Friday 6 July 2007

Play Acting

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.”
“I’m sure."
“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.


Annie said...

Sounds like someone is doing a great job!

And the 'I'll do it's - oh boy how they make me grit my teeth and mutter unmentionable things - frequently!

Kim said...

It is difficult to explain the emotions that well up inside the first time (or the hundredth) that you realize your child has to endure nastiness. Bless your heart. It sounds like your little angel is one of the sweet ones.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely story, she sounds like such a treasure.

@themill said...

Oh what a little sweetie. But make sure you're ready with those hugs when she, inevitably, discovers they're not.

The Good Woman said...

An independent little girl with a big heart. What a treasure.

alice c said...

Part of the skill of parenting is introducing your children to the reality of the world without making them crash land. Not everybody will want to be their friend.

I love your description of the play rehearsal - she is obviously destined for the West End later in life!

Anonymous said...

You're going to be so proud when you see your little girl up there on the stage, picking her nose and possibly belting out that song.

IndianaJones said...

I'm not exactly sure how I came across your blog but I've fallen in love with your writing so I must return. I will admit sheepishly I was one of those tourists when I was 20 and thought the whole world operated on the same pedestrian laws as the west coast of the US. Then I was almost hit trying to cross to my b&b in oxford and I realized I may have been a tad bit sheltered. Sorry...

carrie said...

Aaaaaw. If only we all could view the world as your sweet, sweet daughter does.



ps. Hope the performance is fun!

Omega Mum said...

You want to keep the whole world sweet for her but let her be part of it, too. It's so hard. BTW - as a drooling incompetent, let me assure you it's quite a gas. And you always get a seat on trains.

Stay at home dad said...

She is Annie! I know, I know. Patience is a virtue remember...

Yes, Kaycie. Fortunately I have met this girl so I understand she's not so bad...

Hello Lindypops. Thank you. They all are...

Always ready with hugs @TM. Funny how they are different even at that age.

TGW, it seems that way.

Hello Alice C. It's a good point: that's a challenge. I'm not sure I ever came to terms with it myself!

CJ - I'll let you know. It's tomorrow...

Thank you, sufferingsummer, very kind. Actually that could have been me running you down in Oxford 20 years ago too! I think cars have right of way here. In Japan I know it is the opposite.

Hi Carrie. Yes, Imagine. Will report back....

OM, what with you, me and Drunk Mummy, drooling seems to be in.

DJ Kirkby said...

What a beautiful peaceful child! *I blame the parents*

Stay at home dad said...

There's no going back now DJK!

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

Isn't she the business! I remember my daughter going through the "I can do it" phase. How kind and sweet your daughter is. I hope she stays that way.

Jan said...

My 1st son was 5; he talked often of a boy in his class called A.
A, it appeared, lived in splendour with his huge, rich, adoring family.
My son was entranced.
BUT one day after school, the jolly teacher called me in " for a word".
It was then she relayed a rather interesting converstion:
That day, A had been showing off even more than usual:
" My dad has 38 pairs of trousers. All black leather"
" My mum has 6 sisters and they've ALL got BMW's and been on TV "
" AND I've got 2 ENOOOORMOUS bedrooms coz all my toys won't fit into one..."
My son frowned, racked his brains over the lego, came up with this great retort:
" Well, Fishface, WE'VE got 3 kettles and do you know, Fishface, they ALL work!"

Iota said...

No, no, no. You've got it all wrong. The correct response would have been "Darling, let's invite XXXX round after nursery, and I'll beat the living daylights out of her. That'll teach her to say she's not your friend."

Anonymous said...

You are such a good dad!

Gwen said...

AS someone who is childless I would much rather see a child picking their nose on stage than one who is perfect. Well maybe not exactly picking their nose but you get the picture.

lady macleod said...

I remember those days. I was so shocked at how mean children can be. She will forget it and be fine long before you get rid of the bruise on your heart believe me. Good Daddy.

Drunk Mummy said...

Yes SAHD, the drooling is an early indication of that wondrous 'circle of life' as documented in 'The Lion King'.
I don't recall the Disney lyrics which deal with incontinence and dementia though. It'll come to me in a minute.

Anonymous said...

Just make sure you video her standing up there, finger up nose, ready to whip out at any inappropriate moment as she grows up. (Thanks Mum and Dad!)

Your writing is really great by the way.

Catherine said...

Why do they do that, stand there with their fingers up their noses, I mean? With everyone watching. I have seen this so many times in school plays. At that age, it's just rather sweet.

Stay at home dad said...

Thank you on her behalf Wakeup... I hope so too, but you never know.

Jan, good on him! That is impressive. I don't think I've ever had 3 working kettles.

Yes, correct Iota. Actually though I feel sorry for the girl. She can't seem to stop creating problems.

Thanks miss!

Tes, Gwen. I can imagine. In fact I will be writing about it. Btw, the correct term is childFREE, I believe, according to M&M.

Very nicely put your ladyship. As usual.

Has it come to you yet DM? I'm happy to report I've never seen the Lion King.

Thank you very much Beccers. I am put off the videoing by the other parents. I have it in words though, at least.

Stay at home dad said...

I think in my daughter's case it is just comfort, Marianne. It seems to go with the thumb-sucking.

Motheratlarge said...

Beautiful posting. Your writing is very affecting, without being cloying. I'll remember this for some time - especially the suicidal tourists in Gloucester Road. We have equally self-destructive pedestrians up here too. Mostly students.

On the subject of university, I was in Oxford 20 odd years ago too, as a student. We may even have met in real life.... You never know.

Stay at home dad said...

Thank you very much M@L. I try not to cloy!

Ah students. It depends how much the odd bit is though; more like 25 in my case...

merry weather said...

Gloucester Road as in Cromwell Road? I can imagine the scene.

I remember that feeling of my child's loveliness being compromised by other kids very keenly. Still, if she has her father's humour and balance she'll be just fine, for sure.

Good luck, I've enjoyed your blog!

Stay at home dad said...

Yes, that's it, Merry Weather. By the staion. It's a parallel universe where red is green and stop is go.

Thank you and drop by again some day.