There is design work afoot in the household. Plans are being feverishly drawn up and colours are being chosen. There might even be some building work needed. And who is at the helm of this ambitious start to the New Year? Well, I can recommend the designer – she is my 5-year-old daughter. And there’s not a turret or a drawbridge in sight.
Last week we went shopping so that she could spend some of the money she’d received for Christmas. Along with the inevitable two sparkly tiaras, a doughnut and a pen, the haul included a large ringbound notebook. Ever since then her bedtime torch hasn’t been switched off before 9pm (sometimes later) as she carefully draws out how she would like to redesign the interior of our home.
At first I was a touch offended. A 5-year-old telling me what she didn’t like about the décor? Well really. But then I started to think that she might be on to something (the less ambitious plans that don’t involve the hiring of machinery, at least). After all, there is no greater truth than that viewed through the innocent eyes of a child. I decided to encourage her, putting aside the fear she will fall asleep at school. I may go so far as to action some of her easier and cheaper suggestions.
Why do this? Firstly, what she has drawn in her notebook is clearly incredibly important to her. If I put myself in her shoes, rather than those of a time-poor, stressy parent, then I can appreciate the detail and passion she’s poured into her plans. It would be easy to dismiss it as ‘something funny my daughter has done’ and avoid at all costs her long explanations at 10 o’clock at night. Instead, I can see that it is a way for her to express her desire to be a helpful, powerful and influential part of the family. She is of course already all of those things but is too young to appreciate that yet.
Secondly, I would like her to enjoy a variety of interests that could one day set her on a career path. I’m not talking Tiger Mom though. Choosing a degree at the age of 18 I had no real concept of the range of jobs that were available to me or the niche routes that my life could have taken. To date, my daughter has wanted to be a pizza delivery driver and the owner of a nail bar (which coincidentally ran alongside a career as a doctor – once we’d persuaded her that women could actually be doctors – damn you Disney!). Interior designer and architect are new options to add to the list. With support, she will find her way and have broad horizons when she decides what to be ‘when she grows up’.
Sometimes it takes a rainbow-coloured notebook and a 5-year-old with dark rings under her eyes to make an uptight parent appreciate their child’s world. To some parents it may all sound obvious but for a parent (me) who has resolved to stop shouting this year it’s an important step towards my Holy Grail – patience. Here’s to enjoying, rather than sweating, the small stuff.