As anyone with a six-going-on-twenty-six-year old daughter will know, a mother's behaviour can sometimes go beyond the pail.
So it was for Anna-mouse the other morning, when I asked her casually if she would be cold without her cardigan.
No, Mummy, she replied dutifully.
Are you sure? I said, as I do. As I always, infuriatingly, do, having asked the question and received a perfectly good reply. Doubly, I suspect, if the question is anything to do with whether or not she is/will be/might possibly not be warm enough.
A small hurricane ensued.
MUMMY! she yelled. I'm a BIG girl now! If I say I'm sure YOU DON'T HAVE TO ASK ME AGAIN!
Honestly, I muttered to myself, I only said 'Are you sure?'.
Right! That's it! she cried, sounding so like me I couldn't help but notice, Mummy, you are getting a star chart!
Really? This I had not expected. I tried hard to sound nonchalant. What for?
But she had vanished, only to reappear several minutes later with a bright pink piece of paper marked up with fourteen irregular boxes and wording as follows:
Mummys are you sure chart
if she says are you sure see gets nothing.
Prize if mummy dosent say are you sure is a masagine
I'm doing awfully well. I haven't missed a day. Every morning Anna-m gets out her stickers and rewards me with a shimmery star or shiny butterfly, filling the little boxes in a satisfying, alternating pattern. Tomorrow I shall get another butterfly, and the day after that, if I'm lucky, a star. Anna-m is impressed.
The prize, I must say, I'm looking forward to. I love a good masagine.