Charlotte Philby's Parental Leave: She can smell my weakness. 'Shall we play a game, mummy?'

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

 

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There are moments in parenthood when you're winning. Specific examples don't leap to mind, but I recall the sensation.

There are those moments, and then there are others; moments, for example, when you're sitting with old friends one afternoon – friends with whom you once danced until dawn before hitching a lift home – and just as you reach for another handful of tastefully-packaged parsnip crisps, your old chum opens his mouth and the words follow thus: "I was going to ask the nursery about summer holiday dates when I dropped C off yesterday, but the teacher was busy giving reiki to one of the hamsters". At such moments, there is little option other than to drink. Drink to remember, drink to forget.

And so, here we are, I have a hangover and she can smell my weakness. "Shall we play a game, mummy?" Well, as the baby's sleeping I was actually thinking maybe you'd like to watch Peppa Pig? I smile, unbreakable. "Erm, actually let's play a game." Really? Not Peppa Pig? "No. Let's play post office shall we, because that's what I want, OK?" OK.

"What would you like to buy?" I'll take a stamp and a birthday card, please. "Actually, we don't have any birthday cards." Oh, just a stamp then. "We don't have any stamps." OK. An envelope? "Erm, let's see shall we? No. No envelopes." Right, well what can I buy? "NO, YOU TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT, OK?" ALL RIGHT! Bloody hell, I'll have a new tax disc. "We don't have any. Do you want a stamp?" Oh, a stamp, that would be lovely. Thank you. "Sorry, we're closed."

@philbycharlotte

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