Charlotte Philby's Parental Leave: I am fist-typing while trying to soothe the literary prodigy

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

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The Independent Online

She has been entered into a poetry competition. Three years old and a published writer! I couldn't be prouder. I really couldn't, not even if her name hadn't been spelt wrong next to her entry. Or indeed if the poem, entitled Senses, didn't contain the line "Nose smells like smoke". Which makes me re-evaluate my concerns about a friend's daughter who has taken to reciting, very loudly, while staring deep into my eyes: "IF YOU SMOKE, YOU DIE".

In any case, an early affection for wordsmithing is wonderful news. Especially when she starts to show interest in my own work, as I transcribe from my dictaphone a particularly sweary interview. I am fist-typing while simultaneously trying to soothe the literary prodigy who is, probably as a result of being such a creative soul, suddenly traumatised by the undemocratic nature of the relationship between Mr Tumble and his sidekick Justin, and sobbing: "BUT WHY DOES JUSTIN ALWAYS SING AND MR TUMBLE NEVER SINGS?!?"

Once calmed, her interest in my activity resumes: "Mummy, what are you doing?" "I'm writing up an interview," I say. "Are you a writer?" she asks. "Yes, I am," I beam. "What is an interview?" "Well, you see, mummy is a journalist so sometimes, when I'm not googling things I know nothing about, I go to meet people and ask them questions and then I record what they say, then I listen back to what they say and write it down again, missing certain bits out, and writing down more stuff to fill the space." She smiles at me. "Would you like to do that when you're older?" She pats my arm, and tilts her head to the left: "No thanks".