I wake up hideously early, and pop out to get a Metro. On my return, I spot my neighbour. ‘Come and have some breakfast,’ she says cheerfully. I am thrilled. Apparently there’s already been a ready-brek disaster, so we’re having Shreddies. I am happy about this, because ready-brek has a decidedly dubious texture. (See also rice pudding for food too naughty to be served in polite company). I decide to eat my breakfast at the kid’s table. This is mostly because the chairs are shaped like different wild animals. I dither, but pick the elephant. ‘Good morning,’ I say politely to my neighbour’s 2 year old daughter. She continues to eat her Shreddies unperturbed. I try to play it a bit cooler, and drink my tea. (I am keen to drink my tea as fast as humanly possible, because 90% of burns to small children are caused by hot drinks. I am determined to stay in the 10% of people who do not burn small children).
‘Look! I’ve made a tower!’ my new friend says. I hastily swallow my mouthful of Shreddies. I rarely get an opportunity to show off my tower making skills. I wait until her tower falls (rookie mistake) and grab the building blocks. ‘Look at my much bigger tower!’ I tell her proudly. She pushes it over. I resolve to teach her about not being a sore loser, and set about making the world’s tallest tower. (I was hindered only by a lack of material, not talent. I am seeking to rectify this, and think my neighbours will be delighted when the 4 kilos of building blocks arrive next week).
We have exhausted the building block possibilities (I blame my stingy neighbours, who put in a downstairs bathroom rather than a tower-building room. This kind of short-sightedness will haunt them when they try to sell the house). We move on to play-dough. Along with felt-tip pens, play-dough is a long-time nemesis. (I’d very much like to see an investigation by the Advertising Standards Association into both of these products. I cannot be the only one whose childhood was blighted by their built-in obsolescence. Although I understand that giving things which seem so full of promise only to fade almost instantly into dried up rubbish to small children does have an air of poignancy. It’s just I’m sure we can find other ways to teach them these valuable life lessons. Ways which mean they can still colour in and make play-dough shapes).
Play-dough has improved immeasurably. (It still dries out almost instantly, leaving you fuming with impotent rage and sadness, but the shapes are loads better). I made a million excellent things. ‘Look! I’ve made a plane! It looks amazing!’ I showed my 2-year old friend proudly. She firmly flattened it with her miniature hand. I’m not sure my ego can take playing with toddlers. Though she did laugh at my ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ voices. (I was trying to be scary, but really I’ll take any positive feedback). I’m spending the rest of the day practicing colouring within the lines, and hoping for scrambled eggs tomorrow.