Every so often, when I'm out with my Mum, we see an impeccably behaved small girl-child, who is sitting quietly drinking an orange juice while her parent reads a newspaper, or walking along holding hands obediently with her mother. (This isn't the same little girl, but any number of random little girls with their hair brushed, and a certain calmness about them.)
"That's the sort of little girl you were*," says my Mum.
"Then how come none of mine are anywhere near that well-behaved?" I wail in return. "How come I can never sit quietly with one of my children, to read a book, while they sit there looking angelic?!"
My mother, bless her, then responds how wonderful it is to have high spirited children, and how their determination and outgoing natures will serve them well in life. But - sheesh - sometimes it would be nice to have one of the other kind of kid.
Last weekend, The Hubster and I went out for a spontaneous coffee with Miss Mucks and The Little Guy. We were exhausted just waiting for it to arrive as they asked 312 questions, played with the sugar, the salt and the pepper, and kept jumping up to pet every dog that went past, all the time speaking in VERY LOUD VOICES (which is why we sit outside to drink coffee, even if it's only 11 degrees).
Yesterday, one of my workmates had to bring her five-year-old daughter with her to work. My guess is that she is an outgoing little girl, but she sat quietly and sweetly all morning, charming everyone. My own daughter at the same age would have charmed everyone too, but with her cheekiness (OK, her delightfully whacky nature).
Still, every so often, one of my children does something to surprise us.
I went shopping with The Little Guy today. He said thank you to every shop assistant who spoke to him, and even a spontaneous 'happy birthday' to the lady in Target who told him that it was her birthday. He willingly held my hand, and didn't ask for treats. And he sat quietly with me at lunch as we wrote out our shopping list.
So today, I was the mother of that elusive well-behaved child. Maybe all those other model little girls were throwing tantrums instead today, or pouring the sugar into their wide open mouths out of those tiny long paper packets while their frazzled parents gulped down their coffee.
*Perhaps time has mellowed the memory of me as a small child. OK yes, I was a girly-swot until I was about 23.