“Meri,” I asked my three year old daughter, “Do you want to go and pat the shire horse or do you want to carry on being a contrary, awkward, troublesome toddler?”
“I want to carry on being a contrary, awkward, troublesome terrible toddler,” she parroted, quite unaware of what she was saying but picking up from the tone of my voice that the first option was my preferred one.
All day Meri had been in that contrary mood that toddlers sometimes hit. That morning, whilst getting dressed:
“Meri, do you want to wear the grey trousers or the brown trousers?” I asked
No answer as Meri diligently ignored my question.
“Meri, I asked whether you want to wear the grey trousers or the brown trousers?” I repeated. This time holding up the two pairs of trousers in question so she could see them.
Studied dis-interest from my daughter.
“Meri, this is the last time I’m asking otherwise I’ll chose for you. Grey or brown?”
“Right, brown it is,” I said putting the grey pair back into her drawer.
Queue histrionics as she erupted shouting, “I want to wear the grey ones! I want the grey ones!”
A few minutes later and wearing brown trousers down in the kitchen I asked her, “Meri, do you want milk or hot chocolate with breakfast?”
“I want ovaltine,” came the entirely predictable answer.
By the time we all came back from the farm we had been visiting, Clare and I had had quite enough of it all. I went off the gym whilst Clare got on with giving them tea.
When I came back, I was marched into the conservatory where, in pride of place just above the radiator was a new star chart. “So, if Meri is a good girl she gets a star,” Clare explained. “If she’s naughty, she loses a star. If, by the end of the week, she has five stars she can go to Roxy’s birthday party.”
Meri stood there nodding. There was one star sitting proudly on the chart already.
“I think it’ll work,” said Clare a little optimistically.
“Hmm,” I said, “We’ll see…” Whilst watching Meri’s impish little grin that suggested that trouble was just moments away.