My toddler and I pop over to my sister’s house to see if her cousin wants to play. He is, but he’s in a weird mood, as it goes with toddlers, and so we mope around the garden for a minute before my daughter decides to invite herself inside the house. I say to her, “Cousin doesn’t want to play today. Do you want to go home and see what daddy’s doing?”
“No!” She protests, pointing at Aunty’s house. “In?!”
So we invite ourselves in and that’s not too bad because we often visit each other, but I cringe inwardly as my daughter takes my hand and drags me to the kitchen, saying, “Bowl! Bowl!”
She opens her Aunty’s cupboard and starts digging through all the kid’s bowls and cups, inspecting and commenting on each one. Winnie the Pooh and Spider-Man and Cars, we go through each and every item.
Once she’s satisfied that she’s selected a suitable bowl and cup for both herself and her cousin, she has me fill her cup (Winnie the Pooh, if you were wondering) with “juice” (water), she leads me to Aunty’s lounge and asks me to put the TV on.
I’m a little embarrassed as it is, but I guess we’ve already made ourselves at home.
My daughter sits for half a minute staring at her empty bowl and then looks up at me, holding the offensive dish out, and says “Num!”
“Num? Do you want some food?” I ask. I’m hoping she changes her mind. She’d literally just had two biscuits on the way here.
Up we get and potter back to Aunty’s kitchen, where we find her trying to console her grumpy toddler and get him to wear his shoes.
“Num?!” I blurt out to my sister. She looks a little bewildered. The joke’s lost on her for the moment and so I ask in plain Adult if I may help myself to some Cheerios, apologizing that my child seems to want to eat them out of house and home.
I pour a few Cheerios into Lucy’s bowl and this piques the interest of our grouchy cousin, who snaps out of his funk and holds his own (Spider-Man) bowl out for his share. I give him some and we all head happily back to the lounge.
Five minutes… My daughter is immersed in Tom and Jerry, which she’s never seen before, and her cousin has become bored. He wants to play outside now, and calls her. She says “no” crossly and proceeds to ignore his pleas.
Aunty and cousin bundle up and go outside to play while my daughter sits in Aunty’s lounge, eating cousins’s Cheerios from his bowl and drinking juice (water) from his cup, and watching their TV.
I eventually drew the line and dragged her outside to play but I was astonished at my daughter’s confidence. The confidence that simply believes “I belong in this world. Wherever I go, I belong there too.”
She doesn’t know what is “proper” yet, and a big part of me is sad that I’ll have to teach her to restrain herself at certain times and in certain places.
But for now, I’m feeling inspired by her innocent audacity, and wishing I could muster up half her confidence to take my own place in this world.
Bowl? Bowl! Tinkerbell, if you please.