We recently bought my four year old daughter, Meri, a doctors set with a little stethoscope, thermometer, blood pressure gauge and little bottles for medicine. She was playing with it intensely, medicating her cuddly toy, Little Tigger, one afternoon.
“Do you want to be a doctor when you grow up?” I asked her trying to sound interested but not pushy.
She thought about it for a while and then shook her head, “No,” she replied, “I want to be a mummy when I grow up.”
“Hmm,” I said, “You know you can be a doctor as well as being a mummy.”
“No,” she said, “I just want to be a mummy,” cradling her poorly Tigger.
Now at this point I didn’t know whether to be charmed or alarmed. A dream of happy grandfather-hood reading my lovely grandchild a bedtime story in soft late summer sunshine jostled in my brain with a dystopia of a shell suited fifteen year old Meri pushing around a baby buggy in drizzle on a housing estate.
A few days later after having visited my own mother with my six year old son for the day the right answer came to me. The best way of explaining what Arun had been up to at his grandmothers’ house is to quote, verbatim from the e-mail she sent me after her son and grandson had left:
“Found the kitchen door key in the pile of old carrier bags behind of the kitchen door. Also, he had tried to plug the hair dryer into the socket in the corner at the back of the door. Also I looked for the invoice for the items that were delivered yesterday -it was in the postal tray – another letter from the postal tray was on the window sill of the front bedroom. And the writing pad for phone messages from the computer desk has been “transferred” somewhere. Three magnets from the dish washer found in the fruit basket .
Very pleased that he’s started practical organising and re-organising things, “helping” granny: gave me some activity, finding and putting things back.”
My mum’s measured response was something to behold. I know that my reaction when Arun starts re-organising things at home is: “Really? As if I don’t have enough to do!”
Only a mother (and grandmother) could be so forgiving. I suppose it’s in the genes and if my little Meri turns out to have the same instincts I will be immensely proud of her, regardless of whether she’s a doctor or not.
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