Charlotte Philby's Parental Leave: When I'm bigger I'm going to be a boy,' says my three-year-old daughter

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

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The Independent Online

One of our dogs has died. By which I mean one of my mum's dogs, although officially the one who died was actually mine, even if these days she lived with my mum.

After all, it was me who trundled down the road to my school-friend Hannah's house aged 16 and returned with the tiny bug-eyed creature, which my mum initially refused to take in, on the basis that what with the collie, the cockatiel, two cats, two rabbits and a guinea pig, we didn't need any more bodies cluttering precious floor space.

Somehow I won the argument, though, which went something along the lines of: "If you don't take her, she will be drowned". Nonetheless, for the next 14 years, Kyri (middle name Basa) ruled that household, entirely unperturbed by much at all, least of all her name, which I'd chosen in honour of the first island to see the new millennium (we got her on New Year's Day, 2000; I meant Kiribati but sadly had never seen it written down). In any case, it was time to say goodbye to the old girl, which as well as being very sad, meant the introduction of the Old Lady in the Country. The three-year-old looks pensive.

"But why has Kyri gone to live with an old lady?" Well, I say, barely gathering breath before she interrupts again: "When I'm bigger I'm going to be a boy". Poor child, I muse, anything to side-step from the pain. I stroke her head, she looks up: "Is the countryside where they don't have no houses?" Well, I say... She furrows her brow: "But how does she live with a lady when she has dead?"