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«Baby-Sitters Club 021», Ann Martin

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В В В BSC021 - Mallory and the Trouble With Twins - Martin, Ann M.

В В В  Chapter 1.

"Kindergarten baby, stick your head in gravy! Wash it off with applesauce and show it to the Navy!" sang Nicky.

"Mommy, make him stop!" cried Claire.

"Nicholas Pike," said my mother, "this is supposed to be fun. We are going to Washington Mall, which you have been begging to do for weeks, and where, I might add, each of you kids is going to get a new pair of shoes. You do want new shoes, don't you?" "Yes," said Nicky contritely.

"Then apologize to your sister. She doesn't like being called a kindergarten baby. You didn't like it either when you were her age." "Sorry, Claire," said Nicky.

Mom didn't see it, because we were so jam-packed into our car, but Claire's response was to stick her tongue out at Nicky. So he silently mouthed "kindergarten baby" to her and she turned bright red. If I hadn't grabbed her then, who knows what would have happened?

There are eight kids in my family. Nicky and Claire are just two of them, but they were having a big enough fight for all of us.

I am Mallory. I'm eleven and the oldest. Claire is five and the youngest. Between Claire and me are Margo, who's seven, Nicky, who's eight, Vanessa, who's nine, and the triplets, who are ten. The triplets are Adam, Byron, and Jordan, and they're identical. You would hardly know this, though, since they always wear different clothes and have such different personalities.

After I grabbed Claire, she calmed down. It was a good thing I was sitting between her and Nicky. I had put myself there on purpose. When it comes to kids - my brothers and sisters, or any others - I'm pretty smart. For instance, I had figured out the seating arrangement for our outing to the mall. (It takes awhile to drive there.) I had put Margo in the front seat with Mom and Dad, since she gets carsick sometimes and riding in the front is less bumpy. I had put the triplets in the way back, where they could be jerks without bothering anybody, especially Nicky, whom they are apt to tease mercilessly. And in the backseat, I had put Claire, me, Nicky, and Vanessa, in that order. Sitting between Claire and Nicky, I could break up fights. And with Vanessa by the window, she could daydream or make up poems, lost in her own world, which is how she's happiest.

"There's the mall!" cried Margo, pointing. She had survived the trip without once saying she was going to barf.

"All right!" cried Nicky. "New shoes. I want sneakers, and they have to be Reeboks. Or Avias. Either one." "Oh, you are so cool, Nick," said Adam sarcastically from the back.

"Shut up!" "You shut up!" "Mom, Nicky and Adam said 'shut up/ " announced Claire.

"I heard," said Mom dryly. (Poor Mom. Since Dad was driving, she got stuck handling the squabbling and complaining.) "And all I have to say is this: How badly does any of you want shoes?" Us kids "shut up" right away. We didn't think Mom would really not buy shoes for us . . . but we couldn't be sure. Long car rides with eight children could drive anyone crazy. (I should point out, by the way, that our mother is not an ogre. She's just human. And half an hour of kindergarten baby and tattling was wearing on her nerves.) Dad pulled into the entrance to Washington Mall and found a parking space that was about three miles away from the nearest store. We hiked over to a boutique, walked through it, and were in ... the mall.

I swear, the mall is another world. You are surrounded by stores and shops, and even better things: food stands, exhibits, a flower mart, and my personal favorite, the ear-piercing boutique. I hardly know where to look.

As badly as we wanted new shoes, my brothers and sisters and I also wanted to be turned loose to go exploring.

But, "Shoes first," said Dad.

So we went to Antoinette's Shoe Tree (what on earth is a shoe tree?) and each got what we needed - not, I might emphasize, what we wanted. For example, what I wanted were these extremely cool pink shoes with green trim. What I got were loafers.

"They're much more practical," said Mom. "They go with almost everything you own. And they'll last at least a year." When you are a parent of eight children, you have to think of these things. But when you are an eleven-year-old who has to show up in school every day, you just want those cool pink shoes.

As soon as we'd gotten our shoes, Mom and Dad let us kids split up so we could explore the mall for an hour. We had brought along spending money and were eager to, well, spend it. So the triplets went off by themselves, Nicky went off with Dad, Vanessa went off with Mom, and Claire and Margo begged to come with me.

"You do fun things," said Margo.

That was true. I check out all the stuff I'm not allowed to have yet, like glitter for my hair, makeup, and short skirts.

"Today," I announced, "we're going to watch people have their ears pierced." "Goody," said Claire, and we set off.

The mall is huge, but I could find my way to the ear-piercing boutique blindfolded, so we reached it in under two minutes.

A girl my age was sitting on a stool, about to have a hole made in her right ear. I noticed that she already had one hole in each ear, and I immediately felt envious. I'm not allowed to have any holes in my ears, and this girl got to have three.

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