‘I want you to repeat after me,’ I say, with a frown creasing my brow.
She nods, her eyes wide. I hope she’s not frightened, it’s not her fault. I am cross, though. Frustrated. Situations like this annoy me. I reach for her hands, a move that I sincerely wish will reassure her.
‘OK, repeat these words, verbatim. I—’
‘What does verbatim mean? she asks, interrupting me.
‘Word for word. Exactly. Line for line, that kind of thing. Make sense?’
‘Yes.’ She nods her head as she says the words. Poor girl. I want to give her a hug. She looks distraught.
‘Ready?’ I ask. Her lack of response I take for assent, so I go on. ‘I MUST BE PROMPT.’ I am close to shouting, for emphasis, so she gets it.
‘I must be prompt,’ she repeats. Her lips quiver. God, she’s not going to cry is she? I don’t want her to cry. It’s her dad I’m mad at. And her mum. They’re the ones who should be receiving consequences for their behaviour. They need to get their act together. Why should their girl suffer for their own dysfunction. And why should I put in this position, just because her father is prowling like a lion. Making demands, threats.
It makes me mad. Sad.
But for her sake, I put my own feelings aside and give in to the father’s request. All to dodge the shit show.