The more I get to know my daughter, Laura, the more I see traits in her that I remember from my own childhood. Perhaps I'm partly imagining them. Perhaps I'm projecting certain emotions onto her behaviour, which she may not truly be feeling. I don't think so, though. My Laura Lou is a sensitive, slightly serious creature, given to fanciful thoughts, and rapt in stories of princes and castles ... strangely similar to her mother at the same age.
The other night, when feverish and dull-eyed, Laura sighed and tossed in her bed. I sat at her bedside, and asked her what was wrong. Laura sighed again, shook her head, and murmured, "You'll think it's silly".
"I won't. I promise I won't think you're silly. What is it?", I queried.
"It's just.... my head feels too big for my neck. My neck is too skinny and my head is too big."
The thing is, I knew exactly what she meant - that thick, heavy-headed feeling that high temperatures bring. I smiled, and told Laura I understood; that what she said made perfect sense. I went to fetch the Nurofen.
When I was small, I remember trying to explain my odd thoughts to my mother. I don't ever remember her laughing, or telling me I was silly, but I have a vague memory of her seeming concerned, and loving, but slightly perplexed. My mother is a very down-to-earth person. I'm not sure that she knew what I was rambling on about much of the time.
I recall one summer being terribly un-nerved by the sound of slow knocking. Any sort of slow, insistent banging gave me the creeps. I remember trying to demonstrate the scariness to my mother, by rapping my fist in a rhythm on the wall, with long pauses between strikes. In my memory, my mother made some supportive sort of response, but I could tell she couldn't comprehend the fear. I was an odd sort of kid, I suppose.
Another time, aged 7 or so, I remember being very worried by the fact that over about 3 days, every time I burped, I could taste grilled cheese sandwiches. I kept telling Mum, " It's happening again! I can taste grilled cheese!". I felt like I would never escape the clutches of the melted cheese sandwiches, that Grilled Cheese had taken over my body like some sort of a demon. I probably didn't know about demons, then, actually. But I definitely was distressed. I'm not sure what my poor mother thought.
Then there were the strong feelings I had about numbers. Odd numbers were shady, shifty, mean sorts of numbers - not to be trusted. Even numbers, on the other hand, were honest, straightforward and decent. So if asked to choose a number between 1 and 10, it was always going to be an even number. Two was too few, eight was too much. Four was OK, but to be frank, not quite enough. Now, SIX....well, how could you go past it?? The number six was obviously the perfect number. I am still a huge fan of six.
Perhaps I wasn't such a strange child - perhaps all children have these weird thoughts, but just don't tell each other. Instead, kids confide in their old, sensible parents.
I may be old, but I'm still not completely sensible. And when it comes to parenting, that's not always such a bad thing.