“Today I’m a goat, “ says Youngest, trotting off and crouching down behind a sapling, "and you have to find me." He is, of course, still clearly visible.
We are at Morden Hall, the aquatic and garden centre, buying weed for the fish tank and this sort of behaviour is not unusual; deciding to be an animal is his 'thing'.
Lately we’ve had to play, ‘I’m something cute and then you see me,’ every day on the way to school.
“Ah look! It’s a lesser spotted…” I begin, bleary eyed and struggling to form sentences early in the morning while carrying two book bags and a trumpet.
“No, No! In the accent!”
“Ah look!” I repeat, putting on my best Australian accent. It’s easier to try and get it right than protest.
Just occasionally I’d like to walk to school in silence. I’d like to drink in the lovely spring morning and the view of the common (we’ve been walking the back way). I’d rather not be a packhorse with a crap Aussie accent. But that’s motherhood for you, and, to be honest, there’s a tiny part of me thinking, ‘I’m such a great mum to be doing this!’ that almost makes it worthwhile… but not quite.
Youngest has been pretending to be someone - or something - for years. It started pre-nursery when I was invariably enlisted to be mother bear to his cub, or bitch to his puppy, (no sniggering at the back) and it wasn’t helped much by the nursery teacher who suggested I play on the floor with him. She said crawling improves the left/right orientation of the brain, or some tosh. So I was often on all fours barking round the living room. Not a future I envisaged when I did my B.A. Hons degree in English Lit.
Then there was a long period of space travel. Youngest always got the plum role while I could be any one of Buzz Lightyear’s many sidekicks: Mr. Potato Head, Slinky, Bo Peep, but never Woody - too much of a threat I guess. This went on for a while. I could be found in playgrounds with Youngest commanding I take-off in a rocket. Introverts need not apply for that job.
I know it’s not unusual for small children to have fads. The little boy over the road, let’s call him S - he’s three now - he had a thing for shampoo bottles, took them everywhere, lined them up, named them, put them to bed.
He played shampoo, went to sleep with shampoo and dreamed shampoo.
After six months of shampoo he awoke one morning saying, “where shampoo?” for the millionth time, and his mummy lost it.
“Enough already with the ****ing shampoo!”
And that mummy is a positive paragon, which just goes to show everyone has a breaking point. Which reminds me about the goat…
“When we get home, can you build me a goat shed in the garden?”
“You’ve got a playhouse out there, won’t that do?”
“No! Of course not! That’s no good for a goat!”
I even had to do the English comprehension homework - with a goat.
“So, what was the Granny doing when Jo got to her house?”
“Maaa! She was…Maaa!…Reading the paper…Maaa! And watching TV…Maaa! And knitting…Maaa! All at the same time…Maaa!”
I had to fetch fresh hay at bedtime.
“We can’t read that story! We have to find one about goats!”
When he woke up the next morning - you guessed it - he was still a goat.
Meanwhile little S over the road has moved on from shampoo. He’s obsessed with Barbie dolls now.
He lines them up, he names them, he takes them to bed...
also this week...