It’s official: Little Buddha isn’t a baby any more. Okay, she still can’t walk, talk or fetch me a can of lager from the fridge but on Friday she started nursery so the Duchess could return to work after maternity leave. After a few preparatory visits, we passed her over to the team that had looked after Boy Wonder and the tears and screams erupted. Little Buddha, meanwhile, stared at her emotional parents and then scarpered over to the mirror to lick her own beautiful image.
As much as we trust the staff, it does feel strange handing over your little precious to people whose surname you don’t even know and who might well harbour strange beliefs, like admiration for the Tories or a deep love of Abba. Some parents have to put their kids in nursery much earlier, for more than a couple of days a week, but for us there was something about the symmetry of waiting nine months for her to arrive and then the same period again before emerging from our baby cocoon now the Duchess has to earn a crust once more. (Thank heavens for Sky+ or else the viewing figures for Homes Under the Hammer and MTV’s Teenage Mums would collapse.)
The Duchess’ work shifts mean that we could possibly get away without putting our daughter in nursery. Although it’d be stressful for me getting home on time each week, we’d certainly save pots of cash. But we also recognise that Boy Wonder thrived there and during our visits last week it dawned on us that she doesn’t interact with anyone her own age, mostly just her brother. She’s already got a male admirer apparently, after just one day. I’m looking forward to picking her up next week and having a quiet word with the lad. ‘Listen Romeo, I want her back in the quiet room by 5pm and don’t even think about plying her with Fruit Shoots or you’ll have me to deal with…’
There’s open space to crawl at the nursery, she’ll see her older peers develop and, if she’s got Boy Wonder’s appetite, she’ll enjoy the waitress service. It’s great that she didn’t cry – honestly it is, absolutely, we wouldn’t have had it any other way, well a little yelp might have been nice, no it’s great, honest – and we knew she was in safe hands when she palmed her new carer’s face, Little Buddha’s lovely way of showing affection.
Now it’s official that she’s growing up and the highs and lows of Toddlerdom await us, I’m shoving all of our baby products on eBay and handing over clothes to expectant friends. As well as making room and hopefully generating a little bit of cash, I need to thwart the Duchess’ ‘Three Is the Magic Number’ project. This is a really dangerous moment because she’s starting to feel the loss of her little baby. This is the seductive magic of having kids: the moment they emerge from that first special stage when they’re cute, vulnerable and utterly dependent on us there’s an urge to have another just so we can enjoy it again.
Even I’ve had a few pangs lately. All the more reason to get all of the baby stuff out of the house so I can cry poverty next time the Duchess gives me that sly look and prepares her latest argument.