This post will absolutely resolutely not be a moan and it positively WILL be about books and nice things. I double promise. I’m sick of the sound of my own moaning and in ten years will I remember the things that are stressing me out at the moment..? It’s enough to be absent in the 40 hours a week I am absent, without further obsessinig when I am home and she is still conscious. In less than six hours, I’ll be shutting the door behind me and leaving Monkey here with her dad whilst I head to Madrid for work. Tonight, I want to remember and record what we have shared before these events drift away on the wind and are replaced by practicalities and lists.

I was uptight when I got in after a less than auspicious day and sure enough, I was confronted by a child who was mirroring my emotions, quite literally throwing her toys out of her pram. Within minutes of getting home, I picked up a book and tried to tempt her with reading to break all of our states. There had been cross-words between us as I shunted a non-compliant child, bag, laptop and the materials I’d be lugging to Spain all the way up the 42 steps to my flat, and she wasn’t about to forget it. I tried to tempt her with Giraffes Can’t Dance, but she may just as well have retorted : “Too obvious, mother, you can shove it.” With that, she snatched it from me and exclaimed “NOOOOOO” as she hoofed it across the room. (But what she really meant was the above.) I know this sounds like a right madam in need of introduction to the naughty step/ time out, but it really was obvious that she was reacting to me and the twisted adultness I had infected our home with when I entered it from work. So I persisted and pulled out one of her new books The Smartest Giant in Town by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler and started reading aloud, ostensibly to myself. At first she played hard to get, but little more than 30 seconds had passed before I was relaxed and laughing at the little game of stand-off we were playing. As I relaxed, soon she was ambling around me and having nonchalent little peeks at the story over the top of the book. Bless them, two year olds are still without guile. It’s all love, learning and frustration.

No more than five pages in and I distinctly heard MF ask; “where’s da snail?”

I was quite taken aback at this and had to ask her whether she actually wanted “The Snail and the Whale”

“Yes please. OKAY!” she retorted and lo it came to pass that Drafs Cant Dance has been usurped just before it fell apart at the seams. Monkey-face sat quietly, rapt as we read the story of the snail and the whale, pointing out the dolphins and the eagles and the dogs and the children, all the way to the end, by which time she was calm, attentive and sitting placidly on my lap, stroking my arm lovingly as I read. It’s an enchanting book, with lots of gorgeous, intricate pictures and of course the messages we hear in our hearts, muffled by the mortgage and laundry and clutter. Stuff about following your dream, not staying put and settling and the impact we can all make, however small.

What a beautiful way to end a difficult day. Both of us soothed by the touch of each other’s skin. And books.

See you in a few days. Look after Monkey-face for me. And her dad


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