Malone & the budding young vet

I would like my child to grow down a bit, please. The new six year old is hard work. I can’t just talk goo-goo, ga-ga, let’s make up a story about a badger anymore. I have to explain everything and I can’t explain everything. Especially not when I’m googling ‘how to make risotto’ when I’m already halfway through making it, deep in the land of stirring.

I find myself constantly trying to justify why I have said no to something. I’m so frustrated with the back and forth battles, my daughter fighting her corner till the bitter end. Which is always her tears but often mine too. She is adamant that it’s right to not wear socks at school and is furious that I can’t understand why it’s okay to eat some sweets just before dinner. Of course I should know that never brushing one’s hair is a great idea. I don’t know why I bother brushing my hair – I guess I’m crazy like that. I’ve read about ‘reflective listening’ and asking questions instead of telling them what to do, like “what’s good about brushing your hair every day?” hoping she will say “I won’t get knots and it won’t hurt as much.” Instead she yells “Nothing!”

As a child I would hide the hairbrush so my mum wouldn’t find it. I had very long hair, it always hurt brushing it, until I learnt to brush it myself. For a while I thought my daughter had learnt to brush her hair herself, I was so pleased. Until I realised she was just brushing the fringe and squishing what was now an ignored knotted, matted dread into a ponytail. I will remind her of this if she ever claims to want to be a hairdresser.

She has informed me that when she is older she wants to be a vet. I refrained from saying: “Excellent! There will always be sick animals!” My desire for her to always be employable stampeding over her empathetic compassion. Instead I jumped for joy that she didn’t want to work in McDonald’s (as she is partial to a Happy Meal. Mummy’s fault; I do occasionally accidentally fall in there at the weekend after a late night). Hey, I live with a vegetarian… sometimes I just need a burger fix! Please don’t tell anyone I sometimes visit McDonald’s as I might get ejected from my Hove postcode. Two men in boating shoes will knock on my door and ask me to leave quietly. They would come at night, post child’s bedtime but not too late; so thoughtful. They’d probably drop me off at the station too as “it’s no trouble” and supply me with a flask of Pimm’s. Sounds quite nice actually, Hove actually.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to my daughter being a vet, dog grooming banned as cruelty to animals, and a Jelly Tot diet as a ‘cure all’.

Illustration: Jake McDonald

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