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.