Friday 24 May – Baby Steps

by Emilie Collyer

The last time we were here, the babies were discussing child care packages, gold plated sipper cups and the vulnerabilities of their parents.

Today they are on the move. The child care centre has closed and they need to fend for themselves now.

B4:    reading from The Age: ‘Under Mr Albanese, the Labor Party is expected to dump or significantly alter its policy platform, including up to $20 billion in proposed taxes on retired shareholders and property investors in its first four years. The changes would have paid for all of Labor’s cancer treatment, affordable housing, TAFE, pensioner dental and child care plans.’

B3:    Shit, dude.

B1:    Did you have to?

B4:    What? We need to know what we’re up against.

B5:    And hang on, those guys aren’t even in power. They lost. Why do we care about what they won’t be doing?

B4:    The other mob don’t even mention us.

B3:    We’re not even a football to them, hey.

B5:    So maybe they’ve got heaps of good plans, they just haven’t announced them yet.

B3:    (as if) Dude.

B5:    Okay. Sorry.

B4:    Like I said, we need to know the lay of land.

B1:    Yeah but you know … some of the group gets …

The babies all look at B2 – the emotional one of the group – to gauge how they are taking the news.

After a moment, B2 speaks.

B2:    My dad has cancer.

B3:    Shit, dude.

B4:    Oh, I’m …

An awkward pause.

B2:    It’s okay.

B3:    Well …

B2:    Okay, it’s not okay. You’re right. But it’s real. It’s happening.    Beat. (to B5) And I saw your mum’s car all loaded up with stuff when she dropped you off today. You have to move again, don’t you.

B5:    We’re just … between places for a bit. That’s all.

B2:    (to B1) And your brother – he was applying for TAFE, right?

B1:    Yes.

B2:    (to B3) Your grandparents take care of you a lot. They’re doing it a bit hard aren’t they? No savings. Things are tight.

B3:    Shit, dude.

Beat.

B2:    I’m just being real. We have to be. Our parents all dropped us here this morning. They don’t even know there’s nobody left to look after us. None of us has the heart to tell them – do we? They’re doing what they have to do as well.

B4:    Where’s all the money gone anyway?

B1:    They’re opening up a whole lot of new prisons.

B4:    That’s not the same money – is it?

B1:    Correlation isn’t necessarily causation, no. Beat. Although you could say that we’re more likely to find a spot in a well-funded prison than a well-funded child care centre.

Beat.

B5:    My mum packed me a cheese and jam sandwich today, as a treat.

This is possibly the saddest thing any of them have ever heard. They all start to tear up and sniffle. Except B2 who waits patiently for them to settle.

B3:    Dude, what’s happened to you?

B1:    Yeah you used to cry like all the time, about the tiniest things.

B2:    I did a lot of crying. I’m done.

B5:    (still a bit tender). Crying’s okay isn’t it? Is crying okay?

B4:    Of course it is.

B2:    Yes. We’re babies. We are still going to cry when we need things. Food. Nappy changes. Sleep. Comfort. That’s okay.

B5:    Okay.

B2:    But we also need to galvanise.

B3:    What?

B1:    It’s a way to weather-proof fences and rooves. My brother – he’s a building apprentice.

B5:    (a bit wobbly again) I don’t like heights …

B2:    It’s okay. It does mean that. But it also means to come together and take action. And that’s what we’re going to do.

B4:    How?

B2:    We start now. We’ve got the whole day before anyone comes to pick us up. We’re all 6pm-ers aren’t we?

They are.

B2:    Okay. So that’s a good eight hours. We can cover a lot of ground.

B5:    Where are we going?

B2:    To find others like us. To talk and listen. To start making plans.

B5:    But we’re babies.

B2:    Yes. We are. Who’s with me?

B1:    I am.

B2:    Or you can sit here on your own and do nothing and wait for no policies about all the things we all need. Us, our families, everyone.

B3:    Shit, dude.

B2:    What does that mean?

B3:    I’m in.

B2:    Okay. Everyone else. We all in?

B4:    Fuck yeah.

A pause while B5, finishing their sandwich, considers.

B5:    I’m scared.

B2:    It’s okay to be scared.

B5:    I’ll need a nap. I still have morning naps.

B1:    I can sit with you.

B4:    Or we can carry you. If we have to.

B2:    It’s not going to be easy. But together, we can do it. We can work it out. Okay. Let’s go.

The babies move off together, in solidarity, in silence, scared but determined.

None of them are crying.

THE END

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