I sit with Tadpole at her Lilliputian Ikea table. From across the room, an adult-sized dining table eyes me balefully. There are many pieces of furniture in our flat that I have tended to snub since Mr Frog moved out last summer. Having two sofas in the living room seems somewhat superfluous, given that I watch TV on my computer these days, from the comfort of my bed. I tell myself that as a result, moving to a smaller place is unlikely to cause me any great hardship, even if I will miss all the “original features” and the breathtaking view.
I am a little distracted, absorbed in trying to decipher Tadpole’s latest work of art, without letting the word “fisting” enter my mind, even for a moment.
“Can I have some melon now, and some raisins?” Tadpole enquires, reaching for the fruit salad with a tentative spoon.
“No,” I say firmly. “You can have melon and grapes if you eat FOUR pieces of cauliflower first.” As usual, Tadpole has polished off her carbs – in this instance some Kiri coated pasta – and pushed the vegetables disdainfully to the side of her plate. I should have learned my lesson by now: separate courses are the key, vegetables FIRST. It probably doesn’t help that I have made myself a bowl of pasta arrabiata, which conspicuously lacks any vegetable accompaniment.
Surprisingly, the toddler doth not protest. Instead, she deliberates at length about which cauliflower floret to select. Once she has identified the smallest, she takes it delicately between a thumb and forefinger and takes the tiniest of tiny bites.
“One…” she counts.
Another fairy-bite follows, from the same floret, even tinier than the first.
“Two…” she continues, giving me that look, the one that says “Clearly you know what my game is, and I know that you know, but wouldn’t it be funnier if you just played along until I reached number four?”
I can’t help but giggle at her ingenuity. She flashes me her trademark toothy grin in return, and on the count of “four”, a hopeful recidivist hand reaches grapeward.
An overwhelming urge to throw my arms around her mischievous little frame and hug her to me tightly nearly gets the better of me.
Instead, I relent and push the fruit salad closer.
I go back to examining the picture, hoping I will find it less disturbing.