After two beautiful, deranged years in our home, we are moving. That is, three weeks after we finally put carpet on the stairs and installed light-fittings.

"But I like our house," the four-year-old sighs, casting her eyes around the room, staring wistfully at the mounds of dirty washing, piles of papers, and broken toy parts. "Yes, but in our new house, you and the baby will have your own rooms, and I will have a space to work which isn't also our sofa – and you can choose your own wallpaper," I explain.

She pauses and then regales in a loud voice: "Some people have steps and some people don't have steps..." I nod: "That's true, darling." Without pausing for breath, she continues, her eyebrows furrowed in concentration: "If you do have a house or if you do have a flat, that's how it does." I raise a finger to interrupt: "Hmm, yes, well actually the expression is 'how it goes', not 'how it does'."

She continues, unperturbed, with a shake of the head: "If you do have a donkey or if you don't have a donkey, that's how it does." I purse my lips: "Well, yes, possibly," I say. "We don't have a donkey, do we?" she adds, as if genuinely uncertain. No, I say. No donkey. "But Jesus had a donkey." Jesus has had a lot of air-time of late, which is unusual in a house full of atheists. "Well, Jesus isn't you, and I'm not Jesus's mother," I state firmly. "BUT," I add kindly, "if you're very good then we might get a rabbit."

She scrunches up her nose: "Jesus would NEVER have a rabbit."

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