(by nation I mean three real-life conversations plus the general consensus on Twitter)
I'm thinking back on the highlights of my summer, and was reminded of one yesterday by my five year-old after her swimming lesson. She asked me if I could come and see her swim sometime (my husband brings her) and I replied that I would, but that I already know what a swishy little mermaid she is, after all the swimming we did on holidays in France. And especially down the lazy river.
|lazy river Sequoia Parc, image credit Tripadvisor.com|
A little background first: my five year-old is very much a teenager already, as are many girls her age.
Clara the five-year-old-teenager and I are similar and we clash. She finds change difficult, as do I, though I've just about worked out how to hide my discomfort, whereas at only five, she still wears her heart on her sleeve.
She sulks and stomps and stamps when something doesn't go her way - not always of course, but if something is important to her, it upsets her greatly to lose control or face unpredictability.
So, over the half decade since she was born, our relationship has been punctuated with moments of high emotion, some confrontations, a few tears, and many making-up hugs.
But back to France - there was a lazy river in the pool complex which Clara loved, and she insisted that my husband accompany her there every day. One afternoon she asked me to go with her instead. I'm not really a pool person - more of a lie-by-the-pool person, but since we weren't getting to do any sun-bathing anyway due to toddler-chasing, I agreed to try the lazy river.
I assumed that I was there as her parent, her safeguard, her security blanket, her safety net.
I expected to say "wow!", the way parents do to everything their children show them
What I didn't expect was how wonderful it would be and that this time it would be a heartfelt "wow!"
She was balancing on a huge inflated water ring, with me holding onto her.
We floated slowly down the river, winding around corners, bobbing on the warm water with the sun beating gloriously down on our shoulders.
The current carried us - I hadn't expected this gentle current - it was the most delicious water experience of my life. I was genuinely thrilled, I squealed and she squealed.
She looked at me, her wide eyes lit up with excitement, enjoying the swirly journey and enjoying my surprised, delighted reaction.
For the first time since she was born, we were not just mother and daughter, we were not teacher and student, not mentor and mentee. We were equals - two people enjoying the exhilaration, each getting a kick out of our mutual delight.
For me it was a glimpse of the future. A time when I won't just be her jailer, the guardian of the cookies and the general ruiner of plans.
We found each other somewhere down the lazy river, this complicated little girl and I.
I just need to hold that thought the next time she wants to wear lipstick to school.