I went.
Then Arabella was calling out to me again. Back up the stairs I went. ‘She keeps talking. I want her to go home.’
‘Don’t worry, Arabella, just go off to sleep. Olivia, please don’t talk to Arabella, she needs her sleep, okay?’
‘Okay’. I went back down the stairs in the hope I could watch a movie.
Minutes later Arabella was screaming. ‘I want her to go home. I don’t want Olivia having a sleepover. Take her home’, she screamed Arabella as she had no tolerance or patience.
‘What’s going on?’
‘She’s humming and making noise’, cried Arabella.
‘Is everything okay, Olivia?’ I asked.
‘I can’t get to sleep’.
‘Well you just need to shut your eyes’.
‘Mummy pats my bottom’.
‘Mummy gets in bed with me and pats my bottom then I go to sleep’.
Think that’s going beyond the call of duty.
Anxious about how long the process might take.
‘Olivia, I can’t lie in bed with you nor can I pat your bottom. Why don’t you get up and come with me and you can sit with me on the couch’.
And Arabella was so grateful to see the back of Olivia and Olivia went to the lounge via my pantry where she pulled out a box of chicken crimpy biscuits and sat on the couch devouring the entire box. Her mother turned up for her at about 11pm and she was still wide awake eating her way through that box of biscuits and joining me and Carl in our Friday night movie. I did raise the bottom rubbing issue with the mother and she said, ‘Oh yes, I do do that’, and perhaps she might have mentioned this peculiarity before doing the ‘drop and run’.
I don’t remember what I fed the girls that night (apart from an entire box of chicken crimpy biscuits) but it would have been something like these egg baskets. It’s a bit of a crime to call this a recipe as it’s so basic but for a quick and easy dinner, it’s a great stand-by.
Degree of Difficulty: 1/5
Cost: A few dollars.
- 30g melted butter
- 6 slices white bread, crusts removed
- 6 slices round pancetta
- 6 organic eggs
- Finely chopped chives
Pre-heat oven to 200C (400F) fan-forced.
Brush one side of the bread with melted butter. Place bread butter-side down in a 6-capacity muffin tray (that makes large muffins). Put a slice of pancetta into each bread basket. Crack an egg into the centre of each muffin holder. Give a little sprinkle of salt. Garnish with chives.
Place in the oven for 10 minutes or until egg is cooked to your liking.
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