I put on my powder blue mac, because spring has well and truly sprung. I find it hard to believe that not two weeks ago there was snow on the ground and the park was closed altogether. Now the trees are covered in delicate white blossom, the birds are singing in a cheerful chorus and I am woken up every morning by sunlight filtering through the shutters.
I stop the pushchair to reach up and pick a blossom for Tadpole to study. She sniffs it cautiously and then sneezes. (Atishoo – an English sneeze. France: nul points, Angleterre: dix points.)
“Knees and toes!” she pleads. Meaning that I’m supposed to sing ‘Heads, shoulders, knees and toes’, her new favourite song. I sing, a little out of breath from pushing uphill. I don’t really care who can hear me, because this exchange takes place inside the little bubble where only Tadpole and I exist, and I see no further than the sparkle in her grey-blue eyes. But I doubt any of the passers by understood the words in any case. Except maybe when I stopped the pushchair and did the actions.
“Encore un! Encore un!” (Tadpole’s way of saying “do it again!”)
I sing it one more time, and then cast around for some other means of entertainment. Deflecting her attention seems to be the only way to get around her stubborn streak and love of repetition. It’s the only solution I’ve found anyhow. I stopped reading books about child rearing the day Tadpole was born and my brand of parenting can best be described as the “instinctive hit and miss technique”. Whatever works, goes.
“I know, let’s do some counting, [Tadpole].” This is something we’ve been working on for the last few days. We count apples in the fruitbowl, toys in the bath, fingers and toes. Most of the time she just smiles while I count. Then, out of the blue, when I’m only listening with half an ear, she will suddenly count all the way to ten on her own. The only sticking point tends to be the number four, which she always says twice for good measure.
“One,” I begin, pointing at a parked car, as we have now exited the park and are on the pavement approaching the town hall.
“Toe, free, four….” continues Tadpole, pointing downwards, I’m not entirely sure at what.
“Four,” she repeats, “five, six, sefen…” She pauses, as though she’s run out of things to count.
There is no shortage of parked cars, so I decide that maybe she’s got stuck, and I prompt: “Eight..”
“Et, nine, ten!” she finishes, triumphantly. I stop the pushchair so I can clap my hands and show my appreciation of her counting prowess. Her finger is still pointing downwards, at something on the floor.
It dawns on me that it was not the cars that she was counting, but the dog poos I was swerving to miss along the way.
The joys of city living.
postscript: Jim from Rennes, who seems like a nice sort of chap, asked me to plug the new single by his chums ‘I am Kloot’ today, Over My Shoulder. Jim, I am flattered that you think I have the power to influence people and make them buy records. Personally I haven’t bought a record since I got cable broadband access in 2000 (apologies to struggling artists!) But I don’t see any harm in recommending that you follow the link above and give it a listen… Oh my goodness! Spot the cute little Tadpole clone in the video!