It’s different for little girls. Fashion is a playground when you’re four. You can go to the supermarket wearing a prom dress in the colours of the Union Jack or a pair of trainers with flashing soles or a fuchsia-pink tutu paired with jeans, topped off with a purple vest top that says ‘Princess Catty dance the day’, and everyone still pinches your cheeks with delight.
(I feel the need to mention that if I’d noticed that slogan in the shop, I never would have bought the top: no child of mine will leave the house wearing bad grammar.)
The worst part of my daughter’s sartorial superiority, apart from my unseemly envy, is that it’s all gone to her head. This morning, she dressed me.
‘Mummy, I’m going to lay your clothes on the bed and then you can put them on,‘ she told me. ‘And don’t forget your knickers.’
A sense of dread set in. Should I go along with her plan and risk spending the day in an outfit consisting of bikini bottoms, a parka and my sequined wedding shoes?
‘You can wear this, Mummy,’ she said, and picked out a skirt that I never wear. A good skirt. Why do I never wear this skirt? Impressive first move, Curly, I thought.
I put on the skirt. We consider my knees.
‘Take it off, Mummy,’ she says, ‘quick.’
‘Why?’ I ask, like a naughty child offering its reddened bottom for another spank.
‘You look fat,’ she says.
‘…’ I say and tuck my T-shirt into the skirt, holding out my arms for her opinion.
‘No,’ she says again, ‘just take it off. People will think you are fat.’
With no time to ponder how on Earth a four-year-old might have picked up such weighty opinions, she pulled out a pair of pink jeans and handed them to me. She needn’t have worried, of course – the skirt was already off.