It was hot and my seven-year-old was about to have a gymnastics lesson. She was red-faced before she even went in to join her class. I passed her the water bottle I hurriedly filled before leaving the house. Helen refused to take it.
I instantly understood why.
“Is it because it’s a Mr Men bottle and that isn’t cool?”
She smiled and nodded in response. It is, after all, the water bottle her three year old sister often takes to pre-school. It had crossed my mind before leaving the house it might not be entirely age appropriate but I was in a rush and I didn’t think she’d go so far as to refuse to use it.
This is just the latest example of Helen’s development. Yesterday we drove 440 miles home from Glasgow, having visited family in Scotland. We had Fun Kids UK on the radio most of the way. Every time a Little Mix song came on the radio, Helen knew all the words.
A school friend had taught them to her. Little Mix isn’t the kind of music I encourage the kids to listen to. Without wishing to sound like a grumpy old man, there’s too much flesh on show and I am concerned about the body image message such groups send out to young kids (boys and girls, few people appreciate this is a growing issue for boys). That’s before we get on to the quality of the music produced by such manufactured acts, although that’s just my opinion.
Even so, I knew full well I couldn’t keep her away from such music forever. It seems that defence has crumbled.
As for television programmes, well, Helen and her little sister no longer agree on anything. Whatever Izzy wants to watch is “too young.”
When it comes to bedtime stories, Helen no longer wants them. She prefers to read to herself. If we don’t stop her, she’ll read an entire book to herself in one night. Picture books were consigned to history a long time ago. These days she reads “chapter books” as she calls them; story books like David Walliams’ Grangster Granny.
It’s not the first time I’ve written about my kids growing up, or at the frightening speed at which they mature. Nonetheless, the incident with the Mr Man water bottle was significant. It was the moment I accepted that Helen was no longer a little girl. She’s moved on; she’s a big girl and before long we’ll hit the teenaged years. You really do have to treasure every single day.