It occurred to my wife and me over the weekend, what a cheerful girl our daughter is. You might think that’s not too much of a surprise. That children are essentially happy until the realities of adult life are foreshadowed by the furious onrush of hormones at puberty. And you might be right. But for us it’s mainly of note because we’re not always – how should I put it - the most happy go lucky of people. And because her birth was accompanied by some hairy times of the post-natal type that they don’t (dare) tell you about in NCT classes. In the midst of the childbirth melee she was all calmness and emerged with little need of tears. And afterwards, through all the difficulties, a faint mewing and a wobbly bottom lip were her main methods of complaint.
“She’s so happy today” my wife remarked as our daughter sat in her little chair amusing herself bending pipecleaners, juggling pom-poms and lustily singing an assortment of nursery rhymes. “She’s always like that” I replied, realizing, suddenly, that she is. She’s always singing some tune or other and keeping herself amused with a game of some sort. And her speciality is leaping out of bed with a smile on her face and an observation about the world which seems inappropriately amusing for that time of the morning. And that’s when she’s not giggling in machine-gun tones as I tickle her on the sofa or lift her upside down. I often start laughing along with her for no good reason. It’s like the effect sun on London brick has on me, or a premium bond cheque, or a cocktail on the beach, or more like all three rolled into one.
In fact it is almost the case that the more miserable I am feeling the more happy and uplifting my daughter is. It’s an extraordinary thing. To me, anyway.