My Forever Poppet

Joni likes to define things according to people’s age. She’s a big girl, I am a grown up and Wilbur is a baby. Everything is about what grown ups, big girls and babies are ‘allowed to do’. Wilbur, as a baby, is not allowed to play with her paints, drink from a cup without a lid (unless she gives it to him, then it’s hilarious) or play with their cousin Evan. There are quite a few things that Wilbur is ‘not allowed’ to do because it would get in the way of Joni’s sole enjoyment of whatever it is (see: playing with Evan). Sentences to Wilbur are often framed around ‘when you are bigger Wilb you’ll be allowed to …’, I’m pretty sure in her eyes Wilbur will never really be big.

Joni announced that she wouldn’t be toilet trained until she was a ‘bit of a bigger girl’ – I’m leaving it to her to decide when, she will soon I think. She is completely unaware of her appearance, she has long hair and is way above average for her height. She’s in age 5-6 clothes at nearly 3. Nappies barely fit and I’m sure it’s not just my paranoia that has seen people looking perplexed when observing us out and about. In so many ways she so confident and exuberant and expressive. In so many other ways she worries and wonders and her eyes get oh so big and she reaches for my hand for reassurance.


Today she starts her first proper session at nursery. She has been going to a childminder since she was one but this feels very different. She’s at the mercy of other children’s words and oddities and I’m filled with anxiety about what if she doesn’t know what to do, what if she’s scared, what if she just needs me?!! What if she wants to reach for my hand and I’m not there. What will she do?

What it boils down to is this: this is her first little tiny big girl step out into the world. This is it. I do not want her to know that the world can be mean and cruel and harsh. I want her to stay in her lovely little world where she is so cared for and loved and where so many of the people around her know what she is thinking before she gets the words out. I never thought I’d be that mother. The one who can’t even let go for 2.5 hours to an outstanding nursery with absolutely lovely staff and the cutest resources.

It’s instinct isn’t it? The instinct to protect. So how … HOW do you protect them, love them and care for them when they take their first steps into the big world, where others will influence how they feel and think? Our home life isn’t perfect but we do shower our children with love and praise and encouragement. If nothing else they will know that they are loved and we are always here for them – no matter what.

I’m hoping that very quickly I just look forward to her being at nursery – it’s time for me and Wilbur to be together and it’s time for her to grow and develop. It is a good thing. Hell, she might even relent and use the toilet at last.

I hope that happens, because if it doesn’t then I would like to rewind please and have my tiny baby back. Or perhaps get some sedatives. Or find friends who want a glass of wine at 8:56 in the morning. The other day Joni said that she wanted to be a poppet forever – I cant remember why – right now that whole Peter Pan thing is quite appealing.

We have just dropped her off … She breezed in and sat next to her new friend and said Bye Mummy! And off I went.

PS: MUM. I AM SO SORRY FOR THE NIGHT I PASSED MY DRIVING TEST WHEN I WENT OUT WITH A CAR FULL OF PEOPLE TO PARTY AND DIDN’T COME HOME ‘TIL 4AM AND DIDN’T ANSWER MY PHONE. Thank you for not killing me/locking me in my room/taking away my car. I had NO IDEA what I was putting you through.

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One Response to My Forever Poppet

  1. Joanna says:

    M just started her nursery last Wednesday and I had the same thoughts and feelings. It’s not just the harsh words but the fact that this will be her first experience of an external pecking order. I was trying to think of positive and supportive words, just in case. They haven’t been necessary yet, luckily.

    It didn’t help that at her first visit to the nursery a few months ago, a little boy went to hit her when she tried to get in the car he was using. We’ve had many family discussions about that since then and she still talks about it and finds it hard to decide whether to play with the car again. It all makes my heart ache.

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