I introduced the idea of a new addition to our family several months ago, long before I began taking folic acid or dispensed with taking ‘precautions’. Tadpole was predictably delighted at the prospect of having a little brother or sister to fuss over and urged me to ‘put a baby in my tummy’ as soon as possible.
‘Will Daddy come to live with us when we have a new baby?’ she asks me, between spoonfuls of cereal, a few days after our first discussion. ‘So he can help us to look after it?’
‘Um, no… I shouldn’t think so,’ I reply with a frown. I’m about to ask her why she would think such a thing, when realisation suddenly dawns. In Tadpole-logic, I realise, Mr Frog is the only possible daddy and therefore it stands to reason that he will father all my children. Hence the assumption that he will be sharing the responsibility for caring for the baby, which he can’t very well do if he is living 400m down the road.
I take a sip of coffee before embarking on my explanation. Best to test my theory first, I decide. So I begin with a tentative question. ‘When I have a baby,’ I begin, ‘who do you think the baby’s daddy will be?’
‘Daddy,’ Tadpole replies, her scornful tone making it abundantly clear that she considers my question a foolish one. I sigh and glance towards the bedroom, wondering whether The Boy can hear us. He could be awake – after all, he just snoozed the alarm not twice, but three times – but there is no way of knowing for sure, as he seems to be capable of banging his fist on the alarm clock in his sleep.
‘Honey,’ I say gently. ‘When Daddy and I made you, we were living in the same house. Now I’m living with Manuel. I’m married to Manuel. So this time it’s going to be different. The baby’s daddy won’t be your daddy. It will be Manuel.’
‘Oh,’ Tadpole replies. She falls silent, processing this new information, then gives me a smile and a nod, and spoons more cereal into her mouth.
‘So the baby will call Manuel ‘Daddy’, I continue, thinking it advisable to press the point home while I have Tadpole’s undivided attention. ‘But you’ll still call him Manuel. And you’ll call your daddy ‘Daddy’. Tadpole nods again, her mouth full.
A few weeks later, when the future baby has become less an abstract concept than a grape-sized mini-foetus swimming in nausea-inducing circles, we are discussing the Easter holidays, when Tadpole will stay with Mr Frog’s parents for a week, as per usual.
‘When the baby is born,’ Tadpole says, ‘It will come with me to stay at Mamie and Papy‘s house, won’t it? Because they will be the grandparents of the baby too.’
I smile and shake my head. This is going to be more complicated than I thought.