Charlotte Philby's Parental Leave: 'Is daddy your daddy?' No. 'Why?' Because he's my husband

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

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It's our daughter's first parents' evening. She is three. The weirdness of the situation is not alleviated by the conversation that unfolds as I negotiate a double-buggy through the trail of fried chicken that lines the route from our home to the school. Like most heart-to-hearts with the tiny narcissist, they start promisingly and soon flail.

This afternoon's goes something like this: "Are we going to my nursery mummy?" Yes. "Not the baby's nursery." No. "Is daddy coming?" Yes. "Is he my daddy?" Yes. "Is daddy the baby's daddy?" Yes. "Is daddy your daddy?" No. "Why?" Because he's my husband. "Do I have a husband?" No. "Do I have boobies?" Well, sort of. "Do mummies have boobies?" Yes. (The following delivered in a guttural shriek...) "I don't even have a huuuusband!"

The tears have barely subsided by the time we pull up our chairs. I breathe and apply my widest grin. Briefly. "She's got a speech impediment, innit," the teacher explains across the foot-high table. "Really?" I look at my husband, who appears to have swollen to abnormal proportions, his over-sized knees spilling out from the sides of plastic yellow chairs.

"Nothing to worry about, it'll probably sort itself out. Just worth keeping an eye on." I nod and pinch the flesh behind his knee. No response. "This year we're starting phonics; every week we're focusing on a new letter."

The teacher hands me a piece of paper with a big 'R' on the front: "Next week, if she could bring in something beginning with this?". The small one finally stops picking the glue from her fingers: "Mummy, I willy need a wee!".

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