The old adage would have it that the advancement of years brings with it an enhancement of knowledge. That, we are told, great age and great wisdom go together like, say, Morecambe and Wise or vorsht and eggs.
You would think that this would put me in an excellent position to deal with any questions my daughter may have when she reaches the “why?” stage.
True, we are not quite there yet. While my beloved will chatter happily all day (just like her mother), at the age of 10 months her vocabulary is somewhat limited. We’re still on the basics — “pah pah” (panda), “kyu” (thank you), the obligatory “mamma” and “dadda”. Oh, and “yum yum”. She likes her food. Just like her mother.
Yet if a look can speak a thousand words — albeit some of them still unintelligible — it may be that our pride and joy is already questioning the sagacity of her parents.
“Yes, yes,” she says in a glance. “I know perfectly well what ‘no’ means.
“But explain to me please why I cannot pull the grate off the fireplace and watch the coals tumble so temptingly onto the hearth rug?
“If you don’t want me to tug these interesting-looking sock things off the washing line every time your back is turned, then why on earth would you put them so obviously within my reach?
“And does the fact that I am able to undo my own nappies not illustrate great dexterity on my part? So why get so het up about it?”
How time has flown. In the blink of an eye my mewling newborn has become a child whose curiosity knows no bounds.
My mother looks at her and says: “It only seems like five minutes since you were that age.” Given that it’s actually a large fistful of decades, it seems I may be put on the spot by my own offspring before I know it. I’d better start swotting.
Even if there is still time for cerebral improvement on my part, I fear that when the wee ’un does learn to string a sentence together, she may find her mother lacking. I do not see how I am placed to answer all her questions and queries when I still have so many of my own.
Why, for example, does every board-book and bath toy in the house teach my daughter that ducks are yellow? I have never seen a yellow duck.
I need to know where Junction 3 of the M1 is hiding. Who thought that putting coffee creams in Revels was acceptable practice? And why was the woman in front of me in Tesco buying 17 iceberg lettuces…
It is a long list.
Perhaps I have simply bucked the trend and got older without getting wiser. I await the “why” years with trepidation, though I hope that when the time comes I will muddle my way through it like many a parent before me. And I’ll learn to accept that there will always be some things that are beyond my ken.
I ask myself daily, how did I get so lucky to have this sweet, funny, eccentric little girl as my daughter?
But then some questions don’t need answers.