Yesterday I accidentally implied to a lady I’d just met that I had a daughter. (I am aware that these things do not tend to happen to other people). What I meant was, when I eventually have kids, I’m looking forward to torturing my ‘as yet unborn’ daughter with many of the same things I was tortured with growing up. I did not make this clear. ‘I can’t wait to send my daughter off to the Mistletoe Ball,’ I said cheerily. ‘So much awkward snogging with boys at least a foot smaller than you.’ ‘How old is your daughter?’ the lady asked politely. I thought quickly. It would definitely be easier to invent an imaginary daughter than explain. ‘5!’ I said proudly. ‘They grow up so fast.’ (Seemingly, I had decided to commit wholeheartedly to this ‘having a daughter bit’. I imagine I was just about to talk about my episiotomy stitches).
This is not the first time I have been unable to extricate myself from a tricky situation. Many years ago, my little sister and I were walking home from dinner. We bumped into my little brother’s au-pair and her friend. ‘Hello!’ I said pleasantly. ‘Nice to meet you. My name is Emma.’ My name is not Emma. My name doesn’t even sound like ‘Emma’. I do know an Emma though- my little sister. Who was standing, utterly bewildered, next to me. Now, in her place, I would have committed to the misunderstanding wholeheartedly, and used a new name when I had to introduce myself. Unfortunately, my little sister is not as quick-witted as I am (Middle-child syndrome and so on). Staring at me in alarm, she held out her hand. ‘Hello,’ she said slowly. ‘Nice to meet you. My name is Emma.’ The au-pair’s friend looked at us confusedly. My little brother’s au-pair looked at us even more so. ‘Well,’ I said politely. ‘Lovely to meet you and all that.’ I grabbed my little sister and went home. ‘Look,’ I explained to my little sister. ‘It’s fine. We just have to avoid that friend for the rest of our lives.’ (I’m a solutions person). Unfortunately, I will be seeing this new lady again, so can’t rely on the same solution. I thought briefly about how odd it would make me look to explain, and have decided instead to adopt a 5 year old. You know, just to make things easier. I suppose I’ll call her Emma.