I was babysitting the Small Thing yesterday morning so The Antiquer could get himself out for a lazy 20k run. Tam O'Shanter is, as I type, limbering up to run the Boston marathon so not available for her share of the child-minding duties.
So Small Thing generally ran amok while I did the cryptic crossword and occasionally half-heartedly encouraged her to finish her cereal. She finally insisted on having my undivided attention while she flicked through a book on creepy crawlies. Every second page seemed to feature an unnecessarily enlarged picture of a spider, hairy legs bristling - but enough about my personal grooming habits - and fangs dripping in shiversome close-up. Small Thing would wave a hand around the picture in an attention-grabbing way and then implored me not to look at it, lest I be frightened.
This is a girl who channels Bindi Irwin in her sleep and refers to her parents as Steve and Terri. The natural world is her domain, and the slithierer the animal the greater her love (this does not bode well for her bar-hopping days). When she'd finished taking me through the book she told me, "You don't have to think about spiders. We can think about nice things."
I asked her what a nice thing might be that we could think about. I was expecting her to say iguanas and snails. Imagine my surprise when she told me, "Unicorns and fairies", and went on to relate to me the tail of a fairy who lived in a pink house with ten unicorns. Not long after her father came home and while I stood chatting to him she disappeared into her room and emerged a few minutes later in a delicate fairy outfit complete with gold beads, a wand and little sparkly high heels that she tripped about in most expertly.
You really have to wonder about nature versus nurture. I can see her now at her Year 12 school ball: done up to the nines, looking elegant in satin and chiffon, shyly introducing her partner - a monitor lizard.