Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

The Mouse That Roared


When Lily was born, seven and a half years ago, she was a tiny little scrap of a person. Less than three kilograms, she struggled to learn how to latch, had furious colic and could only sleep with her nose pressed against my side. Since she was so small, white and squeaky, we started calling her Lily Mouse. That name has stuck, even though she is now tall, leggy and brown.

The name Mouse, while affectionate and sweet, doesn’t actually fit her well. She is a quiet and calm person, but is by no means timid. Her sense of self is strong and over the years, she has shown herself to be very brave. At three, we thrust her into German Kindergarten, having told her that we speak English at home (“inside”) and that out in the world (“outside”) all she would hear was German. She came back from her first day in an all-German environment and told my mother on the phone that she was “a bit disappointed because they were all Derman inside”. That let-down apart, she went back the next day with a smile on her face and was speaking Derman within six weeks. She has also acquitted herself brilliantly in her first year at Big School, getting a great report, and reading and writing Derman far better than most of her Derman classmates. She taught herself to read in English in May, and is already reading her third Harry Potter.

Lily is cerebral and artistic, but this summer has shown that she also has amazing physical courage. During one visit to a theme park, she went on scary rides – rollercoasters and demon drops – that are far too terrifying for me. She swam in the deep end of the pool at our Italian campsite without anyone watching. And then this week at our local pool, and with the encouragement of some big friends visiting from Dubai, she jumped off the small diving-board into the pool. Not content with that, she went and jumped off the medium diving-board. And then, summoning every ounce of courage in her seven-year-old body, chest heaving with adrenaline and fists clenched, she joined the teenagers and leapt off the high board. And then she did that ten more times.

We can’t call her Lily Mouse anymore. I think she’s a tiger. Tiger Lily.


Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

15 thoughts on “The Mouse That Roared

  1. wow. you make me want to cheer for her.
    and tiger lily is just too beautiful. what a lovely post.

  2. Great post, she sounds brave and bold, not least because she has made it onto the third Harry Potter, my nine year old son opted out just before the end of the second one.

  3. That is so lovely. I am impressed with Lily jumping off the high board eleven times! I couldn’t do it once. Isn’t it amazing how children turn out? They have qualities and abilities we never imagine they will have. It just goes to show, no matter how much we worry about them, they are their own people and are doing just fine.

  4. Well in any case, it seems like you chose the right name–one that is able to grow along with your little girl. Wonderful post!

    Btw, I mentioned you on my blog today 🙂

  5. It sounds as if you have a budding adventuress on your hands. What fun it was to jump off the high-dive at that age. Talk about empowerment. Go Lily.

  6. Great post, and the “Derman inside” story is priceless!

  7. What a beautiful post about your little Lily! A lovely story… She does sound extremely brave for a 7-year-old, brave and strong and smart. Bravo!

  8. That name is just right. My goodness she really is brave. I bet the teenagers scared her more than the jump!

  9. That’s great that her nickname can change with her. At 7 she has already proved more courage than me! I don’t do high boards although scary rides at fairs do excite me.

  10. I have just read this post out loud to my mother who is in tears and doing the Saffa ‘oh shame.’
    She said you have a beautiful way with words. Please tell Lily we all think she is wonderfully brave. Love to Daisy and Ollie too xxx

  11. The mouse that roared! Bravery does take a strong sense of self, and a strong underlying sense of security and trust in the world — which you have obviously instilled in her.

    I also have a soft spot for the name Tiger Lily, as I once played that role in Peter Pan when I was a girl.

  12. What a beautiful post. She sounds just delightful.

  13. Bine, I want to cheer for her too.

    Kit, she’s reading them doggedly, with occasional stops to devour a mermaid or princess book.

    Helen, exactly, and since she’s my first, she’s the one I identify with most strongly. She’s proving herself to be very different from me and far far bolder.

    Sognatrice, thanks for the mention. I shall head there now and take a look!

    Ian, you’re right, it’s so empowering. My girl is learning that she can do anything she wants to if she just takes the first step.

    Diana, isn’t it? It’s become a family favourite, one we like repeat.

    Welcome, Alice! I’ve had a look at your blog and I can tell you have a soft spot for bold, brave and lovely girls.

    Emma, apparently the teenagers were quaking too and taking no notice of the little tiger leaping out into the unknown in front of them!

    Hi Charlotta, the funny thing is that when I forget and call her Mouse now, she says “I think my name has changed now.” She’s very happy to be a tiger.

    Welcome, Mel! Thanks for turning up and for the very kind words from you and Pat. Lots of love to all of you.

    Henitserk, I can’t claim glory for this particular triumph as she achieved it under the eye of my friend from Dubai, but I am certainly pleased that she has such courage.

    Thanks, Dew. She is a special girl.

  14. Lovely post, and it’s amazing to see how children develop, how much spirit they can have. Enjoyable reading.

  15. A gorgeous story. Those diving boards are so, so scary! Go Lily!

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