La Fille's bedtime routine becomes increasingly drawn out as she becomes adept at the art of parent manipulation. Her technique is rudimentary but effective; she repeats a request in the same voice over and over until I or the Frenchman crack. I know we shouldn't give in and it is not good parenting but by evening we are clean out of fight. It is as I imagine Chinese water torture; in fact I'm increasingly convinced the verbal drip drip drip of "can I have another story, can I have another story" repeated over a length of time would drive anyone to a full and frank confession, if not raving mad, and save water resources at the same time. Perhaps I should hire out La Fille to repressive regimes.
However many books I read the happily ever after is never quite the end of the story. I then have to do "What we did today", a précis of the day's activities, then sing exactly eight nursery rhymes in a precise order. I've done this since she was a baby - though then it was just three rhymes - as I thought it would be another way of insinuating English into her life. Now it's like a 1970s game show challenge as I try to sing Lavender's Blue, Twinkle Twinkle, Three Blind Mice, Rock-a-Bye-Baby, See Saw, The Grand Old Duke of York, Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat, and Pat-a-Cake in the shortest possible time while still enunciating the words. Any day now I expect Brucie to appear and shout: "Didn't she do well?"
The other night I thought I'd vary the routine. I threw in What Shall We Do With a Drunken Sailor and Wild Rover. I warbled with a cod Irish accent:
I've been a wild rover for many's the year
I've spent all me money on whiskey and beer,
But now I'm returning with gold in great store
And I never will play the wild rover no more.
And it's no nay never,
No nay never no more
Will I play the wild rover,
No never no more.
I felt Brucie would have been impressed. La Fille was not; a little voice piped up from underneath the bedcovers: "Mama, STOP making that noise." Ungrateful wretch.