A mother's weekly dispatch from the pre-school frontline

It is an unusually calm Thursday morning. Downstairs, I can hear my husband singing The Pogues' "Dirty Old Town" to the toddler, the smell of burnt toast wafting up the stairs.

As I gather myself for the day ahead, casually applying hair serum to my cheeks, the four-year-old settles at the foot of my bed with a pile of Horrid Henry books, which she is organising into a strict system: keep or discard, according to whether or not the front cover contains any trace of the colour pink.

"Oh no! Pink on Henry's shoe lace – I don't need this!" she declares, hurling the book on to the heap of the condemned. I consider intervening, but leave her to it for now, as the brutal deselection process is extended to the colour purple.

I've known for some time that my attempts to steer our daughter away from traditionally girlie preferences had perhaps been embraced with a little too much enthusiasm – not least since Christmas when she would ceremoniously open a present (say a doll, or princess sticker book) and groan: "URGH, WE DON'T LIKE IT, DO WE MUMMY?!".

Then, last week, I found her on the landing amid a skip-load of items – banished from her room for containing a trace of pink. "It's OK to like pink," I say, weakly: "The point is you can like all colours and all things: pink, grey, cars, dolls... it's nice to like everything!" I add, with a creepy degree of enthusiasm. Just then, the toddler storms in and hurls himself at her handiwork, obliterating the system. I gasp, but the four-year-old just sighs diplomatically: "F**k it".