But is Elsa’s adulation as innocent as it appears?
Elsa is going through a rather touching stage. I am the center of her universe, and it is her firm belief that I can do no wrong.
This unexpected adulation first manifested itself in a steely determination to copy everything I do. I recently bought her a pair of jeans in Yashow Market. It was no mean feat finding a pair that had not been desecrated by flamboyant embroidery, such as cutesy princesses or bunny motifs, and in my single-minded pursuit of plainness, I unwittingly purchased a mini version of my own denim faithfuls. Unfortunately my devoted child, accustomed to seeing mine day in day out, now refuses to wear anything else. “Mummy jeans, Elsa jeans,” is her indisputably logical early morning refrain if I try to introduce a little variety. I guess my only recourse is to give my wardrobe its long overdue upgrade.
Elsa’s obsession with my every move has, however, proven quite handy for the second attempt at potty training. Although I now spend a lot of time squatting on her least-favored potty (in retrospect, buying the wider-rimmed style has seemed a better idea), on the plus side, I do get to eat a good deal of chocolate – her reward for a successful performance. And while whiling away time on our respective thrones, Elsa likes to turn her attention to the speech capability of inanimate objects. “What does he say, mummy, the door?” she’ll ask. “What does he say?” She accepts my somewhat bizarre reply – “Shut me, shut me” – unquestioningly, as if the Oracle has spoken, then mimics me pleasingly.
If the hero worship stopped there, I’d be quite happy, but my little groupie recently upped the ante by displaying a worrying faith in my ability to fix or find things. Parental failure is not in a toddler’s vocabulary, even if I’m on my third set of house keys since April and have the mechanical intelligence of, well, a 2-year-old. When the TV broke just 45 minutes before Elsa’s habitual evening slot of Pingu viewing, I found myself in full panic mode. So, bundling Elsa into a taxi, we charged off to a nearby second hand store, where I plonked down hard-earned cash for an antiquated set that looked like something that I could dimly recall from my own childhood. Although the crisis was averted, I can’t say Pingu has been quite the same since: For some reason I can now only play things in black and white. Fortunately, the adventures of a penguin in his arctic homeland never really demanded much on the color front, so Elsa doesn’t appear to have noticed.
Though she seems prepared to turn a blind eye to my limitations in the arena of fixing things, when it comes to finding mislaid objects, I’m firmly back to assumed superhero status. It seems our flat is a veritable Bermuda triangle for hair accessories, to the point where I have come to dread the words “purple hairgrip.” But worse still is the “midnight run,” in which I have approximately 30 seconds to dash into her room upon hearing the first small bleats of distress, locate the three rabbits she has dislodged in her sleep and replace them on her pillow at precise angles before her whimpers crescendo into full blown wails. At times, I suspect these are deliberate tests: How exactly did Rabbit Number Two wedge himself under the sofa bed four meters away?
In fact, since Rabbit’s mysterious appearance on the far side of the bedroom, I’ve grown more and more suspicious that I’ve fallen prey to fiendish manipulation. Is Elsa copying me, or is it the other way around? Have I always danced in circles in the bathroom? When did I start referring to the sofa as a “him?” And I ask myself these questions as I find myself sitting on a potty.