My daughter has been rehearsing at home for the end of term play.
“Together we will garden! Together we will garden!” she sings, whirling her arms around introductorily.
“Dig the soyul! Dig the soyul!” she continues, swooping expansively with an imaginary spade.
“All day long…” She collapses to the floor, dragging the back of her hand across her brow.
I clap supportively, but am interrupted by more verses about stones and weeds.
Based on her last effort, at Christmas, I don’t hold out much hope for the actual performance. She spent the majority of the Nativity with her finger up her nose, sniffling unhappily while her classmates belted out the festive numbers.
Coming back from nursery I lean across to strap her into her seat. She grabs the seatbelt and says “No, I’ll do it.” She says this a lot nowadays. She marches into the loo and closes the door, behind her. “I can do it!”. She wants to prepare her own meals. “No daddy, I’ll do it.” What happened to the dribbling incompetent who needed everything to be done for her? That’s over already. That's me, soon.
From the back of the car my daughter tells me about the dress rehearsal at school. “There are curtains, but you can’t open them with your hands.” “Mmm, difficult” I say, distracted by suicidal tourists on Gloucester Road. It’s like Beachy Head around there. They step off the kerb and rely on me to save them. I think they must have notes in their pockets explaining to their families why they came to a busy street in central London to end it all.
“Yes it’s tricky daddy.”
“XXXX hurts my feelings”
“What” I ask, peering into the rear view mirror.
“She says I’m naughty, but I’m not naughty”
I came across this girl at the farm park. She is naughty. Whatever she is told to do she does the opposite.
“No, you’re a good girl.”
“But she’s still my friend. The children at school are all my friends. All the children in the world are my friends. Even when they’re naughty. Even XXXX is my friend.”
I feel like stopping the car, unstrapping my daughter and hugging her tightly there on the pavement, among the pigeons and the dog poo and the suicidal tourists. Instead I mutter reassuringly and pull away from the lights.