I haul Tadpole out of the bath, wrapped in not one, but two towels (one large bath towel to swaddle her adequately, and one baby sized one which she still is rather attached to because it has a hood with ladybirds on). Sitting on the toilet seat, I cradle her in my arms, savouring the moment.
“Mummy, can I be the petit chaperon rouge?” says Tadpole.
“If you’re little red riding hood, who am I?” I ask, knowing full well what the answer will be.
“You be the wolf, and I ask you the questions.”
I thought as much. I growl, although I think the sound I make is more bear than wolf. Not that I’ve ever met either, of course. The only wildlife I have seen in Belleville are pigeons, cockroaches and dogs.
“What big ears you’ve got,” says Tadpole, stepping into character.
“All the better for hearing you with!” My gruff voice (usually reserved for Gruffalo’s and Wild Things) makes Tadpole giggle.
“What a big nose you’ve got!”
I rub my nose against hers. “All the better for sniffing you with!”
“What big eyes you’ve got!”
“All the better for seeing you with,” I say, rolling my eyes.
I gnash my teeth, certain I know what is coming next. Tadpole looks up at me, a mischievous smile on her face.
“What big spots you’ve got!”
I stop, mid-gnash, the wind abruptly knocked out of my sails, and put a finger up to the small pimple on my chin, to see if it has grown since I last consulted the mirror. Tadpole’s smile falters for a moment as she waits to see how I will react.
“I’m not a leopard,” I reply, eventually, with forced joviality. “I’m a wolf. Wolves don’t have spots!”
This evening I have been mostly turning my flat upside down looking for the referral my doctor gave me for a dermatologist when I came off the pill. Over-sensitive, moi?