Charlotte Philby's Parental Leave: It's been this way for a few days - strange goings-on after lights out

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

I'm standing at the doorway to my daughter's room. It is 10pm, and as I flick the switch on the lamp I see that she's not alone. It has been this way for the past few days, strange goings-on after lights out.

It started on Sunday. I'd popped in for the usual night-time kiss; as I approach the toddler's bed, I am surprised to find her spread-eagled with a toy dachshund miraculously balanced on her nose. Such poise! So impressive, I take a photo.

Two nights later, I tiptoe in again, this time to find her comatose, dressed in full winter gear (replete with scarf and mismatching shoes) with a pile of fake one hundred dollar bills – a present from a prop-designer friend – scattered across her.

Once more, I reach for the camera, delighted, imagining a bizarre photographic collection perfect for presentation at her 18th, or perhaps even a wedding.

Then, on Thursday, things take an unexpected turn as I shuffle eagerly into her room, my husband hovering behind, only to find our beloved first-born face down on the mattress, with two hairy over-stuffed legs belonging to Big Ted jutting out from beneath her.

So, it is with some trepidation that I linger at the door this evening, breathing deeply as I step out from the shadows, whereupon I discover our daughter conked out wearing a single leather glove (mine) with Maisy Mouse stuffed down her trousers.

Still clutching the camera, I lean in for a peck on that soft pink cheek. She clenches my hand, and with her eyes still clamped shut, whispers: "Where's my LUNCH?".