Growing up must really suck.
Obviously, being an ancient critter myself, I can barely remember, but Flea is most definitely growing up.
She’ll be in junior school this term, and that means all sorts of changes – not least purchasing a gum shield and shin pads (gulp). Flea’s also started to call me Mum sometimes – tentatively, as if she’s trying out how it sounds on her tongue. She wants to do more, too - taking on the care of the Forces of Darkness (aka the kittens) almost single-handedly.
Of course, she’s still a little girl in lots of ways. She skips as often as she walks, and she plays, and crawls into my bed in the wee small hours, so I wake, to find her holding my hand.
But it’s a tricky balance to get right.
Last week, Flea invited her best friend for a sleepover. On the way home from the beach, we stopped at an old-fashioned sweet shop in the next town over. Flea bought some Wonka Sweets Everlasting Gobstoppers. The girls began sharing them in the back of the car on the drive home.
“These aren’t the ones that go chewy, they stay hard when you suck them,” Flea told her friend.
“I know, but they’re not everlasting,” her friend replied.
“What happens, then? Do they break your teeth?”
“No Flea,” said the friend, patiently. “They go small then you bite them.”
“So they’re not everlasting?”
Another pause. Flea looked even more worried.
“Do you think Willy Wonka is.. a liar?”
There was a hushed silence, while both girls absorbed this terrible possibility.
“Maybe the chocolate factory isn’t real?” the friend ventured.
Flea was aghast. Her friend was equally horrified by this possibility. They hit upon a reasonable compromise. “The glass elevator is probably not real, but the chocolate factory almost definitely is,” said Flea, and both girls nodded, happy. Sweets continued to be chewed.
After a few minutes, in a definite voice, Flea announced:
“Willy Wonka’s still a liar, though.”