Charlotte Philby's Parental Leave: My daughter is careering on a bike while pontificating loudly

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

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The Independent Online

We're talking about the colour pink. I think. It is hard to be sure at 8.05am when I have already been awake for three hours. Though, to be honest, even in my clearest moments, exchanges between myself and the three-year-old have left me a bit confused of late.

The only clear thread that seems to run through all of them being the fact that I can never be entirely sure what we are talking about, or why. However, I suspect this particular diatribe derives from discussions at nursery, which I have attempted to veto ever since my daughter announced to her class "She's not my mummy".

So, here we are. Me pushing the buggy, her careering at full speed towards a lamppost on a bike with no pedals while pontificating very loudly about giving her baby brother a pair of her old sandals. That would be nice, I say, envisaging my not-yet-crawling son flat-out on his back in a pair of oversized sparkly pink jellies. "Girls like pink but boys like pink, too," she continues. "Some boys like blue but that's OK. Why do some people like red? I had a Peppa Pig with a red scarf but she died. But that's OK, we can buy a new one!"

She grins as we approach the gates to her nursery, where a group of carers wait to scoop the children from my arms. "Good morning," I say, suddenly proud to imagine our family unit as seen now through their eyes: happy, confident child; capable, independent mother. It is moments like these that make you realise how lucky you are. "Now darling, you have a lovely day," I say, reaching down for a kiss. She stares back at me, her eyes wide: "Lottie, shall we go back to the pub?".