1. Get into a fistfight over a Lego
2. Get into a fistfight over a sticker
3. Get into a fistfight over a toy we’ve bought two of so they won’t fistfight over it
4. Steal Daddy’s phone
5. Get into a fistfight over Daddy’s phone
6. Reply to emails from Daddy’s dissertation chair with gibberish
7. Break something, causing a fistfight
8. Break something, during a fistfight
9. Climb onto the kitchen table
10. Go streaking
11. Dump out the dog’s water dish and claim to be ice-skating
12. Empty the toybox I just spent a half hour filling while they sat on their asses singing “Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere” and contributed a single toy between the two of them
I used to laugh at my mother.
It would begin with her getting on the phone with a customer service representative. (Keep in mind that this was back in Ye Good Olde Days before Al Gore singlehandedly invented the Internet, when instead of yelling at ambiguous, unhelpful websites or cussing at incompetent live-chat reps in all caps, the only game in town was to actually haggle with a real person about bills, warranties, and Hooked on Phonics.)
While my mother attempted to insult the intelligence of whatever dolt she was dealing with on the other line, some semblance of the following events would transpire.
My two younger sisters, who were a year apart and constant playmates, would be “Doing a Story,” their name for playing out an improvisational narrative with a star-studded cast of Barbies, My Little Ponies, and whichever Legos their brother failed to hide well enough. In choosing which playthings each of them would voice, the oldest of the two would always weasel her way into First Draft Pick.
“I’ll be Malibu Botox Barbie.”
“No! You got to be Malibu Botox Barbie last time we Did a Story!”
“But this is the sequel. I have to be Malibu Botox Barbie again or else we’ll tank at the box office. The fan base expects me, not some young, up-and-coming no-name. Here, you can be Especially Flamboyant Ken.”
“Girls!” my Mom would hiss. “I’m on the phone!”
Fully engrossed in their heated casting session, their battle would rage on without even acknowledging my mother.
“Then be Less-Exciting Sister With the Arm Missing Stacie!”
“Why can’t I be one of those 20 other Barbies?”
“Because I’m Barbie.”