Polly gets up and I lie guiltily in bed. It is Friday. I wonder whether staying in bed today will mean I’ll have to get up early on Saturday. I calculate the possibilities and conclude that it probably does, but I am too tired to care.
I can hear Polly speaking to Elly as she changes Mick’s nappy. She is saying “Phoooar, stinky Mick, have you done a big poo? What Elly? Is he? Really? Did he really say that? A treat?”
Yesterday afternoon I picked Elly up from school and her very first words to me were “I’m hungry, I want something to eat,”
She says “something” with slow emphasis. When she says it like this it means “Buy me chocolate,”
“O.K, you can have a snack when we get home,” I say.
“No Daddy, I don’t want a snack, I want something from the shop,”
There is a corner shop with two walls of sweets just outside the school.
“Elly, I’ll get you a treat tomorrow, because tomorrow is Friday, but I’m not going to get you anything from the shop tonight,” I say.
“O.K. Daddy,” Elly says, and we go home.
Polly doesn’t like me to buy Elly chocolate or treats, because when I give her chocolate or treats they are bad for her. I have rebelled against this recently, but it has been a secret Friday afternoon rebellion.
However, thanks to my daughter’s lack of diplomacy my insurgency has been revealed.
“Elly, come here,” I call.
Elly jumps into my bed.
“Elly,” I whisper, “Mummy doesn’t like Daddy giving you chocolate, so we need to keep this secret. Go back and tell Mummy that you were only joking,”
“O.K. Daddy,” Elly whispers, nodding her head enthusiastically.
She runs out of my bedroom.
“Mummy, Mummy,” Elly says.
“Yes?” says Polly.
“I was only joking,” Elly says, with a convincing rising cadence in her voice.
“What?” says Polly.
“I was only joking about the treat,” she says, expertly emphasising the words “joking” and “treat” – the “treat” turns into a smiley giggly sound. She is very good at this.
“Right Elly,” says Polly, who is concentrating on keeping her hands clean.
Elly appears at the bedroom door with a smirk on her four year old mouth, then climbs onto the bed raises her hand.
“Daddy,” she says.
“What?” I say.
“High Five,” she says.
I am shocked. Elly appears to understand that lying successfully to her mother to protect our collaboration is a cause for celebration. What a genius.
We high five.
It is now 5.55 p.m.
Elly is colouring in a rainbow sunflower that we’ve been making for the last hour.
Mick is wearing Elly’s rabbit ears and running back and forth between the door and the chair with a look of intense concentration on his face.
I look over at Elly bent over her colouring.
“How were the chocolate buttons Elly?”
She turns round to look at me and smiles widely,
“Great,” she says.