It’s not easy being the brother of someone who truly believes they are the empress of the universe.
If you’re my son, your response is tireless resistance. This little freedom fighter (or terrorist, depending on your point of view) uses various tactics to undermine her rule. He pokes her. Steals her toys. Works out what annoys her then whisper it to her incessantly until she explodes into violence. Leading the resistance is dangerous, but it’s a lot of fun.
Given these constant attempts to bring down her tyrannical regime, you might reasonably assume that my son feels nothing but resentment towards her.
Our nearly three year old Empress spends her morning promenading haughtily up and down in various dressing up masks. My son, oddly, doesn’t carry out any kind of organised disruption of this state occasion. Instead, he disappears into the other room with pens and coloured paper.
“What’s that, son?” I have to ask, following him. He tells me he’s making his sister a mask. I ask him what all the hearts are for. He tells me that they show how much he loves her. I experience one of those parenting moments when your heart nearly stops with amazement.
He labours for a long time, through several iterations of the mask, until it’s perfect, including on it a short poem he composes, and asks me to write, about how much he loves his little sister. This process leaves me emotionally wrung out.
We take the mask to his sister, who is now lying on the sofa, worn out by all the adulation of her subjects. “I made this for you.” My son tells her.
She glances at the mask for a moment, then looks back at the TV.
“He’s made you a lovely mask.” I tell her.
“I’m bored of masks.” She says, boredly. I expect a theatrical yawn.
My son trudges away forlornly. So, back to the resistance then.