Well, I’m really falling behind, and with so much to write about…
I have to say I’ve been doing a bit of child-minding lately, and it’s no small task, and that’s only with one admittedly dynamic three-year-old. I suppose I don’t help my cause by being unable to say no to a kid, and by forgetting that I’m supposed to be the one in control, but really when there’s a kid tearing around your home, demanding attention for all her momentous discoveries and activities, it’s quite impossible to settle to anything else. It gives me a glimpse into a mother’s harried life – and I’ve only changed Courtney’s nappies a couple of times, and had to cope with only a handful of her innumerable tantrums and traumas.
My experience of it is of a life divided, between an ineffable weariness, boredom and frustration, occasionally rising to that pitch of anger at which you come to some scary understanding of child abuse – of the unpremeditated, child-shaking variety of course – and an awe and bedazzlement at the inventive genius and emotional wholeheartedness of a child’s adventurings. Not to mention an overwhelming love for her naked delight and despair, her gung-ho vulnerability, her flattering mimesis.
A funny example of this last – she’s taken to insisting that she has a handbag with her when going out in the car, full of odds and ends that might fit – a puzzle, a Care Bear, a toy mobile phone, some pencils, and, most important recently, a book.
In this, she’s particularly copying myself and Sarah, who usually take books with us on our travels. She doesn’t take a kids’ book, she prefers one of Sarah’s old hardbacks – R L Stevenson, or Kipling or the like. Sometimes she’ll even take it out and study it, and tell its story – usually a variation on Goldilocks or Cinderella.
If this bores you I won’t be too surprised, for I’m also experiencing – as I did before with Isabelle, but more intensely this time – that sense, almost of disillusionment, that other people just don’t see anything to be fascinated about in your brilliant, hilarious, astonishingly precocious little tot. And yet… I have had comments (he said swelling with pride), once from an amused fellow-shopper, who’d watched her chatting with me about the products in the supermarket, trying to persuade me to put all sorts of wonders in the trolley, and said, ‘what is she, five going on twenty-five?’ (Courtney was in fact still only two), and once from a very beautiful and warm-hearted bartender at the
Why I should be so proud I’m not quite sure. She’s inherited none of my genes. And yet… I like to think she’s chipped something off the old block and incorporated it into herself.
Recently I watched an absorbing Chaplin special, which discussed and showed scenes from his classic The Kid. That kid reminded me so much of Courtney at her most vital. Jackie Coogan was six, I believe, when he played that role. I’m really looking forward to experiencing Courtney at that age, at least for snatches of time.