Unlike most of the mothers she knew, Felicity had no problems simultaneously doing the washing up and holding a strongly protesting two-year-old. Besides working in childcare for almost nine years, she had also been to circus school one summer when she was young and had learnt how to juggle literally anything.
While Rose thrashed under her mother's arm, her brother was seated at the table behind them, scribbling feverishly on a piece of old-fashioned printer paper. Like everything else, Sandy approached drawing with fierce determination, always breaking the paper and often snapping the pencil as well. For all her experience in childcare, she had never known a six-year-old to be as bull-headed as her son was.
At a tug on the back of her shirt Felicity looked over her shoulder, raising an eyebrow. Sandy's expression was grave. "Who was I named after?" he asked her.
Felicity leaned against the counter, smiling as she picked her gloves off. "Well, your grandfather's name was Alexander." She tilted her head curiously as Sandy nodded. "Why do you ask?"
The boy only shrugged and retreated to the table. She heard him scrawl something and then push his chair back. Right as he scrambled through the door Blacky slunk into the kitchen, watching Sandy go by. Father and son didn't touch as they breezed in opposite directions through the doorway.
"Guess what I just got quizzed on," Felicity challenged Blacky as he sat down, rubbing his face as if he'd just woken up. In fact he had been at work; his old boss, Mrs Foo, was happy enough to continue to offer him dishes to clean for a pittance. He effected an expression of unenthusiastic expectation.
Shifting the now quieting Rose in her arms, Felicity said, "Sandy asked who he was named after."
"He's named after himself," Blacky answered blandly. "He's his own person."
Her best intentions couldn't keep Felicity from grinning at that. If there was one thing that drove him mad more than anything else, it was his name, a measly inheritance from a dead great-uncle. She patted her daughter's head innocuously. "Well, I told him that your father's name happened to have been Alexander."
"That has nothing to do with anything," he murmured sulkily, his eyes dropping to the piece of half-shredded paper on the table. Suddenly he pulled it towards him, straightening up, and cursed loudly, glancing up at her. "Look at this!"
Curious, Felicity stepped away from the sink and leaned forward to look at the drawing Blacky was holding up. As far as she could tell, it was a shark -- Sandy loved sharks -- and below it, where he always faithfully signed his work, was "Aleksander" in messy, cramped script.
Blacky's indignation could not stop her laughter. "Well, look at that!" she exclaimed. "Would you put that face away? He wants to know he has a family outside this house. Let it go."
"He doesn't have a family outside this house!" Blacky retorted. "I think that was made quite clear to us before he was even born." He hesitated, turning the drawing to look at it, his brows furrowed.
"What now?" Felicity sighed.
Blacky seemed to debate with himself for a moment longer, eyeing his now dozing daughter. "It's actually probably his best drawing so far," he admitted.
"What a shame he ruined it," she snorted. He glared at her and she threw her hands up in despair. "Alright, fine! He's not named after your father." Depositing Rose into Blacky's arms, she took the drawing and walked across the kitchen holding it up. "But it is fridge-worthy."
"Fine," Blacky muttered, and Felicity turned her back, counted to three, and flicked a glance over her shoulder. In the instant before he scowled at her again, she caught his small smile.