Now that Flea has started school, we find ourselves at the mercy of The System. There are rules and stuff, which we're not altogether used to.
One of the rules at Flea's school is that if children's hair is longer than shoulder length, it has to be tied back with a plain blue slide or bobble, to match the school uniform. Now, Flea's hair has grown a LOT since September and it's probably a good three inches past her shoulder – so we're in bobble land.
Flea has never worn a bobble before but it turns out that she knows it to be an undeniable truth that BOBBLES ARE FOR GIRLS. And Flea, as some readers may remember, is not keen on being a girl (we actually had to call her Aiden or Thomas for most of 2008).
So we have entered the bobble wars.
On Day One, I put the bobble into Flea's hair. "It hurts, Mummy," she said, using the patented Small Kid Sad Face. "Oh, I'm sure you'll get used to it," I replied. Flea wore the bobble until we were getting into the car after school, when I said she could take it off, and she 'accidentally' dropped it in the car park, never to be seen again.
On Day Two, we put in a fresh bobble, and Flea tried the power of reason. "Mummy, did you know that boys do not have to wear bobbles?" I replied that it was a school rule that children with long hair had to wear bobbles. "But my hair is not long at all, in fact," said Flea, victoriously. "It is very short."
That day, when I collected her, she was wearing a different bobble. Apparently, the original bobble was 'lost' at playtime, and Mrs W (Flea's teacher) had used one of the spares she keeps in her desk.
On Day Three, Flea decided to try negotiation. "Mummy, I think that I would really, really like to wear a hair slide," she said. Thinking I'd cracked it, I took a hair slide out of the drawer. Flea took a brief look at it. "I don't think I can wear one with a butterfly on it, though," she said, sadly.
Today, Day Four, was non-uniform day. "That means I don't need a hair bobble, Mummy."
"No, you definitely still need a bobble, so your hair isn't in your face when you're working," I told her. (I don't think that's true, I just made it up, like most of my parenting "wisdom"). "Let me just get one."
I opened the drawer where yesterday, there had been the remainder of a pack of 10 Tesco hair bobbles. Empty. Frankly, I had my suspicions. "Where are the bobbles?"
"Do you know Mummy, I have absolutely no idea where they could be," she told me, keeping an impressively straight face. So having tried sympathy, reason and negotiation, she has basically reverted to evil subterfuge. Nice.
And kudos to the kid's hiding skills, I haven't been able to find the bloody bobbles. So today she has won the battle, and isn't wearing a bobble. But Mummy will win the war – from tomorrow, we're keeping the bobbles in the car.