New Addition to The Aviary!!! Dode’s Four Children: Marion, Darnell, Melanie and Lyndsey by Fayemarie Anderson Carter

Marion Enid Chickadee  She is Doo Doo’s oldest child. She is 12 years old and about to go to high school. She, like so many other first born girls in Belizean society, is the second mother to her younger siblings. Dodes leans on her even more so because she s a single parent and this is going to lead to some conflict as Marion gets older. Not only is she a daughter but she is a de facto partner with responsibilities who helps her mother to make decisions about family finances and the other children.This creates confusion as she is held to higher standards than other girls her age, while still being expected to “mind” her mother and as such, is subject to spankings and punishments. Marion is developing a resentment towards her mother and her siblings because she feels burdened by having to take care of them as well as being her mother’s confidant. She wants to be able to chat on the phone with her friends or hang out at the park. Instead, she is washing dishes, washing the laundry and helping her siblings with homework. She often makes the evening meal and then has to do her homework and study. She has to make sure that her siblings do their chores too or else her mother is displeased with her and accuses her of not being at home taking care of the children. She often ends up doing their chores just to avoid the confrontation. As a result, she is withdrawing and becoming a very introverted person, engaging more and more in the fantasy world of her books. Late at night, after everyone is sleeping, she turns on a flashlight and reads books cover to cover.


Darnell Oliver Chickadee  He is Doo Doo’s second child and only son. He is 10 and a half and hasn’t quite taken the role as “man of the house”.  He is allowed to be very childlike and spends much of his time making kites, playing marbles and trying to get out of doing his chores. While he and Marion are closest in age, she is actually closer to their younger sister, Melanie. Darnell seems oblivious to the heavy responsibilities Marion has, while Melanie often helps her out and scolds the other children for making things harder for Marion. The girls have take to calling Darnell “King” because their mother never seems to punish him for not doing his chores and often gives them to someone else to do. Their mother gives him the choicest bits to eat as well, which annoys everybody and causes disagreements at the table. He gets seconds when no one else is allowed because their mother says “he is a growing boy” and the girls have to “keep their figure if they want to catch a good man”.  His grades are mediocre so that while the girls work and study hard to get A’s and B’s, their mother celebrates when Darnell gets a C plus. Darnell has done poorly enough that he is only in Std IV instead of Std V where he should be. When Marion tries to tell her mother that she is showing preferential treatment to Darnell, her mother responds by saying that Darnell has it worst of all the children because he has no father figure. This makes Marion’s blood boil because she wants to scream at her mother that none of them does. The result is Darnell has taken to ordering his sisters around, threatening to tell their mother some lie or the other, if they don’t do what he wants.

Melanie Annette Chickadee  She is the third child, only 8 and a half and in Std III. She is like Marion in a lot of ways. She is smart and responsible beyond her years and often shares the majority of the chores with her big sister. They wash clothes together on Saturday morning while Darnell watches cartoons. Marion scrubs and Melanie rinses. While this chore is hard and sometimes made even harder when it rains or  it is still and the mosquitoes are out, this is Melanie’s favourite time with her sister. They put on the radio real loud and sing at the tops of their voices. Sometimes friends, on their way to the market, stop by and chat. Part of Melanie feels proud that she can do such a grown up chore and do it well. She takes pride in squeezing every drop of water out and hanging the clothes like little soldiers, lined off at attention. The towels are the hardest and sometimes Marion grabs one end and she the other and they giggle as the wring out the water.  Melanie doesn’t like what she sees going on in her home and she has started to vocalize her disapproval. Her father didn’t even stick around long enough for her birth, so she has little respect for men and little tolerance for her mother’s indulgence of her brother. She gets back at him by stealing his biscuits and  his snack money. When she bites into a piece of fudge bought with the money she steals from him, she closes her eyes with secret pleasure at having gotten one over him.

Lindsey Lynnette Chickadee  She is the fourth child, the baby, and has a special place in everyone’s hearts. She has blue eyes and a big smile. Her father is a limey soldier long gone back to England. This is the only sister Darnell doesn’t tease or hit. He has a soft spot for her and she is the only sister he shares his things with. Darnell takes her for walks by the sea and they look at tadpoles in the drains together. More than once, Marion has had to quickly wash her clothes because she slipped into the nasty black drain water.  Once, Marion had to turn Lindsey upside down to dislodge a marble Darnell had lovingly given her. Darnell got really upset because he almost killed his favourite sister with his favourite shooter. After that, he only gave her biggies to play with because she couldn’t swallow those. At five years old, she is only in Infant I. School lets out an hour earlier than it does for her older siblings and she has to wait outside of Marion’s class for her to walk her home. This makes Marion nervous everyday because when she can’t see the top of her sister’s head through the classroom window, she panics. She lives in constant fear that someone will snatch her sister. This anxiety is fed with the constant news of little girls being abducted, raped and murdered just these past few months. Marion frets when she thinks of what will happen when she has to go to high school. Lindsey’s father is the only one who regularly writes and sends packages from England. Sometimes, Marion fantasizes that he will come back and marry their mother and take them all back to England with him but every time she mentions it to her mother, her mother sucks her teeth and changes the subject.