Thursday 11 November 2010

Running Away to the Circus

The circus has come to town. Me, I haven’t been since I was eight, and a fire-eating clown scared me half to death. It’s an event here though, and when I find discount ticket vouchers at the local cafĂ© I ask my daughter if she’d like to go.

‘Of course, daddy,’ she says, looking at me as if scarcely able to believe that my forty-odd years haven’t equipped me to come to such conclusions on my own. ‘It’s bunny’s birthday. It’ll be a special treat for her.’

Saturday comes and my daughter arrives downstairs in the morning with bunny.

‘How do you know it’s bunny’s birthday?’ I ask, as I pour her a bowl of some cereal which is more-or-less just a packet of sugar-lumps.

‘It says on her bottom. Look,’ she says, tipping bunny up and showing me a label with a date of birth printed on it.

‘Oh yes,’ I say. ‘She’s six, like you.’
‘I’ve made her a card and a cake,’ my daughter says, rummaging in her book bag and pulling out a card with a picture of a cake on the front and a cardboard cake, which she stands next to it on the table. ‘Happy birthday,’ she says, hugging bunny. ‘I made you a card and we’re going to the circus later. I bet you’ve been looking forward to it for ages.’

At the circus I buy my daughter some candyfloss and we sit inside the Big Top amid the smell of sweat and damp tarpaulins. My daughter finishes eating and puts bunny on her lap to enjoy the view. I’m half-scared to death again, this time by the gymnastics of the trapeze artists high up in the canopy. But as the show goes on I begin to enjoy it.

At the end we walk out and I ask my daughter what she thought of it all.

‘Good,’ she says, as she does when I pick her up after school.
‘Oh,’ I say, disappointed.
‘Don’t worry daddy, bunny liked it. That's what's important.’

I smile and put my hand on my daughter's head, wondering when I’ll ever go to the circus again.

Thursday 9 September 2010

The Way Things Are

It is over a year since I wrote here about my daughter. How has she changed? I ask myself. Her legs are longer, her hair darker, her shoe-size 13 ½; to my mind she looks like a teenager.

We’re having a cup of tea. She drinks tea now, with two sugars. I knock my cup against the table, spilling some of it onto the carpet.

‘Don’t worry daddy, just use Vanish,’ my daughter says. 'It washes four times whiter. Just sprinkle it on and the carpet will be fragrant.’

She watches adverts featuring attractive mums with shiny, white smiles now. I laugh and think how much she's changed.

‘Do you remember when we used to go to the Model Village and Bunny World ?’ I ask her.
‘Yes daddy, of course.’
‘Your favourite thing at the Model Village was the chocolate,’ I say, smiling at the thought.
‘Chocolate? It still is,’ she says, looking surprised.
I smile and ask her 'What are you writing ?’

She shows me a Barbie print-out on which she’s written in pink felt-tip:

My Fashion Tips: if you are going out then where a dress. If you want boys to love you where pretty things. Skirts are realy fashionable this summer try one on!

‘That’s good,’ I tell her.
Maybe it's something in my expression, maybe something within her that makes her say ‘Don’t worry daddy, I don’t want boys to love me.’