"Now, Elizabeth, we don't play with toys like Michael's GI Joe." Lizzie didn't quite understand why her playing with one of Michael's dolls was any different from her playing with one of her own. Then again, there were a lot of things that she didn't understand. She didn't understand why Mommy seemed almost to want to not be hugged or touched or why she seemed to be afraid of her or why she told the ladies who came for coffee how awful it was that her baby was going away to be replaced by a scary, awful kid. She was right here!!
She also didn't understand why Daddy spent so much time behind the newspaper or why he hated cartoons. She couldn't figure out why the grown-ups never seemed to smile or laugh, she couldn't figure out why Mommy wanted her to talk baby-talk only to turn around and complain about it and she really, really didn't understand why she had to spend so much time with mean ol'Michael so Mommy could work.
She did not like Michael one little bit. He was always angry at her, always calling her dumb, always trying to scare her or wreck her toys and always wishing that the stork would take her back so he could have Daddy and Mommy all to himself. She couldn't understand why. What did she do to him to make him mad and why did he always look off into the distance and sigh? All she ever saw she looked at the place he did when he did that were other boys running around and laughing as they did whatever horrible things little boys did.
What made it worse is that when she tried to get Mommy and Daddy to make Mike stop, they said 'Nice girls don't tattle' and when they didn't think she could hear them, they said that this was normal. She didn't understand that. She also didn't understand why Mommy dropped her off at the daycare and left her alone. Didn't she want to be around her? Was Mike right about them wanting to send her away? Sure, Mommy always came back but you never know.
The only thing that she did understand was that dressing pretty was one of the few things that made Mommy and Daddy happy. They loved to pay attention to her when she made herself cute so she didn't object too much to Mommy fussing over her. It was one of the few good things about growing up. She didn't much mind kindergarten because she had started to realize that Mommy would always come for her and also because Mike spent a lot of time doing something scary called homework so he wasn't able to spend as much time bothering her. Big kid school itself was not as fun though. Teacher said we don't chew pencils, teacher said we don't count on fingers, teacher says we don't do anything that would make stuff make sense and Mommy was no help. Homework wasn't easy or fun for her. It must have been easy in the olden days but not now.
Another thing that wasn't easy is that the other girls were allowed to have earrings and she wasn't allowed to fit in and not get teased because Mom said she was too young. She was always too young, always shoved aside so that they could talk about all the bad stuff Mike did because Mike was bad.
The worst of it was that she started to hate what she saw in the mirror now. She had a stupid nose, stupid hair and stupid freckles. If only she looked like Melody Morrison, she'd be happier. Funny thing about Melody and her mother, though. As the lady took her daughter home from school once, Mrs Morrison said "I don't want you hanging around those people. The father is an oaf and the mother is a dimwitted nervous wreck who's so afraid of the girl that she's forcing her ten year old boy to raise her."
Lizzie felt sorry for that girl and her brother. It was always sad to hear about a bad family.