Every night, I lie next to The Pixie in her bed and read her a few pages from this dreadful book she chose from the library involving fairies, princesses, wishes, magic spells and unicorns. The only thing missing from that heady line-up, as far as I can see, are the pony mermaids. But we’re only half way through the book so there’s hope yet.
It took me about a fortnight of reading this book before I realised that she wasn’t actually listening to a single thing I was reading.
“Uh, Pixie,” I said to her as I put the book away one night. “Did you actually listen to what I just read?”
“Yes, Mama,” she nodded, her grey-blue eyes all wide.
“Oh, okay. So who is going to help Sebastian and Maddie get to Mountain of Clouds?” I asked.
“Lelolala!” she said, brightly.
For the record, there wasn’t a character called ‘Lelolala’ in the book. There wasn’t even a character whose name even vaguely resembled ‘Lelolala’. In fact, I think it’s fair to say, there isn’t a single character in all of literary history called ‘Lelolala’.
And yet, knowing she’s not really listening, I keep reading the book to her each night. I’ve worked out that she’s just using the book as an excuse to snuggle up to me in her bed and listen to the sound of my voice. And now I’m just using the book as an excuse to have her snuggle up to me – oh, and to listen to the sound of my own voice.
You see, my little girl is growing up and these are the things you cling to.
Recently, I had the great pleasure of going to the school disco with her. Mr Justice had come with us, too, but he had scuttled off into the shadows at the first opportunity, reemerging only to beg for more money to buy glow-in-the-dark sticks so he could make the longest-ever-chain-of-glow-in-the-dark-sticks and whack his friends with it.
The Pixie, in stark contrast, wanted me to dance with her.
Have you ever danced with a bunch of six year olds? It’s hard not to feel incredibly conspicuous, like Gulliver pop’n'lockin’ at the Lilliput Senior Prom. Especially when you’re completely sober, wearing glow-in-the-dark bracelets and holding two bottles of water, two jumpers and a large handbag.
But after a few songs, I found that I no longer cared.
In fact, before I knew it, I found myself leading a bunch of kids in ‘The Marcarena’ and cutting loose to ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go’ and then, when Mr Justice came up to me in the middle of ‘Cha Cha Slide‘ asking for money to buy a ZooperDooper, I felt legitimately annoyed because I couldn’t hear what Mr C the Slide Man’s next instructions were. And then my friend Mistress M turned up out of nowhere and she began dancing with me and the kids, too, and she was holding a half-eaten hot dog but it didn’t stop her from joining in the actions to ‘YMCA’, which the school principal was leading us all in from a stage which he was sharing with a DJ wearing a Warwick Capper wig. And amidst all this, I looked down to see my little girl looking up at me with the disco lights dancing on her face and I saw such love and happiness in her eyes and I realised that this was one of the best times I’d ever had – not least because I knew that this time next year, my daughter would want me to drop her off at the door of the school disco and would, most likely, ask me to pretend to be the Nanny.
Indeed, when I asked her a few days later what her favourite part of the school disco was, she was quick to answer “Dancing to [Justin Bieber's] ‘Baby’!”.
And with that, she wandered off to her room, singing “Baby, baby, baby, oh!”.
“Ah…” I thought to myself. “It begins.”