Monday, 18 October 2010

'Maybe I could ask him if he'd be my daddy,' said my daughter.

The other day I was chatting to the dad of one of X's nursery friends. He told me that his application for flexible working had failed with his employer, which meant that he wouldn't be able to share the childcare with his wife as much as he had hoped. This surprised me as he works for the council who profess to be highly supportive of family friendly working. The dad was frustrated because he'd put a lot of effort into his appeal case for the flexible hours but when it failed his children were totally delighted. The little boy ran around the sitting room whooping. It meant that they'd get to go to X's minder who gives them slush puppies and crisps. The dad said he sometimes wondered why he bothered. He looked quite upset about it.

X asked me why she didn't have a daddy today. She said she'd been thinking about it while having lunch at school. Maybe someone said something, I don't know. I don't know much when it comes to this. I've known this would be coming for some time and I've still not come up with anything to say.

X already knows that she has a tummy mummy who isn't me but that still doesn't explain why there isn't a daddy. She may well never know who her daddy is, since no one seems to know. It makes me want to find her tummy mummy and find out what she knows, and I'll understand if X feels the same way about this. It seems very sad to me to never have any idea at all about half your blood heritage. Of course none of this explains why she hasn't got a 'heart' daddy who lives with her 'heart' mummy - but I'm guessing a blow by blow on every single one of my failed relationships isn't really appropriate for a three year old , though the repetition might be fun in an old Macdonald had a farm type way (Eee! Ow! Eee! Ow! Aye!) and it might be a good bedtime story to get her off to sleep.

I just said that I agreed with her that it was very sad she didn't have a daddy. I mentioned a few male friends and relations who take an interest in her, but she didn't pick up on any of them. Instead she talked about her friend at nursery who's daddy sometimes takes her to school. She said that he was a nice daddy and her friend sometimes cried when he left her. It was the same man who had just told me how frustrated he was that his children didn't care whether he picked them up after school or not.

X said that maybe she could ask him if he might be her daddy too. I said maybe we should do that together. It seems a bit much to lay on a man first thing in the morning when he's probably late for work but I'm guessing at the right moment he might be glad to know that a three year old had noticed that he was a nice daddy.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Not many three year olds could carry off baldness with such aplomb as X's best friend

Every day for the last couple of years or so X and I have suffered hair envy. We've stared with longing at her best friend's hair: it's heavy swishing volume, it's dark lustrous curls, it's glorious bouncing mass. We've fingered clips in Sainsbury's and longed for the day when we might need them too. We thought her little friend was just so lucky. But then her little friend always seemed so lucky in so many ways: great looks, fantastic parents, obvious intelligence, natural confidence, a born leader.

X, on the other hand, has always been folicle- challenged. This was a huge blessing to me as I was only allowed to adopt her on the understanding that she was a white child. It was only, post adoption, clear when her hair finally twisted it's way out, that there was definitely more than a little bit of fuzz to it. Caribbean ladies have come up to me on the street and asked which island her father came from. X has an orange Jackson Five fuzz around her head, but she still has a very high forehead so she sometimes looks a bit like Queen Elizabeth 1. More often, though, she looks like a saffron colored sheep who's wool has got matted from a winter out on the hillside. I've developed a nervous habit of plucking at it it to tease it out to stop it looking as if she's a feral child with unkempt matted locks. I've had long conversations in the African hair product shops about what might turn it into lustrous curls and ended up with lots of pots of sticky, stinking brilliantine. My ex-social worker in the adoption process sent the best product. We have a little smile to each other sometimes about X's hair. I have a feeling that she, being a lady of Caribbean extraction, might have had a little suspicion that X's hair wasn't going to be totally English Caucasian, but maybe I'm wrong. I like X's hair now she's got some. When the light shines though it she looks as if she has a halo and I love it's mad look. I just wish it started further forward. If she was a middle aged man I'd be advising her to shave the lot off and not to pretend it wasn't badly receeding.

X is in love with long, straight hair. When she came to me she couldn't go to sleep without fingering her foster mother's hair and now she can't sleep without fingering mine. She's been envious of her friend's hair for two years and has insisted on clips just like her.

Now her little friend has lost all her hair from chemotherapy. Not so lucky after all then. Her poor little body is a bit skinny at the moment. Though the prognosis on her type of leukemia is good, the treatment sounds brutal. Her tiny little frame is blasted with toxins and all her incredible, thick, lustrous locks have fallen out. X has steadfastly ignored this, not mentioned it at all. Her friend, though, is the feistiest little girl with the most indomitable spirit. She said to their childminder the other day:

'So, what do you think of my new haircut, then?'

The minder said she was lost for words, which in itself is a little miracle.

Thursday, 7 October 2010


I wanted one. I really did.

I'd had a horrid day, missing the little one, wondering how she was doing at school. She's only been there two weeks and now she gets passed through several carers hands every day in a patchwork of minders, school and minders. I have to cling to my diary just to keep up with the schedule myself and every day she wakes up and says: 'where today mummy?' I worry that I'm causing irrevocable damage by not being there at the end of the day to share her tales of ten green bottles and who weed on the floor. I worry, full stop.

Today? Today I was very organised all day but I finally had a little wettie when it looked like I was going to be kept way after end of play. I kicked off just enough to extricate myself from where I was without ( i hope) causing lasting bruising, and I rushed to pick up the new schoolgirl from the new minder. I was amazed how quickly the journey went, and was thrilled to be early. The day was looking up. I'd be able to microwave some beans for her! Cook for her!

i rushed into the minders, but did my little one come running to me? No. She was very fed up that I'd come before I was supposed to. She wanted to play more with her new best friend from school, who also hangs out there. She wanted to go to the shops with the new minder. She was on the loo and wanted the minder's daughter to wipe her bottom, not me.
Not me? My heart was shattered. It was a first. The first time my little one hurt me. I know it will happen a lot more,and it's a mummy's job not to count or care, but this was the first time and my inward breath was sharp and cold.

There are limits, however. I may have to grovel when it comes to getting work to support my little one but groveling to wipe her bottom is one step too far. I demurred. I was sent away again. Of course I pretended it was all great and fine. You can't dump people together and then object if they get on. I'm truly amazed and relieved that the new minder is that popular. i'll write a reference stating that from the very first day my child didn't want to come home, wanted the new minder to wipe her bottom.

I did feel, however, like rolling on the pavement and kicking my heels and screaming and having a spoilt little temper tantrum on my lonely walk hone to kick my heels looking a my tax form. I'm sorry but I did. I'd done my work, I had more to come later. The one good bit of the day had gone, the one bit that I do everything else (all the working and earning and sorting and running and the damned dull tax form ) for. All gone. But I'm not going to tell the little one that.

I know many women go through moments like this and I'm bigging up my part with mountainous molehills. But if you have had a moment like this recently, well then, lets just say I really, really empathise.

By the way, by the time I went to pick up my little girl I'd my little temper tantrum all on my own and was a nice mummy again, all very grown up, and I didn't sulk one little bit.

Can I have a gold star, please?