I don't wish to sound like a smug mummy or anything, but I think Ava is remarkably good at sharing. Of course, she started her training at a young age because Ruby turned up and started muscling in on all her stuff (including her daddy and I) when Ava was less than 13 months old.
It was a tough lesson but she's learned it fairly well. For example, she'll break her biscuit and give Ruby (the smaller) half. She'll hand over her ball to a complete stranger (sometimes but not always another toddler) in the park. She'll even let other children cuddle her soft toy of the moment (currently Moomin).
But there is one thing Ava absolutely, totally and utterly can not bring herself to share. Meet 'Pink'.
Pink (formerly known as Bink, before Ava was properly talking) is her duvet. It isn't pink. It's sort of grey now – a shade Dulux might have called 'eurrrrgh, help!' – but the name came about after a particularly fine example of my rubbish housewifery skills, when I washed it with a scarlet jumper and it was destined to never again be a soothing shade of yellow.
Well, just over a year ago, when I was slowly packing up our flat for an impending move, Ava was upset and it took me a few minutes, as she sobbed and repeatedly said "BINK BINK BINK!" to realise what she was talking about.
I suppose it hadn't occurred to me that someone so little would be made anxious watching me wrap ornaments, stack books and gradually disappear things into boxes. But from that very day, Pink – hers and hers alone – became a constant companion. Day and night, Pink is never far from Ava's grasp.
Given that I didn't have the foresight back then to buy a second Pink (and then obviously attempt to achieve the right hue with a red jumper on a hot wash) Pink has created a few challenges.
I have to give Ava a two-day warning of an impending cleanse (which happens far too infrequently). I have literally had to wrestle it from her arms a couple of times when she's been poorly and Pink has been covered in vomit. Never a week goes by without a couple of outings in the car and Pink has been momentarily forgotten, so I have to turn off the engine, exit the car, enter the house, locate Pink and try again.
It can be a bit of a pain at times, but it will never be too much trouble – particularly because recently Ava unwittingly revealed just how important Pink really is to her. I was asking her not to scratch at her eczema and at such times, my plea always begins with:
"Darling, please don't scratch your wrists. I love those wrists – I made them, you know!"
Ava revels in the idea that I made various bits of her, and so begins the checklist of various body parts created by moi.
"And you made my tummy?"
"And you made my eyes?"
"And my hair?"
"And my cheeks?"
"Yes I did."
"And my bottom?"
"And your bottom."
"And my feet?"
"And my eyebrows?"
"And my Pink?"
You see? That's how much she considers that filthy, frayed (frankly sometimes rather revolting) piece of fabric an actual part of herself. When I ask her if she can let go of it so I can put it in the machine, I might as well be asking her to remove a foot.
I think washing days will continue to be a trauma for a while yet.