Monday, 27 September 2010

In which the Infant Phenomenon confuses herself with Tiny Tim

I should perhaps, as I introduce my daughter, point out that she is not yet four. A delightful age, it must be said, nonetheless bringing in its train many difficulties and confusions for the fond parent. All parents believe their children to be prodigies, it is indeed almost de rigueur in certain circles. The Infant Phenomenon introduced by the brilliant Mr Dickens in Nicholas Nickleby is but one example of this. Even with this consciousness upon me, I must say that her vocabulary is astonishingly wide for her tender years and productive of much mirth to the listening adults around her ("Are you a surrealist?" to which her response was "No, I'm a shopping list.").

Fate saw fit to afflict her with a broken leg several weeks ago - an experience I would certainly counsel the fond parent to avoid if possible (in our case, by avoiding trampolines). A night in hospital, the necessity for her to imbibe a composing draft (sedative, I believe the physician and nurse called it) before the limb could be properly set in plaster, the distress it caused in her and the anguish caused in her parent from seeing such distress; all are experiences I most heartily pray you may be able to avoid. The ensuing difficulties that the plaster cast (encasing her entire right leg) caused in the simple round of our everyday life would have to be witnessed to be believed.

That episode is now over - it is now nearly three weeks since the cast (purple with a green stripe by the goodwill of the charming people at the children's infirmary) was removed - and yet it is not. The cast is gone, but my child is suffering from something I can only dub 'Tiny Tim Syndrome'. She has developed a habit of limping piteously and beseeching her fond mamma to carry her in the most theatrical manner. Her reaction to the occasional tumble down is worthy of a Mrs Siddons. When her small brother pulls her hair, as is the wont of any child of such tender years, he being not yet one, it becomes a one-act tragedy. Yet when at nursery and eager to join in the frolics of her little playfellows, she is able to walk very well. In short, she is only afflicted when she remembers to be and I must hope that as her Grandpapa says of all her little vagaries which are at all productive of parental difficulty: "It's just a phase."

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