Motherhood hasn’t come naturally to Daisy Leverington. Three-and-a-bit years in and she remains wide-eyed, terrified and in awe of the little person she’s responsible for. This week she starts the big school countdown. And shits herself a bit.
She can’t really write her full name yet and on a recent ill-advised trip to IKEA she argued that 21 did NOT come after 20 so vehemently that she barfed.
Yep, there’s a lot of work to do.
Her dad and I spent ages teaching her the wrong animal noises to entertain ourselves when she was younger, but she’s now worked out the correct sounds for herself. So that’s one less job, I suppose.
She’s ready. I’m ready. I’m so ready. I’m also terrified.
The years have flown by, whistling and skipping and laughing and arguing. She’s so tiny, but she can sing to hundreds of people when presented with a microphone. She’s only three, but her door-slamming could shame a 14-year-old emo.
Her confidence is great and unabashed; she hasn’t yet experienced self-doubt or filtered her thoughts to match her surroundings.
She gets naked because being naked is way more fun and she farts on my leg to cheer me up. I don’t want her to lose this freedom and begin the long journey to horrid self-doubt, which can manifest so early on.
At the moment all she can talk about is her fourth birthday. Every day brings a fresh batch of “When I’m four can I…?” questions. Today was “When I’m four can I have a rucksack like you, and we can be matching?”
She has no idea that she wants to grow up so quickly; she just wants a pink rucksack like mine. I hate the thought of her wanting to blend in at school, I want to believe she’ll keep her stubborn refusal to toe the line.
In the play park after nursery she goes her own way. She doesn’t feel like she has to follow other kids to have fun, she’s a pretty independent only child. She finds comfort in her little mates, but doesn’t rely on them.
I often think she’d be an excellent big sister but there aren’t any plans for that, which might be hard to explain to her when she’s older. (I’ll go with “You were so horrific I couldn’t stomach any more” so I don’t have to tell her we were too poor. Much easier.)
We didn’t have a uniform at my primary school; it was a rough area in the early 80s and no one gave a shite. Our kid’s school will most likely have a full-on blazer/skirt combo going on. Given the rate at which this kid gets through clothes and shoes I’ll be homeless by Christmas.
She’ll hate the formality after a few days, and that thought of her going unnoticed in a sea of identikit four-year-olds is chilling. I’m not saying she’s some genius who needs extra attention; I just want an assurance that someone will notice if she cries.
What if she needs a wee and doesn’t feel confident enough to tell anyone? What if she feels poorly and I’m not there?
I appreciate these are all MY fears, but they are real fears. School overwhelmed me as I got older, and I just want her to retain all that beautiful, carefree energy that could power a small village.
She’s my first and only kid, so I only have this chance to royally fuck it up. And I’d like to do that on my own terms, thank you very much, not just during the school holidays.
Daisy Leverington - Actor, mother, expert at winging it.