It's a learning process… for me
Somehow, when I was sleeping, my baby stopped being a baby and grew into a big girl whose powers of observation are second to none.
Of course, it does stand to reason that just as I get older, so does she. But as I am in denial about my own ageing process and the fact that yet another birthday is approaching, so I seem to have forgotten that she is no longer a babe in arms, but a walking, talking toddler with something to say about everything.
One current obsession is hair:
"Mummy long hair."
"Yes that's right darling."
In my daughter’s version of the Old Testament the ark is manned by Iggle Piggle
"Me long hair."
"Well, not really but it's getting there sweetie."
"Daddy long hair."
"Well daddy doesn't really have any hair darling, but probably best not to mention…"
Another area of constant discussion is gender - and all that accompanies it:
"Boy have willies."
"Yes darling, that's right."
"No darling, mummy is a girl, girls do not have willies. What is mummy?"
"Well done - and what are you?"
She has a point. Though sometimes, apparently, the joke's on me. Following her up the stairs the other day, her awareness of my shortcomings became all too apparent. "Come on mummy, nearly there, nearly there. Well done mummy!" she called encouragingly. Not even two and already calling my fitness into question? It's alarming.
And yet I revel in her awareness of everything around her and love the way she tells it like it is.
For example, since the efficacy of the night-time nappy has been found lacking on a regular basis, her first greeting of the day has changed and now instead of the more traditional "morning mummy" I get either "oh sweetie pie, you're all wet" (on a bad day), or a cheery "nice and dry" (on a good one).
As she speeds towards the terrible twos I can't decide whether to bemoan the fact that her compliance is waning, or celebrate the fact she knows exactly what she wants. Yesterday's "I'm just going to make your supper darling" was met with a hopeful "cous cous?" (Not a chance - a cheese sarnie). And when I mention fruit for pudding…
"No darling, we don't have any nectarines."
"Go to shop buy it."
She had to make do with an apple.
My own childhood is so distant it is often hard to remember the voyage of discovery that I took into the wider world - though I do vividly recall weeping bitterly in the primary school playground after a maths lesson when it became clear that "10s and units" did not, after all, mean kitchen planning.
But perhaps the passage of time makes it all the more pleasurable to be exploring the world anew in my 40s. And I am learning lots. My daughter assures me that leopards have "spots", tigers have "stripes" and lions? "Have willies." We also have most stimulating conversations about the fact that no, pitta bread and Peter Rabbit are not related.
In my daughter's version of the Old Testament the ark is manned by Iggle Piggle while Noah drives a fire engine. And I am now led to understand, having listened closely to her singing herself to sleep, that I've been getting the words wrong all over the place and it's actually "Round and round the garden, like a teddy bear, one step, two steps, tickle you on the boo boos."
At least it gives us plenty to talk about.