It’s almost bedtime and having just popped a decidedly honeymoon bikini-unfriendly gratin into the oven, I’m putting my feet up for a moment. Tadpole pads out of the bathroom wearing a towel, her hair gathered up into a curly knot on top of her head.
For the past two months, the next part of our evening routine consisted of Tadpole lying on the sofa while I rasped away at the sole of her right foot with an emery board, applied an acid preparation and covered my handiwork in adhesive dressings. But, thankfully, the verruca cluster on her right heel is history now. So when Tadpole slides her bottom onto the sofa by my side, we can devote the last few minutes of her day to more pleasant activities, like reading stories together or just shooting the breeze.
‘How many sleeps is it until theatre class?’ says Tadpole innocently. ‘Is it two more, or is it three?’
‘Three,’ I reply, darting her an amused look. ‘Why do you ask? Are you looking forward to getting Leonardo all to yourself?’
Tadpole blushes. Leonardo is her playground crush. Jules, her amoureux of the first two years of maternelle had the misfortune to be allocated to a different class when they both moved up to the grande section in September. He’s only just a along the corridor nowadays, but this minor geographical shift has made a world of difference. I fully understand, never having been much good at long-distance relationships myself. Loin des yeux, loin du coeur as they say.
Leonardo, on the other hand, is not only in Tadpole’s class but also attends her Friday evening éveil théâtral activity, at a nearby centre d’animation. There they slither along the floor pretending to be snakes, stand immobile side by side with their arms stretched to the ceiling being trees and, according to the teacher, are pretty much joined at the hip.
‘Last time at theatre class,’ Tadpole confides, ‘Leonardo did give me a kiss on the cheek. He said that I have extremely very soft skin and he told me that I’m pretty when I take off my glasses…’ She frowns. ‘But Mummy,’ she adds, ‘when we’re at school, he says he loves Suzanne most of all. And in the cour de recréation today, he did hold her hand.’
‘But what about Nina?’ I say, puzzled. ‘I thought Nina was his school girlfriend, and you were his theatre class girlfriend.’ It is to be hoped that my apparent acceptance of this unusual situation is not paving the way for Tadpole to willingly participate in a ménage-à-trois when she is older.
Tadpole shakes her head. ‘He changed his mind about Nina,’ she explains. ‘Because she chose Raphaël to be her king when we ate the galette des rois.’
I am reminded of when we cut into our own galette at home, just after the New Year. By devious means, I made sure Tadpole ate the slice containing the fève. When the time came to choose her king, however, she protested that she didn’t have a real choice, The Boy being the only male present and startled us all by choosing one of her soft toy frogs instead. The irony of this – although Tadpole has no idea I call her father Mr Frog on this blog – was not entirely lost on me.
‘Well,’ I say to Tadpole, casting around for something wise-sounding to say. ‘If Leonardo doesn’t appreciate you all the time, it’s his loss. One day, when you are much older, you’ll have a real boyfriend. Someone who only wants to hold your hand.’
‘But Mummy,’ Tadpole protests. ‘I am grown up. I’m five years old! And Leonardo is REAL.’
Oh, he’s real alright, I think to myself. And he’s well on his way to becoming a Real Player.