I clash with my daughter. She’s six. And I’m not six. I’m not proud of clashing with someone half my size and thirty-ish years younger than me. But, as we are fond of saying here, it is what it is.
And the reason we clash? Because we are the same. I am her and she is me. The things that most exasperate me about myself are now being played out on front of me by my six-year-old.
She’s not good with change, nor am I. But where I’ve learned to deal with change, or at least to hide my discomfort, she reacts with tears. She cried when we had to replace our Skybox, and our new car inspired her to leave a note for us saying “I hate the car” (followed later by a note saying “I love the car” so maybe she’s learning)
I like things just so, as does she. I can take a deep breath when things don’t go to plan, but she hasn’t figured that out yet. Which is why a barbecue is declared “ruined” when there are no burger buns (that was her, not me, I should add).
She’s fussy about clothes and takes ages to decide what to wear. For the same reason, I now lay out my clothes the night before. I got mad at her on Saturday for insisting on changing her shorts at the last minute, though she was late for swimming. “But mum the other ones just didn’t feel right”, she said, looking up at me with her wide green-grey eyes, imploring me to understand. And even as I told her to hurry up and that it doesn’t matter what shorts she wears to swimming, I knew that it did matter, and that it would matter to me too. Except I’m an adult and can choose to change my clothes at the last minute without anyone telling me I can’t. It’s hard being six.
Last night, I was picking out something to wear to work today, and muttering about a presentation. Clara was sitting on my bed and asked what a presentation is. I explained that I’d have to talk in front of a room of people, and that I wasn’t very prepared.
“Tell me the presentation mum, say it for me” she suggested. I said no at first, because I hadn’t gone over it at all yet. But she insisted, and so I ran through what I could remember of the first set of slides, And it sounded just fine, and I suddenly felt better.
“See mum, you were great!” she said, “Now, I’ll help you pick just the right top to go with those trousers”
She picked a top – just the right top as it happens, and then told me all I needed to do was put on some lipstick and some high-heels, and I’d be fine. And she was right, and I was fine, and I told her so, and thanked her for helping me. And she smiled; a beautiful, happy smile, sensing that I really meant it.
It was a glimpse of what the future might look like – when it’s not all about missing burger buns and wrong-coloured-shorts.