Bits of life

How you know you’ve been spending too much time writing and not enough with your family

I hear rummaging in the kitchen, of boxes and packets at the floor. I know who it is, and I know which cupboard she is in, but I don’t know why.

‘What are you doing, little one?’ I call out.

No answer. Size three-year-old feet are in a canter down the hall.

‘No running inside,’ I say. ‘You know not to run inside.’

But she has already stopped. At my door. Still in her pyjamas. Her head’s cocked on an angle, hair wild around her face. She holds up a sealed container.

‘Is this something you can eat?’ she asks.

I look closer. In the container is a packet of icing sugar. I smile at her. ‘No, my darling. That is not something to eat all by itself.’

‘Well, what can I eat then?’ Her hands and the container gesticulate at her sides. She is so cute when she’s exasperated.

She can’t be that hungry–her last snack was two hours ago on the absolute outside–but I feel mother guilt. The ten minutes I bargained for has taken more than an hour, and I can tell by the look on her face that she needs more than toys and blocks. She needs me.

‘Let’s get some lunch,’ I say. I gather her up and into me with one arm, and she squirms with a chuckle as I press kisses to her face.

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