Ever since I picked Tadpole up from school, crying, this time, because a classmate had tried to remove one of her Hello Kitty hair clips in the playground using brute force , I have had to remain in character. Or characters. It’s difficult to keep track, as Tadpole keeps changing her mind about who I am supposed to be.
“… would you like some Kiri on your pasta, Mr Happy?” I say in an exaggerated stage whisper as I pour the steaming contents of the pan into a colander.
“Yes, Kiri on my pastas. And sweetcorns,” she replies. There is no “please”, but I decide to let that one slide, for now.
“Baby tomatoes?” I continue, at normal volume.
“Mummy! I sayded that you were Mr Quiet!” shouts Tadpole, indignantly. Past tenses have taken an odd turn recently. Where previously they were correct, my daughter has started inventing new, arguably more logical forms, sayded, growded and cryded being the most common.
“Oh, sorry…I forgot you said that…” I whisper, battling to appear suitably contrite.
“You being just like Mr Forgetful, mummy.”
I perk up at the prospect of a change of character, tired of having to lower my voice. We move into Tadpole’s bedroom, where the Miffy table now has pride of place in front of the window. It’s less than ideal, but I don’t really have a dining area in the new flat, so for the time being I make do with this dolls house type arrangement, even when I dine alone.
This overwhelming obsession with the Mr Men began one fine July day when Tadpole spied the boxed set of books I had been saving until she was older as I unpacked our belongings in what she still refers to as “mummy’s new house”. I suppose I should be grateful for any Dora displacement activity. But now, every day, we have to talk like Mr Topsy Turvy (“Night good, mummmy!”), I am called upon to impersonate Mr Tickle on a regular basis and I spend a great deal of time sticking errant pages back in with “ruban daddyseive”. Clearly there was a good reason why this boxed set was so cheap.
“Oh calamity!” cries Tadpole, the next morning, quaking in front of her breakfast cereal, “jus’ like Mr Jelly”, because it is making a “sound noise”.
Drama school beckons, and, quite frankly, the prospect terrifies me.