Playing happy families with daddy bottle and Gargamel

Gargamel and the Smurfs form part of my masterplan of not having to buy new toys for my daughter.
Gargamel and the Smurfs form part of my masterplan of not having to buy new toys for my daughter.

I knew it had to happen sooner or later, but it still came as a shock when she said it for the first time.

To my darling daughter Lucy, I am no longer daddy.

I am dad.

For me, the transition from calling me ‘daddy’ to calling me ‘dad’, represents the loss of a baby daughter and the gain of a precocious prima donna.

As well as addressing me as dad she’s also picked up a new phrase which she uses when myself, Karen or my dad are trying to get her to do something she doesn’t want to do. As our pleas to brush her teeth, eat her greens or stop splashing in the bath become more desperate, she’ll put us back in our box by saying ‘Stop fussing!’

Her cheekiness knows no bounds. The other day I was having breakfast at the table with Lucy. I’d made myself a bacon and brie sandwich while Lucy was dining on Oatibix. Ben was marching about the living room with his arms out in front of him like Frankenstein’s monster and I excused myself from the table so I could ensure there weren’t any trip hazards for the little trooper.

When I returned to the table - I couldn’t have been away for any longer than a minute - Lucy had removed the bacon from my sandwich and eaten it. I got there just in time to rescue the last morsel from her jaws. “Lucy Cousins!” I exclaimed in exasperation. She replied with the most adorable grin I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t bring myself to discipline her further.

My daughter has me wrapped around her finger. She’s able to get away with anything as long as she smiles impishly. I know, I’m creating a monster. A second monster to go along with Franken-Ben.

When she’s not raising hell, Lucy likes to play happy families. She’ll collect four bottles of variable size, arrange them in order of height and call their her bottle family. There’ll be daddy bottle, mummy bottle, Lucy bottle and Ben bottle. I’m quite jealous of daddy bottle as he still gets called ‘daddy’ and isn’t expected to change nappies.

Another of Lucy’s families includes two handwash dispensers, a bottle of hand lotion and a rubber duck. They’re known as the soap family. I can only presume the duck is adopted.

Once a family has been assembled, the role play begins. Ironically when her families play together the Lucy character and Ben character get along swimmingly yet when real life Ben comes over to join in the fun he’s told in no uncertain terms to go away. Once, he got chased away by her brandishing his own handwash effigy.

When she’s not playing with her families Lucy likes to watch cartoons. It’s no coincidence that she likes the same cartoons as myself. It’s part of my masterplan.

I introduce her to a cartoon like The Flintstones or The Smurfs, coo and guffaw enthusiastically at the right moments, then once she’s become au fait with the characters, I’ll sneak up to the attic, raid my old toy box and present her with a figurine, such as Barney Rubble or Gargamel, relating to her new favourite cartoon. For me it’s a blast from the past, for Lucy’s it’s a brand new play thing.

The long and short of it is I’m saving a fortune on toys. Around a quarter of Lucy’s toys once belonged to me while another 50 per cent is made up of bottles, tins and containers that should have been thrown out. Perhaps a day will come when Lucy forsakes her toy box in favour of the recycling bin.