‘We’re making a “k” for “kite”,’ says Tadpole, her voice a half-yawn. This would be true if her bed wasn’t an extra short lit évolutif from Ikea, which I really should lengthen one day soon, as Tadpole is tall and willowly. My (shorter, stumpier – do I sound jealous yet?) legs are currently bent at the knee, so even if she is lying in a sort of sideways ‘V’ shape, with her bottom nestling against my tummy, we’re making a special sort of K. With a tail.
I glance at the Miffy wall clock, which reads 7.43. Almost half-time.
My morning routine (on weekdays) goes something like this:
7.15: Alarm clock sounds. It’s actually the alarm on my landline phone, and whenever I’m in a shop or restaurant that uses the same ringtone, it sends icicles down my spine.
7.20: I press snooze.
7.25: I press snooze.
7.30: I press stop.
7.32: I get up, walk along the corridor, raise the blackout blinds in Tadpole’s room, then climb into her bed.
7.32 – 8.02: We snuggle. She tells me what she has been dreaming about. Or I guess. It can be one of four things: mermaids, princesses, fairies or unicorns, so the odds are not exactly stacked against me.
8.02 – 8.25: She eats cereal, we get dressed, I drink my first Cloonette of the day.
8.25: We run to school, slipping inside just before the doors close, at 8.30.
I realise that this may not seem like the best time management policy, but try as I might, I can’t bring myself to change any of the above.
‘So, what did you dream about today?’ I ask, my voice muffled by her curls, which are also tickling my nose.
‘I did dream that I was a princess, in a castle,’ Tadpole begins. So far, so predictable. ‘And you were the queen, mummy… and grandma was the maid…’ Chuckling, I make a mental note to tell my mother about her demotion to the servants’ quarters. I wonder whether granddad made an appearance in Tadpole’s dream, perhaps as the court jester, but wisely hold my tongue. We will be visiting England in a few weeks’ time and Tadpole can always be relied upon to repeat precisely those phrases she shouldn’t. (‘Mummy says I shouldn’t eat my spaghettis like that because I’m not a piggy like you.’ Ouch.)
But there is to be no mention of granddad. Instead, Tadpole swivels around so that she is facing me and we (almost) form a triangle. ‘In my dream,’ she says, looking at me intently, ‘my daddy was the king and he did live in the same castle as us.’
‘Did he now?’ I say, reflecting that although my daughter may not look much like me, we’ve both inherited the recessive subtlety gene. ‘But mummy already has a king, doesn’t she? And she can’t have two… I mean, I’ve never seen a castle with two kings in it, have you?’
Tadpole shakes her head, seemingly satisfied with my explanation. I glance back at the Miffy clock. It is only 7.53, but I decide to make breakfast early.
‘So,’ I enquire, ‘did the princess in your dream eat special K with chocolate pieces in for her breakfast?’