It has been there since around 1890, so perhaps the bottom stair in my hallway was surprised when it suddenly got its new moniker: the Naughty Step.
That day had been a fraught one overall and it had culminated in a storm of fair-to-middling proportions because I wouldn't allow Ava to sprinkle a bag of flour ("snow") all over the kitchen floor.
I must admit, I was a bit surprised by her willingness to take her seat.
She sat there obligingly for the set two minutes (is that about right? Should have paid more attention to Supernanny), without moving, quietly snuffling and staring at her toes. By the end of her sentence, she seemed to have forgotten why she had been put there and was fascinated with the long stream of snot dangling precariously from her left nostril. She was flicking her head to see if it would actually hit the wall.
As per Naughty Step protocol, I got down on my knees and calmly talked to Ava at eye level about why she had been put there and how it's not nice to beat your mother about the legs with a soft bear (could have been worse admittedly). She apologised and gave me a snotty kiss and, at the end of the whole carefully-managed episode, I felt rather pleased with how it had gone.
But then, out of the blue, Ava started calling the Naughty Step shots.
A couple of days later, she waited until she was certain I was looking, and then gave her sister Ruby a hefty shove so she fell backwards, slapstick fashion, ankles around ears. Then Ava announced. "I am NOR-tee. I sit on step." And she took herself there and sat in the appropriate position, chin to chest, bottom lip protruding.
This foxed me somewhat: it was all over so quickly. Ruby didn't really seem that bothered about having been pushed over (she hadn't even attempted to get up) and wasn't crying, which gave me little ammunition for reclaiming control of the situation and talking to Ava about how much she had upset her sister. Instead, I awkwardly congratulated her for taking herself to the step, and feeling a bit confused about what had just happened, I tried to suppress a sort of sinking feeling that I was being made a fool of by a two-year-old.
The wrath Ava had laid upon herself, however, was nothing compared to what lay in store for the Peppa Pig rubber stamp.
Having very irresponsibly not moved itself from the floor where Ava had left it, and where her naked foot was destined to tramp on a speed-walk around the living room, this unsuspecting piece of blue plastic could have done little to prepare itself. After the initial pain/tears, Ava's fury set in. She flung herself off my lap, got on her knees and squared up to the evil culprit.
"That NOT funny," she snarled, "you hurt my foot. Naughty st..." (she glanced at me to check she wasn't about to make a idiot of herself in front of the inanimate object by using the wrong word – I nodded gravely) "...AMP!"
The stamp was picked up frogmarched into the hall.
"You SIT there. Here. And stay STILL."
She folded her arms dramatically over her chest and stomped back into the lounge where I was watching, high-eyebrowed, biting my lip.
Now, I would have stopped at this point and allowed the stamp to have a good think about what it had done, but Ava wasn't finished. She returned to the step with as much drama as she could muster, got on her knees and really let rip.
I remember that extraordinary tirade quite cinematically. In my head, her wagging finger, and the wild gestures towards her foot, play out in slow motion; her roars are silenced by Nessun Dorma blasting out at full volume. If she had known any expletives, my word, she would have used them.
Finally she was spent. She took a deep breath (or rather huffed), picked up the stamp, brought it back into the living room, kissed it, put it back on the floor (great!) and went about her day.
I'm pretty certain Ava did not learn her telling-off style from me – I am extremely careful to go by Supernanny's rules (she is god, after all). But I know one thing for sure: I'm going to do my very best to stay on the right side of my daughter.
Do you ever hear your children play acting as you - and worry?
More:Is It Just Me?
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