Firstborn has trailer trash taste. Basically, she's Dolly Parton's spiritual twin.
I like to think that I am a reasonably tasteful, fairly stylish individual. Which is why is pains me so that my child will only wear pink, and preferably, the brightest, most eye-strain-inducing pink she can track down. If she had her way, Firstborn would only be seen in public looking like a Las Vegas showgirl - with extra sequins and a double helping of blue eyeshadow.
Firstborn has a jewellery collection to rival Liz Taylor's, more handbags than I have in my wildest dreams, a pink ballerina outfit, a neon pink and lime fairy outfit, and a pink princess outfit. And then there's the shoes...
Her favorite third birthday gift -given by a well-intentioned neighbour who has three daughters and is therefore an expert on what makes a little girl's heart beat faster- is a pair of plastic sparkly high heels with feather trim. As Firstborn eagerly unwrapped them her eyes became saucers and she uttered a breathless, "Wow!". My heart sank and I uttered a silent curse.
To my daughter, these shoes are the ultimate in toddler chic and naturally she wants to wear them everywhere. But up to now, Mean Mummy has been just as determined that those shoes Will Not Be Seen In Public. Ever. Under Any Circumstances.
Today I relent. OK, I think, maybe I'm being a bit uptight here. Maybe I should chill out because it is entirely possible that I am laying the foundations of severe psychological damage by not indulging her inclination towards all things revolting. Maybe she will end up dressing like this as an adult, all because Mummy was embarrassed to see her child dressed like a miniature hooker in her formative years.
So I tell Firstborn, "Today, my pumpkin, you can choose what to wear all by yourself." "All by myself?" she squeaks, looking at me suspiciously. This is so beyond the norm that she obviously thinks there's a catch somewhere. "Sure," I say, "all by yourself." Firstborn races upstairs as fast as she can and I follow slowly, a faint hope rising that maybe she'll surprise me. The door to her room is firmly closed in my face and as I know to my cost, that means that privacy is paramount. So I sit on the stairs and wait.
Suddenly, the door bangs open and a voice bellows, "Ta daaaaa!! Mummy, how do I look?"
I am surprised. Really, truly surprised.
Firstborn has smeared the contents of my make-up bag all over her face with a cheerful disregard for convention. She is wearing every single piece of plastic sparkle from her jewellery box, at least twenty hair-clips, a tiara, her prized neon pink and lime fairy outfit, my pink pashmina, her pink poodle handbag, and of course, the shoes.
The Small(er) One, a mere seventeen months old, looks at Firstborn with awe and starts to applaud.
I swallow my inclination to hide indoors until bathtime, and venture into the outside world. In the supermarket we encounter a Spiderman, a Superman, a Snow White and a Fairy. At the library we meet a Cinderella and a little girl in a pair of Barbie pyjamas. All their mothers look as weary and wary as I'm sure I do. The children all look ecstatic.
Before bed tonight, Firstborn grips me in a bear hug, declares that she loves me passionately, then asks, "Can I be a pretty pink princess tomorrow, Mummy?" I just sigh.
I guess we all have an inner princess. It's just that some of us are better at releasing it than others.
Now, where did I put that pink feather boa...?