The first thing Tadpole has said to me every morning for the past two weeks – because she is nothing if not predictable – is:
It’s my own stupid fault. One Sunday morning, at the appointed hour for Maisy Mouse, a ritual whereby Mr Frog and I transfer our pyjama clad, half-slumbering bodies from bed to sofa, drifting in and out of a rodent-infested sleep while Tadpole squawks with delight at her video.
One of the episodes is entitled ‘cats’, and tells the story of a stray cat which makes itself at home in Maisy’s laundry basket. Maisy wakes up to a chorus of miaowing in the morning, only to find a litter of kittens in among her undergarments.
I don’t know quite what possessed me to mention to Tadpole a whole two weeks ago that one of mummy’s friends has a cat, which has baby cats, just like in Maisy. And that we would be going to see them. Soon.
Because of course Tadpole has not yet developed any notion of time. In Tadpole-time, everything is happening right now, in the present. Our conversations are limited to the subject of what she is in the process of doing, or what she wants to do, right now. There is no point whatsoever enquiring what she has been up to with the childminder on any given day (a pity, as I would like to know more), or what she ate for lunch. Words like ‘yesterday’, ‘tomorrow’ and ‘weekend’ hold no meaning.
So imagine the mess I have got myself into by mentioning the cats, when they were bald, blind and not very interesting at all, and would remain that way for at least a fortnight. At that stage, to all intents and purposes, they were unvisitable.
Hence our daily discussion along the following lines:
Tadpole, hesitantly: “Va voir bébé cats?”
Me, patiently: “Soon, darling, they are still too small”
Tadpole, more forcefully: “Go see BÉBÉCATS?”
Me, calmly but firmly : “Not yet. We’ll go at the weekend.”
Tadpole, stamping her feet and seemingly convinced that if she shouts it loud enough, it WILL happen: “VA. VOIR. BÉBÉ. CATS!”
Bidding my patience farewell and resorting to similar tactics in the (vain) hope of making myself understood “NOT. YET. NO. BABY. CATS.”
Tadpole frowns. I can almost see her thinking. Then,
Desperate measures are called for.
“Hey, shall we go in the kitchen and see if we can find some biscuits?”
I think it may be time for me to invest in the book ‘Toddler Taming: A Survival Guide for parents’, because my last line of resistance, although effective, is likely to contribute to rising levels of obesity in France.
Thankfully, baby cats are go for tomorrow. What worries me now, is that one visit will never be enough. Am I doomed never to hear the end of this?
With the benefit of hindsight, I realise I should have just gone to visit them in secret, unaccompanied. To be honest, I was only using Tadpole as a rather transparent pretext to go cuddle some cute little fluffy kitties myself.
Serves me right.
We went, we stroked, we managed to come home empty handed. But guess what Tadpole’s first words were the morning after?