My daughter called me selfish this morning.
First off, a five year old calling an adult selfish is a little too precious to hear without laughing at it. On the other hand I am adult enough to take a criticism at face value without reflexively getting annoyed about it. One of my pet peeves after all is when someone who finds out that you don't like something about them then responds with a knee-jerk, "well I don't like you either." Yes you do - you think I'm ace. You just now feel bad that I noticed something about you that sucks.
Anyhoo - I heard the accusation that I was selfish and thought about the context. Was I ignoring her? No - I was putting my shoes on to go outside. Okay - had i been fobbing her off and not giving her attention? Not at all. In fact since her mother left for school I hadn't done a single thing for myself. We'd already eaten ceral followed by Nutella smeared bread (for them - that second carbohydrate hit is fundamental for them to stop behaving as if they've gone weeks without food) and a banana (for me). We'd read a whole bunch of library books, played a game of Wonder Woof (she was wearing pajamas with a dog on them) and The Man With Narcolepsy, which was fun even though she decided that my sudden sleep and awakenings were prompted by being draped in a blanket and jumped on knees first. Then we put together a jigsaw of the United States that is missing South Dakota before I put new batteries in her keyboard so she could record the insane techno/dub versions of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star that she likes to record.The only moment I really had to myself was when I spent two minutes remembering that last night - during the normal part of my dreams (a tiny island battered by endless oceans of disturbing weirdness) - I had a vaguely naughty dream about working in an office with Holly Hunter (the sexiest accent on Earth, by the way), Maggie Gylenhaal and (disturbingly) Terry Wogan.
When it warmed up enough I told the kids we could go out and goof around outside for awhile but that I will be doing some work in the yard. Some digging, weed whacking and stuff like that. My daughter was prompted to put clothes on while I dressed my son. He likes to dig for a little while so I had him in old clothes. My daughter appeared entirely in bright pink and declared that nobody would be digging or she would get dirty. Okay - that's not like her. Then while I put my socks and work boots on she wandered out onto the top step out the back door to find out how hot it was. She returned very shortly afterwards to declare feebly, "Daddy - it's too hot. I need a Klondike bar."
Which is another one of my pet peeves. You don't need a Klondike bar. You want a Klondike bar. It's completely different in lots of ways. Whenever I hear my daughter do it I picture old 1950s movies in my head of wealthy white aristocracy poncing about in the jungle in undiscovered Africa somewhere, glorifying the colonial era. Then the spoiled female character (who later on will fall in love with the only other white man in her party who isn't aristocratic - or even a one of the local savages who's clearly being played by a white actor) will start acting up at the fact that there was no cream for her Five O'Clock Tea. Then the gruff, commoner - who somehow is leading the party through Rhodesia even though the plum-in-mouth Captain who is engaged to the woman recoils at the very thought of a normal person being able to do so - will chuck a canteen of water at her and tell her to get up and stop behaving like a spoiled bitch. At which point she'll wail to a maid who isn't there, "Quick Mildred, I need a parasol."
After telling my daughter that she's not going to be having a Klondike bar at 9am in the morning - and the fact that she has asked like that is rude she immediately told me I was being selfish. I glowered at her and she tried to avoid it. But my glowering is like Superman's heat vision and she could feel it burning into the side of her head. She then very briefly attempted to whine that she wanted the damn ice cream and that for me not to give it to her is perfect evidence of child abuse. I crouched down to her level and calmly told her that she won't be getting one, that was rude with her attitude, and (worst of all) that she behaving like a certain person she'd spent too much time with lately on a certain camping trip ruined by wankers. To her credit she said sorry of her own volition. It's been five days since that sorry business and I think she's clicking that the behavior witnessed is not acceptable - even if it was clearly being tolerated by some people.
Alright - my daughter wants to make videos. I imagine there will be much dressing-up.