Out of the corner of my eye, I can see the little one dipping a stealthy finger into the mixing bowl. "Pearl, get out of it," I say before turning my attention back to the big one and her long-winded tale of something-or-other. I nod and smile, trying to focus, but I can see that little finger heading back into the bowl. "Pearl, out of the cake," I say. Again I return to the big one, whose very important story is taking a very long time to be told, and I'm trying to ignore the towering list of things to be done as I try, very hard, to give her my time.
Again, the little finger. "Pearl!"
"Mum, you're not listening," says the big one.
"I'm sorry," I say, "I'm trying to concentrate, it's just your sister seems to be ignoring me."
And then, dipping that little finger into the batter again, and onward into her mouth, Pearl says matter-of-factly, "Well, Mum, I wouldn't ignore you if you let me have some cake."