After school my daughter and I stop off at the park. We sit in the shadow of the Albert Memorial sucking Fabs and chatting. I learn an awful lot over lollipops. Today she tells me how PC Turtle came to visit her nursery.
“What did he do?” I asked, unsure if she was telling me about a book or something real.
“He talked to us about strangers.”
“What did he say?”
“You don’t talk to them.”
“Very good. Anything else?”
“If you tell somebody, they’ll run away.”
At first I wonder if this is all a bit too much at three and a half. But then I realise we’ve already had the same conversation. I don’t really think she understands what a stranger is though, if she did she wouldn’t speak to anyone at all.
On the way back home she falls asleep, with her legs daintily crossed and her hand under her chin. We gently squeak to a halt (the silent Prius parking means the manoeuvre is all clanking and swishing). I carefully lift her out of her seat. Perhaps a little too carefully. After I’ve gone a few steps she raises her head suddenly and sings loudly
“I like to move it, move it….”
“What?” I ask, open-mouthed.
“It’s from Madagascar ,daddy.”
We bought the DVD a few months ago and haven’t watched it since then. Don’t ask me why or how it came into her mind at that moment.
“IS it?” I laugh. She laughs. We both laugh.
After lunch it’s my turn. I close my eyes, sitting on the sofa, while children’s programmes play. Music threads its way through my consciousness as I drift in and out of sleep. Nothing I can quite put my finger on, but flashes of youth, summer, the days before marriage and children.
Daylight crashes back in, accompanied by a hard jab in my leg
“Wake up daddy.”
“What?” I yawn.
“I don’t want you to be asleep.”
“We need to watch together.”
I watch, as an insane-looking presenter fashions a snowflake out of talcum powder and a doily.
“Now, concentrate daddy” advises my daughter.