Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

The Sky is Purple


A dear friend, who is also the godmother of my daughter Daisy, came around and made me dinner last night – a divine spinach, garlic and lentil soup. I gave her red wine, and later chocolate, and we sat on the sofa, watched Extras with Ricky Gervais and then chatted. Conversation touched husbands, books, health, work and inevitably, Daisy.

I adore my child. I have written before about how she is caught in the middle between a big sister and a little brother and how this leads to attention-seeking behaviour. She also has an obsession with being right. I really don’t know where she gets it from.

If, for example, I say, “the sky is blue”, Daisy’s big sister would say, “Wow, the sky is blue. It’s so pretty. Look at those fluffy white clouds. I think I’m going to draw a picture of that.” Daisy’s little brother would say, “Sky blue. Aeroplane up. Up. Up.” Daisy would say, “No, the sky is purple.”

Any sane adult would be sensible enough to leave it there. I say, “D, my love, the sky is blue. I am 38 and you are five. You have to believe me that the sky is blue.” The situation quickly unravels, with her saying, “You’re wrong, Mummy. The sky is purple and I say it is purple.” and me going, “But’s it’s blue, darling. Can’t you see that?”

My dear friend assures me that my growing irritation at this point is completely normal, that no-one being flat-out contradicted enjoys the experience, especially by a five-year-old who has no interest in let alone respect for one’s years of research and study that do in fact indicate that the sky is blue. Or that one was actually born in South Africa and knows for a fact that Pietermaritzburg is not in Johannesburg, or that Ladenburg is in Germany and not the other way round, or that correcting one’s German pronunciation is acceptable but correcting one’s English is not.

Why do I need to be right in the eyes of my children? I’ve always found people who rigidly adhere to one point of view, or answer all the Trivial Pursuit questions or who like to soapbox their opinions to an admiring crowd largely quite irritating. Is this because I’ve got a little pedagogue lurking inside that can’t resist sticking her neck out for her version of the truth? Am I – as some have hinted, and not too subtly either – just a grown-up Daisy?

I said to my friend that perhaps I need to find my lost sense of humour, allow myself to be corrected by my child and just let Daisy enjoy her interpretation of the world. If she needs the sky to be purple, then purple it must be.


Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

19 thoughts on “The Sky is Purple

  1. But its so hard not to try and correct them, isn’t it? Though the lesson is, perhaps, to remind us that its only an accident of nature that we actually perceive the sky as blue.

    There’s a line in a song by a band called “House of Love” that runs “The sky is purple/things arrive every day” which actually seems strangely appropriate. Just sprung to mind as I was typing. Kind of matches a five year-old’s state of mind to a tee, don’t you think?

  2. My take on such things it to let kids have it their way as long as it costs nothing. Obviously if they say that it is safe to run across the street blindfolded, I will have to prove them wrong before the laws of physics do. But purple skies are perfectly OK. I think that maintaining convictions that are blatantly contradicted by obvious observations is not childish, it’s human (unfortunately).

    And as a matter of fact, Daisy is right about purple skies: I have seen skies white, black, blue, yellow, purple, grey, orange, pink. Perhaps the only missing color is green — maybe in the Ruhr 😉

  3. (Un)relaxeddad, it is hard, but it’s a case of striking the balance between teaching them some things and letting them learn other things for themselves. Oh, and Daisy would certainly love it if things arrived every day! That would be her idea of heaven.

    Mandarine, you’re so right. And yes, purple skies are definitely OK. It was just a random way to show how when Mummy says “Something is A”, Daisy immediately likes to say “No it is actually B”. I think she’s always going to challenge authority and she’s practising on me.

  4. Must be a “middle child syndrome.” My husband is always saying that he could look out the window on a perfectly clear day, announce that there isn’t a cloud in the sky, and I’d say, “Yes there is.” What he doesn’t know is that if he pushed me on it, I’d say, “Well, there may be no clouds around here that we can see, but I bet the sky in England is full of them right now.” For some reason, I just can’t stop myself from trying to find the holes in the statements people make (maybe because I come from a long line of lawyers). I feel for you poor people who have to put up with those like us, though. Hang onto your sense of humor; you’re going to need it when she reaches her teen years, and it seems to be the best defense (others are so good at getting me to laugh at myself, and arguments easily dissolve when confronted with a fit of the giggles).

  5. Emily, I think you stood up for Daisy’s middle-child-ness once before, so thank you for doing so again. Could I just have your nice, sane, kind line of reasoning on tap the next time I prepare to be driven up the wall? You are right, though, she loves to laugh and if Mummy would just remember to crack a joke instead of being driven into insane conversations about sky colour or how to pronounce words in her native language, then things will be good with D and me.

  6. What would Mary Poppin do with a Daisy in her crew? Isn’t there some character in a book that Daisy could look at and see herself? I loved Peter Rabbit as a child because he was always getting into trouble.

  7. Laura in the Laura Ingalls Wilder books is a middle child. So is Jo in Little Women. Both are wonderful characters for her to see herself in. I myself am a middle daughter, and I do like to be right. But more often I find myself trying to “fix” people and situations, and “being responsible”, both of which are dangerous psychological situations that middle children tend to fall into.

    The sky is sometimes green here, right before violent thunderstorms. Not a pleasant color to find the sky.

  8. Lia, that’s a great idea. I’ll have to put my mind to finding a character in a book who asks a lot of questions!

  9. Thanks, Ms Magic Hands! We’ve got the Little House on the Prairie books and I need to read those to Daisy again. We can do a bit of talking about what it means to be in the middle and what kind of a person Laura is. And of course, you’re right, Jo in Little Women is a wonderful role model.

    I’ve seen green thunderstorm skies too – pretty scary.

  10. Daisy sounds a bit like my first and only child. She strongly maintained against myself, her father and grandfather for about a month that the lions with manes were the Mummy lions. She backed down eventually when she was ready.

    Sometimes its about pure contrariness and asserting her will but sometimes I think its her odd little sense of humour. She decided for example that coffee should be pronounced copee and she thought that was the funniest thing ever. “What’s in your cup, Mummy? No! not coffee, copee! Chortle, chortle” Sometimes its annoying but its also somewhat amusing. She and I give each other high fives when we say vitamin unlike my husband who says vItamin.

  11. Oh you’ve described life with my son to me (and he’s an only child). He is a pedant with any number of ‘idees fixes’ that are not necessarily true and he is as stubborn as an ox. I like things to be accurate too, so I sometimes get very wound up inside, although I do try very hard not to say anything about it on the outside as it only offers him the pleasures of contradicting me further. But ooohhhhh for a punching bag sometimes!

  12. I think it is just because mummy and I mean ALL mummies have to be right! We know, we have had the experience before or at least read about it… so therefore we DO KNOW! My problem is that in the end , going back and forth, I am the one who is reduced to having a 3 year olds behaviour and quite frankly I should take myself off to the naughty stairs!
    While Aimee is not the middle child, I am just purely convinced she was born pre-menstural!! This week she has had soot all over her backside ( on 3 occassions that I saw) and in the end we discovered the reason… she decided that it was far nicer and more logical to go and have a wee in our fireplace… when I freaked out at her she just looked me in the eye and stated that she actually just needed to go! End of story! We have 3 toilets in the house… but the fireplace it was… and dear husband had to cope with a sobbing 35 year old mummy who had lost to a 3 year old! Charl I know Daisy can be defiant and strong willed just like Aimee, but you got to admit when we are in the right frame of mind, some of the things that they come up with are actually quite hilarious. 🙂 My mum just says with a smile on her face… ” its pay back time!”

  13. Litlove and Tanya, sometimes I forget that I’m not the only parent out there. Thank GOODNESS other people are also experiencing the frustrations that come with trying to raise children.

    Sometimes I think the people who irritate us the most are the ones who are reflecting our own less appealing characteristics back at us – Daisy’s need to right reflects my need to be right and THAT’S REALLY what I don’t like. My own little secret inner pedant.

  14. Oh man, don’t these little people just get annoying sometimes! My son HAS to be first. If we’re walking into the bathroom to brush teeth, he will push me out of the way. Now, we don’t accept that behavior because on more than one occasion he’s hurt himself or someone else banging around like that. But other things we just let slide, because it’s pick your battles or constantly be irritated.

    I love the idea of role models from stories. Though I find it hard not to be too pedantic: “See, the little mouse is HELPING his sister!”

    And I find it interesting for me that I can so easily contradict my children, sometimes quite rudely, when I would never speak to an adult like that. I think parents often need to be right because we need to feel like an authority. Or we need to feel like the child is listening to what we say.

  15. Writing as one who has met Boy Litlove, I have to say that he is the most precise child ever. He is like a pipe cleaner, almost, long and bendy and with a scientific compulsion for pedantry over artistic licence. He is also incredibly funny. I bet Daisy is, too.

    Much better for her to see the world on her terms and articulate it as such…

    Oh – I am dying to hear yours and Litlove’s podcasts but Monday is a bad day for me and I am zonked. Tomorrow evening I will treat myself and report back!

  16. According to Kiko, an insect is a car, and a ship is a car, and a train is a ta-ta that goes “brrrmm-brrmmm”. And of course everything is “NO!” This pint-sized villain tries to boss me about! I have a feeling he takes after me in awkwardness but that gives me an advantage because I know how to deal with him!

    I think the sky does look purple in certain weather. Sometimes it looks pale lilac on a snowy day. Maybe Daisy is going to be an artist? I’ve heard that while most people will look at a wall and see white, an artist will see a whole spectrum of colours. My brother is like that and – funnily enough – he always has to be right!

  17. Kimi rolled on top of a little bit more strokes hard core movies for that dumb. As.

  18. brittany murphy faster kill pussycat When she told him, kimi pushed on both sides. You.

  19. Kayla yep, pulling out over the bar. Herentire being screwed shakira ass at paul s.

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