“Mummy, would you like to have coconuts cups on your nipples?”
I ponder this for a moment. We are lying in Tadpole’s bed, our heads under the covers, it is 7.15 am, and these rather surreal words are the first my daughter has uttered this morning. Suddenly realisation dawns. Which is a blessing. Because there is nothing worse at the moment than the wrath I incur when Tadpole says something and I don’t immediately twig what she is talking about.
“You mean like the Barbie dolls in the window at Zoë Bouillon?” Zoë Bouillon is a soup café on rue Rebeval that we occasionally walk past. I am proud to have remembered this: last time we marvelled at the window display of oddly dressed Barbie dolls was at least a fortnight ago.
“Yes! Like in the potage shop!” Tadpole is delighted that we are on the same wavelength this morning. “Or, would you like to wear flowers stuck on your nipples instead? That might be more prettier. We could stick some with glue.”
Hmmm, I think to myself. How about neither? Because I’m not a Barbie doll, or some sort of burlesque act, and it’s 7.15 am? But instead I say “I don’t think I need any coconut cups or flowers, right now, because I’m wearing a T-shirt, but maybe another time… because I’m sure it would be very pretty.” Tadpole nods, satisfied with my reasoning, then frowns a puzzled frown.
“Mummy? Why do some people say ‘priddy’ and not pretty.” This is what comes of exposing my daughter to Disney CD’s, I think to myself.
“You mean like the little mermaid? Well, she speaks American.” I try to convey by my intonation that this is a kind of inferior language with which I would rather Tadpole didn’t sully her lips.
“Do princesses always speak Merican?”
“Some princesses do. And our friend Meg does too.” Tadpole considers this exciting new piece of information for a moment. Meg is popular in our household, so I’ve probably just shot myself in the foot. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Tadpole adopted an American accent from this moment on. It is therefore something of a relief when she opens her mouth and continues speaking in her usual blend of Yorkshire/RP/French.
“When I grow into a big lady,” she says decisively, “I’m going to speak Merican and be just like Meg.” I raise my eyebrows, as an image of Meg trying to smuggle bottles of beer into a nightclub inside her tights springs unbidden into my mind. I suppose there could be worse role models.
“But,” she adds with a grimace, “NOT with the same hair.”