When I was little I remember being scared of authority.
Teachers. Other people’s parents. The woman at the Post Office who sold sherbet dips and Mojos.
These were all grown-ups. And hence, a little bit scary.
In stark contrast to this, my daughter now calls me and Ben, ‘the guys.’
She’ll be chatting to her toys, and be like, ‘the guys are taking us to the park later on.’
Or we’ll be calling her through for dinner and she’ll say, ‘OK guys, just coming!’
It’s like we’re her contemporaries. Or over-familiar colleagues.
And I have to check myself for not treating her as such.
The other day I was getting ready to go out for a drink with a friend.
This is a rare occasion and I’d been making a bit of a big deal about it so my daughter knew that something ‘exciting’ was happening and didn’t want to go to bed until she’d seen me get dressed.
She curled up on our bed and said, ‘ you look lovely mummy.’ Which gave me a bit of a warm glow.
Followed swiftly by, ‘but I don’t like your dress.’
‘Right.’ I panicked. ‘What about this one?’
‘I don’t like that one either.’
I used to live with a house full of girls at university and we used to do the same thing for each other; the harsh analysis of each other’s outfits before we left the house in the evening.
The only main difference here was that no-one was chain-smoking fags. And a large glass of red wine had been replaced by a small beaker of blue-top milk.
So I held up another dress.
‘What about this one?’
‘I like the one you were wearing the other day.’
She was unbudgable. Whatever I was wearing the other day was far better than any of the outfits I was trying on. But I had no idea what she was talking about.
My daughter was getting more and more frustrated, until she slammed down her milk, went over to the dirty laundry basket and tugged out an old nightie.
A disgusting nightie that you’d think twice about giving birth in, that had been the back-up of the back-up night clothes. Only for emergencies.
But with the builders in all week and the house covered in dust, we hadn’t been able to wash anything for days so were all having to wear an eclectic mix of items until normal services resumed.
‘This one.’ She thrust it at me with pride. ‘The pink one.’
Of course. My daughter, the lover of anything pink, despite my coaching from birth.
‘You look beautiful in this one mummy.’
And this is where I draw the line.
She might talk to me with the neutrality of a couple of friends who are catching up over a bite to eat after work.
But the advice taking stops here.
There’s nothing more wonderful that your child telling you you’re beautiful.
But not if it means you have to go out on the town in a minging, dirty pink Primark nightie circa 1992.