Tuesday, 29 March 2016

What she wants

"Why are those people pushing strollers?" my daughter asked as we cycled past the golf course one recent Friday morning. She had just recovered from a nasty case of chicken pox and I had decided to take her out for a breath of late winter air. Her question of course made me laugh. "They aren't strollers, schatje, they're caddies; to carry around golf clubs and stuff," I replied. I have always enjoyed these creative 'misinterpretations' she makes, as well as her outspoken opinions and attitudes. She is one of these girls who knows what she wants and if she ends up not wanting what she initially thought she wanted, she knows why. (Confused? Please read on.)

Take her attitude to Chico*, for example. A doll that cries and runs a fever when you pull the pacifier out of its mouth. You can make it better by sticking a thermometer in its ear and a needle in its butt (no joke). "I really, really want one of those," I would hear N say every time the advert blurted onto our TV screen. "Really, really." This surprised me somewhat, since N has never shown much interest in dolls. But okay. For Sinterklaas (difficult-to-explain Dutch tradition I have written about before) we - or should I say 'Sinterklaas' - got her Chico. "Lovely, isn't he - now you can push him around in that stroller you never use," I said. Soon enough she invited her best friend over (the one she's going to marry someday) and they played doctors and nurses all afternoon, with N being the doctor and friend J being the nurse. May I say with a grin on my face that it was truly moving to see such emancipation in two five-year-olds.

Pretty soon though,  N started to ignore the doll. In an attempt to arouse her interest, I got Chico downstairs one day and placed him beside her on the sofa. "Perhaps you should change his nappies," I tried. She looked at me, then at Chico. "I don't smell anything," she replied. I'm not one to give up, though. "Okay...," I said. "It's bring-your-own-toy morning coming Friday; how about taking Chico to school then." To my surprise, she reacted enthusiastically. And so Chico was carted off to school quite lovingly the following Friday morning.

When I came to pick her up at the end of the morning however, I noticed Chico wasn't sucking on his pacifier. Nor was he crying or running up a fever. "How can that be?" I asked, truly surprised. N looked at me and sighed. "Another kid in my class wanted to play with the pacifier, so I gave it to her. Then I got fed up with all that crying, so I switched him off. Look, there's a switch on his back." I couldn't help laughing. "Good idea, schatje," I said. "Sometimes parents would love to switch off children." She looked at me with her hands on her hips and immediately replied: "And children would love to switch off parents!"

When I tucked her in that evening, I burned to ask her one question, namely: why oh why had she  lost interest in Chico so quickly, a toy she had wanted more than anything? She looked at me thoughtfully for a minute and said: "...Chico looked so much fun on TV. But now I realise that sometimes things can look fun on TV and be disappointing in real life. TV and real life are totally different!"

I merely gave her a kiss and a cuddle, for what could I possibly add to such wisdom?





* Name altered to avoid advertising.